Friday, March 31, 2006

How To Flex A Robot

Top Men have noticed a lot of robot activity lately...

The annual Robot One competition was held earlier this month in Japan. This one (Layered-X) got our attention.

Previous related Wohba links:
Great Robot Race
One Leg
Head Not Included

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Great Robot Race

If you didn't catch the Nova episode on the Great Robot Race (DARPA Grand Challenge) last night (March 28th) you missed something amazing.

Fortunately you can watch the whole episode here. And there are bonus clips here as well. Top Men can't help but chuckle at the trials and tribulations. (Like when we watch American Idol or figure skating.)

Truly an epic moment in autonomous history. Top Men consider it must-see material!

Previous related Wohba links:
Head Not Included
One Leg

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Big Shadows

So we all know that a solar eclipse is just the shadow of the moon on earth. The crew of the ISS will get a chance to see the shadow of tomorrow's eclipse from their view above it all.

Top Men thought that the teeming masses should at least get a taste of what it might look like - from a satellite view of an eclipse over Antarctica in 2003.

2 km per pixel
1 km per pixel
500 m per pixel (The big one!)

Here is another slightly different angle (from a slightly different satellite.)

UPDATE (3/29): Here is an ISS Photo of today's eclipse.

Previous related Wohba links:
Eclipse Planning
Don't Look Up

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Big Sparks

The average touch-a-doorknob static discharge runs about 3,000 volts. The average lighting bolt discharge is in the 100,000,000 volt range.

So here are some man-made sparks in between...

Movie (230,000 volts - more info here)

Movie (290,000 volts - more info here)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Test Photos from MRO

The first test shots from MRO have arrived. This will have to satisfy us for now, since the full hi-res images won't come in for another six months or so.

Top Men provide this graphic to give you an idea of just how good this new Mars camera is.

Here are links to the first MRO test image.
Full scale (45 meg)
Half scale (10 meg)
Quarter scale (3 meg)

Previous related Wohba links:
Martian Telescope Arrives
MRO Launch

Monday, March 13, 2006

Google Mars

Google is just not satisfied to dominate planet Earth. They previously covered our Moon and now they are providing coverage of Mars. Of course the roads and pizza joints are few and far between, so the satellite coverage will have to suffice.

Top Men can't wait to see how this improves once the MRO is fully functional and sending back pretty pictures.

Previous related Wohba links:
Google Moon
Google Sightseeing

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Watch The Birdy

This video demonstrates what it's like when a big jet hits a little bird. Wrong place, wrong time - for the bird and the jet.

Read the details here.

Do-It-Yourself (not) Plasma

Take a toothpick, light it, stick it in a microwave. VoilĂ  - plasma... or ball lightning... or something.

Actually, better yet, just watch the video so as not to burn down your house.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Martian Telescope Arrives

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is go for orbit insertion in three hours. Here is the timeline (Pacific Time Zone) of events...

12:49 p.m. - Step One: Pressurize
1:03 p.m. - Step Two: Switch to Low-gain Antenna
1:07 p.m. - Step Three: Turn spacecraft
1:24 p.m. - Step Four: Commence Firing for Orbit Insertion
1:46 p.m. - Step Five: Bye For Now, MRO!
1:51 p.m. - Step Six: Burn Ends
2:16 p.m. - Step Seven: Hello Again, MRO!
2:30 p.m. - Step Eight: Check Health and Status

(More details on the events are here.)

The entire process of orbit insertion will be monitored by NASA using doppler radar. You can get to the real-time radar feed here.

It'll be a few months before full-fledged images start arriving - but some early test images will show up sooner. Top Men will keep you updated.

UPDATE (2:26 p.m.): Orbit insertion successful! Welcome to Mars, MRO.

Previous related Wohba links:
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Are Four Legs Better Than One?

If four-legged-headless-dancing-military robots (see previous post) freak you out, perhaps you'd prefer one-footed-headless-bowling-ball-balancing robots. Top Men found video from Carnegie Mellon University that reveals their vision of your future home robot.

Video - Moving Point to Point Large Small
Video - Response to a Shove Large Small

Here is the website with more information.

Oh, and Top Men would like to voice their concern over the tendancy to kick and push robots in the name of research. For shame!

Previous related Wohba links:
Head Not Included

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Head Not Included

Meet Huhboo - the Dancing Robot Monkey-Dog! Hire Huhboo for your next party!

(Disclaimer: Huhboo may not be appropriate for all ages. May cause nightmares in some children. Head not included.)

Video (better quality)
Video (if first video takes too long)

Information from Boston Dynamics is here.

(Thanks Robin!)