See sample pages from this book at Wink.
You may have seen my earlier Wink Fun review of Elenco’s terrific Mini-beest Kit, a working miniature model kit of one of Theo Jansen’s amazing animated creatures. I wanted to know more about him and his work so I found a copy of his 2009 book, The Great Pretender. The 240-page volume contains notes, timelines, photos, sketches and family trees for Jansen’s “Animarus,” as he calls his species of moving, breathing, and thinking constructions. He creates magnificent beasts out of the cheapest and lowliest of raw materials: thin wall PVC pipes, packing tape, empty soda bottles, and zip ties. When assembled, the giant, articulated creatures walk along the beach in the Netherlands, powered only by the wind.
In the book’s format, each of the verso pages (on the left) have color photographs of the many details about his designs and their construction: hinges and movable joints, leg linkages, molds and fixtures, pneumatic tubing muscles, etc. Each artifact is artfully depicted with low-key lighting and muted backgrounds, like specimens in an archeological volume. There are also beautiful photos of the fully-assembled creatures in their native habitat, strolling along the shore.
The recto pages (on the right) carry the text, with chapter-length explanations of his thoughts and processes on how and why he came to create the various versions of his animated “life forms.” There’s Animarus Sabulosa Adolescense (young sand-coated beach animal) and Animarus Vermiculus (worm animal) and about 30 more, each as amazing as the last. Read the rest
This video is amazing, and feels like something that will become even more graceful, precise, and normal as drone technology and design improve.
Read the rest
A robotic Shanah Tovah (Happy New Year!) from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology! Read the rest
Silicon Valley is raiding technology departments of universities around the U.S.—can tech academia survive?
Sphero's Star Wars BB-8 is sure to be the Cabbage Patch Kid of this Christmas, the ungettable gift that will spur mall fistfights, eBay price gouging, and plenty of crying kids (and adults). uBreakiFix cracked one open to see how it ticks. Read the rest
"Common across the services, autonomous vehicles are being seen as an effective projection of force, both above and below the water’s surface," according to the US Naval Research Laboratory. Read the rest
Atlas the robot recently walked in the woods for the first time. From the looks of that bot-wobble, it looks like he packed his forest flask.
Jerboas, tiny desert rodents that move like kangaroos, are notoriously hard to film
. BBC Earth was able to film a jerboa's escape from a fox
, and its unique shape has now inspired a robot
Jerboas use their long tails to transfer energy to their legs, allowing them to hop many times their body length. It turns out the hair on the bottoms of their their feet also serves a number of purposes, including insulation, traction, and stealth on the sand.
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Researchers led by Je-Sung Koh created a biomimetic robot that floats using surface tension and can jump from the surface of water like a water strider insect. Read the rest
The University of Maryland Robotics Center's new Robo Raven III V4 soars on larger flapping wings that "have flexible solar cells giving the vehicle an extra 10 Watts of power. This allows this robotic bird to fly longer and recharge outdoors." Read the rest
This ad from Omron Automation & Safety intends to make advanced automation seem fun, but the execution makes it seem like your future will depend on whether you win your sudden death table tennis match
with a robotic version of the Aliens
xenomorph. Read the rest
Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and hundreds of artificial intelligence researchers and experts have signed a letter calling for a worldwide ban on “autonomous weapons.” Read the rest
Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences released an interesting demo
of blending rigid and soft materials during 3D printing to create hybrid robots with enhanced performance for tasks like jumping and landing. Read the rest
Researchers are developing a robot made from plastic and ceramic motors that can perform surgery on a patient inside a magnetic resonance imaging machine where metal is a no-no. Read the rest
Here's some fun: "Place hand in dog's cage and hold it there for as long as you dare. Dog pants, dribbles warm saliva and other disgusting things." It's a coin-operated amusement built by Tim Hunkin, and you can see a customer trying it out in this video.
Tim Hunkin is a brilliant cartoonist, inventor, and TV show host. He wrote some great articles for me at Make magazine and I'm always happy to learn about anything he creates. In this video, we get to see Test Your Nerve and some of the other one-of-a-kind coin-operated machines Tim has built for his new-ish mechanical amusement arcade in London.
Some of the machine's at Tim's arcade:
MONEY LAUNDERING: Pick up cash from the gutter and deposit it in the city without the regulators spotting
MICROBREAK: Sit in the chair and travel on holiday, moved by the magic carpet.
ALIEN PROBE: Investigate the captive alien BUT try not to annoy it.
DIVORCE: Race to separate, then see the results.
PET OR MEAT: Spin the arrow and see where it lands. Then view what happens to the lamb in detail.
AUTOFRISK: Stand in position and let the rubber gloves give you a thorough frisk.
MY-NUKE: Use the remote manipulator arm to open the fuel box and load the fuel pellets into the reactor.
INSTANT WEIGHTLOSS: Watch weightfree nutrients prepared especially for you and then watch yourself lose weight in the mirror.
EXPRESSIVE PHOTOBOOTH: Sit inside and the booth activates mechanisms to provoke a wide range of expressions while taking the photos. Read the rest