In this video, a fruit fly steers a small robot through an obstacle course. The researchers at ETH Zurich's Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems glued a fly down in front of an array of LEDs and flashed patterns that tricked it into thinking it was flying. Data from a computer vision system trained on the fly's wings was then translated into commands for the mobile robot in the obstacle course. The robot was outfitted with sensors that triggered the appropriate light patterns on the LEDs. The whole shebang is called The Cyborg Fly. From IEEE Spectrum:
"As autonomous robots get smaller, their size and speed approach that of the biological counterparts from which they are often inspired," they write in the paper, adding that their technique could "be relevant to the tracking of micro and nano robots, where high relative velocities make them hard to folow and where robust visual position feedback is crucial for sensing and control..."
The Cyborg Fly is not the only "flight simulator" for bugs, and other research groups have used insects to control robots. But still, the ETH project stands out because of its high-speed vision component. This system could be useful not only for biology research, to study insect flight and track fast movements of appendages or the body, but also for industrial applications -- for monitoring a production line or controlling fast manipulators, for example.
Whiskers are a fantastic natural sensor that enables cats, fish, seals, and many other animals to detect not just direct contact but even air flow indicating an approaching object. In a fascinating example of biomimicry, University of Queensland engineer Pauline Pounds and her colleagues have developed tiny whisker sensors for drones. According to the researchers, […]
Finnish company Valkee sells the HumanCharger, a pair of $150 earbuds with integrated LEDs to shine light into your ears. Their claim: This revolutionary device is for your well-being and channels bright light directly to the light-sensitive regions of the brain, right where it is needed the most. HumanCharger® can be used to increase energy […]
Even if you feel like AirPods are worth the price tag, you’ve got to admit there’s a certain anxiety that comes with using them. What if I lose them? What if they get wet in the rain? Or drenched in sweat? Or fall into the drink you dropped them into? Shiny tech is great, but […]
With the quick-fix appeal of video games and their own cell phones, it can be tough to keep kids focused on supposedly “educational” toys. And while it may seem counter-intuitive to fight tech with more tech, we’re all in when it comes to the Toybox 3D Printer. We’re not sure if anyone had envisioned a […]
Whether you’re an artist, designer or just organizing a photo album, photo editing software is a must. And software designers know it: Platforms like Photoshop and Lightroom have a ton of helpful features, but you’ll pay for them in spades. Luckily, there’s some competition in the photo editing arena. Right now, Skylum’s Luminar software is […]