Jedi Droid Wields Lightsaber in Student Robotics Project
CREDIT: Stanford University
What was the coolest thing you did in college? Make it onto the Jumbotron during a football game? Organize the highest-grossing sorority charity fund raiser? Fit 12 people into a phone booth? Unless you also designed lightsaber-armed fighting robots, the students in Stanford's "Experimental Robotics" class have you beat.
The students ended their three and a half week class projects designed to show off the range of uses for robot arms . One group of students created an arm programmed to make hamburgers. Another transformed an arm into a painter by adding an LED light and a time-lapse camera. A third group created the Jedi arm seen in the video below.
Granted, the arm doesn't exactly wield its elegant weapon with the lethal grace expected from a knight of the Old Republic. But for a month-old robot arm designed by some college students, the Force is pretty strong with this one.
To create an arm that reacts to a human opponent, the students wired the robot to a hacked Microsoft Kinect . The color of the lightsaber, which in the movies denotes the good or evil intentions of the character with the sword, serves a practical purpose for the robot. The Kinect isolates the color of the lightsaber from the background of its field of vision, allowing it to precisely track the motion of the human it fights with.
Other robots, like the burger flipping bot or an arm that sinks golf putts, relied more on their sense of touch than on visual stimuli. By mounting a pressure sensor near the base of the spatula or golf club, the students could train the robotic arm to handle these tasks with a deft touch.
Now just imagine what these kids could do if they got to play around with more than just an arm. Give them two feet, and the U.S. robot soccer team might bring home the real World Cup.