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Robot Swarm Control On Microsoft's Surface

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the moving-things-about dept.

Input Devices 106

zerOnIne writes "Dr. Mark Micire of UMass Lowell has built an intriguing new user interface on the Microsoft Surface, a multitouch-capable table computer. The interface is being used to control swarms of robots for disaster response, search, and rescue. One of the most interesting things about it is the intuitive tabletop joystick widget. Using a very fast hand-detection-and-identification algorithm, they can paint a touch joystick (dubbed the DREAM controller) directly underneath the hand. This joystick conforms to the size of the user's hand and tracks with hand movements, making sure that the control is always directly under the hand where the user expects it, even without haptic feedback. I've had a chance to go hands-on with this system, and I think it's truly remarkable."

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The Sound Track (0, Offtopic)

hpycmprok (219527) | more than 4 years ago | (#33388878)

Its a little slow for me. Sorry.

Re:The Sound Track (0, Redundant)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389182)

Needs more cowbell.

Mod This Shit Down (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389270)

Yeah, I saw that episode of Saturday Night Live too. I laughed at it. I enjoyed it. With me so far?

It aired April 8, 2000, more than ten years ago. It got old. You're not funny or clever. You're not some kind of deep, cultured, worldly guy. You're some dude on Slashdot who's repeating something from ten years ago that was amusing but not all that funny in the first place. It was a bit funny back when that ugly fuck Christopher Walken said it and it was a new skit. It's repetitive now.

You might as well parrot another predictable, cookie-cutter, assembly-line Slashdot meme. The only difference is that it would be a Slashdot meme and not a pop culture meme. Nothin' personal. Just that Slashdot will be greatly improved when we stop celebrating this bullshit.

Re:Mod This Shit Down (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389318)

This rant needs more cowbell.

Re:Mod This Shit Down (4, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389432)

This rant needs more cowbell.

Can do!

Yeah, *tunk* I *tunk* saw *tunk* that *tunk* episode *tunk* of *tunk* Saturday *tunk* Night *tunk* Live *tunk* too. *tunk* I *tunk* laughed *tunk* at *tunk* it. *tunk* I *tunk* enjoyed *tunk* it. *tunk* With *tunk* me *tunk* so *tunk* far?

It aired *tunk* *tunk* April 8, 2000, more than ten years ago *tunk* *tunk* *tunk*. It got old *tunk*. You're not funny or clever *tunk* *tunk* *tunk*. You're not some kind of deep, cultured, worldly guy *tunk* *tunk*. You're *tunk* some *tunk* dude *tunk* on *tunk* Slashdot *tunk* *tunk* *tunk* who's repeating something *tunk* from ten years ago *tunk* that was amusing but *tunk* not all that funny *tunk* in the first place *tunk* *tunk*. It was a bit funny back when that ugly fuck *tunk* Christopher Walken said it and it was a new skit. *tunk* It's repetitive now. *tunk* *tunk* *tunk*

You *tunk* might *tunk* as *tunk* well *tunk* parrot *tunk* another *tunk* predictable, *tunk* cookie-cutter, *tunk* assembly-line *tunk* Slashdot *tunk* meme. *tunk* The *tunk* only *tunk* difference *tunk* is *tunk* that *tunk* it *tunk* would *tunk* be *tunk* a *tunk* Slashdot *tunk* meme *tunk* and *tunk* not *tunk* a *tunk* pop *tunk* culture *tunk* meme. *tunk* Nothin' *tunk* personal. *tunk* Just *tunk* that *tunk* Slashdot *tunk* will *tunk* be *tunk* greatly *tunk* improved *tunk* when *tunk* we *tunk* stop *tunk* celebrating *tunk* this *tunk* bullshit. *tunk*

(*tunk*.)

Re:Mod This Shit Down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389320)

You must be new here.

Re:Mod This Shit Down (3, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389742)

You might as well parrot another predictable, cookie-cutter, assembly-line Slashdot meme. The only difference is that it would be a Slashdot meme and not a pop culture meme. Nothin' personal. Just that Slashdot will be greatly improved when we stop celebrating this bullshit.

In Soviet Russia, cowbell needs more Natalie Portman!

Yes, yes, memes are lame. You're not some kind of deep, cultured, worldly guy for pointing that out. Being lame is sort of the point of memes. We're a bunch of lame nerds sharing a silly, arbitrary common culture. Sorry, but it's what we do.

Kirk would totally kick Worf's ass. Emacs > VI! Dr. Who is better than Star Wars or Trek! This is an ex-Parrot! Mandatory XKCD reference! [xkcd.com]

Yeah, it's all lame repetition of old stuff, some of which wasn't even that great to begin with, but, hey, that's culture for you.

Re:Mod This Shit Down (-1, Offtopic)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389968)

Chocolate Rain**
Say it publicly and you're insane

Chocolate Rain
No one wants to hear about it now
Chocolate Rain
Wish real hard it goes away somehow

Chocolate Rain
Makes the best of friends begin to fight
Chocolate Rain
But did they know each other in the light?

**I move away from the mic to breathe in

Re:Mod This Shit Down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33390070)

You're right. His post was trite & pointless. Thing is, so is yours. Slashdot is cursed to carry on with the cliches and memes, the choice to read it or not, is entirely in your ball park.

Re:Mod This Shit Down (1, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#33390334)

I think these memes are an important part of SlashDot. Sometimes they're pointless, but they're also frequently very funny or apropos, and they help define the community.

Love Slashdot Meme...Wrote a Song! (0, Offtopic)

Webcommando (755831) | more than 4 years ago | (#33391124)

I personally love Slashdot memes. So much so, that I wrote a slashdot song a couple of years ago (I'm getting better at playing singing BTW) that celebrated every one of them...or at least the ones I could think of.

Enjoy:I Read It On Slashdot .. song of epic proportions [youtube.com]

Re:The Sound Track (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#33390038)

Actually I found it somewhat ironic that the piece was apparently performed by "Peace Orchestra" on a system that would very easily lend itself to war. I wonder if that was intentional.

Re:The Sound Track (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#33390052)

oh, name of the musical group can be view on end credit screen. Cool tech btw

First post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33388904)

Not first post!

RTS games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33388908)

Have they ever tried playing one of those? Supreme Commander 2 is a good example since it used that flowfield path finding system, which seems miles ahead of what's presented here. Give me mouse and keyboard any day, this seems lethargic by comparison.

Re:RTS games? (3, Informative)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#33388982)

The problem with RTS games path finding vs robot path finding is that the games have a flawless description of the environment (the description IS the environment) and no inherent physical limitations on the driven device, only ones programmed in.

A real obstacle can move, can be hard to spot or misrecognized as non-obstacle, can resist traditional methods of surmounting it (say, is slippery or crumbles). A real robot has to deal with traction slipping, in route deviating due to slipping on the surface, limited acceleration and braking power, environment behaving against specs (tell a crumbling building to follow the computational model...), communication shortages and so on.

Also, this is a demo, to let people see how that works. I believe it could be done 20 times faster by an experienced operator doing actual work instead of a demo.

Re:RTS games? (3, Informative)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389392)

This demo was a simulation, so there really isn't that much difference from a good RTS. Motion control and local path planning are well understood.

While the demo looks cool, it is not really much different than the robot GUI I wrote for my robocup team that could control 10+ robots (real or simulated). It used a mouse and any number of ps3-style controllers. And yes, I got my ideas from RTS games, and some other teams had even better GUIs.

Also, it would have been nice if they didn't speed up the video, so we could better understand how well it worked. One thing I often find in touch interfaces is that selection is slower than you'd expect since you block the item with your finger. A mouse pointer is much smaller, and works well for skilled operators.

Re:RTS games? (1)

zerOnIne (128186) | more than 4 years ago | (#33391064)

The simulation is separate from the UI, so it's very much not an RTS. The robots even get stuck on things in the simulation.

Re:RTS games? (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389504)

The problem with RTS games path finding vs robot path finding is that the games have a flawless description of the environment (the description IS the environment) and no inherent physical limitations on the driven device, only ones programmed in.

Well, that and the utter LACK of any ACTUAL ROBOTS to guide. (Or those few that do exist are so damn expensive nobody can afford a swarm of three).

Oh, and those Surface tables... Those aren't exactly laying around anywhere either.

But overlooking that minor obstacle for the moment, the first thing that goes to hell when you actually NEED a robot swarm is that flawless environment description. And of course situations needing swarms never occur where you have maps, they happen annoyingly in some remote area, immediately adjacent to (but outside of) the area your funding covered.

Perhaps thats why the summary is so ga-ga about the joy stick simulation, because its the only part of this that seems remotely usable on Joe SixPack's touch screen device.

Re:RTS games? (1)

zerOnIne (128186) | more than 4 years ago | (#33391092)

Well, that and I just don't really care much about robots. The UML Robotics Lab where Mark works does some great stuff, I'm just not that interested in the robotics part.

BTW, the robots here simulate range sensors and video cameras and do not use an environment description to move around. There's a physics engine driving all the movement, too.

Re:RTS games? (2, Insightful)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389000)

The whole point of this is to micromanage troops. Sure, you can control large numbers of units efficiently using that, but can you control a trio of SCVs to heal each other, another 4 to poke a group of irritating zergling, swap roles to make sure all of them receive no casualties, and initiate an SCV rush on a zerg base? (well, unless you're korean)

Re:RTS games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389152)

Hey, buddy, we've got a warehouse full of big honkin touchscreen tables, and unless you've got a better plan, I'm betting the DoD procurement boys haven't played a lot of Starcraft. Let's move some product, bitches.

Re:RTS games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389558)

About 80% of this whole demonstration showed nothing even involving multi-touch. It was one finger doing one thing at a time for almost all operations. The thing might be awesome, but the demo is not.

Re:RTS games? (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389598)

I agree...most of those Demos of Microsoft Surface can be done with a simple Touchscreen or even completely without it. Some of those even faster and better with a mouse and keyboard.

Re:RTS games? (1)

shadow349 (1034412) | more than 4 years ago | (#33390446)

It actually seems much more reminiscent of the "Flight Control" iApp.

Let me know when the price drops (3, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33388916)

Still somewhere over $5k?

I'd love to build this into something... if I could sell it to someone other than businesses looking for a way to waste money.

Re:Let me know when the price drops (1)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389376)

Just guessing, but you can probably get the same effect by using a rear projector and a camera to look for reflections on the screen. Might even be how they did it in the first place.

Re:Let me know when the price drops (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389580)

Surface uses infrared reflections to generate an image which is then processed. Alot of the challenge for a device of this type is the analysis of the IR, handling ambient light, and diffusion. If you were going to roll your own, I'd start with a project such as: http://digitalstratum.com/programming/ftir_build
or a similar FTIR method. However, if you just want multitouch, then you've got other options such as project based (search for wii whiteboard).

Surface provides a fairly substantial SDK with various multitouch controls, a simulator, and other such things. It also has a tag/barcode recognition system.

Re:Let me know when the price drops (1)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | more than 4 years ago | (#33390130)

I have noticed that some windows 7 multi touch all in one computers with OEM builds come with some surface apps built in.

All of the surface machines I have seen are running Vista underneath, Perhaps it has been ported finally however

Re:Let me know when the price drops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33390448)

4 Cameras actually... but yes, that's how it was done

Re:Let me know when the price drops (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#33391118)

You can now get touch overlays for very large displays, as in up to about 70" (that I've seen) and by touch I mean multitouch. With a camera overhead and some visual processing you could figure out who was touching what, and the touch overlay would tell you how hard. You could probably add an off the shelf cooling fan to an off the shelf television... they're not designed to run horizontally, at least not most of them. The overlay is about the same price as the television, but that's still cheaper than surface. The visual processing, unfortunately, is left as an exercise for the reader... So really, $5k for something this size is not that bad. (No, I'm not paying that much either.)

Re:Let me know when the price drops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33391268)

Build one yourself for a small fraction of the price. It's [maximumpc.com] been [makezine.com] done [events.ccc.de] .

Or go the [lightblueoptics.com] commercial [multi-touch-system.com] route [impressx.com] . Who needs micros~1?

Old games becoming new again (1)

j741 (788258) | more than 4 years ago | (#33388920)

Soon we'll be using this to play Syndicate [wikipedia.org] in real life.

Re:Old games becoming new again (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389622)

as if the military do not already do so...

Unbelievable (2, Interesting)

thePig (964303) | more than 4 years ago | (#33388926)

This is amongst the coolest things that I have seen in a long time. Unbelievably cool and useful. Microsoft, I bow to you - the table seems to be the future of computing - if not amongst the masses - atleast amongst planners and decision makers.
Although it makes me sad about my existence as a person though - doing a 9x5 job which is neither cool, nor very useful for humanity as a whole.

Re:Unbelievable (1, Flamebait)

NNKK (218503) | more than 4 years ago | (#33388948)

This is amongst the coolest things that I have seen in a long time.

So you've never seen an iPhone with one of the dozens of games that have been out for years using similar control schemes, then?

Re:Unbelievable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389296)

Like iPhone's Flight Control. super addictive game. :)

Re:Unbelievable (4, Insightful)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 4 years ago | (#33388964)

It's a very, very cool front end. Where does it get the data in the real world?

I'm running a construction job with 3 contractors. Today they had 8 excavators, 3 backhoes, half-dozen off-road trucks, a water tanker, a vactor truck, and probably a few things I've forgotten. They were hammering up concrete, ripping down a building, tearing up a dam, and moving an incredible amount of dirt. They still managed to dump the dirt in the wrong place.

A webcam http://www.ci.springfield.or.us/millrace/images/ww.jpg [springfield.or.us] and a cell phone do more for me than this.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's cool as hell, but GIGO applies to this in spades.

I'd love to see a real application for this; not a simulation.

Re:Unbelievable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389126)

looks like those kids have been palyign alot of Starcraft 2.

pathing system is the same, adapted for a touch screen.

Re:Unbelievable (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389142)

the typical application that is cited for robot swarms is disaster response, afaik. there is no real application yet, because the technology isn't here yet. (isn't that a weird word, 'yet'? it doesn't even look like a word, does it? yet... hm.)

Re:Unbelievable (2, Informative)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389200)

I've done disaster response. While robots may have some very limited applications, dogs and eyeballs and boots are better. You need lots of them and each one has to be thinking and looking on their own.

You are looking for survivors and making decisions that are not quantifiable at all. It'll be a long time before we can send out a "swarm" of robots into a disaster area and have them work as well as a trained dog or a trained SAR person.

Re:Unbelievable (2, Informative)

Hunter0000 (1600071) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389260)

The swarm of ground robots is a bit of a reach goal. Current applications of this include showing manpower and equipment (and current robotic resources, like UAVs). The idea being, issued orders to a person or vehicle's representation on the map will send orders to a communication device they posses. The map would also serve to display data that currently is compiled (slowly) onto paper maps. This way, the interface becomes useful for combining data and asset display that also allows orders to be issued to those assets.

(I work next door)

Re:Unbelievable (1)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389784)

For some types of disasters yes. Try doing the same when it's several hundred meters underground [wikipedia.org] , or any other number of situations where you can't get people in due to safety or situational reasons.

Re:Unbelievable (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 4 years ago | (#33391374)

OK, you got 33 miners trapped underground in Chile, and 2 million displaced in Pakistan due to flooding.

Where do you put your resources?

Re:Unbelievable (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#33391238)

Agreed, apart from working in very difficult conditions (under water, near intense heat or chemical spills - where you're likely not saving lives but clearing up or preventing further disasters) a human is almost always going to be a better option, and certainly far less expensive. My guess is that "disaster response" is bandied about simply because it's more likely to be welcomed by the public than "army of killer robots under the command of the military".

Re:Unbelievable (1)

KarrdeSW (996917) | more than 4 years ago | (#33391766)

dogs and eyeballs and boots are better. You need lots of them and each one has to be thinking and looking on their own.

I would like to purchase some of these thinking boots you have in your possession.

Re:Unbelievable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33394142)

Perhaps if it was ported to a tablet, with a robot swarm that was small enough to go pretty much anywhere in a pile of rubble, it would be more useful in search and rescue. If they had a number of sensors and the capability to process them a bit, they would be able to seek out and mark people trapped in buildings, not to mention giving you a map of the internal structure with sensors and cameras.

Re:Unbelievable (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389284)

Here in San Diego, there are "Tsunami Evacuation Route" signs posted for a tsunami that hasn't happened yet.

When money and power are king, and technology is sufficiently advanced, the only thing we are left with is disaster capitalism. [naomiklein.org]

Re:Unbelievable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389400)

If you wait until the tsunami warning has gone out, isn't it a bit late to put up signs?

Re:Unbelievable (3, Interesting)

mmicire (128543) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389322)

We have done this with real robots also. See links in posts below. Basically, if you had the ability to geo-locate your vehicles (via cell phone gps for example) and had a camera that could watch them, then you would have the circles drawn around them just like in this video. The simulation is on a completely separate server and is modeled as if it is being viewed from an overhead camera. So, the simulation is just for the robots. All of the registration and camera modeling is done as if it is real.

We hope to be deploying this in the near future with real responders in the field.

Hope that helps.

Boooring (1)

phx_zs (1772496) | more than 4 years ago | (#33388942)

I was expecting something a lot cooler than that after reading the description. And why is it so slow? Even with the video sped up to 3x it was still painful to watch.

I can't help but think of this video every time the Table Computer is mentioned: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZrr7AZ9nCY [youtube.com]

Re:Boooring (5, Insightful)

macshit (157376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389444)

"Surface" is yet another piece of slightly-interesting-in-theory-but-kind-of-meh-in-reality tech that microsoft has been trying to get people enthused about for ages -- and consistently failing. You know, kind of like tablet computers before Apple actually made people want them.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Apple suddenly teams up with Ikea and has every living room in the country computing with their coffee-table within 3 months though.

Re:Boooring (1)

macshit (157376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389462)

"Surface" is yet another piece of slightly-interesting-in-theory-but-kind-of-meh-in-reality tech that microsoft has been trying to get people enthused about for ages -- and consistently failing. You know, kind of like tablet computers before Apple actually made people want them.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Apple suddenly teams up with Ikea and has every living room in the country computing with their coffee-table within 3 months though.

Re:Boooring (1)

macshit (157376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389472)

(sorry about the dup comment; slashdot was being its usual flaky-ass self -- and of course, no comment deletion!)

Whats the worst that could happen? (4, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#33388974)

Using a Microsoft product to control a swarm of (potentially killer?) robots?

Re:Whats the worst that could happen? (3, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389054)

It's nothing new. They've been facilitating botnets for at least a decade now.

Re:Whats the worst that could happen? (1)

nickdwaters (1452675) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389560)

Skynet! Duck and cover!

NOG (2, Interesting)

Nethead (1563) | more than 4 years ago | (#33388976)

Finally. A decent interface for C&C.

intuitive tabletop joystick widget.!! (1)

DFurno2003 (739807) | more than 4 years ago | (#33388984)

The word Intuitive immediately loses my attention. Nothing to see here.

Re: intuitive tabletop joystick widget.!! (1)

DFurno2003 (739807) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389038)

Now, where can i get one of these for Starcraft2?

Is it just me? (4, Interesting)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#33388992)

Isn't the "swarm of robots" aspect slightly more interesting than the "touchscreen interface" aspect?

Re:Is it just me? (1)

tpstigers (1075021) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389080)

Technically, no. "touchscreen interface" is interesting. "swarm of robots" is frightening. There's a distinction.

Re:Is it just me? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389262)

"swarm of robots" is frightening. There's a distinction.

Not as frightening if you are sitting at the controls

Re:Is it just me? (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389682)

Not as frightening if you are sitting at the controls

It might be a mistake in their programming. It might be due to a cunning ruse by the hero. But in the final scene, they always turn on their master. Them's the rules, see.

Re:Is it just me? (1)

riffzifnab (449869) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389094)

Would be if there were actually robots. It's just a simulation and the graphics reminded me of Syndicate Wars.

Re:Is it just me? (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389154)

the idea of robot swarms has been around for a while. how to control them has been an area of research for a while, and still is. though all that work is still kind of theoretical, because the hardware doesn't exist yet (or at least isn't sufficiently cheap yet), so testing is a bitch.

Re:Is it just me? (3, Informative)

herks (1144039) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389164)

The swarm stuff is neat, but has been done in RTS games. Nothing really revolutionary, except that it's never been done for swarms, using a touch table. The work defines some easy gestures and methods that have been studied and found to be what the majority of people would naturally do. What I find truly revolutionary about this interface is the dream controller. It doesn't get much play in the video, but it is remarkable. You put your hand down, and it draws the controller around it. It's exact every time. No matter what size hand, or orientation, it draws it perfectly for 100% of the human population. No more xbox/ps3 controllers that by their physical nature can only be built to be comfortable for the average. (50% of the population.) Having the tactile feedback of a keyboard or gamepad button has it's benefits, but if the controller is drawn directly under your hand, You can very quickly learn to press a button without having to feel it. Having this possibility opens up a whole new world of controller design with applications in video games, touch screens apps, every day appliances, and more. We can rethink controller design, and make the controller conform to the user, rather than the user conforming to the controller. I think it has a lot of potential, and am looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Re:Is it just me? (2, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389892)

Here's what I perceive to be a real problem: from what I could see in the video, using the "Dream Controller" requires the constant and complete use of both hands. That drastically reduces its usefulness in the real world. As long as you are using the Dream Controller, you can't do ANYTHING else. And that's just bad. At least with a traditional joystick, you can at least temporarily work most functions with one hand. With other kinds of physical controllers like the Cyberman II you can control 6 complete degrees of freedom with one hand, while you temporarily do something else with the other (which is normally used to press buttons).

I'm just not impressed.

Re:Is it just me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33390948)

Actually, that's not true -- you can pull your hands up at any time, drop them back down in a new place and get a new controller there, immediately. You can pull up one hand and use the other. You can lift your thumb and move the controller to a new place. It's much more versatile than a real joystick ever would be.

Re:Is it just me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33392470)

That drastically reduces its usefulness in the real world. As long as you are using the Dream Controller, you can't do ANYTHING else

You can take one hand off of the screen and it will still work. The idea here is control the swarm of "assets" not just robots, and dig down to see
or control a single one if needed, without switching input devices.

Also, are you touching yourself while playing these games? Is that why you need to take a hand off the controller?

Re:Is it just me? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389172)

Not really... without the touchscreen, it's pretty much the equivalent to an RTS from 1998.

VIRTUAL robot swarm control on MS surface (3, Insightful)

Michael D Kristopeit (1887500) | more than 4 years ago | (#33388996)

NOTICE: no robots swarms were actually controlled in the making of this story

Re:VIRTUAL robot swarm control on MS surface (2, Informative)

zerOnIne (128186) | more than 4 years ago | (#33391112)

Not in this video, but they have controlled real robots, too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48A8vdJ68lI [youtube.com]

Let Me Think, m$'bots Walking Around A City (3, Funny)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389194)

I don't know weather to laugh or scream.

Re:Let Me Think, m$'bots Walking Around A City (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389316)

I don't know weather to laugh or scream.

The local weatherman on TV doesn't know weather either.

Misread the title (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389204)

I misread the title as "Robot Swarm Control On Moon's Surface", and was sorely disappointed.

Re:Misread the title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33391332)

I read the title entirely correctly and was still sorely disappointed. "Virtual Robot Swarm Control on Microsoft's Surface" would have been much more accurate.

Real robots too!!! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389234)

Check out his other videos. They have done this with real robots also.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48A8vdJ68lI

Re:Real robots too!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389292)

Ok. That is cool too. It is like Doom with plywood.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389246)

Wow, a table with a touch-screen-faked joystick. How is this better than a hardware joystick?

I can see how this could be interesting on a portable device, but if you're stuck with a big table anyway, you might as well be using the real thing.

Obscure Song reference: (1)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389254)

With Microsoft "D REAM"...
"Things can only get better..."

EULA? (3, Funny)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389330)

Microsoft surface being used for search and rescue. Doesn't the EULA specifically state "not to be used for life saving operations or operations in which failure of the system could result in bodily injury"? A search and rescue robot certainly qualifies as a life saving device, the failure of which could result in people being dropped or crushed.

I wonder why the researchers that made this felt that disregarding the EULA was acceptable.

Re:EULA? (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389508)

Microsoft surface being used for search and rescue. Doesn't the EULA specifically state "not to be used for life saving operations or operations in which failure of the system could result in bodily injury"? A search and rescue robot certainly qualifies as a life saving device, the failure of which could result in people being dropped or crushed.

I wonder why the researchers that made this felt that disregarding the EULA was acceptable.

Probably because they were building a simulator instead of an actual device.

Re:EULA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389752)

WOOOOOSH

Re:EULA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33392290)

I wonder why the researchers that made this felt that disregarding the EULA was acceptable.

The key word here is researchers. The Microsoft surface was used as a means to an end in this case.
The tech was developed because they had a microsoft surface in the lab. They also have a Diamond Touch (circle 12)
and other devices.

The interface for multi, and single robots would work on any multi-touch enabled device. In practice, this will not be on the suface.

Just add Iris scan (1)

Temujin_12 (832986) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389430)

The interface is being used to control swarms of robots for disaster response, search, and rescue.

Ah yes. I ran across a video of these robots in action [youtube.com] a while ago.

Looks great!

Bot Safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389608)

I just hope they have safety controls that give them time to complete their current task before they move on to the next task if they are given a new command. Otherwise, a rescue bot might turn into a killing machine.

I can picture it now (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389706)

1) User swats away a fly
2) A thousand robots charge off the edge of a cliff
3) ???
4) *Sigh* Back to the drawing board

Finally. (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 4 years ago | (#33389878)

Someone building a decent Zergling controller.

Theft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33389910)

MS: I got a great idea for a new project. Lets steal Bumptop and then add little icons that move around by way points that you can tap onto a touch surface.
              GREAT IDEA, we can market it and copyright it then sue Bumptop for copyright infringement.

I wonder how much IP this violates. Cause frankly, its exactly what I said, cursors following tap way points with a bumptop menu...SOOOO Revolutionary, its only been around and then been bought up by google already...

Now you're talking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33390112)

Now get me some Zerg Swarm control on a Microsoft Surface and I'm good to go. /didn't read tfa

Microsoft surface (1)

captain_dope_pants (842414) | more than 4 years ago | (#33390648)

In Microsoft Surface YOU are overlord of robot swarms !

finally saved, thank ...., no, wait, it's saying.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33390700)

to be rescued now, please enter a valid credit card #...... would you like to apply for credit, &/or our frequent disaster victim cashback program?

your transaction has been completed. all robotic resources are busy now. please stay in your precarious position until help arrives, unless you can rescue yourself. thanks again for using fuddle's patentdead rescue (innovative ratskew feature included at no additional cost) system.

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"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.
 

Best RTS interface ever! (1)

snero3 (610114) | more than 4 years ago | (#33390830)

Did anyone else think that too?

Re:Best RTS interface ever! (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#33392238)

Actually I was thinking the opposite, I like my RTS interface. Why not just use it?

It frankly sickens me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33391116)

how micros~1 managed to hijack another something they didn't invent yet managed to paste their name all over again. fsck, people've been building these in their back yards and they didn't call them by the name of the most prolific horribly broken software marketeer yet. How horribly narrow your view must be if all you can do is follow these scum hooting "aol! aol!" for your cool new toys. Is that what makes a "scientist" nowadays? Is that what makes "science" now? Then it becomes righteous to ask, "what are we teaching our kids and future scientists in science class anyway?". Well, nothing much, that's clear and evident now.

What is so remarkable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33392168)

Does the fact that "remarkable" is an often occurance in Bill's dictionary have anything to do with it. Bill, we don't want a computer perpendicular to our eyesight, on an object we use to put stuff on.
Microsoft, please die.

Awesome research (1)

james_d_12 (1887954) | more than 4 years ago | (#33392652)

This really is cool research. I could definitely see this controlling other assets besides robots.
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