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Insect-Inspired Flying Robot Handles Collisions And Keeps Going

Unknown Lamer posted about 10 months ago | from the great-for-robo-dodgeball dept.

Robotics 61

Sabine Hauert writes "GimBall is a new flying robot that can collide with objects seamlessly. Generally, flying robots are programmed to avoid obstacles, which is far from easy in cluttered environments. Instead, researchers from the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL believe that flying robots should be able to physically interact with their surroundings. Take insects: they often collide with obstacles and continue flying afterwards. Their robot uses a passively rotating spherical cage to remain stable even after taking hits from all sides. This approach enables GimBall to fly in the most difficult places without complex sensors."

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Insect like? (4, Insightful)

Doug Otto (2821601) | about 10 months ago | (#45280955)

When I read "insect like robot" I don't expect it to be the size of a basketball. Thankfully, insects aren't that big where I live.

Re:Insect like? (3, Funny)

decipher_saint (72686) | about 10 months ago | (#45281065)

Yeah, I feel a bit swindled

"Flying Death Sphere" would have gotten me to click just as well

Re:Insect like? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 10 months ago | (#45281135)

Who cares. All flying shit is cool!

Re:Insect like? (2)

decipher_saint (72686) | about 10 months ago | (#45281225)

I don't know, the monkey-propelled variety is kind of warm...

Re:Insect like? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 10 months ago | (#45281323)

I stand corrected.

"whifflebug" also a suitable name (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 10 months ago | (#45281231)

HOLY SHIT! [lis.epfl.ch] Exactly how hard are these things bouncing off of stuff? They could just as well go through the walls!

Re:Insect like? (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 10 months ago | (#45281837)

Looks kind of like a prototype version of the target Luke Skywalker used to practice with his lightsaber in Episode IV. Just stick some lasers on it.

Re:Insect like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282603)

Perhaps the Excalibur [slashdot.org] program can realize this dream! The robots should be shooting, with lasers, anything it hits in a fiery rage.

Re: Insect like? (1)

pollarda (632730) | about 10 months ago | (#45281171)

The final version will probably be about the size of a Quidditch.

Re: Insect like? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 10 months ago | (#45281503)

The final version will probably be about the size of a Quidditch.

Pitch? Player? Fan? Broom? Arena? Quaffle? Bludger? Snitch?

Re: Insect like? (1)

magic maverick (2615475) | about 10 months ago | (#45284809)

Mod parent down, has obviously read too many bad books.

Re:Insect like? (2)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 10 months ago | (#45281187)

When I read "insect like robot" I don't expect it to be the size of a basketball. Thankfully, insects aren't that big where I live.

Relative size isn't as important to be insect-like. Aliens from movies like Stormship Troopers are definitely insect-like but I
don't consider a robot encased in a round cage to avoid damage as anywhere close to "avoid damage like an insect".
I've never seen an insect with a protective round cage. I'm pretty sure they have other ways of minimizing damage.

Re:Insect like? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281273)

I've never seen an insect with a protective round cage.

Armadillidiidae [wikipedia.org] , just saying.

Re:Insect like? (1)

dpilot (134227) | about 10 months ago | (#45281815)

So do you call them "pillbugs" or "rolly polies"?

Re:Insect like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45282055)

Roly-polies of course ^^

Re:Insect like? (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 10 months ago | (#45283797)

They're slaters.

Re:Insect like? (1)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 10 months ago | (#45285321)

I've never seen an insect with a protective round cage.

Armadillidiidae [wikipedia.org] , just saying.

Yes, they have a shell but they don't fly and they don't move while a ball and more to the point
are nothing like the robot in a cage that this article references. The robot in this article is more
akin to a bumper car than any insect I've ever seen.

Re:Insect like? (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 10 months ago | (#45281461)

What exactly do you think an exoskeleton is?

Re:Insect like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281385)

you obviously don't live in Florida

Re:Insect like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45288463)

Just double or triple the oxygen level where you live, wait for few million years and you got giant bugs.

Beat To Market By a Toy Company (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45280979)

Hey researchers, a toy company beat you to market [amazon.com] .

Re:Beat To Market By a Toy Company (3, Informative)

fldsofglry (2754803) | about 10 months ago | (#45281089)

err...not quite: http://youtu.be/yy63Cn7WVbU?t=31s [youtu.be]

Re:Beat To Market By a Toy Company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281419)

it's just a flying Sphero http://www.gosphero.com/

Re:Beat To Market By a Toy Company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281927)

The difference is that they study the concept and publish the results. A company in China slaps together a few pieces of plastic, cashes the money and moves on. Robotics research is nowadays not so much about making new hardware, but about making new algorithms or like this finding ways of avoiding making complicated algorithms, which as usual with AI interacting with real-life environments are notoriously unreliable. Of course, the science part in here is that they have to analyze how well does it work as compared to other approaches. They have to show some numbers, as opposed to anecdotal evidence and a youtube video.

Re:Beat To Market By a Toy Company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45284215)

http://phys.org/news/2012-11-illinois-robotics-lab-hytaq-air.html

There's probably more out there.

Re:Beat To Market By a Toy Company (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 10 months ago | (#45286743)

The advancement is not the cage but that it can rotate freely. That's what allows the robot to continue flying after a collision.

Re:Beat To Market By a Toy Company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45288661)

Hey EPFL,

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-10/video-japans-new-ball-shaped-drone-wows-crowds-tokyo

The Japanese have been researching that setup for years, sure a gimbal is cool, but the Japanese one flies horizontally. I want to see the video of it bouncing into trees and continuing--this video is too much a sales pitch.

Am I missing something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281115)

The 30 dollar RC helicopters at Wal*Mart already have a plastic cage around them so they hit walls and such without snapping the rotors off.

This doesn't seem all that different to me, aside from an outer cage on bearings. So what's the big deal?

Re:Am I missing something? (2)

pahles (701275) | about 10 months ago | (#45281279)

Does your 30 dollar RC helicopter fly autonomously in a given direction, while bouncing against trees in a forrest?

Re:Am I missing something? (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 10 months ago | (#45281447)

I saw nothing in the videos leading me to believe these weren't rc controlled. You can even see a the small orange 4 channel receiver on the supposed bot.

Why does an autonomous robot need a 4 channel receiver, unless it's being flown by a pilot?

Re:Am I missing something? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281903)

About one minute into the video: "we just gave it a magnetic direction and without any obstacle avoiding technique it was capable of flying several hundreds of meters while encountering several collisions".

Re:Am I missing something? (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 10 months ago | (#45282871)

I've got a few rc planes, that once in the air I can turn the transmitter off and they are capable of flying several miles without input, barring collisions of course.

Re: Am I missing something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45285405)

Ok, so when your RC plane can do it WITH collisions and WITHOUT ending up going in some totally wrong direction after recovering from the first collision, come back and tell us about it.

Re:Am I missing something? (2)

Hizonner (38491) | about 10 months ago | (#45281947)

You mean other than the part where the guy directly says that it's flying autonomously with nothing but a compass direction?

Maybe it needs a radio because they sometimes fly it remotely?

Re:Am I missing something? (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 10 months ago | (#45282819)

No sound I couldn't hear that.

I stand corrected.

Re:Am I missing something? (2)

Kenoli (934612) | about 10 months ago | (#45282345)

The 30 dollar RC helicopters at Wal*Mart already have a plastic cage around them so they hit walls and such without snapping the rotors off.
This doesn't seem all that different to me, aside from an outer cage on bearings. So what's the big deal?

A fixed cage can protect from damage, but does little to prevent crashes, since collisions will still affect the orientation of the rotor.

I saw nothing in the videos leading me to believe these weren't rc controlled. You can even see a the small orange 4 channel receiver on the supposed bot.
Why does an autonomous robot need a 4 channel receiver, unless it's being flown by a pilot?

How they're controlled isn't relevant. The point is that collisions don't interrupt their flight.

Re:Am I missing something? (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 10 months ago | (#45282851)

98% of obstacles yes, but there are still obstacles that will bring it down regardless.

A nice pointy stick from that forest would, like the gnarled trunk they dodged.

Anything small enough to penetrate the sphere and break the prop will bring it down.

Any more.... (0)

sjwt (161428) | about 10 months ago | (#45281129)

Could this be anymore misleading.. Can maybe editors use an ounce of brain power before approving these?
Or as I sadly expect the case to be, at lest force advertisers to not make such crapy posts.

Maybe it should be titled "Forcefield protects Super AI Military bot, buy one yourself"

Re:Any more.... (1)

Laxori666 (748529) | about 10 months ago | (#45281633)

I don't know what people are getting upset about. It does resemble an insect in the way it flies. You never seen a fly repeatedly bash itself into a glass pane?

Re:Any more.... (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 10 months ago | (#45281803)

Jesus you whiny babies! This thing is cool, it does something new. Quit nitpicking whatever analogies somebody decided to apply to it (insects) or whatever preconceptions you're bringing for no reason at all (autonomy, slashvertisements). Either post a video of a different aircraft pushing its way through ferns and a maze of ceiling joists, or quit bitching... what it does is really neat!

Re:Any more.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45288679)

But researchers nit pick everything that's why they're researchers. So it's fair.... Why?

This video is to take credit before any publication (if ever accepted), edited to be a sales pitch for some MBA to license the IP cause 'it's cool', and shows the basics of the system, but not the facts stated: bouncing off trees in the forest or how it actually "mimicks" insects. Hey where''s the hovering at least? This has been the approach for most research video as of late. Likely from publication pressures and a lot of grad teams trying to get VC attention to "start the next google".

It's cool, but this video has some vapor smells to it.

Re:Any more.... (1)

shipofgold (911683) | about 10 months ago | (#45286099)

Looks just like an insect in the way it flies....could it be miniaturized? Most likely...

The innovation is that it can get from point A to point B autonomously in an environment that most other flying objects can't. Using this tech I don't think it would be difficult to let this thing loose at Wall street with instructions to get to the Empire State Building.

Pretty cool indeed. The weak minds are the ones that don't get it....

The news here (2)

tech.kyle (2800087) | about 10 months ago | (#45281167)

I believe the news here is that it doesn't veer off in funny, hard to predict directions when it bumps in to something. Yes, toy companies have cages around their flying RC offerings, but having that fling thing be able to maintain stability is new. Check the video at ~48 seconds in.

Space Sample Collection? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45281205)

Maybe this can be combined with other NASA collision technology for a fast-paced sample return mission [slashdot.org] .

bap. bap. bap. bap. bap. (3, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about 10 months ago | (#45281283)

That's pretty big. It's going to be pretty annoying repeatedly bouncing off your daughter's window.

Incorrect (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 10 months ago | (#45281411)

From all the videos they've posted all their devices are operated by a remote and pilot, this would make them little more than RC aircraft, nothing they've posted shows anything autonomous flight.

Big difference between an rc and an autonomous robot.

Re:Incorrect (2)

Plazmid (1132467) | about 10 months ago | (#45281511)

Except the part in the video where they have it go in a constant direction in a forest using on board magnetometers.

Re:Incorrect (0)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 10 months ago | (#45282931)

I've seen people do this with quads, what's the difference?

RC's these days can be outfitted with auto pilots.

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__37328__HKPilot_Mega_V2_5_Flight_Controller_USB_GYRO_ACC_MAG_BARO.html [hobbyking.com]

Still I see this as being little more than an RC with a crash frame.

Correction (1)

jovius (974690) | about 10 months ago | (#45281431)

Drunkard-Inspired Flying Robot Handles Collisions And Keeps Going

All fun and games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281439)

Until someone is hit in the eye

Oblig LEXX: The Dark Zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45281807)

Bugman... Activated!
Bugman... sear..ching. Thodin.
Bugman... maalfunction, Thodin.
Bugman... re..activating. Thodin.
Target... conduit... located. Thodin.

Seamlessly? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 10 months ago | (#45282475)

GimBall is a new flying robot that can collide with objects seamlessly.

I do not think that means what you think it means.

stuck on stick (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 10 months ago | (#45282639)

That method works great for obstacles that can not pass through the holes in the cage. What happens if the robot flies onto a stick end on? It will pass through the hole and may damage the inner workings. Sure the holes can be made smaller but then that increases weight and interferes with air flow.

This is a great assassination tool! (1)

Simonetta (207550) | about 10 months ago | (#45283085)

This is a great assassination tool! Make it strong enough to carry a small anti-personnel bomb. Say for example a wad of C4 explosive about the size of a walnut surrounded by B-Bs or small ball bearings. Use the camera to get it close to your target. Use the novelty value of the device as a way to allow it to get close to the person who needs killing. Then when within range, BOOM! using a radio controlled detonator.

    Think: " Black Sunday " (a 1976 film with Bruce Dern and Marthe Keller about a massive terrorist attack on the NFL SuperBowl) using this device focused on an individual instead of the Goodyear blimp.

    I'm a German-American blond male. Of course, I think like this.

I for one... (1)

zingfodd (2195688) | about 10 months ago | (#45283113)

...welcome our new benevolent bouncy flying rulers.

Quidditch anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45283159)

Sounds like a golden snitch to me... all we need now is to beef it up and make a bludger and we're golden.

Manhacks? (1)

Nawid Karim (3398701) | about 10 months ago | (#45283741)

Add a saw-blade and a bright red light, and this thing could pass as one.

Insect inspired?? (1)

AC-x (735297) | about 10 months ago | (#45284359)

I was expecting some kind of ornithopter with flexible wings, how is this insect inspired? I don't remember any insects that fly around encased in a rotating sphere...

Nice post (1)

ajahar mohd (3415717) | about 10 months ago | (#45284433)

Thanks for this useful post

Hell of a ride. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45287133)

I'd pay good money to someone who'd scale this up and let me ride around in it.

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