A plant-robot hybrid that follows the sun and dances when it’s out of water
From The Verge:
Some plants are “heliotropic,” meaning they grow toward light. This could be considered oddly touching, as if those green tendrils stretching out to the sun proved the plant was yearning to live. And why not? That is why they do it.
But what if plants could do more than stretch? What if they could move like animals, independent of their roots? Evolution hasn’t got there yet, but it turns out, humans can help. Chinese roboticist and entrepreneur Sun Tianqi has made it happen, modding a six-legged toy robot made by his company Vincross to carry a potted plant on its back.
The resulting plant-robot hybrid looks like a leafy crab or a robot Bulbasaur. It moves toward the sunshine when needed, and it retreats to shade when it’s had enough. It’ll “play” with a human if you tap its carapace, and it can even make its needs known by performing a little stompy dance when it’s out of water.
Is yard work the next big VR craze?
From Fast Company:
There is nothing clumsier or more vulnerable than an adult human inside a virtual reality rig. Their senses are completely cut off from reality. They’re walking, jumping and flailing around real space. It’s not unusual to see someone fall down. And now, Lowe’s wants to hand them a hedge trimmer.
The company’s latest VR initiative, called the Holoroom Test Drive, provides laypeople the opportunity to test out burly power tools and get an education on how to wield them — before purchasing a machine that’s capable of removing all manners of limbs.
The project, which was highlighted recently by RoadtoVR and operated as a pilot tour across several US cities, is built upon the popular HTC Vive VR platform. The Vive system can track not just a person in VR, but the full-sized, vibrating power tool they wield, creating a convincing virtual approximation of trimming hedges at home.
An origami robot that gently wrangles jellyfish
From Popular Mechanics:
Deep sea scientists have a longstanding problem: studying a soft, spineless creature without damaging it beyond recognition. Now they have a new solution: origami-inspired robots with a soft touch.
In research published in Science Robotics, a Harvard-led team presented the initial results from testing the “self-folding polyhedra.” This robot slowly closes in on a target like a jellyfish and tries to surround it with a soft enclosure. The walls of the device are soft enough as not to burst the jellyfish. The actuators are lined with silicon to create another soft surface to preserve the precious cargo.
Lead author Zhi Ern Teoh of Harvard had been working on the idea of using two-dimensional shapes to build three-dimensional objects. His first results were too painstaking to assemble. He wanted something that could be put together easily — perhaps fabricated all at once, or at least in as few steps as possible.
“It was such a painstaking process, so that led me to ways to think about making 3D shapes from 2D sheets using minimal actuators,” Teoh says.
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