CHANGE IS HERE

CHANGE IS HERE

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Robots Now Catch Balls, World Domination Imminent




When the inevitable robot uprising comes to pass, may we all look back on the “face” of this seemingly tranquil yet extremely foreboding robot named Rollin’ Justin.
Developed by German Aerospace firm DLRRollin’ Justin has been programmed and outfitted with some 84 sensors spread out over its massive exoskeletal frame. (Fun fact: DLR is actually German for “Cyberdyne Systems.”) Justin boasts an onboard 3-D camera system for analyzing points in space, and there are 43 joints throughout its body that help enable movement in performing any number of complex activities, including seven in each arm and 12 in each hand. (Thankfully, that’s still less than a quarter of what humans possess.)
What’s all that mobility for? Well, these intrepid German engineers have enabled Justin with enough programming know-how that it can, for example, operate a self-service coffee machine or catch a ball thrown its way.
Oh, you heard right. Justin has a response time of 5 milliseconds and its onboard prediction capability figures the speed and trajectory of the ball to guess where it will be within a 2-centimeter area. Justin’s success rate for catching balls is now over 80 percent.
By far, the creepiest aspect of Justin’s mobility is the way its head moves downward, following the path of the ball with its vision sensors as the spheroid lands safely in its hands, which immediately close up around its prize. External computers handle some of the computing power, and Justin can be tweaked by human users through an iPad, but make no mistake: Justin is certainly doing most of the heavy lifting here.
Should we be concerned? Indeed, making it safely through Self-Aware Day a couple of weeks back was a positive (and unexpected) development, but we can never stay idle in fighting the impending robot threat.
Don’t take my word for it. If Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend taught us anything, it’s that robots should be allowed nowhere near sports balls of any kind. (Warning: The following scene is gory, but the mere mention of “ Wes Craven” should’ve tipped you off to that.)  

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