MiniRHex Makes Wiggly-Legged Unstoppability Tiny and Affordable

For about $200, you can build a surprisingly capable six-whegged robot with googly eyes RHex (pronounced “rex”) is a unique hexapedal robot that uses hybrid wheel-legs (whegs) to get around. It’s surprisingly adaptable, able to adjust its gait to conquer a variety of obstacles and terrains, and it can even do some impressive parkour. RHex has been around for nearly two decades, which is practically forever in robot years, but because of how versatile it is you still see it doing cool new stuff from time to time. Carnegie Mellon University’s Robomechanics Lab uses a fancy US $20,000 version of RHex called X-RHex Lite “to explore the connection between dynamic locomotion and perception,” but they’ve only got one robot since it’s wicked expensive, which limits the amount of research and outreach they can do. To fix this, they’ve designed a much smaller version of RHex called MiniRHex that you can Continue reading MiniRHex Makes Wiggly-Legged Unstoppability Tiny and Affordable

Deep-learning technique reveals “invisible” objects in the dark

Small imperfections in a wine glass or tiny creases in a contact lens can be tricky to make out, even in good light. In almost total darkness, images of such transparent features or objects are nearly impossible to decipher. But now, engineers at MIT have developed a technique that can reveal these “invisible” objects, in the dark. In a study published today in Physical Review Letters, the researchers reconstructed transparent objects from images of those objects, taken in almost pitch-black conditions. They did this using a “deep neural network,” a machine-learning technique that involves training a computer to associate certain inputs with specific outputs — in this case, dark, grainy images of transparent objects and the objects themselves. The team trained a computer to recognize more than 10,000 transparent glass-like etchings, based on extremely grainy images of those patterns. The images were taken in very low lighting conditions, with about Continue reading Deep-learning technique reveals “invisible” objects in the dark