Using an air jet to make a ball appear to levitate is an old physics lab trick; the air rushing around the ball traps it in a low-pressure pocket. But guiding "floating" balls through an obstacle course of hoops, making asymmetrical objects like apples and water bottles float as carefree as perfect spheres, or launching balls across a room with precision accuracy? That's impressive.
A pair of grad students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have done exactly that, using a computer to control a gimbaled air-jet system with two degrees of motion to not only "levitate" two different-sized balls at once, but also to make them follow difficult trajectories through obstacles, and even land in a small bucket of water all the way across the room.
Stereo vision cameras keep tabs on the objects, feeding a control algorithm data that allows the jet to keep objects at equilibrium and under control. Oh, and it peels onions. Don't believe us? Check out the video below. It makes your Slap Chop look pretty simple by comparison.
Ya, what else can you lift with jets of air and float across a room?
Incredible. The photo caption says that the device defies Newton's Laws and somehow overrules physics. That is an impressive claim. I hope the photo-captioning intern will be fired over that one.
it doesnt say it overrules it it just says the air jets are on til the computer shuts it down
OK, Asia has Robot Soccer. Well now we will be known for our Robot Beerpong. Mwahahaha!
I wonder what this would do to an animals head if you floated it in air for an hour or so.
That is impressive. I'd like to see the code interfacing the vision and control. Hint to the grad students reading this. Not sure what uses there are but I'm sure they will come up with plenty of uses. Office Pong shooting over the wall of a cubicle, with the ball on fire for example. It would outsell the wii.
Reminds me of Beer Frisbee.
Used to play it back in the day when I was a young Lieutenant in the Army.
Two guys stand 20 feet apart with a beer on the ground between their legs. Each takes turns trying to knock over the other's beer with the frisbee. When your beer is knocked down, you have to grab it quickly and chug it.
Heck, I just chucked the frisbee over my shoulder, reached down and guzzled my beer. Then I asked my opponent if he wanted to play again.
That doesn't take a 'bot.
I'd like to see a professional lose against this thing and when the opponent loses it says "game, set, and match! Score: 21 to 0"
Yea but the slap chop does nuts will we like the nuts?
This looks like fun.
I thought of dozens of things this system could be used for-- all but one of them are apps that alternative systems could handle better, cheaper, easier or quicker.
If, for instance, we put lots of these things in an orchard they could keep apples or other fruit from being bruised and then deposit them in shipping crates, but that would be orders of magnitude more expensive and complicated than simple air bags and robotic arms to pick them up, sort, and deposit them in their crates.
The one way we could use these gadgets would be to inspire students from grade school on-- they'd be relatively safe, inexpensive, inspiring, and playful and would be less intimidating than similar . Students could be challenged to design games a la the DARPA robot driving competition, the space elevator races and the various academic robot jousts. Students would need to develop an understanding aerodynamics, programming, and mechanical engineering to be most competitive, and they would develop a variety of skills-- such as strategy, planning, and troubleshooting-- in the process.
that's cool. I remember using vacuums to play around with levitating tennis balls, but this is a whole other level!