Category Archives: Videos

Meet the drone that flies, floats and swims underwater

The Loon Copter looks like something out of James Bond.

It’s in our nature to be curious, so it comes with no surprise that there have been a lot of excitement surrounding commercial drones. Drones open up the skies for ordinary people to explore the land from above and if the history of human innovation has taught us anything, it’s that we have the tendency take something great and make it even better. Researchers from Oakland University’s Embedded Systems Research Laboratory have done just with Loon Copter, the first aerial and underwater drone.


Fittingly named after the aquatic bird, the Loon Copter is a multi-rotor platform capable of traditional aerial flight, on-water surface operation and sub aquatic diving. The Michigan-based research team of Dr. Osamah Rawashdeh, Sean Simpson, Hamzeh Alzubi and Iyad Mansour started this project in 2014 and demonstrated successful operation in early 2015.


The Loon Copter has the body of a conventional quadcopter, but the cylinder that hangs below the air frame is what truly gives it the unique capabilities. The cylinder, when filled with air, changes the drone’s bouyancy so it can transition from flight to floating on water. The cylinder also can fill up with water and sink, allowing the drone to dive. The four propellers used for flying in the air, is also for navigating in the water. The drone can seamlessly return to flight by pumping out the water. Sounds like something out of a James Bond movie right? It’s not too far-fetched as the Loon Copter’s design can be adapted for search and rescue applications, or marine research.


The Loon Copter is one of the 10 international semifinalists in the 2016 Drones for Good competition, which received 1,017 entries from 165 countries. Dr. Rawashdeh and his team will be in Dubai from February 4-6, 2016 competing for the grand prize of $1 million. Learn more about the Loon Copter and the team’s work by visiting their website.

Watch a robot solve a Rubik’s Cube in one second

This Arduino-driven robot will unfix a Rubik’s Cube before you could even finish reading this sentence.  

Last November, 14-year-old Lucas Etter set a new world record for the fastest time to solve a Rubik’s Cube, becoming the first person to ever break the five-second barrier for unravel the iconic 3 x 3 x 3 puzzle. As impressive as that may be, nothing may compare to this duo’s latest project. That’s because software engineers Jay Flatland and Paul Rose have devised an automated mechanism that can crack it in just over a second.


With an Atmel chip at its heart, the system is comprised of stepper motors, some 3D-printed parts and four webcams all connected to a Linux-based computer. The software engineers used the Kociemba algorithm to solve the puzzle, and have modified the Rubik’s Cube by drilling four holes into the middle of each of its six sides so the robot could manipulate it. Since the robot needs the cameras in order to function, the webcams are covered with a piece of paper until the cube is properly scrambled.

The team is now in the process of applying for the Guinness World Record. Pending all goes to plan, the robot will crush the current record holder’s time of 3.253 seconds.

This giant drone lifted a record-setting weight of 134 pounds

One team of students from Norway built a massive Megacopter that set the record for the heaviest payload lifted by a remote-controlled drone.

The University of Oslo’s Department of Informatics has aspirations of one day using drones to transport people. (Not unlike the Ehang team, which debuted its person-carrying, helicopter-ish aerial vehicle at CES 2016.) Taking a step closer to a Jetsons-like future, one team of students led by Henning Pedersen has developed a giant aircraft which has set a new Guinness World Record for lifting the heaviest payload by a remote-controlled ‘copter.


The aptly named Megacopter is essentially a series of several small drones attached to a larger frame comprised of aluminum and plywood. There are a total of 48 motors and 13 propellers arranged in eight groups, as well as 24 LiPo batteries. A separate onboard controller kicks in if signal from the pilot is lost in order to help it float back down to the ground.

As you can see in the video below, large exercise balls were used as landing feet. Meanwhile, gyroscopes and accelerometers were employed as motor control and horizontal stabilizers.


A limited battery capacity gave the team five attempts to lift the weight, with the first two tries unsuccessful in achieving the 30-second minimum. Eventually, the Megacopter was able to raise its 134-pounds and 7.6-ounce load in the air for 37 seconds to claim its stake in the record books.

According to its creators, the drone only flies for three to six minutes but they hope to extend that time by adding more batteries in the near future. Currently, the Megacopter is registered to heft up to 330.5 pounds, but it is unknown for how long or how high.


This robot will save you from shoveling this winter

When was the last time you had to shovel snow from your driveway? What if you never had to again? 

It’s January, which for many of you means winter is well underway. Whether you simply hate the freezing cold or always seem to throw your back out while shoveling, what if there was a machine that could take care the tedious task for you without ever having to step foot outside? This is exactly what Vittorio Loschiavo decided to do by devising his own open source, remote-controlled Snow Plow Robot.

This piece of equipment is based on an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and can be wirelessly maneuvered using a PlayStation 2 controller. The bot consists of an ordinary snowplow frame, which supports a motorized blade along with electric motors, wheels and caterpillar tracks.

If you absolutely hate shoveling, head over to Open Electronics’ exhaustive project page where you’ll find everything you need to get started.

This carry-on bag follows you wherever you go

NUA Robotics’ new suitcase features a camera sensor that can detect where you are, and travel alongside you while on flat surfaces.

Good news frequent travelers, you may soon be able to navigate the airport with a piece of robotic luggage. This, of course, will allow you to free your hands to make calls, respond to emails, grab a quick bite to eat or whatever else you do during a layover. Not to mention, this can certainly come in handy for those in wheelchairs or on crutches.


Designed by NUA Robotics, the autonomous suitcase (whose prototype was on display back at CES 2016) is equipped with powered wheels, a camera sensor to avoid bumping into others and Bluetooth technology, which enables it to move alongside its user once activated by its accompanying mobile app.

A built-in rechargeable battery lasts anywhere between 60 to 90 minutes, which is plenty for rushing around the airport or heading to your car in the parking garage. But what happens when it dies? Despair not! Simply pop out the handle and pull it yourself, as if it were any ordinary ‘dumb’ bag. Or, if you have time to refuel, just plug it into an outlet. The suitcase can even be used to juice up any of your mobile devices via USB, and boasts an anti-theft alarm to prevent any envious onlookers from stealing it.

At the moment, the robotic luggage can achieve speeds of up to 3 mph, but that may be enhanced in the coming months. While it is not commercially available yet, you can see it in action below!


Atmel adds force sensing to capacitive touch

Atmel’s new force sensing technology gives users more control through the pressure of their touch.

During CES 2016, Atmel showcased its next-generation force sensing technology in the latest maXTouch U series for smartphones. This new technology boasts 3D interactions for more intuitive control. Meaning, it enables a user to preview, zoom, play game, text and much more, simply by applying pressure to the screen with the touch of a finger.

Atmel’s force sensing technology can detect how much pressure a user applies to the screen and respond accordingly. For instance, a user can apply variable force to the glass on the touchscreen to activate various commands with their finger: slight pressure can be applied to the screen to select a gaming app and more pressure can be applied to start the game.

This giant LED thermometer scarf shows the temp outside

With this scarf, you’ll never have to wonder how cold it is when you step outside.

Winter is well underway in some parts of the country, and if you have to head out into the frigid air, you’ll probably want a comfy scarf around your neck. But what about an accessory that not only keeps you warm, but looks and functions as a giant thermometer as well? That’s exactly what Instructables user “caitlinsdad” has created using an Adafruit FLORA (ATmega32U4), humidity and temperature sensor modules to detect the weather conditions, a NeoPixel ring for the bulb, and an LED strip to reveal the temp in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.

This alarm clock slaps you in the face to wake you up

Always seem to hit the snooze button? Well, this alarm will hit you instead. 

A teeth cleaning helmet, check. A breakfast feeding robot, check. So what’s the next morning routine Simone Giertz has set out to automate, you ask? Getting you out of bed. Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than waking up from a sound slumber. How many times have you hit the snooze button or dismissed an alarm only to shoot up hours later and realize that you accidentally slept in? To help avoid situations like these, the always innovative (and hilarious) Maker decided to build an alarm mechanism that literally slaps you in the face with a rubber arm to jumpstart your day.


In order to accomplish this, Giertz picked apart an ordinary alarm clock, wired it to an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), and controlled a 165rpm brushless DC motor through a relay.


Those wishing to get into more detail will be happy to learn that she has provided an elaborate overview of the project in the first video below, and followed it up with a demonstration of the system. Don’t feel like being slapped in the face? You can always get ejected out of bed instead… just sayin’.

Hacked 3D printer decorates Japanese bento lunch boxes

And to think, we were told not to play with our food as kids! 

Over the past couple of months, we’ve seen some rather impressive 3D printers extrude a whole heck of a lot more materials than just plastic. One area in particular that has generated quite a bit of interest has been 3D-printed food. From chocolate to pizza to pancakes, additive manufacturing technologies will continue to revolutionize the way in which we prepare and consume our meals. Recently, Maker Yoshihiro Asano hacked an AT90USB1286 based Solidoodle 3D printer to create innovative designs on traditional Japanese packed lunches, also known as bento boxes.


For those of you who may not be familiar with bento, these are single-portion lunches that you can either make at home or purchase on-the-go. Housed in a box-shaped container, the meals consist of everything you would need to get through a day: rice, fish, meat, and pickled or steamed vegetables. It is also Japanese tradition to decorate the enclosed items with imagery of people, animals, buildings or other everyday things like flowers.


While the aptly-named Lunchbot doesn’t necessarily 3D print an entire bento lunch for you, it does lend a hand during the decorating process to help you one-up your friends and fellow colleagues while sitting around the table. As Asano explained, the device is essentially a hacked Solidoodle 3D printer that began as a joke yet turned into something much more enjoyable.


Inspired by a rice flour paste printing Delta bot, the Maker designed a specialty extruder for his Solidoodle and wrote a program in Processing for applying dry furikake to his boxes in any shape desired. The software then converts these pictures into simple patterns, which are translated into G-code and used to instruct Lunchbot how to draw the furikake. In order to make this work, the cartridges holding the seasoning are controlled by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and tasked with dropping the flakes onto the rice.

Watch it in action below!

NASA unboxes the first 3D-printed objects from space

Quincy Bean, the principal investigator for the space station printer, removes and inspects the first items made in space with a 3D printer.

Remember when the first 3D-printed objects in space touched down on Earth via SpaceX’s Dragon back on February 10, 2015? Well, now NASA has released a video showing the unboxing of the 21 parts that were manufactured aboard the International Space Station.


The Zero-G 3D Printing Demonstration, which is a collaboration between Silicon Valley-based Made In Space and NASA, represents the first steps toward realizing a print-on-demand “machine shop” for long-duration missions and sustaining human exploration of other planets, where there is extremely limited availability of Earth-based resupply and logistics support. In-space additive manufacturing technologies will ultimately help NASA explore Mars, asteroids, and other locations in the future.

“Before the printer was launched to the space station, it made an identical set of parts. Now, materials engineers will put both the space samples and ground control samples literally under a microscope and through a series of tests,” NASA writes.

In order to protect the space-manufactured items, they must remain in bags until inspection is complete and testing begins at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Once opened, project engineers will compare dimensions, layer thickness, layer adhesion, relative strength and relative flexibility between the identical items made in space and on Earth. From there, they will develop a database of mechanical properties, noting any difference in durability, strength, and structure.

Watch below as more than 20 parts were unboxed on April 6, 2015 at Marshall’s Additive Manufacturing Laboratory.