Commercial Robotics

Robonexus: Day 3 Report

Posted 9 Oct 2005 at 06:17 UTC by steve Share This

The big news today was that not just one but several robots completed the DARPA Grand Challenge. Many Robonexus attendees were making regular visits to the CMU booth where they had a live feed of the competition status. One disapointment today was the cancellation of Phillip Torrone's talk when he missed his flight. Lots of MAKE fans were looking forward to it. A number of people noted that the MAKE folks have gained a reputation for missing speaking engagements. Best talk today was probably Joanne Pransky's on the Frankenstein Complex. Instead of one more talk about the best batteries or motors, she brought up some of the big questions of robotics; free will, consciousness, emotions, and rights. The day ended with all the coolest folks hanging out at the Servo mixer. I've uploaded another batch of new photos to the gallery.

As Shattner would say, This is big! Really big!, posted 9 Oct 2005 at 12:55 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

You weren't kidding when you said that ball trail was big!. I figured it was about 3' tall from the yesterday's picture. That looks to be 15' or 20' tall! Wow! Very cool! I want one for Christmas! Thanks for all the great pics! Wish I could be there with yall.

This thing has some BIG balls!, posted 9 Oct 2005 at 22:29 UTC by Rog-a-matic » (Master)

Actually they are pool balls. Sadly, all the balls were laying on the bottom even though the elevator was running. Obviously a leak of some sort. It looks like the way the elevator was made, it's designed to have several (maybe 8) balls going at the same time. It's painted well too. All welded metal rods.


4 rails instead of 2, posted 10 Oct 2005 at 02:00 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

That's odd that the balls were all at the bottom because it looked like they made that RBS with 4 rails throughout the sculpture instead of 2. 2 rails is of course more elegant than 4 but 4 pretty much ensures that no balls fall off. Yep, perhaps there was some track breakage somewhere.

Gravitram, posted 10 Oct 2005 at 03:04 UTC by marcin » (Journeyer)

In Canberra (the Australian capital) in the Kids science museum (Questacon), they have something similar called the Gravitram, which is 8-10 feet tall. You can't see too much detail, but you can get a brief description by visiting their site ( and selecting the virtual tour, then after you enter the building, pan to the left and it's there. The limited view doesn't do it justice though.

After a brief google there's more info from the guy who made it on:

Cheers, Marcin.

Gravitram, posted 10 Oct 2005 at 03:49 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

That last Gravitram on that website is the one in Dallas that I think Steve was trying to talk them into letting me fix it since it was broken for a time.

Mesmerising, posted 10 Oct 2005 at 04:21 UTC by marcin » (Journeyer)

Those things are incredibly cool, and that giant thing that Steve photographed would be a wonder to see.

balls, posted 10 Oct 2005 at 05:31 UTC by steve » (Master)

When we saw it the previous night, most of the balls were zooming around like they were supposed to. We noticed two balls on the bottom. There are several points where balls jump over things or get launched through the air, so they probably miss once in a while.

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