Students build lightsaber-wielding ‘Jedibot’ powered by Kinect


Designed for a class project in just under a month, the ‘Jedibot’ is a pre-fabricated, bright orange robotic arm that has been programmed to attack students with a red foam lightsaber. The robotic arm chooses a random attack and the student under attack defends with a green lightsaber. The arm has been set to only attack every two or three seconds, so the speed of attacks can easily be blocked. However, it’s likely that the speed can be increased as the defensive positioning occurs in real time based off the movements of the student.

When the arm is put into defensive mode, the Microsoft Kinect starts watching the green lightsaber. The robotic arm reacts to the position of the green saber and moves to counter attacks. Assuming the student stays in the Kinect line-of-sight, the arm moves extremely fast and manages to block the majority of attacks. The color sensor in the Kinect isolates the color of the student lightsaber and is able to track the position of the swinging foam saber. If there were other green objects in the view of the Kinect, tracking wouldn’t work accurately.

Beyond the lightsaber-swinging robot, another group built a robot to flip burgers on a hot grill. The robotic arm uses a sensor to understand when the spatula is touching the meat patty. Groups also taught robotic arms how to play golf, draw time-lapse LED artwork and take photos.  Students demonstrated the different robotic projects as part of the final day of class in an Experimental Robotics course at Stanford.

Microsoft announced a partnership with LucasArts at E3 2011 in designing a Kinect-controlled Star Wars title specifically focusing on lightsaber battles. The Xbox 360 title is called Kinect Star Wars; our hands-on E3 impressions. Perhaps the developer should hire these Stanford students to help out.

Check out the video of the JediBot below:

Smart Home

With a simple command, Alexa can arm all your security devices

Alexa customers can query status plus arm or disarm home security systems several companies. New Alexa Guard skills set your home to away mode, send alerts when alarms or sensors go off, and contact home security monitoring services.

Xbox One S vs. PlayStation 4 Slim: Which console is worth your money?

Microsoft's new Xbox One S and Sony's PlayStation 4 "Slim" have bucked the generational gaming console trend. But which of these stopgap systems is worth spending your paycheck on?

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.

Relive Nintendo’s handheld golden age with the 25 best Game Boy Advance games

The Game Boy Advance was the swan song of the Game Boy era. It also happened to have a boatload of amazing games. We decided to countdown our 25 favorite GBA games. Check it out and let us know your favorites in the comments below!
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Rise of the Machines: Here’s how much robots and A.I. progressed in 2018

2018 has generated no shortage of news, and the worlds of A.I. and robotics are no exception. Here are our picks for the most exciting, game changing examples of both we saw this year.
Emerging Tech

Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019

Want to hitch a ride on a giant drone? The startup Lift Aircraft is gearing up to let paying customers fly its 18-rotor giant drones over assorted scenic landscapes across the U.S.
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Parker Solar Probe captures first image from within the atmosphere of the sun

NASA has shared the first image from inside the atmosphere of the sun taken by the Parker Solar Probe. The probe made the closest ever approach to a star, gathering data which scientists have been interpreting and released this week.
Emerging Tech

Say cheese: InSight lander posts a selfie from the surface of Mars

NASA's InSight mission to Mars has commemorated its arrival by posting a selfie. The selfie is a composite of 11 different images which were taken by one of its instruments, the Instrument Deployment Camera.
Emerging Tech

Researchers create a flying wireless platform using bumblebees

Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a novel way to create a wireless platform: using bumblebees. As mechanical drones' batteries run out too fast, the team made use of a biology-based solution using living insects.