Flying robots to start serving in restaurants by end-2015

TODAY reports: Infinium-Serve, the autonomous flying robotic waiters, will be first launched at one of Timbre Group’s five outlets in Singapore.

SINGAPORE: Restaurant-goers in Singapore can expect to be served by autonomous flying robots – the world’s first commercial attempt – by the end of next year.

Infinium-Serve, the autonomous flying robotic waiters, will be first launched at one of Timbre Group’s five outlets in Singapore. Infinium Robotics CEO Woon Junyang estimated the project to cost a “low seven-figure sum” for the five outlets, subject to final negotiations and certain variables of the actual deployment of the robots.

Infinium Robotics signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Timbre Group on Oct 31. Both companies are seeking productivity-related government grants to help offset deployment costs.

Mr Woon said he is confident that such robotic solutions will help alleviate the Singapore’s labour crunch. Introducing this technology into restaurants would take away mundane tasks of serving food and drinks, and allow human waiters to focus on higher-value tasks such as getting feedback from customers, he said.

“This will result in an enhanced dining experience which will eventually lead to increased sales and revenue for the restaurants,” he added.

A prototype of Infinium-Serve was showcased to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the inaugural launch of the National Productivity Month in early October.


Army Developing Micro Rotor Drone

This Is The Army’s New Pocket Drone

This Is The Army's New Pocket Drone

The Cargo Pocket Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance program, known also as CP-ISR, is a new nano-drone concept dreamed up by the folks at the Army’s Natick Soldier Research Center. Where as most unmanned aircraft look to provide info as to what is going on over the next hill, or far over horizon, CP-ISR is all about looking around the next doorway or hedge.

You can read all about what the future of micro combat drones will look like by clicking here.

This Is The Army's New Pocket Drone

The whole idea is to bring the unmanned surveillance concept down to the individual squad, and eventually the individual soldier level, and to do so in an affordable and expendible package. The Black Hornet is still in development, and a hardened, more powerful military grade data-link is on the way, along with low light video capabilities and improved controlability for operating in indoor, and other dense environments.

Eventually, these little humming bird sized craft will be able to follow special forces teams into high-threat indoor environments, or scout behind barriers and into dark windows for sniper teams. Who knows, eventually they may even become deadly weapons themselves.

Other similar systems are being developed by different military R&D houses and defense contractors, but the Black Hornet seems to be one of the most developed and well regarded at this time. Regardless of if it makes it into widespread production and deployment, it is safe to say that the age of micro drone technology has arrived, and life will never be the same again because of it.

Image source: US Army

Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address

The World’s Fastest Model Rocket Car Just Hit 285 mph


The World's Fastest Model Rocket Car Just Hit 285 mph

A toy car could easily break the sound barrier—or go even faster—in a kid’s spirited imagination. But back in reality it takes more than that. You need engineering, patience, and a handful of rocket model engines—all of which helped Samvir Thandi’s SST-3B-Falcon rocket hit a top speed of 287.59 mph.

That was fast enough to set a new world record for model rocket cars, besting the previous record from last year by a whopping 84 mph. And that speed was actually just the average of two runs which is how the record is officially determined. On one run the small car actually hit 344 mph.

Of course at those speeds the car is basically just a missile with wheels, and is completely uncontrollable. Which is why on one run it nearly obliterated a set of timing gates.

And it’s obvious that speed runs in Samvir’s family. His father, Jaswant Thandi, is on the British Bloodhound SSC team that is hoping to break the 1,000 mph mark in a full-sized rocket-powered car. Or at the least, hopefully one-up his 18-year-old son. [GetWestLondonvia Damn Geeky]

A Sniping Sprinkler That Only Targets Your Plants When They Need Water

I posted the following article as it related to drones, remote control, building security and keeping your trees growning…


A Sniping Sprinkler That Only Targets Your Plants When They Need Water

A built-in sprinkler system is a better way to water a garden than just standing there randomly blasting plants with a hose. And taking that idea one step further, the Dropletturns your sprinklers into intelligent snipers that only water the plants you tell them to using a focused stream—except when rainy weather already has.

When connected to your home’s Wi-Fi network the compact Droplet water cannons can not only be programmed to fire exactly where you target them, you can also program an exhaustively detailed schedule of when they should and shouldn’t blast away.

But the software controlling the sprinklers also has access to detailed weather reports so it knows not to water if there’s strong odds it’s going to rain soon. You can even specify the type of plants and soil it’s watering, and it will adjust its own schedule to account for special needs.

A Sniping Sprinkler That Only Targets Your Plants When They Need Water

Besides being a much better way to water a garden for the lazy and technologically inclined, the Droplet is also promised to dramatically reduce your water consumption—up to 90 percent—saving you hundreds of dollars on your water bill every year. Which is great because each Droplet sprinkler head will cost you $300 once it’s finally available.

So we might actually hold out for generation two that hopefully introduces some motion tracking capabilities to constantly harass the local squirrel population—even if it triples our water bill. [Droplet via Gizmag]



With its latest exhibit, “EDAG GENESIS”, EDAG offers a visionary outlook for what might well be the next industrial revolution in automotive development and production.


A component, module, or even a complete, one-piece vehicle body produced in one single production process! Impossible? Current advances in additive manufacturing have brought what still sounds like Utopia one step closer to reality! The industrial 3D print revolution has begun. Once consumer printers for € 1,000 have flooded the mar-ket, industrial applications will soon follow the consumer hype. Reason enough for EDAG, one of the leading engineering service providers in the automotive industry, to give an idea of the revolution that might well occur in the automotive industry, and assess the status quo of additive manufacturing processes from today’s point of view.

At the EDAG stand in Geneva, the company will be presenting a futuristic vehicle sculpture “EDAG GENESIS”, which, using the example of a body structure, is designed to demonstrate the revolutionary potential of additive manufacturing. Including bionic lightweight principles, topological optimisation and load-conforming design strategy!
In a roadmap, EDAG assesses promising technologies for the development and possible production of structural parts and modules in low-volume series.

Our exhibit, “EDAG GENESIS” can be seen as a symbol of the new freedoms that additive manufacturing processes will open up to designers and engineers in development and production.
Additive manufacturing will make it possible to come a great deal closer to the construction principles and strategies of nature. Developed functionally and evolutionarily into optimised structures from which man can learn. And the entire process is tool-free, resource-saving and eco-friendly.


“EDAG GENESIS” is based on the bionic patterns of a turtle, which has a shell that provides protection and cushioning and is part of the animal’s bony structure.
The shell is similar to a sandwich component, with fine, inlying bone structures that give the shell its strength and stability. This concept is reflected in the exhibit.

In “EDAG GENESIS”, the skeleton is more of a metaphor; it is there to ensure not mobility, but passenger safety. The framework calls to mind a naturally developed skeletal frame, the form and structure of which should make one thing perfectly clear: these organic structures cannot be built using conventional tools!

Generative manufacturing processes or additive manufacturing will leave rapid prototyping fields of application behind, and add a further, revolutionary dimension to classical manufacturing and structural design methods. The processes enable parts to be designed so that they are load-specific, multi-functional and bionic, while ensuring ideal wall thickness and outstanding material properties. Working directly from the data models, tool-free, highly flexible production is possible. Weldable metals and plastics developed to be suitable for specific applications will pave the way to future applications.
Our long-standing knowledge of production-oriented design is being revolutionised by new dimensions, and we need new approaches and development tools to be able to design bionically optimised solutions.


Future or Utopia? The EDAG analysis supplies the answers!
The immense potential of additive manufacturing inspired us to define and analyse the current status quo of the latest technologies, and then assess the extent to which it might be possible to use them in vehicle development and production. What process offers the best prospects for being able to produce structural parts with the required product properties in a single production step, without the use of tools?

Evolution in the speed and growth of construction volumes in additive manufacturing processes and corresponding automation engineering gives rise to expectations of a 100 to 1000-fold increase in productivity in the next 10 to 20 years. Combinations of hybrid structures with classical construction methods (sheet metal, cast metal, fibre composites, etc.) will bring about radical improvements in functional properties and efficiency.

A multi-disciplinary team of EDAG designers and specialists from the EDAG Competence Centre for Lightweight Construction took a close look at the potential of a number of promising processes, and discussed them with research and industrial experts. Possible candidates for the situation analysis of additive manufacturing were technologies such as selective laser sintering (SLS), selective laser melting (SLM), stereolithography (SLA), and fused deposition modelling (FDM).

In the assessment, a specially developed evaluation matrix was used to quantify the structural relevance of the technologies. How wide is the range of materials that can be used, and what degree of complexity and lot sizes are involved in producing structural parts? The processes were also assessed and classified with regard to part size, tolerance, ecological performance and manufacturing costs.

Apart from SLM, the generative process already industrially available today, with its portfolio of weldable metals and plastics, a refined FDM process also looks to be a promising candidate for the future-oriented subject of additive manufacturing.
Unlike other technologies, FDM makes it possible for components of almost any size to be produced, as there are no pre-determined space requirements to pose any restrictions. Instead, the structures are generated by having robots apply thermoplastic materials. Complex structures are built up layer by layer in an open space – without any tools or fixtures whatsoever.
It might even be possible to integrate semi-finished products using this method. Metallic SLM aside, most of the high-performance plastics used in additive manufacturing processes do not yet achieve the strength, stiffness and energy absorption values generally required in the industry. This is remedied in the FDM process by the parallel addition of an endless carbon fibre to the production process. One of the central characteristics of FDM is its potential for the incorporation of fibre reinforcements to systematically increase strength and stiffness.


Even though industrial usage of additive manufacturing processing is still in its infancy, the revolutionary advantages with regard to greater freedom in development and tool-free production make this technology a subject for the future. From today’s point of view, the production of components, and in the next stage modules, is certainly feasible. As for the target of using additive manufacturing to produce complete vehicle bodies: there is still a long way to go before this becomes an industrial application, so for the time being, it remains a vision.
The development process chain, from performance specifications to topological analysis, function development, bionic design and production-oriented design, has not yet been established, and is still very time-consuming. Additive manufacturing processes have not yet been integrated into the established manufacturing process chain.
Decentralised manufacturing structures will help to bring about flexibility and efficiency in the future product evolution, which is far more than just spare parts manufacturing. Technical knowledge relating to the manufacturing and development process chains is not always pooled together. Tool-free, variant-compatible additive manufacturing might even also make it possible to produce small quantities of ultra-light, CO2-optimised vehicle designs that meet crash and load requirements (e.g. for NCAP or EU); these could be made with great precision for special markets, possibly even in an existing vehicle.

The EDAG development teams, competence centre for lightweight construction, and production specialists from EDAG Production Solutions will be keeping a close watch on the evolution of additive manufacturing.


New, bionic design options also help to reduce the weight of the plant technology, leading to energy savings in its production and operation: the tendency is towards lighter components, lighter tools, lighter clamping technology, smaller robots.
Additive manufacturing potential will considerably simplify the complexity of the press shop process and the layout of sub-assembly production. Function modules will be directly generated or systematically fitted with reinforcing elements, pressed parts will be structurally simplified, as complex structures will be implemented using the additive methods. As the additive technology requires very little in the way of fixtures, the production system will react with far greater tolerance to model changes, facelifts and customer-specific product modifications.

The target: to develop and present practicable and valid applications for use in component development and production. The first stage will be small structural parts; however, we intend to make a real contribution to the development of the revolutionary idea of additive manufacturing.


Throwable Camera Prototype Guarantees Pitch Perfect Photography


Throwable Camera Prototype Guarantees Pitch Perfect Photography

It turns out that making a throwable camera isn’t that tricky. But making a throwable camera that doesn’t capture random obscure images, or spinning video that induces motion sickness, is kind of hard. In fact it’s taken Steve Hollinger years to develop such a camera, but with the Squito—his latest prototype—it looks like he’s almost nailed it.

As demonstrated, the ball features a series of built-in cameras looking out in all directions that are able to take photos of people as it sails through the air using intelligent image recognition. It’s also able to capture sweeping panoramas, full 360 degree images by automatically stitching together multiple exposures, and even full stabilized video.

But besides serving as a novel way to take a selfie, Holinger’s designed the Squito with several practical applications in mind. Thermal imaging and night vision capabilities coupled with the ability to wirelessly broadcast images makes it a useful tool for rescue personnel trying to assess a dangerous situation. Multiple Squitos can even be thrown at the same time to capture a wider field of view.

And most importantly, one day it’s going to totally revolutionize the baseball instant replay. The only thing standing between the Squito dream and reality is enough funding to perfect and commercialize this prototype. [Serveball via Engadget]

NHK balloon camera aims to make bird’s-eye shots easy



February 23, 2012

NHK's gyro-stabilized balloon camera rig

NHK’s gyro-stabilized balloon camera rig

Image Gallery (11 images)

For those who dream of one day shooting aerial footage without the bulky cranes and cables to hold everything aloft, Japan’s NHK may have just the thing: a tethered, balloon-mounted, four-axis gyro-stabilized camera rig that weighs in at about 2 kg (4.4 lb), can soar up to 300 m (984 ft) and takes its commands from the re-purposed remote control for a toy helicopter.

Once airborne, the camera can “pan, tilt, and zoom as usual,” NHK’s Tsuyoshi Sekiguchi explained to DigInfo. “In addition, the gimbal works to keep the direction fixed, so even if the camera shakes, it stays facing the same direction, and the image is stable. To put it simply, four gimbal axes are controlled, and they have gyros, and the direction is kept constant using the gyro values.”

Although versatile and easy to set up, the balloon platform does have certain limitations. Like most lighter-than-air craft, its large surface area makes it susceptible to strong breezes, so the NHK rig is limited to operating at wind speeds of 7 m/sec (about 15 mph) or less. The balloon’s top payload is about 4 kg (just under 9 lbs) so only smaller cameras can go aloft for the time being. The engineers did add a safety mechanism that brings the rig safely down should its tether get cut, so at least worries about losing everything are minimized.

NHK's gyro-stabilized balloon camera rig

NHK’s gyro-stabilized balloon camera rig

As the video below shows, the rig is fairly adept at damping unwanted motion, especially at more modest elevations. “The height actually used for a bird’s-eye view is about 30-50m (98-164 ft) because that’s the most practical altitude, so we’ve designed this system to work stably at that height,” Sekiguchi added.

Currently there’s no word on price point or availability, but NHK claims ease of use and cost reduction were two big motivations for the design, so if all goes well, we may be seeing a lot more of this technology at games and big events in the not-too-distant future.

Source: DigInfo

About the Author
Randolph JonssonA native San Franciscan, Randolph attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland before finding his way to the film business. Eventually, he landed a job at George Lucas’ Industrial Light + Magic, where he worked on many top-grossing films in both the camera and computer graphics departments. A proud member of MENSA, he’s passionate about technology, optimal health, photography, marine biology, writing, world travel and the occasional, well-crafted gin and tonic!   All articles by Randolph Jonsson