Last last year, Adidas began rolling out its plans for Speedfactory, a set of robot-staffed manufacturing facilities located in Germany and, soon, the US. Today, the sportswear giant revealed the first silhouette developed through this new project, known as Futurecraft M.F.G. It's a sleek running shoe that features Adidas' trademark Primeknit upper and Boost midsole, similar to what you see on popular models like Kanye West's Yeezy 350s.
While there is some human assistance during the assembly process, as shown in the video below, the majority of the crafting is done by the machines. What's more, the design itself relies heavily on data from ARAMIS, a motion capture technology that maps an individual's skin, bone and muscle to create a more comfortable shoe.
Adidas says the M.F.G. (aka "Made for Germany") is only the beginning, with more products expected to come over the next few months. The company has been pushing the envelope with its Futurecraft line recently, which also includes sneakers made partially with 3D-printed materials.
Don't hold your breath if you want a pair of Futurecraft M.F.G., though, since only 500 pairs will be available for an undisclosed price.
Scientists develop ‘psychic robot’ that can predict our actions
The robots are coming. They’re taking our jobs, driving our cars, and soon theymight even wage war on us. Well, at least they can’t read our minds yet, right? Oops, nope, that one’s out too.
A so-called ‘psychic robot’ has been developed by bioengineers in the US, using a mathematical algorithm that can supposedly predict what we’re about to do. The software doesn’t actually read human minds per se, but it can reportedly calculate our intentions based on our previous activity – even if a particular action is interrupted.
For example, you’re reaching for something on your desk, but your hand collides with an unexpected obstacle that prevents you from grabbing it. Another person watching would be able to guess your intended motion and trajectory, but could a robot?
To test the theory, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago experimented with this very scenario, tracking and analysing the movement of people’s hands as they reached for an object on a virtual desk – but had their movement interrupted by an opposing force.
They created an advanced algorithm that, much like a person, could calculate where the hands had intended to go – in essence, a kind of predictive software that can foresee physical actions and intentions based on what comes before.
It sounds particularly impressive when you consider the implications for technological applications in the real world. For example, semi-autonomous vehicle controls could help avoid accidents based on observing previous driving actions.
“If we hit a patch of ice and the car starts swerving, we want the car to know where we meant to go,” said Justin Horowitz, first author of the study published in PLOS ONE.
“It needs to correct the car’s course not to where I am now pointed, but [to] where I meant to go. The computer has extra sensors and processes information so much faster than I can react. If the car can tell where I mean to go, it can drive itself there. But it has to know which movements of the wheel represent my intention, and which are responses to an environment that’s already changed.”
There are almost limitless theoretical applications, but another suitable area could be smart prosthetics. For people who experience tremors, the algorithm might be able to intuit your intended movements and reduce physical shaking.
“We call it a psychic robot,” said Horowitz. “If you know how someone is moving and what the disturbance is, you can tell the underlying intent — which means we could use this algorithm to design machines that could correct the course of a swerving car or help a stroke patient with spasticity.”
Japanese researchers invent a throwable 'Droideka' drone
A team of researchers from Japan's Chiba Institute of Technology recently presented a novel robot design at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. It can be thrown like the Explorer camera sphere, but after it stops rolling, thisnimble quadruped unfurls mechanical legs to skitter the rest of the way to its destination -- basically the same idea as Star Wars' Droideka, just without the laser cannons (yet).The robot is called the QRoSS. The second iteration, shown above, employs a 30 cm protective shell. It uses this shell mostly as a passive shock absorber, akin to a robotic roll cage. And since the legs operate independently from the outer structure, the robot can easily navigate rough and uneven terrain at speeds reaching 0.1 meter per second without fear of falling over. Even if it does, the cage will take the brunt of the damage, not the delicate machinery inside. This setup therefore could be employed in emergencies by first responders to scout ahead of rescue teams operating in damaged or structurally unsound buildings.
The current prototype version weighs about 2.5 Kg but the team is confident that they'll be able to scale the design into a far lighter and more huckable production package. There is no word yet as to when that may actually happen.