Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 7 December 2012

Parrot drives robot buggy with beak -

Parrot drives robot buggy with beak - 

An engineer has created a homing robot buggy capable of being driven around the home by his pet parrot.

Andrew Gray, a student at the Electrical and Computer Engineering department of the University of Florida, designed the BirdBuggy to solve a problem he was having with Pepper, his loud bird.

"Our parrot, when he's left alone, screams. It's ear piercing even if you're several rooms away," explained Gray to the university's WUFT radio station. Now Pepper can manoeuvre himself from room to room by standing on the box-like buggy's perch and manipulating a joystick with his beak.

The buggy was not the first attempt at solving the noise problem with technology. "What we normally do is spray him with a water bottle and it shuts him up for a little bit," said Gray. "So I built a voice-activated squirt gun. It worked really well at first, but then he started using it as a bird bath and would scream just to get squirted."

The new solution came when Gray decided to tackle the underlying separation issue rather than its squawky symptoms.

"What's the underlying issue? The problem is that he's not in the room with us. When he's in the room he's fine, so I thought 'how do I get him around the house?'"

The BirdBuggy's final design took Gray four months and includes infrared sensors to prevent Pepper barging into things and a type of homing mechanism which can be activated after Pepper has abandoned the craft, allowing the vehicle to locate and travel to its docking station using green and orange reference spheres.


Genetically modified mosquitoes set to be released into the Fla. Keys in experiment to fight dengue fever -

Genetically modified mosquitoes set to be released into the Fla. Keys in experiment to fight dengue fever - 

Hundreds of thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes are awaiting federal approval for release into the Florida Keys as part of an experiment aimed at reducing the risk of dengue fever.

Mosquito control officials have requested the Food and Drug Administration’s sign off on the experiment that would be the first of its kind in the U.S.

Some residents of the tourist town of Key West worry though on how much research has been done to determine the risks of releasing genetically modified mosquitoes on the Keys’ fragile ecosystem.

Officials are targeting the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes because they can spread dengue fever, a disease health officials thought had been eradicated in the U.S. until 93 cases originated in the Keys in 2009 and 2010.


Austrian bus driver returns half a million dollars found in bag -

Austrian bus driver returns half a million dollars found in bag - 

A Vienna bus driver who found a bag with 390,000 euros ($509,700) in cash inside handed the money over to police, who tracked down the elderly woman who had inexplicably left her fortune behind.

The driver, identified by the Vienna transport authority only as Wolfgang R, was inspecting his vehicle at the end of the line when he found the bag in a seat behind the driver’s.

“At first I thought it was shopping or medicine,” the Krone newspaper quoted him as saying. However, when he opened the bag he found a collection of 500-euro notes staring back at him.

Police in the Austrian capital used a bank deposit slip inside the bag to trace the owner. There was no word on whether the woman had given the honest driver a reward.

($1= 0.7652 euros)

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