ROBOTICS! upcoming Spare Parts movie, other movies/ documentaries, google, lego mindstorms, Mars rovers, Darpa road race, UAVs/ drones, etc

sparepartshi all. have been collecting links & wanting to write about ROBOTICS almost since the beginnings of this blog, but couldnt find a good excuse so far.

in my opinion, although this is not shared by many hardcore CS idealists (who from online experience around stackexchange, possibly representative, tend to disdain applied stuff somewhat), robotics is one of the absolute best ways to learn about computer science principles and most other STEM facets also, especially at a younger age. 💡 😎 😀 ⭐ ❤

(eg MIT Tech Review article [a2] “Robots make CS fun again”…. ❓ er, like it was ever not fun?) 😛

google acquiring boston dynamics last year was a big deal and gamechanger but strangely it didnt seem to make many waves or be covered much in the media.

however, finally found a great trigger/ impetus to write this all up! the occasion for this post is the new movie called Spare Parts which will release in theatres in about a week.

had heard about this story years ago in wired, but then recently discovered theres an excellent documentary “underwater dreams” [b4] which saw about 2wk ago and highly recommend it. it has many engaging elements, and a strong political angle (US immigration laws). to me its great the filmmaker did not shy away from this angle and instead embraced it, but fully expect that it will be too controversial for some.

the story is about 4 kids at a high school in Phoenix who decided to enter a collegiate underwater robotics competition with some of the very best teams in the country competing, eg CMU and MIT. the movie has many big stars such as George Lopez, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Lee Curtis.

joshua davis the Wired writer wrote an older article now almost 1decade old, and he just came out with a new book. fabulous! this movie may have the potential to become a STE(A)M classic seen in classrooms etc (the A stands for AlgorithmiCS!). it reminds me of an old inspirational movie Stand and Deliver that was making the rounds many yrs ago (iirc about learning calculus!) and raved about by teachers in my own ancient high school era.

in 1999 bought the 1st lego mindstorms kit immediately as it was released and got to see the lego team in person at their US cross country mall tour. dont recall a lot although there was a wallclimber and a “lego expert builder” there in person. what awesome technology. highly recommend it. built and programmed two biped walkers, very challenging projects. wish that this technology had been around when went to college. (did have one mechanical engineering “mechatronics” senior year class that featured a robotics project.)

over the years there have been very many lego robotics rubiks cube solvers showing up on Youtube. one of the first by JP Brown probably over 10years old was phenomenal and unthinkable at the time, and now its almost a cliche. one of the most impressive is a world record Cubestormer. check out those videos, they are eyepopping and jawdropping.

followed the Darpa robotics challenge closely years ago and thats another very engaging Nova video which I highly recommend also.

the Mars rovers over the last decade are an incredible story and theres a great and inspiring Imax movie on them and various documentaries. oh yeah and they run Java! talk about Java Everywhere! (an old Sun marketing slogan….)

the UAV technology is advancing very quickly. the synchronized quadcopter feats on youtube videos of throwing and catching balls, pole balancing etc are like scifi realized. unfortunately this area has a dark side of military drone technology which is a whole other story.

microfabrication is advancing also. we are far from Drexlers nanotechnology dreams but microfabrication is moving along quite nicely.

and finally, the robotic soccer competitions are really fun to watch. unfortunately these have not taken off a lot as mass spectator sports. the comedy channel robot battles of years ago (one year with playboy bunnies!) are mostly forgotten. am really hoping and have dreamed since childhood a robotic sport with high spectator appeal materializes (near other big human sports) but it doesnt seem to be on the immediate horizon.

for years dreamed of some kind of robotics job and thought the field might explode akin to the dotcom boom. its moving along nicely but its more of a slow cooking than a big explosion and maybe it will continue like that. have been waiting for the “killer app” product. what could it be? a housecleaning robot might come close. but none is on the horizon. a few yrs ago heard about a ~$200K robot that could iron clothes. still a ways to go.

but some of the old robot dreams of past visionaries (eg Asimov) are slowly coming to life in front of us. exciting times.

so with the great recent Imitation Game movie (with oscar buzz!), and the upcoming Blackhat, lately its been a CS geek dream at the theaters…. hope some of you zillions of lurkers of this blog take a look at these movies, and maybe even 1/1000th of you might do me a teeny )( favor and write me a comment. 🙂

(1/14) am adding links on Boy Scouts robotics, programming, and video game related topics, a really great way for kids to learn about these topics at a young age.[j]

a. robot
b. movies
c. google/boston dynamics
d. control
e. uav
f. lego
g. fabrication
h. future
i. competition
j. boyscouts

2 thoughts on “ROBOTICS! upcoming Spare Parts movie, other movies/ documentaries, google, lego mindstorms, Mars rovers, Darpa road race, UAVs/ drones, etc

  1. vznvzn Post author

    forgot to cite it when this was written but nows a great time to point out/ revisit, big hero 6 is a great movie, has a fun, somewhat similar robotics/ team theme, and just won oscar for best animated feature 2014! yay! go robotics! ❗ 🙂


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