Penguins, Atari 2600’s and The Future Show

The new series of the brilliant Gadget Show started tonight on Five. The show format is really like BBC’s Top Gear car show. This week they pitted the Atari 2600 against the Nintendo Wii to go onto the wall of fame (A bit like the cool wall in Top Gear). The Wii won, but really the Atari 2600 should have been the one on the wall. (To answer @andypiper’s correct prediction 🙂 )
One of the brilliant pieces on the show was the Festo robotic penguins. (thanks @OliverSzondi for that link)

Using nature as inspiration, and applying the science of engineering (physical and software) produces some very intriguing results. As a fan of both genetic programming and nature inspired code such as flocking so see it embodied in a physical device was fantastic.
They also covered telepresence, showing all sorts of real/virtual connectivity as they attempted to build a full size banger racing telepresence car. All this was very entertaining, though clearly is more of a regular day at the office for Feeding Edge 🙂
What is clear is that all the things the gadget show look into are very real and very now. Maybe there is space in the schedule for a future thinking gadget show? (We used to have tomorrows world). Start with the existing gadgets and then extrapolate forward a few years to show where it will end up. Happy to volunteer my services to any TV execs out there too.
Also worth following @JasonBradbury on twitter BTW.

2 thoughts on “Penguins, Atari 2600’s and The Future Show

  1. I have to say that I found the penguins rather brilliant as well. The processing required to enable them to behave that way was impressive.
    Built any life-size remote control cars lately? You should invite us over 🙂

  2. The weird thing about the penguin behaviour is that it can be a very basic piece of code to make it appear very organic. (Not withstanding the complexity of the mechanical engineering). I found a good example done in unity of flocking here
    The Craig Reynolds (no relation to Roo) documentation shows some complex results from simple rules. Each unit has a target (usually shared across each unit), if it collides with another it veers away and tries again. With a few variables like personal space, velocity etc some very complex patterns form.
    It is the most intriguing 20 lines of code I think that exists 🙂
    I should imagine the pengy had a few more parameters, as it was less about being a flock and more about personal exploration.
    As for life size RC, its great but I like driving too much 🙂 Maybe one day the Feeding Edge race team or at very least a sponsor of one will be on the cards.

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