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    Testing the Mantis Drone Claw Accessory

    We introduce Simone to a Tested tradition--opening mystery mailbags from viewers! This week's package contains an accessory for our quadcopter: a beautiful drone claw manufactured via a Kickstarter campaign. We have fun testing it in the the office though a series of challenges--what could go wrong?

    Meet the 2016 BattleBots, Part 2

    We're back in the builders' pit at this year's BattleBots, where we catch up with some teams from last season and meet some new competitors and their innovative bots. Check out one humanoid BattleBot that's puppetted like an animatronic boxing robot! The new season premieres tonight on ABC!

    Meet the 2016 BattleBots!

    The new season of BattleBots premieres this week! We were on set during the filming of this year's BattleBots, and met with some of the teams, old a new, backstage in the builder's pit area. Meet their new bots!

    Maker Faire 2016: OpenROV's New Trident Drone

    We catch up with OpenROV at Maker Faire to learn about their new Trident underwater drone. This new model is faster, has a better camera, and is built to be ready to dive out of the box. It also has a unique towable receiver buoy that floats and lets you pilot the drone remotely.

    Maker Faire 2016: 3D Printed Open-Source Telepresence Robot

    We kick off our Maker Faire 2016 coverage with this awesome telepresense robot made by researchers at the Galileo University in Guatemala. The robot's body is based off of the open-source InMoov project, with remote control via an Oculus DK2 headset and Perception Neuron motion capture system. Telepresense with some sense of proprioception!

    MIT Ingestible Origami Robot Design

    From MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab: "Researchers at MIT, the University of Sheffield, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology have demonstrated a tiny origami robot that can unfold itself from a swallowed capsule and, steered by external magnetic fields, crawl across the stomach wall to remove a swallowed button battery or patch a wound." Read more about how this robot was designed for the human body here.

    Inside Mike Senna's BB-8 Replica Droid!

    BB-8 replicas continue to impress us! We meet up with droid builder Mike Senna to take a look under the hood of his newest BB-8 robot replica. Mike, who first made a fully animated BB-8 in time for Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year, has now built a static model that is more practical for display and convention appearances. Here's how it works!

    Octopus-Inspired Robots Can Grasp, Crawl, and Swim

    Video of a robot developed by The BioRobotics Institute in Italy, which explores high-dexterity soft-bodied robots that mimic the movements of an Octopus. It's not just the form of the robot that takes inspiration from Octopuses, but also the way its limbs are controlled. From IEEE Spectrum: "Rather than relying on top-down instructions from the central nervous system, many of an octopus’s movements happen almost spontaneously–the result of the physical interplay between the animal’s body and its surrounding environment." Read more about this robot and its biomimicry lessons here.

    Tested Builds: Perfect Grade Gundam, Part 1

    Welcome to another week of builds! We're tackling a new type of kit this week: gunpla! And for our first Gundam build, we're going big with a Perfect Grade Zeta Gundam at 1/60 scale. Norm is joined by Sean Charlesworth, Frank Ippolito, and special guest Danica Johnson to work together and build this mecha! (This first video is available for everyone--watch the rest of the build by signing up with the Tested Premium member community!)

    Hands-On with DJI's Phantom 4 Quadcopter Drone

    We go hands-on with DJI's latest quadcopter, the Phantom 4! The newest Phantom drone improves on last year's model with three big features: much longer battery life, active obstacle and subject tracking, and a high-speed sport mode. We chat with DJI about how these features work and then put the drone in the sky for a test flight!

    Boston Dynamics Demos Next-Gen Atlas Robot

    Google-owned Boston Dynamics introduces the newest robot to stress test our empathy toward humanoid machines--this new Atlas survives bullying by walking away. From Boston Dynamics: "A new version of Atlas, designed to operate outdoors and inside buildings. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. It uses sensors in its body and legs to balance and LIDAR and stereo sensors in its head to avoid obstacles, assess the terrain and help with navigation. This version of Atlas is about 5' 9" tall (about a head shorter than the DRC Atlas) and weighs 180 lbs." We saw the previous Atlas platform up-close at last year's DARPA robotics challenge finals; its impressive engineering served to highlight the gulf between its abilities and the physical motions we take for granted.

    Soft Robotic Gripper Demonstrated at EPFL

    From Switzerland's EPFL: "Soft electronics are changing the way robots can touch. EPFL Scientists have developed a new soft robotic gripper -- made out of rubber and stretchable electrodes -- that can bend and pick up delicate objects like eggs and paper, taking robotics to a whole new level." The gripper uses electroadhesion (electrostatic forces) to mimic muscle functions, which you can read more about here.

    Testing SAFE Plus Stabilization for RC Aircraft

    If you've ever flown a fixed-wing RC model with artificial stabilization such as SAFE or WISE, then you know that these systems are not some magic wand that prevents all crashes and makes new pilots expert flyers overnight. Artificial stabilization is merely a useful training tool. When used correctly, it can significantly shorten a rookie pilot's learning curve—and perhaps help avoid some carnage along the way.

    Artificial stability systems continue to become more sophisticated and capable. The SAFE Plus (SAFE+) system installed in the Hobbyzone Sportsman S+ model is a prime example. This system is unique in that it utilizes GPS and a compass in order to realize heretofore unseen capabilities in fixed-wing models. In some cases, those new capabilities address shortcomings that I found in other stability systems.

    My original plan for this article was to exercise the various features of SAFE+ and report how well it performs. I'm still going to do that. Yet, as I spent more time flying the Sportsman S+, I slowly began to realize that artificial stability has turned a very significant corner. I think that these systems which are meant to assist new flyers could actually make learning more difficult and confusing for some pilots. I'll explain my reasoning for that opinion as well.

    Why GPS and Compass?

    The core functionality of a fixed-wing stability system is to know what straight and level flight is and then command the model to get there when asked. If a pilot gets disoriented or puts the airplane in a bad attitude, the system will execute recovery maneuvers and save the day. The pilot can then resume control with no harm done. One problem that I've found with these systems is that they still require the pilot to execute turns to keep the model in sight. Even a few seconds of unsure hesitation on the controls could be sufficient to send the perfectly stabilized model flying off into the horizon. That's one reason why it is still a good idea to have an experienced pilot on hand to coach you through those first awkward steps.

    This GPS module permits the SAFE+ system to overcome the shortcomings of other fixed-wing stabilization units.

    By integrating GPS and compass into SAFE+, the dreaded "fly away" scenario is mitigated. We've become accustomed to (and perhaps dependent on) the GPS and compass-enabled features in multi-rotors. By knowing where the model is and which way it is pointing, multi-rotors can automatically hold their position in the sky when the wind blows or return to their takeoff location with the push of a button. SAFE+ brings similar capabilities to fixed-wing aircraft.

    Meet the Yuneec Typhoon H 4K Camera Drone

    We check out the new Yuneec Typhoon H drone, an RC hexacopter with camera features to rival DJI's Inspire 1. The Typhoon H has a 4K camera mounted on a gimbal that can spin 360 degrees, landing struts that move out of the way, and several automated flight features. Plus, its price isn't that bad either!

    Watch: New Underwater Drone Flies and Swims

    From Rutgers University's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering: "Part submarine, part aircraft, Rutgers University researchers have developed a drone that is just as at home underwater as it is flying through the air. " The Office of Naval Research is funding Rutgers in the development of this drone--dubbed a SubUAS--which could be used for search and rescue missions as well as monitor oil spills and detect underwater mines.

    Making a Working BB-8 Droid Replica!

    Ever since BB-8 first made its appearance in the first Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser, droid builders have been trying to figure out how to make their own working replica. We visit the shop of Mike Senna, veteran robot builder, to follow his progress creating his own BB-8.

    Meet Pleurobot, an Amphibious Salamander Robot

    We meet Pleurobot, a Salamander-like robot that can both walk on land and swim in the water (with a wetsuit!) Kishore, our new science correspondent, chats with professor Auke Ijspeert of the EPFL about how Pluerobot's movements were programmed and how biorobotics engineers studied the physiology of salamanders in making this robot.

    Awesome BioRobots Inspired by Animal Movements!

    Roboticists from Switzerland's EPFL institute bring us four awesome robots that are designed to mimic the movements and gait of animals. We chat with these biorobotics researchers about the lessons learned from studying snakes and quadrupeds, and how their robots can be used in practical situations. Plus, these robots are actually pretty cute, and their lifelike movements make great animated GIFs!