More on Walking Robots

I went to a regular DPRG meeting for the first time in several months yesterday. It turned out to be fairly productive. Eric and I did a little empirical research with his walking robot (which we’re likely to use as a starting point for the CF Walker design). We verified that it can travel up a handicap ramp. It would need some software changes and possibly some modifications to the feet to maintain balance on steeper inclines (or a sensor on each foot that could measure the inclination of the ground with each step and adjust the tilt of the leg accordingly).

We timed it moving 8 feet (2.4 meters) – it took about 20 seconds. That translates to 8.3 seconds to complete a meter (compared to our goal of 1.4 seconds per meter). We guessed there was a lot of software and hardware optimization that
could be done with the existing robot and I wouldn’t be suprised if we could drop it to 4-5 seconds per meter pretty easily. To get better speed than that would probably take more significant redesigning of hardware. Hopefully I can crank out some drawings shortly so we can start cutting parts for a 1/3 scale model in the next week or two.

Otherwise, this weekend has been spent pondering more corporate and “intellectual property” issues. Disney and the recording industry are making a major push to take away more consumer rights with the SSSCA, a new bill they bought from Senators Frizt Hollins and Ted Stevens. The bill hasn’t been passed yet but they’ll be pushing hard to get it passed this year. It’s sort of a sequal to the DMCA which took away our fair use rights to “intellectual property”. As many of us did when DMCA came up, Susan and I will be writing letters and doing what we can to stop the SSSCA bill from passing. But, of course, it’s very hard for citizens to interfere with corporate control of the government these days.

Slashdot has an article about the EFF OAL, yet another free music license. While the OAL looks interesting, I’m afraid what’s needed to fix the problem is something more than just another license. I have some thoughts on a possible solution that have been swirling in my brain for a couple of years but I haven’t quite managed to work out exactly how to make it work yet.

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