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Hardware Hacking Japan Hardware Build

Japanese Military Invents Tumbling, Flying Sphere 156

thebchuckster writes "A Japanese developer has released a cool, new sphere that is billed as being able to go where humans can't. The sphere is 17-inches, features eight movable rudders, and can hover in the air for at least eight minutes. While reaching speeds of up to 37 miles per hour, the sphere deftly moves through the air without much effort. It doesn't take much to get it up in the air and moving, and it will be adept at going into tight areas."
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Japanese Military Invents Tumbling, Flying Sphere

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  • by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @12:50PM (#36786774)

    And if you stick a really nasty looking syringe on it, it makes a great Deathstar interrogation system.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When will the US make one and attach a missile to it?

    • more like a bottle rocket. the whole rig only weighs 12 ounces.

      • by Dr Max ( 1696200 )
        and with only 8 minutes of hover time you would have to be pretty quick to fire it
        • A grenade you can control the flight path of from outside the building your target is hiding in? sounds pretty damn useful to me, even with an 8 minute battery!

          • Have you seen the controls of this thing ? Throwing is probably easier and more accurate. It has no camera and no sensors, so you'll need eyes on the target and eyes on the ball for the duration of the throw.

            Good luck staying alive while you guide that thing in.

            (besides, it's so big and slow that it makes an easy target for shooting. UAV's are so very good because of their stealth. You can't seriously hope to see a 1m plane 20 meters somewhere above your head so any action by that plane comes as a complete

            • >It has no camera and no sensors...
              Watch the video, it *does* have a camera. One of the potential uses is searching damaged buildings for survivors, it wouldn't be much good for that without a camera.
          • by Mhtsos ( 586325 )

            A grenade you can control the flight path of from outside the building your target is hiding in? sounds pretty damn useful to me, even with an 8 minute battery!

            Battery lasts long enough, EVAs have 5 mins and look what they can do.

        • by slick7 ( 1703596 )

          and with only 8 minutes of hover time you would have to be pretty quick to fire it

          Oh, and I suppose you want accuracy too? This never bothered the CIA, before.

  • by mtrachtenberg ( 67780 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @12:59PM (#36786834) Homepage

    TFA sounds like this is one guy working with consumer parts. I wonder what an American military subcontractor would want to develop this.

    • TFA sounds like this is one guy working with consumer parts. I wonder what an American military subcontractor would want to develop this.

      And the article cites a price for the prototype of $1,390.

      • He waaaayyy over spent. I could build that easily for less than $500-$600.

        • I would like to place an order with you for 2.316667 units please.
          • If you're willing to pay reasonable labor rates I'm sure we can work something out.

            As for the others trolling, you can build basically this, which requires far more motors and speed controllers for a fraction of the cost, and that even includes GPS, an autopilot, and mission management. Even with all that, its still way fucking cheaper than his prototype.

            • 110,000 yen is about one week's wages for the average public servant. How much do you make per week, and how would that change the price of your prototype (which you haven't built yet)? Would it still be "way fucking cheaper" than his?

              It would be very reasonable to assume that this researcher spent a week on fine-tuning and construction, no?

              • Not to mention that whenever I try to prototype something the first time, it ends up costing 2-3 times what my final version costs. Trial and error is expensive and you can't always reuse the parts. :(

              • Whooosh. Extremely ignorant and unintelligent comment. Its doubtful he added his own wages to the cost. Meaning, only an absolute fucking moron adds their day job labor rates when they calculate the cost of a DIY project.

                On the other hand, it was asked of me to make one for someone else. Accordingly, by world standard, it is extremely reasonable for me to ask for compensation since it is now a work for hire. Its literally disgusting I have so explain such basic concepts here on slashdot these days.

                What do y

            • People are "trolling" because comments like "pssh easy I could do it for half the cost" are pure flamebait. All we'd say is build it for that much and get back to us.

              • No, stupid and ignorant comments who claim people who actually know what they are talking about are trolling. Your posts are classic examples of stupid, ignorant, trolling because someone who wasn't trolling, stupid, and ignorant, would have simply asked for elaboration. But did that happen - not, stupidity and ignorance prevailed in posting a troll which led to this flame.

                Go pull your head out of your ass and find a website called DIYDones. That's just one of several such projects. Literally, a MOTHERFUCKI

            • by fbjon ( 692006 )
              You need the lightweight materials in order to prolong the flight time, can you get the carbon fibre parts for cheap?
        • by slick7 ( 1703596 )

          He waaaayyy over spent. I could build that easily for less than $500-$600.

          If the US military were to build one, it would be the death star. Remember, an elephant is a mouse built to government specs.

      • by Pfil2 ( 88340 )

        Unless the guy that invented it works for free the true cost is surely much higher than $1390. This IEEE article [ieee.org] from a month ago says it took him a year and a half to develop so I'd include the guy's salary, lab equipment, CAD tool licenses, etc. unless he worked on it in his free time with all free open source software...

        • Amortize that year and a half of development over 1,000 balls, figure it takes a day or two to put one together once you know how, and it's still under $2,000 per copy to produce 1,000. How much does the American Department of "Homeland Security" pay for one day's theatre at LAX?

          • by Pfil2 ( 88340 )

            Agreed. The question was how much an American military subcontractor would want to develop this and the GP answered himself saying it cost $1390. I was merely trying to point out that development cost and the cost of the materials and labor to build one are two different things.

    • something made of consumer grade electronics couldn't function in a radiation field, nor in extremes of temperature, humidity, etc.
      • by mtrachtenberg ( 67780 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @01:15PM (#36786964) Homepage

        When one failed, you could roll out the next. Or you could triple the price to better the specs.

        $1,390 is less than the cost of taking a congresscrook to "dinner" to show them your proposal for a $100 million version of this.

        • "Roll out the rest", to all fail in a pile at the boundary of a high-rad field? Triple the price? haha, having done prototypes for manufacturing, I can assure you a military-grade hovering electronic sensor probe would indeed take millions of dollars to prototype. You remind me of the people who complain about the poor performance of Mars rover's computers and bandwidth of NASA's communication system for them, compared to their home pc and home internet connection.
          • Or perhaps you've been lulled into blissful slumber by a cost-plus contract, and are interested in straw-man arguments about NASA? There are lots of uses, even military uses, for a product like this where you don't need to worry about a high-rad field. How many lives could be saved if the portion of the military budget that pays for "military-grade" lobbying and products were diverted, say, to American fire and police departments? How many lives could be saved if it were diverted to food distribution and

            • American emergency responders use near military grade equipment. The near point means it might fail, high rad but still function after being run over.

              They need extremely durable goods as well. While a fire truck won't stop bullets the equipment does deal with high pressure high volume chemicals.

              • And yet US Military troops used civilian GPS devices in the gulf, and those emergency devices are NOT mil-spec tested, or if they are, it's because they happen to also sell to the military.

                • because of shortage, troops were issued non p-code receivers. the standard military issue DAGR (which civilians are forbidden to own) is another matter.
              • Why would electronics fail in a high-rad environment ? Humans, sure, but electronics ? Why ?

                At the very worst you'd need some extra cooling, and parts of the electronics that shouldn't heat up will heat up, but other than that ?

                • False, your home cell phone or home computer or hobbyist robot can not function in a high radiation environment. It's called "ionizing radiation" for a reason, the charges produced when striking electronics makes gates flip, makes memory cells change state. In short, your home PC would go apeshit in a rad environment. Many here in Slashdot were wondering why Japan, the land of robotic technology, did not have devices to send into the areas around the failed reactors and the spent fuel pool of Unit 2 wit
    • Given it was built by a guy in the Japanese Military of Defence, you can bet they'll be weaponising it as we speak.

    • by drolli ( 522659 )

      the first 20000 would go away for the lawyers writing the contracts in a way that each part is produced in another company of some defense contractor, so that if this things costs too much money, then every representative from every region would have to agree on spending more because 4 people producing some part for it somewhere would be unemployed.

      After having gotten out 20000000 dollar, spent 10 years and not have a working prototype you can retire.

  • by kylemonger ( 686302 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @01:01PM (#36786848)
    ... of the copseyes from Niven's "Cloak of Anarchy". Add some of these [taser.com] to incapacitate and you've got a menacing little bot.
    • by siddesu ( 698447 )

      And a pair of dark shades, a shotgun and some frustration from lack of bubble gum will make it a good practice target.

  • a helicopter in a cage.
    • except this one can roll around when it lands.. aerial and ground recon on one package.

      and @1300 bucks - expendable.

  • by kmdrtako ( 1971832 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @01:04PM (#36786874)

    Now we just need flying broomsticks.

  • Quidditch (Score:2, Funny)

    by denshao2 ( 1515775 )
    It just has to be miniaturized a bit.
  • Now they just need to ramp up the size to 6', and add an audio projection capability... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6Ffr1U7KMY [youtube.com]

    Perhaps they should touch base with these guys - http://techtransfer.universityofcalifornia.edu/NCD/19914.html [university...fornia.edu]

  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @01:26PM (#36787040)

    Wait a minute, I've seen these movies already! [wikipedia.org]

  • Does it have flappy ears and say `haro' a lot?

  • Anarchy parks, where there is almost no law, are patrolled by floating spheres... I guess I'm too old, who still reads Niven these days? OK, how about Bit from the first Tron? Yes! No! YESYESYESYESYES!
  • Add an extremely advanced AI and you end up with something close to what's in Iain M. Banks' Culture novels.
  • I get short clips that jump ahead after a few seconds. I tried to grab one using Download Helper but you have to be fast to grab the right one. Anybody here understand how this works well enough to suggest a solution?

  • hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by markhahn ( 122033 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @02:17PM (#36787468)

    so there are lots of quad-copters around that have roughly similar specs. this one is a uni-copter with 8 thrust-vectoring flaps, which is, I guess somewhat novel. not sure why 8 is the right number, and seems like a fairly large number, given that each requires a servo and fairly big piece of material. but since the flaps are independent, they can provide both direction and rotational control (which is why a quad-copter needs 4 fans - and why a helicopter needs a tail fan.) the spherical cage (and uni-fan) makes it seem compact and tidy, but I'm not sure the layout is actually better than a quad-copter.

    • The sphere design is so that if it bumps into a wall it can keep going. If it falls to the ground it just rolls away.

    • The little quadrotors have been around for about 15 years now. The first time I saw one, it was made mostly of Styrofoam and could barely get off the ground. Now they go zooming around, due to better motors and much better batteries. But they still can't carry much load.

      This thing looks like a nice tradeoff. There's more structure to carry around, and you only get 8 minutes of flight time, but it's not as fragile as most quadrotors. Those things are going to be popular with soldiers and cops.

      • you only get 8 minutes of flight time

        use a methanol fuel cell and you should be okay for a couple of hours

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Well, let's see... A quadrotor requires four motors to fly.. The chances failure of any one of them is far higher, and will ruin your whole day. The props are exposed. That's obviously a problem. On the other hand, with this you can lose a few, or even most of the rudder servos and keep on going. All the works, especially the props are protectively caged from foreign objects. The center of gravity makes it more stable, A sphere is nice, but a cube would work well also. Either way, this design looks to be th

    • We'll have to see how the power-to-weight ratio works out for this vs. the quad copter. The ability to strike the wall without having bits of rotor fly everywhere is the obvious advantage. It's brilliant because you smack yourself on the head wondering why this design isn't already more prevalant at this stage in the game.

  • When will researchers stop picking premature goals for their projects like search and rescue? I know, because I did exactly the same thing as an undergrad. Just admit it's an technological exploration and that you need funding to continue working on it.
  • Beats hell out of knocking down the front door and just hoping your reflexes are fast enough.  I'd put this in the "extremely clever" category, since it does seem obvious once you've seen it...but then why isn't everybody doing it?
  • Just from the description, I was thinking of the large, white ball that bounds along the beach, catching anyone who tries to escape.

  • This doesn't look that difficult to copy. The rudder system is pretty rudimentary. The RC and UAV groups open source arduino board, firmware and sensors, from the ongoing quad projects can already handle most of it's functions. Hmmm. I'd sure like one.

  • The inventor is pitching it as a remote vehicle for searching in cases of disaster areas, and for military operations. For disaster areas, no arguments, but for military operations it would be of very limited usage. From the video, it is VERY loud, seems like it sounds like a leaf blower.
  • it would be a ball to be the operator :P
  • It needs a proper name. I nominate Kino.
  • What was the name of that game? :)

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @04:40PM (#36788476) Journal
    I wonder if this could work on mars? If so, then we could send a number of these on a mission (say via a falcon heavy), and then send these all over the planet. If built well enough, send several to venus, perhaps titan, etc.
    • Lower gravity, but the atmosphere is pretty thin. Plus, 8 minutes of flight time isn't very much even here on Earth.
      Meanwhile, on Venus, these would be destroyed by the environment before you could even pop the hatch ;)
      Might be useful for poking around in some caves though if you can get the flight time up a bit.

    • Yeah a propeller based system will work really well in outer space.
  • it was already covered...a bit over a month ago on engadget and wired

    http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/10/japanese-ball-drone-knows-how-to-make-an-entrance-video/ [engadget.com]

    http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2011-06/10/japan-drone [wired.co.uk]

    http://www.sankakucomplex.com/2011/06/09/jsdf-spherical-drone-we-bought-most-of-the-parts-in-akiba/ [sankakucomplex.com]

    Although the original video that Wired and Engadget used is gone...there are others on youtube such as:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQa4K-tstTg [youtube.com]

    or just use this search:
    http://www.youtube.com/res [youtube.com]

    • Huh. Reuters might have been slow to the party as a mainstream news source, but then what does that say about Slashdot these days?

  • With the various problems Japan and its government has, the time and money it's spending developing this thing is a waste that it cannot afford. Japan has the US to cover its military risks, so it can spend its time and money on other things Japanese people actually need.

    Sure, Japan's security is largely a source of wasteful US military spending, and the US is in even more trouble in these ways than Japan is. But that doesn't justify Japan digging its hole in a race with the US.

    • Whoops, I RTFA and I was bitching like a fool in that comment. This is exactly the kind of legitimate protective device Japan needs, given its actual threats.

      The radio-controlled sphere, roughly the size of a basketball, was built for search and rescue operations: to fly in and out of buildings weakened by earthquakes or other natural disasters, using its onboard camera to transmit live images of whatever it sees.

    • Note puddle between feet of the corpse after the kill.

      I didn't notice that touch when I saw it in the theater when it came out so long ago. :)

  • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Sunday July 17, 2011 @01:45AM (#36791010) Homepage

    Now all I need is a light saber and a blindfold, and I can complete my Jedi training.

  • Hope nobody attaches a spinning blade to one of these. I'm low on pistol ammo.

  • But do they still file that under "H," for "Toy?"

  • BTW Reuters video sucks -- it does not work on Ubunutu.

  • If the reason for it being spherical is to allow it to recover being rolled on the ground, why not build the shell as a gömböc [wikimedia.org], so it'll always self-right?

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990