Category Archives: startups

Congrats to DARPA robotic car challenge finishers

Wired blog has the details on the robotic car race. Tartan Racing (joint effort of General Motors and CMU) came in first, Stanford University, second. Two million dollar and one million dollar prizes, respectively.

Anyway, if you didn’t catch this interview, now might be a great time. It’s with the guy who runs the algorithms on Stanford’s entry.

This is a 60-mile race that is completed by computers. Pretty darn cool technology and a pretty big challenge for computers and the people who program them.

UPDATE: Popular Mechanics has details on the winners.

The Robotic Helicopter Show at Stanford (Tim O’Reilly eat your heart out!)

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Here’s the rest of the video with the STARMAC team. That’s Stanford Testbed of Autonomous Rotorcraft for Multi-Agent Control.

Geek translated: helicopters that can fly on their own.

This was filmed during our recent Photowalking at Stanford University. The team explains why one of these flipped over and attacked me. “It wants you dead,” was one explanation.

These are quadrotor helicopters that can fly remotely without much human assistance. Really cool research project that you’ll want to check out. Anyway, here you meet the team: Gabe Hoffmann, Ph.D. candidate, Aeronautics and Astronautics; Haomiao “H” Huang, Ph.D. candidate; Aeronautics and Astronautics; Steve Waslander, post doctoral scholar, Aeronautics and Astronautics; Vijay Pradeep, M.S. student, Mechanical Engineering and Mike Vitus, Ph.D. candidate, Aeronautics and Astronautics. They fly it around and explain what it is. By the way, in the video they said it costs $10,000 to build one of these. The team did more research and found out that you could build one for about $3,000 now.

Projects like these are inspirational and who knows where the things they are learning by building them will show up.

Thank you to Rocky Barbanica for the great editing on this (and the camera work too).

Thank you big time to Ian Hsu of Stanford University for setting this up.

Why do I say “Tim O’Reilly eat your heart out?” Because these are the kinds of things (and geeks) he’d love to have at Foocamp.

The Stanford IT doctor is in (this stuff could save your life)

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Why do I praise Seagate? Because they pay me to have conversations with smart people in the technology business. I pinch myself every day.

Here’s one example: Christopher Longhurst. He’s a doctor at Stanford’s Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital. He also works in the IT department there. Since our son was born there three weeks ago, and we got a close up look at the computers and other devices strewn through the hospital (free wifi!) I wanted to get the behind-the-scenes look.

The most interesting thing? Is just how many mistakes get made in hospitals and how information technology is being used to keep those errors from happening.

This 47 minute conversation is very interesting. Why? Well, he’s working with Google on a personal healthcare site. We cover a LOT of ground about technology trends inside the medical industry.

Thanks to Bryan Zug for hooking us up! Bryan is a guy you should know too. He does the video behind the Seattle Ignite events (which are really awesome) and is a developer who works on a variety of projects including a contract job with the hospital.

UPDATE: we cover the various “personal healthcare services like Microsoft HealthVault” at about minute 41 and also cover some of the fears of giving services like these your health care data. Don’t miss that part of the interview, especially around minute 44 where he explains what these new health services could do for you.

UPDATE2: Rocky did a short, seven-minute version where he pulled out the highlights of this conversation so if you don’t have 47 minutes, this one is for you.

The hottest class at Stanford

Ian Hsu told me this when we were photowalking at Stanford: that the Facebook class is standing room only and that tons of people have been asking to get in and can’t. No more seats.

Anyway, Dave McClure, who also runs the Graphing Social Patterns conference that I’m speaking at (starts today) linked to a video essay by one of his students in the class about why Facebook works.

Speaking of Stanford this week I have some really awesome videos coming out of there (one from a doctor working on IT in the Children’s Hospital, one from a photo/graphic researcher, and one from the robot helicopter team). More later in the week.

Attack of the robotic helicopter

Crowd pleaser

Ever start a story like this?

Yesterday I was attacked by an autonomous robotic helicopter

Me neither until I was attacked by one of these criters on our photowalking at Stanford University. Turns out that if it gets a bad bit of directional data sent to it they’ll go out of control and one did just that: flipped over and came straight at me and hit me in the leg (no one was injured and the robot was rebooted and flew just fine from then on). One of the developers said that it might just be an evil robot. Heh. Can’t wait to show you the video (Rocky says he got the attack on video). It was an incredible day with a mixture of art, science, and technology and Ian Hsu, of Stanford, gave us a great tour that’ll be quite hard to match.

UPDATE: We’ve just uploaded the video of the mishap.

The photographers, brought to Stanford by the National Geographic, who presented in the evening as part of the All Roads Project were incredible — they are visiting several cities in the US and I highly recommend getting to their talks and meeting them. Made me realize how much of the world we don’t see because many of the world’s photographers don’t know how to use blogs and/or Flickr and/or don’t have access to the Internet. One photographer, from Africa, if I remember right, told the audience that there are villages where people are getting killed during protests over electricity. He made the point that photographers there aren’t very likely to be on the Internet.

Some interesting brainstorming is underway of how to bring more images from these places to the Internet, which is where the audiences that might be able to help with money and/or PR attention (which is what many of these photographers are hoping for).

I’ll have my photos up in a few hours, still processing them. Oh, and damn Apple’s iPhoto. It crashed several times and ate my photos to boot. So, I’m switching my workflow over to Adobe stuff which I should have done in the first place anyway.

Over the next week or so we’ll get the videos up we shot, including of the robotics team.

The official tag is “photowalkingstanford.” But there’s photos on Flickr for photowalkingstanford and on stanfordphotowalk. I’m sure Thomas Hawk will get some up soon too and I’ll update this post when that happens.

UPDATE: over on Zooomr there are a lot more images. Here’s the ones on Zooomr tagged with photowalkingstanford and photowalking100107.

By the way, thanks to the approx. 40 people who showed up. Looking forward to seeing your photos. Please link to any of your blogs/photos here in the comment section so we can see them all.

Our next photowalking will be in the Marin Headlands with Trevor Carpenter on October 9th.

Crowd pleaser

UPDATE: Here’s my photos from the day:

Scary Thomas shoots New Guinea sculpture The Gates of Hell Team member reorients robot Who has more cameras? Stairway in Stanford's Memorial Church Photowalking inside the Church Pictures and Pews Beautiful Glass Stanford's Synchronized Swim Team Rodin this, Rodin that! Thomas Hawk gets a tour Photo researcher, Marc Levoy Part of a camera array A whole lot of cameras