Kevin Nicks’s gar­den shed is street le­gal in the UK and has clocked 141,7 km/h, thanks to a V6 en­gine send­ing power to all four wheels. But there are even weirder wheels be­ing de­vel­oped around the world.

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - — Wheels Re­porter.

A GI­ANT pram en­ter­tained pedes­tri­ans in Chicago this week.

The pram, strong enough to cradle a 130 kg man, was pushed out as a mar­ket­ing stunt, dreamt up by ad­ver­tis­ing agency Foote, Cone & Beld­ing (FCB), for baby prod­uct man­u­fac­turer Kol­craft.

The pram is not col­lapsable and has to be trans­ported on the back of a truck.

FCB is one of the few me­dia com­pa­nies that can sit at the same se­nior ta­ble as The Wit­ness, dat­ing back to 1873, com­pared to our 1846 start­ing year.

Robot li­brar­i­ans

In Sin­ga­pore, robot de­vel­op­ers at A*Star’s In­sti­tute for In­fo­comm Re­search have de­sign­ing ro­bots that can self-nav­i­gate through libraries at night, scan­ning spines and shelves to re­port back on miss­ing or out-of-place books.

Giz­mag re­ports that this au­ton­o­mous ro­botic shelf-scan­ning (AuRoSS) plat­form scans RFID tags on the books and pro­duces a re­port. In the morn­ing, the hu­man li­brar­i­ans can check the re­sults and eas­ily see which books are in the wrong spot and where they be­long. There’s still a need for hu­man labour, but it’s far less time-con­sum­ing than man­u­ally search­ing ev­ery shelf for mis­placed ti­tles.

The wheeled robot uses lasers and ul­tra­sonic sen­sors to guide it through the stacks, with pre­ci­sion down to the cen­time­tre.

AuRoSS has been tested in libraries in Sin­ga­pore, where it achieved up to 99% ac­cu­racy, even with curved shelves. The re­searchers say that the sys­tem can eas­ily in­cor­po­rate dif­fer­ent sen­sors be­yond RFID, in­clud­ing cam­eras, Blue­tooth and WiFi, and could be adapted for use in ware­houses, re­tail stores or in the med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy, aero­space and au­to­mo­tive in­dus­tries.

Self bal­anc­ing ‘selfie stick’

From Burlingame, Cal­i­for­nia, comes the lat­est ver­sion of a self-bal­anc­ing cam­era holder on a stick that is mounted on a small Seg­way-like roller.

Aimed at video mak­ers, the self-bal­anc­ing stick can take 360° videos with a self-bal­anc­ing 360° cam­era dolly and an ac­com­pa­ny­ing uni­ver­sal 360° cam­era mount.

It is re­motely con­trolled us­ing ei­ther an iPhone 6 or an iPod Touch via LTE/4G, Wi-Fi or Blue­tooth. This means that video can be shot with­out any crew mem­bers be­ing in view.

Robot pedes­trian

Wait, don’t laugh. The day will come when the drone can­not de­liver your pizza or lat­est or­der from Ama­zon (most likely be­cause the neigh­bour will be shoot­ing the pesky buzzers down), which is when you will need a robot pedes­trian.

The prob­lem is that ro­bots have to date proven un­able to nav­i­gate through a swarm of hu­man legs.

Which is why students at Stan­ford Univer­sity in the U.S. are work­ing on Jackrab­bit, a hip-high robot that makes sense of pave­ments.

Jackrab­bit works by means of a suite of cam­eras and nav­i­ga­tional sen­sors that al­low it to ne­go­ti­ate out­door path­ways, streets and in­door hall­ways.

Since it is a “so­cial robot”, it is pro­grammed to ob­serve hu­man pedes­trian eti­quette and im­i­tate it. This way, it’s hoped that it will even­tu­ally learn enough about the un­writ­ten rules of the road to avoid ob­sta­cles in malls, rail­way sta­tions and air­ports.

The team will present their re­search at the Com­puter Vi­sion and Pat­tern Recog­ni­tion con­fer­ence in Las Ve­gas in the U.S. on June 27.


An ad­ver­tis­ing stunt in Chicago shows how fast a cer­tain baby food can make a child grow.

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