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College students build Kinect lightsaber ‘Jedibot’

Posted by on 19/07/2011


Two Stanford University students have developed a robotic arm with pre-defined attack moves similar to that of the Jedi Knights in Star Wars, as well as an Xbox Kinect sensor to detect movement of the human controlled sword.

Ken Oslund and Tim Jenkins were able to design and build the final product within a 3 1/2 week period, in a class called Experimental Robotics, taught by Computer Science Professor Oussama Khatib at Stanford. The students were motivated by Star Wars movies, and one of them mentioned being fascinated by the combination of robots and swords (lightsabers), even naming it ‘Jedibot’ based on the robots from the actual movies. They quickly worked up a model programmed with 2 modes.

In attack mode, the robot arm would swing the lightsaber in 2-3 second intervals at the human, allowing enough time for the human to respond with a defense. Once both swords touched, the robot would pull back and execute a new attack operation. In defense mode, the Kinect comes alive by tracking the green lightsaber being used by the human. The designers initially had to figure out a way to let the robot see where the human and sword was, so they turned to the Kinect for motion tracking. When they moved the sword, the robot would respond defensively and move to suit to protect itself. The robot seemed to be quite responsive in both situations, so who knows what would have happened if it were set to attack or react much more quickly.

The class’ professor mentioned that projects like these are a great way of putting their learnt skills to actual use. To see the robot in action, check out the video below.

  • Varun Maharaj

    *nods* The force is strong in these children

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