JediBot uses Kinect to control lightsaber

Stanford students create a lightsaber-swinging robotic arm for a course in experimental robotics. A Microsoft Kinect tracks the opponent's lightsaber to help bring the Star Wars experience to life.

Stanford Jedibot
Stanford University graduate student Ken Oslund reveals that he is the JediBot's father. Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

You spent countless hours locked in lightsaber battles with your buddies while growing up. What happens when there's no one left to play with you because they all have jobs and babies? You make your own Star Wars playmate.

Students at Stanford University programmed a robotic arm dubbed the JediBot. The bright orange arm swings a red foam lightsaber against a human opponent. It gets off surprisingly snappy attacks with some decent robotic muscle behind it.

It's one thing to create an arm that goes on the offensive, but another to build one capable of defense as well. That's where the Microsoft Kinect comes in. The opposing lightsaber is green so that the Kinect sensors can pick up on where it is in space. The JediBot uses that information to plan its defensive maneuvers.

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The robotic arm--which can swing its sword about once every two to three seconds--was created for a 3.5-week Experimental Robotics course. The class also produced a robot that grills hamburgers and even adds the ketchup. The only thing that would make the JediBot better is if it battled you to a draw and then offered you a tasty cheeseburger.

It's about time someone came up with a Star Wars action figure that truly brings the action. All that's missing are the awesome sound effects. Good thing you've been practicing. Wuumph! Zzzsh! Zzzsh!

 

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