Thursday, July 2, 2015

2015-07-01: Autonomy Incubator: Fun Edition

We here at the Autonomy Incubator (AI) take our jobs very seriously, because we love what we do.  From Carol at the front desk to the PIs to each intern, every single person in in Building 1222 is here because he or she has unique, defined set of skills. We're a finely-tuned science machine; an elite force of researchers from various disciplines bound together by the common goal of autonomy.

But, sometimes, even finely-tuned machines need a break from the routine of research. Maybe it's the beautiful weather or maybe it's the approaching holiday, but either way, we've already had a few moments of silliness mixed in with our usual hard work this week, and it's only Wednesday. Don't see how a lab full of scientists could make a few moments of whimsy? 

Think again! When Autonomy Incubator Head Danette Allen saw the hashtag #prattkeeping trending among zookeepers after the Jurassic World premiere, she knew right away that this was a movement that the Autonomy Incubator could join as well. So, we all rearranged Loc's tree-dodging forest to make a jungle backdrop, Javier and Bilal launched three of their coordinated UAVs while Danette posed, and the @AutonomyIncub8r account's latest contribution to pop culture was unleashed on the Twitterverse. In case you don't know, this is the scene in Jurassic World that people in the hashtag are imitating...

...and here's Carol holding those ravenous UAVs at bay just like Chris Pratt and those velociraptors.

Look at the confidence in that stance; this clearly isn't her first UAV roundup.

Of course, this week hasn't exclusively been movie stars and dinosaurs. We've also just received a really cool piece of new equipment; a brand new MakerBotTM Replicator 3D printer.

Nick watches his design take shape, line by line.

After its arrival last week, Monday finally marked the inaugural print of the Autonomy Incubator's new 3D printer, thanks to many hours of tinkering, customer service calls, and muffled swearing by interns Josh Eddy and Nick Woodward.  Now that we have in-house 3D printing capabilities once again, there's a whole universe of possibilities open to us— both in research-oriented applications and in those slightly less orthodox.

As these quirky Etsy shops can attest, there are practically no limits on what someone with a 3D printer and access to CAD software can bring into being.  For example, the single board computer mounts on the Green Machines and the Mars Flyer were designed in the Autonomy Incubator and printed here on base.  Here's Josh looking excited with an OdroidTM mount he printed today:

Of course, after the printer was first assembled, some small-scale test prints had to be done to make sure all the components worked correctly— test prints like Autonomy Incubator friendship bracelets and tiny little sharks.

Meghan and Abbey show off the printer's first products.

He's also a chip clip!
Spirits are high, the code is working, and the robots are behaving. With the little bit of irreverence that's been in the air this week, there's been just one more reason to look forward to work every day.

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