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Cozmo Code Lab makes robot programming easy as dragging blocks

Anki’s Cozmo may have looked like a toy by way of Wall-E when it launched last year, but the personality-filled robot has bigger ambitions than mere entertainment. Launching today is Cozmo Code Lab, an incredibly simple way to unlock the many talents of the robot, even if you can’t string together a single line of code.

Cozmo was designed from the outset with user-programing in mind. When it comes to robotics, however, that’s easier said than done. Traditional configurable robots have a steep learning curve in-between the basics, like moving around and blinking lights, and next-level features such as facial recognition and object avoidance.

Anki’s answer was an SDK which condensed the complexity of robotics-specific features into simple API calls. If you understood Python, and had even a rudimentary grasp of code, you could get Cozmo to do things that a traditional programmable robot might demand a PhD in robotics to figure out. It’s served the company well, too: as well as the researchers that Anki expected to find favor with, Cozmo has been adopted by a number of universities including Carnegie Mellon for their robotics classes.

All well and good, but it’s still contingent on knowing some sort of coding language in the first place. Anki’s next play is to open Cozmo up to everyone who hasn’t that grounding. “We can wrap the exact same functionality in a more beginner and kid-friendly interface,” Hanns Tappeiner, co-founder and president, explained to me.

To do it, Anki looked to Scratch Blocks, an open-source project by the MIT Media Lab. It distills programming into a series of interlinking boxes, each representing a function or feature. By chaining those boxes together, increasingly complex routines can be created.

It’s deceptively simple. Cozmo Code Lab is presented as just another activity in the Anki app for smartphones and tablets, and you start out with a blank page and a row of categories running along the bottom. These – organized by “drive”, ” animation”, “actions”, “events”, and “control” – contain all the building blocks for making Cozmo do everything you’d previously need knowledge of Python to do.

So, by dragging out a movement box I was able to get Cozmo to trundle five units forward; another box turned the robot 90-degrees. There’s support for looping, either a set number of times or continuously, in addition to triggers like seeing a face, or a smile or frown, or one of the robot’s blocks. Anki has picked 15-20 of Cozmo’s reaction animations to include too, though eventually plans to offer all 1,500 or so.

You can have Cozmo navigate autonomously across a tabletop in a hunt for his block, pick up or push those blocks, and more. What might represent 9,000+ lines of code in the underlying software can be summoned with a short sequence in the new Code Lab.

What’s important about Cozmo Code Lab is that it’s not some pared-back version of the regular SDK. In fact, Anki customized Scratch Blocks so that every function in the SDK could be implemented by Code Lab. At launch, the interface will be a more simplistic subset, dubbed “horizontal grammar”. Strings of blocks run from left to right across the screen, with Cozmo following them from start to finish.

Arriving later in the year, though, will be the “vertical grammar” option, and there things will become even more interesting. That will support things like If/Then/Else, variables and function calls, math and logic operations, and even multi-threading, so that Cozmo will be able to run multiple programs simultaneously. It’ll open the door to not only knowing when the robot spots a face, for instance, but where in the frame that was, and to what degree it was smiling or frowning.

For the moment, though, there’s the horizontal UI and a set of 32 challenges to guide users through the basics. Right now, there’s no way to see the underlying code generated by the blocks you’ve assembled, though Anki is considering opening that up too.

One of the underlying goals for Code Lab, after all, is accepting and embracing the idea that it will evolve in unexpected ways. As Tappeiner told me, what robotics needs is the same influx of non-roboticist players that, in the shape of non-coders, helped make smartphone apps so popular: “you get people with a very different way of thinking from a programmer.”

Cozmo Code Lab will begin rolling out as an update to the Cozmo app today.

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Watch How The New Discovery Makes Towing Easy

Watch how the new Discovery makes towing easy

The new 2023 Land Rover Discovery is headed to the US next year, and for those planning to put the SUV to work rather than just do the school run, you might want to tick the new Advanced Tow Assist option. Intended to make reversing when towing large objects like boats and horse boxes more straightforward, it’s part of a suite of new technology that gives the high-end truck its serious off-road cred. Making its US debut at the LA Auto Show this week, we caught up with the new Discovery to test the tech out.

Towing can be intimidating if you’re not used to it. Beyond the most obvious issues, like visibility being seriously impacted through the rear mirror and – depending on the width of what’s being towed – the side mirrors too, figuring out how a trailer will behave takes some getting used to. Land Rover’s solution involves handing all that over to the SUV.

In fact there are two systems on offer. One, All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC), handles going forward, and is effectively cruise-control for towing. The other, Advanced Tow Assist, is in charge of reversing.

All-Terrain Progress Control is intended to take the hassle out of dealing with road surfaces other than regular tarmac. Once the speed has been set – between 1 mph and 19 mph – the SUV handles the gas and the brakes, leaving the driver to focus on steering around or between obstacles.

In the opposite direction, the challenges of traditional towing can be even more frustrating. You might think that reversing in a straight line would be a matter of simply holding the wheel steady, but in actual fact there are constant tiny corrections required as the trailer twists one way or the other. That’s where Advanced Tow Assist comes in.

Once you’ve turned it on, and set what exactly you’re towing – and, if necessary, the object’s dimensions – the system handles creeping backwards. You control overall speed with the brake pedal, but rather than using the steering wheel, you angle the whole thing with a pop-up knob in the center console. Twisting it left and right moves on-screen guide lines shown on the new Discovery’s dashboard display, feeding a view from cameras mounted on the left and right.

Basically, as long as you can point the car in-between whatever gate posts you’re trying to navigate, or down the slip ramp of a boating lake, you can use Advanced Tow Assist. The Discovery takes care of any minute steering adjustments required.

It isn’t the first time we’ve seen technology like this, of course. Last year, Ford added a “Pro Trailer Backup Assist” option to the F-150 truck, which allows owners to reverse with a boat or trailer using the in-dash display and a rotary knob. As with Range Rover’s system, speed is automatically adjusted based on road conditions.

With No Pedals, Specialized’s Ultralight Kid’s Bike Makes Learning To Ride Easy

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The coronavirus pandemic has spurred a well-documented surge in bike buying. By one measurement, retail sales of bicycles are up 68 percent this year as of October, compared to 2023, according to NPD, a market research firm. Sales of kid’s bikes did something similar, the group estimates: They’re up by 63 percent.

In the midst of this boom, there’s a very fancy new kid’s bike on the block. It comes from high-end bicycle company Specialized, and what makes it so eye-catching is that it weighs in at less than 5 pounds. That’s about half the weight a comparable option from the company weighs—and lighter than an adult cat. With bikes, one of the most crucial measurements at any level of ability is weight. When it comes to bikes for children, a lighter-weight construction can be easier for a kid to handle.

The cute-meets-fancy bicycle is intended to be a premium option for kids to learn on, and in that spirit, it’s what’s known as a balance, or kick, bike. It has no brakes or gears—it doesn’t even have pedals. It’s designed to be propelled by the child’s feet pushing on the ground, and slowed that way, too.

The bike is called the Hotwalk Carbon, and true to its name, the two-wheeler is made from carbon fiber composite, which is the same type of material the company uses in high-end adult bikes that it wants to keep light. But with fancy materials comes an eye-watering price for a bike that a kid will outgrow eventually: $1,000.

Their goal was to create an “uninhibited bike,” says Eric Fischer, the product manager for the Hotwalk Carbon.

“The weight’s silly,” he adds. For context on the bike’s 4.6 pounds of mass, a road bike for adults is generally considered nice if it clocks in under 20 pounds. The Hotwalk bike that Specialized already makes for kids, which it builds out of aluminum, weighs under 10 pounds and costs $175.

The carbon frame and fork in the front of the new Hotwalk Carbon keep the weight down, as do the wheels, which are also carbon fiber composite. But the company also tweaked this bike’s design in other ways beyond just using nice materials.

One of the key features is its small handlebar grips. They measure just 15 millimeters in diameter, making them thinner than standard grips of 22.2 mm. That makes it easier for kids to wrap their hands around them. Another tweak is incorporating a low-friction material on the outside of the seat, or saddle, designed to avoid any chafing that kids might experience.

The machine has no pedals, so kids propel it by pushing their feet against the ground. Specialized

Specialized also made a change to the bike’s geometry to compensate for the fact that such a light bike might allow kids to hit faster speeds. “We basically slacken the front of the bike, and lengthened the offset of the fork, and that in turn basically gives you more stability at speed,” Fischer says. In other words, the front wheel is positioned further forward, making the bike “less twitchy,” Fischer explains. “It’s a more predictable ride.”

Ideally, a bike like this can pave the way for young riders to master the art of balancing, and then their next bike could include pedals and brakes, but skip training wheels completely.

Lightweight bikes made from carbon fiber demand high prices—Specialized makes a Founder’s Edition version of its road race bike called the S-Works Aethos that goes for $14,500, with a frame that weighs about 1.3 pounds—and the Hotwalk Carbon is no exception at its $1,000 price. It’s intended for kids as young as 18 – 24 months old, up to 4 years old, and no taller than 35 inches and no heavier than 40 pounds.

Object Oriented Programming In Javascript

Introduction to Object Oriented Programming in JavaScript

JavaScript, also abbreviated as JS, is a high-level, interpreted programming language. JavaScript is one of the three main technologies of the World Wide Web. JavaScript enables to build interactive web pages other than static web pages. Most websites use JS for development, and major web browsers have a JavaScript engine to execute it. JavaScript is a lightweight, weakly typed, prototype-based interpreted programming language with object-oriented capabilities. JavaScript is used for client-side development of web applications; it is included in or referenced by an HTML file so that the code is rendered in the browser.

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Concepts of Object Oriented Programming in JavaScript

Whether JavaScript is a pure Object-Oriented language or not is always debatable. Some say it is not Object-Oriented because it has no classes and cannot implement OOPs concepts like inheritance or encapsulation. Some say that it is Object-Oriented language. Before discussing the topic, one should understand what does make a programming language an Object-Oriented programming language. There are a few important characteristics of Object-Oriented Languages:

1) Polymorphism: 

The ability of the object to take many forms. For example, the function can be overloaded with the same name but different parameters.

2) Encapsulation: 

Binding all the data and the operations together and keeping it in a class.

3) Inheritance:

Child Class can be derived from parent class with all the features from the parent class and some properties of its own.

These three principles form the basis of an Object-Oriented language. So, JavaScript might not follow the exact paradigm of Object-Oriented Principles, but JavaScript has different ways of implementing the OOP.

Examples of Object Oriented Programming in JavaScript

We can demonstrate how JavaScript follows Object-Oriented Principles by taking some examples:

Encapsulation

The idea of encapsulation is that an object’s data should not be accessed directly; instead, it should be accessed via some methods. But in JavaScript, there is no concept of class and objects it implements encapsulation in two ways that is Function Scope and Closure.

1. Function Scope

This is nothing but declaring the variables inside the functions. So, the scope of the variables will be limited only to functions, and other objects cannot access the variables. Let’s take an example to demonstrate the function scope.

function test() { var value = "Hello!"; alert( value) } alert( value) 2. Closures var person = { var name = "JavaScript"; return  { setName : function(value){ name = value; }, getName : function(){ return name; } }; }; alert(person.name) person.setName("Java") alert(person.name)

So, in this way, we can declare inner objects or methods to hide the data and those can be accessed using parent objects.

Inheritance

JavaScript supports inheritance through the concept called Prototypal inheritance allows JavaScript objects to acquire all or some of the features from other objects or parent objects.

Prototype

JavaScript is described as a Prototype-based language, to provide an inheritance object that can have a prototype object that inherits methods and properties from other objects. An object’s prototype object may also have a prototype object which inherits methods and properties from its parent object and so on, this is called a prototype chain.

The image above shows all the properties of the object “animal” that is being created. So, the “name” and “type” are the properties of an object “animal” and the properties like value Of, to String, toLocaleString, etc are the properties of a parent object that are inherited by the animal object. Refer to the below image that shows the properties of the parent object using the property proto.

Polymorphism

Poly means “many”, morphism means “forms”, and polymorphism is nothing but having different forms. In JavaScript polymorphism is achieved by generic, overloading, and structural subtyping.

1. Generics (Parametric Polymorphism)

data(3)([1,2]);   data(“c”)([“a”, “b”]);   2. Overloading (ad-hoc polymorphism)

Overloading in JavaScript is achieved using as-hoc polymorphism. Ad-hoc polymorphism is a kind of polymorphism in which polymorphic functions can be applied to arguments of several types because polymorphic functions can denote the number of distinct heterogeneous implementations depending on the types of the arguments. Refer to the below-mentioned example

The “+” operator is used in several ways like adding the numbers, concatenating the strings, etc.

1 + 2 = 3

1.2+2.3 = 3.5

“Java”+”Script” = “JavaScript”

3. Structural subtyping (Structural Polymorphism)

Structural polymorphism says that different types are equivalent, for instance if one type has all the properties of the other type along with some additional properties (following the same structure)

Const weight  = {value:100, data:true}

Const speed = {value:200, data:false, foo:[1,2,3]}

Speed is considered to be the subtype of weight.

Conclusion

So, now we can conclude that JavaScript is an Object-Oriented Language. Though it doesn’t have any real classes it is still an Object-Oriented Language because it follows the core concepts of Object-Oriented principles. So, a language can be Object Oriented if it supports objects even without classes.

Recommended Articles

This is a guide to Object Oriented Programming in JavaScript. Here we discuss the different concepts and the applications of Object Oriented Programming in JavaScript. You may also look at the following article to learn more –

Googleplex Project X: Google’s New Secret Hardware Testing Lab

Reportedly, Google is in the process of completing over $120 million worth of renovations and projects for its Mountain View headquarters. The latest project, which includes building a “secret lab” to test new hardware and devices, is being headed up by Google co-founder Sergey Brin and has been named “Project X.” According to news reports, the new testing facility will be located at the center of the Googleplex and will focus on secret projects. The lab will feature blacked out windows and utilize certain contaminants and chemicals to test new hardware.

In addition to building the testing facility, Google also has plans to build a 120,000 square foot “Google Experience Center.” The Experience Center will be a private museum to showcase Google products and technology for important clients and guests. The large facility will be able to accommodate up to 900 visitors simultaneously at a single event.

Andrew Burnett, one of the architects working on the project, said the following regarding the Experience Center:

“The Experience Center would not typically be open to the public — consisting of invited groups, and guests whose interests will be as vast as Google’s range of products, and often confidential… Therefore, the Experience Center must also operate somewhat like a museum, exhibit, or mercantile space allowing flexibility in the exhibits so that as Google’s products and needs change, the space can adapt.”

Since news of the “secret lab” and Experience Center broke, Google has not provided specific details. However, the company did provide a vague statement:

“Just as we continuously work to improve our products, it’s important to iterate on our workspace to keep us productive. That’s why we are adding additional meeting and work space to our campus in Mountain View.”

With Google committing over $120 million to showcase and test new technology and $12.5 billion to acquire Motorola, it is safe to assume that Google is looking to challenge technology rivals Microsoft and Apple with new products and hardware in the very near future.

[Sources Include: VentureBeat & Mercury News]

Yeedi Vac Station Robot Vacuum And Mop Review

We’ve had robot vacuums for years now, but let’s face it: at first, they weren’t all that useful. We’re finally getting to a place where not only are robot vacuums useful, but they actually make your life easier. The Yeedi Vac Station Robot Vacuum and Mop is a perfect example. It pairs the Yeedi Vac Max with a base station. Not only does it have the usual robot vacuum features, but it mops and even empties itself, so it can clean a significant space without needing you to empty it – and that’s just the beginning.

This is a sponsored article and was made possible by Yeedi. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence, even when a post is sponsored.

Inside the Box

The Yeedi Vac Station Robot Vacuum and Mop comes in a larger box than you’d typically expect for a robot vacuum. This is mostly thanks to the combined charging / self-empty station, though there is also a fair number of accessories.

In addition to the vacuum and charging / empty station, you get an optional ramp to help the vacuum make its way up onto the charger. If you’re keeping the vacuum in a room with a carpeted floor, this is an essential accessory.

You also get a quick start guide, manual, mop attachment, and replacement bags for the self-empty station.

Features

One of the best features of the Yeedi Vac Station Robot Vacuum and Mop is that it’s self-emptying. The vacuum will keep cleaning until it’s done, emptying itself along the way.

It also has much better navigation than older robot vacuums, as it has a 3D camera that maps out the spaces it cleans. This helps it develop a map, which you can edit to customize where and how the vacuum cleans your home.

While there are plenty of robot vacuums that can also mop, this is a separate mode in many of them. Instead, this vacuum has a built-in carpet sensor that lets it intelligently determine where to mop and where to avoid it.

You don’t even need to press a button to start vacuuming. Thanks to Alexa integration, you can use voice commands to start cleaning instantly.

Initial Setup

There isn’t much setup to take care of before you can start using the vacuum. The base station has a floor that you need to attach with three screws and a screwdriver, both of which are included. This is when you would also install the ramp if you’re setting up the base station on carpet.

As for the vacuum itself, all you need to do is remove a few pieces of protective foam and install the side brush. This is as simple is pressing it into the right spot on the bottom of the vacuum. Instructions are in the included manual.

At this point, you’re ready to flip up the cover and slide the power switch to the right to turn it on. Scan the QR code underneath the lid with your phone or tablet to find and install the Yeedi app.

Once you launch the app and register or sign in to your account, the app helps you navigate the rest of the process. Simply follow the instructions, and the app will take care of the rest. In my case, setup took roughly 10 minutes, and this included updating the vacuum firmware.

The Yeedi App

Once you’re done with setup, it’s time to send the vacuum on its initial run. This is where it will go through the process of mapping out its cleaning space, room by room.

Because the vacuum doesn’t yet know your space, the initial run is slow. Successive runs will be much quicker, as the vacuum knows where to go and also places to avoid. Using the app, you can edit this map.

In the Yeedi app, you’re able to tell the vacuum which rooms to clean and which to avoid. You can even draw in certain areas to avoid. This is great if you have obstacles that the vacuum can get hung up on, but you prefer not to move them.

You can also schedule automatic cleaning in the app. In addition to the schedule, you can also set Do Not Disturb hours during which the vacuum won’t run. This is handy for a reason we’ll look at later.

Finally, the app is where you can select between three different power modes. By default, the vacuum runs at the Standard power setting, but there are Max and Max+ power settings to deal with bigger messes.

Performance

At its base power setting, I found that the Standard power was more than adequate for the medium-pile carpet in my home. That doesn’t mean that the Yeedi Vac Station won’t work on other surfaces.

No matter what type of flooring you have in your home, the Yeedi Vac Station can handle it. Whether you have bare floors, low-pile, medium-pile, or high-pile carpet, the Yeedi vacuum has more than enough power to clean it.

Dust is the main reason we vacuum, but we all have spills from time to time. Whether it’s soil from a potted plant or spilled dry pet food, I found the Yeedi could clean everything I thought to try it with.

I don’t have many moppable surfaces in my home, but I found the Yeedi handled vacuuming and mopping my kitchen floor perfectly. The intelligent carpet detection was useful here, as my carpeted living room is next to the kitchen.

Most of the time, the Yeedi Vac Station is pretty quiet as far as vacuums go. The one exception is when it is self-emptying. This process gets as loud as a standard full-size vacuum. This is why the Do Not Disturb feature is so useful.

Battery Life and Cleaning Time

The Yeedi vacuum included in the Vac Station features a 5200mAh built-in battery. This charges to full while the vacuum is on the base station.

When it comes time to clean, the vacuum can do more than three hours on a single charge if the vacuum is on the lowest power setting. If you’re running it on Max+ power, you can expect somewhere around 90 minutes.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the vacuum can’t clean anymore when its battery runs out of charge. The Yeedi vacuum is smart enough to return to the base station, charge up, then resume cleaning.

Maintenance

Even though the Yeedi Vac Station is self-emptying, there are still a few things you need to take care of. Most importantly, you’ll need to empty the base station from time to time.

How often you need to empty the base station will vary based on how large your home is and how frequently you run the vacuum. Generally, you can expect to go about 30 days before you need to empty the base station.

You’ll also need to keep an eye on the water for the mop functionality. The capacity is good, so you’ll only need to top up from time to time. Just remember to keep an eye on it.

Then there’s cleaning. As with any vacuum, there are some parts you’ll need to clean from time to time. You’ll also have to remember to stock up on bags for the base station.

There are also a few filters you need to clean, covered in the manual. Considering the time you save, this isn’t a bad trade-off.

Should You Buy the Yeedi Vac Station?

The skills of this vacuum don’t mean you never have to pay attention to your vacuum ever again. You’ll still need to fill it with water, change the filter, and empty the dust basin within the base station. That said, this is a robot vacuum that can make your life significantly easier.

Even if you already own an older robot vacuum, it’s well worth investing in the Vac Station. Your older robot vacuum will make a fine companion, handling smaller jobs, while the Yeedi Vac Station handles the bulk of the work.

Clip the Amazon coupon for $150 and get the Yeedi Vac Station Robot Vacuum and Mop for just $349.99.

Kris Wouk

Kris Wouk is a writer, musician, and whatever it’s called when someone makes videos for the web.

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