Bitcraze’s Crazyflie

Remember how hard it was to program ONE teeny drone when Mark brought his into school? Imaging programming this!

It might not surprise you to hear that they have been working on this since 2009 – 8 years! NASA are currently testing the drones but they won’t say what for. Can you think of any uses? Hint: apparently their ability to fly in swarms is important. “How to solve a task faster with a swarm as opposed to a single drone. As the Crazyflie platform is small, light and safe, it’s a great tool to study these kind of things.”


Tiny robots swim the front crawl through your veins

From The New Scientist, article by Leah Crane:

This tiny magnetic robot swims the front crawl at 10 micrometres per second. It would take about two months for the bot to swim the length of an Olympic swimming pool. But the nano-swimmer is fast for its size, and it’s strong enough to pass through more viscous liquids, like blood, to deliver medicine from inside your veins.

The front crawl is the fastest way for humans to swim. So Tianlong Li at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and his colleagues built their swimming robot to mimic that motion.

Each nano-swimmer is 5 micrometres long and has three main parts, connected together like sausage links by two silver hinges. Its gold body is flanked by two magnetic arms made of nickel, and applying a magnetic field to the tiny robot makes the arms move. 

They can be coated with medicine and injected into a human to help them get better. I am reading a book called Homo Deus which predicts that in the future we will all have permanent little nano robots in our body swimming round, killing bad cells and bacteria – so we will never get ill!

I love how they make them swim the crawl, with little mini arms etc. It made me think of this video Mark sent me about little flapping robots 3D printed, made of cardboard and Raspberry Pi’s and used to detect and destroy land mines:

(Full article here

How to be a Champion Swimmer

I know how much some of you enjoy swimming – have you watched Adam Peaty smashing all the breaststroke records in the last week? There was an article about him in the Guardian Newspaper today here and it shows just how much perseverance and resilience, coupled with ambition, can achieve.

Photo: Adam Peaty celebrates after winning gold in the men’s 50m breaststroke at the World Championships in Budapest this week. Photograph: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Here are some of the bits I found interesting – does it remind you of our Learning Powers?

“While you’re on the way to work, Adam Peaty is already in the pool. While you’re eating lunch, he’s in the gym. When you’re getting ready to leave, he’s back in the pool again. And while you’re winding down at night, he’s already asleep.

Peaty gets up at 6am to train, completing three two-hour sessions a day, six days a week. Then he’s in bed each night by 9pm”

“Peaty is better than everyone who is, and everyone who ever was. He has the 10 fastest 100m times in history.”

“Peaty has the perfect physique. Large hands, large feet, and hyper-mobile, double-jointed knees and ankles. But in swimming, the gifts you’re born with are never enough. It demands lunatic commitment.”

“For years, it had been Peaty’s parents who had to make sure he was at the pool in time to train before school. “I’d get up at 4am, drive him 40 minutes to Derby, wait two hours while he was training, or go to Tesco, then drive him back and do a full day’s work,” Caroline Peaty remembered. “Then we’d do it again in the evening.” ”

“Peaty has lived by a simple rule. “People talk about sacrifices, how many times you turn down going clubbing or going to the pub. It’s not a sacrifice. It’s a choice. You make two choices in life, one that makes you faster, one that makes you slower. I choose faster.” ”

” “It’s not even breaststroke anymore. He’s swimming like a new kind of stroke, like a metamorphosis between ‘fly’ and ‘breast’.” Some of his competitors are so keen to discover Peaty’s secrets that they’ve been surreptitiously videotaping him when he competes overseas. “When you’re under the water you can see they’re filming you,” he says, “using those little mirrors.” ”

“Peaty has never made that mistake. There’s a story about him from Rio. All his kit was lost in transit the day before his first race. Suits, caps, goggles, all meticulously calibrated to his needs. He stood up on the team bus and shouted “this isn’t going to beat me, I’m not letting this beat me.” Then he broke the world record wearing borrowed kit.”

A few years ago, Yar 6 looked at the perfect proportions for a swimmer. I wonder if Peaty has these proportions?! (Click on the picture to enlarge it)

Flappy Bird Game

I think we could have a stab at making this witth our micro:bits?!

What would we need and is this enough of a project to encourage our year 6’s to return one day?!

More Stereotypical AI Assistants

Samsung’s new phone voice assistant (Like Siri & Alexa) – Bixby, has finally arrived. People were happy that the name wasn’t gender-specific and the voice could be changed. But, unfortunately, it was accompanied by stereotypical descriptions for its male and female voice options.Under “language and speaking style” in the Bixby menu:

  • the female voice was accompanied by descriptive tags such as “chipper, clear, and cheerful,”
  • while the male voice was described as “assertive, confident, and clear.”

After people complained on Twitter, it has been removed.

What do you think about each of those descriptions? Why does it matter? Just out of interest (let’s have a giggle!), what hashtags would you use?

Clothes Shopping Apps

Abridged from The Guardian 17th July 2017:

Asos tests technology that can match magazine images with retailer’s fashion lines

From seeing something you like to having a parcel winging its way to your home is now possible within seconds.

Last month Asos, which is aimed at shopping-addicted twentysomethings, quietly began testing a feature that lets customers upload photos snapped from the pages of magazines or social media to search for a similar outfit. Want to look like the Baby Driver star Lily James? Take a snap of her pictured ia sequined gown in this week’s Grazia and feed it into the Asos app – and up pop 100 similar styles, starting with a £16.50 Miss Selfridge slip dress.

At present about 10% of Asos customers have access to the software, which flicks through the 85,000 products in the retailer’s digital wardrobe in seconds to find the best match to the look in the picture.

A number of other big high street players are experimenting with visual search, including John Lewis. They use FindSimilar, an app developed by the tech firm Cortexica, which was spun out of Imperial College London in 2009. The app also lets shoppers upload a picture to search products on sale at the retailer or more widely across the shopping centre.

“Our algorithms are modelled on what the brain does,” says Cortexica’s chief executive, Iain McCready, who says its technology maps 1,500 key points from an image.
The app gets better at identifying a type of dress or top that shoppers prefer over time, he explains: “It can learn what a dog looks like and then gets better at it. Give it 100,000 pictures of dogs and it will get very good at identifying what kind of dog it is.”

John Lewis has permanently added the tool to its website after 90% of customers said they found it useful and, more importantly, bought the item of clothing it had helped them to find.

Voice search is being brought to the masses by Alexa, the digital assistant hiding in Amazon’s Echo speaker. Its new Echo Look goes even further, with a voice-controlled selfie camera that enables Alexa to extend her advice to fashion tips – a development likely to force retailers to offer similar services.

For many shoppers, buying clothes online is a very hit-and-miss affair. Sizes vary between outlets, and getting the right fit means many clothing items are returned – which is bad for the shopper and the shopkeeper. But Metail’s software means shoppers can create an accurate 3D model – called Me Modelsafter inputting their vital statistics, enabling them to “try on” clothes.”


The Parrot Drones visited!


Thank you to Mark for bring his drones along for us to play with:

  • These are the drones, they are currently on offer for £46 each
  • They have a Lego brick on top
  • We programmed them with the Tickle app
  • The batteries only last for 9 mins of flying time

We didn’t have long to experiment and only had 2 drones and 2 ipads between us. Some of you didn’t get a turn at all. How do you think we should best use them in a class of children?  How many drones and iPads would we need? How should we approach the problem of tackling an obstacle course like today’s? Please comment below. If you were involved in the RoboChallenge you might have some ideas from that, because we only had one Ada robot! Thanks for your ideas.

Here’s another video from Mark showing drones used in livestock farming: