CLOSE

5 Animals Playing Video Games

To make your Monday complete, I present you with a variety of videos featuring animals playing video games, along with analysis of whether they are good at the games. BEHOLD:

1. Real Lizard Eats Virtual Ants

A bearded dragon plays "Ant Smasher," an Android phone game. He or she is excellent, clearly differentiating between ants and other insects in the game, but seems to do a little unnecessary lip-licking. Best YouTube comment: "Thumbs up? if you are an Ant and you find this offensive."

(Via Kottke.org.)

2. Bonobo Plays Ms. Pac-Man (With Help)

With some encouragement by researcher Susan Savage-Rumbaugh, this bonobo plays Ms. Pac-Man. Skill level: low -- ghost avoidance strategy needs work. (See a bit more of this in Savage-Rumbaugh's excellent TED Talk; a snippet of this Pac-Man video is shown at the very end, minus narration.)

3. Cats Play "Game for Cats" on iPad

Two cats attempt to master an iPad game called, appropriately, Game for Cats (iTunes link -- the game is free). The cats seem generally confused by the notion of a screen, and attempt to go underneath the iPad, with unsatisfactory results. Their claws also keep getting stuck on the carpet; for optimal play, perhaps a carpet isn't a great idea. In general, the cats seem pretty interested in smacking those mice, though their technique isn't optimal.

Related: there's a similar app in which cats "paint" as they stomp on virtual mice (iTunes link; app costs $1.99).

4. Cat Frustrated By Duck Hunt

This poor cat does a great job playing Duck Hunt, but lacks the Nintendo Zapper Light Gun -- so that obnoxious in-game dog keeps popping up and mocking the poor feline's apparent failure. Skill level: excellent. Virtual dog's conduct: unsportsmanlike.

5. Hamster Inhabits Real-World Platformer

While not a video game per se, some industrious hamster owner has put together a diorama version of a platformer game (reminiscent of 8-bit NES games like Super Mario Bros.) and unleashed his hapless hamster into it. The hamster does a pretty good job traversing the maze, but takes a few breaks to do some adorable self-grooming.

Got More?

Leave comments with any videos I missed! (Note: the "dog playing Tony Hawk" you see all over YouTube is fake.)

Original image
Wired, YouTube
arrow
technology
Watch This Robot Crack a Safe in 15 Minutes
Original image
Wired, YouTube

When Nathan Seidle was gifted a locked safe with no combination from his wife, he did what any puzzlemaster—or, rather, what any engineer with a specific set of expertise in locks and robotics—would do: He built a robot to crack the safe. Seidle is the founder of SparkFun, an electronics manufacturer based in Denver, and this gift seemed like the perfect opportunity to put his professional knowledge to the test.

The process of building a safecracking robot involved a lot of coding and electronics, but it was the 3D printing, he said, that became the most important piece. Seidle estimated that it would take four months to have the robot test out different combinations, but with one major insight, he was able to shave off the bulk of this time: While taking a closer look at the combination dial indents, he realized that he could figure out the third digit of the combination by locating the skinniest indent. Thanks to this realization, he was soon able to trim down the number of possible combinations from a million to a thousand.

Watch the video from WIRED below to see Seidle's robot in action, which effectively whittled a four-month safecracking project down to an impressive 15-minute job.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
How Does Autopilot Work on an Airplane?
Original image
iStock

How does autopilot work on an airplane?

Joe Shelton:

David Micklewhyte’s answer is a good one. There are essentially a few types of features that different autopilots have. Some autopilots only have some of these features, while the more powerful autopilots do it all.

  • Heading Hold: There’s a small indicator that the pilot can set on the desired heading and the airplane will fly that heading. This feature doesn’t take the need for wind correction to desired routing into account; that’s left to the pilot.
  • Heading and Navigation: In addition to holding a heading, this version will take an electronic navigation input (e.g. GPS or VOR) and will follow (fly) that navigation reference. It’s sort of like an automated car in that it follows the navigator’s input and the pilot monitors.
  • Altitude Hold: Again, in addition to the above, a desired altitude can be set and the aircraft will fly at that altitude. Some autopilots have the capability for the pilot to select a desired altitude and a climb or descent rate and the aircraft will automatically climb or descend to that altitude and then hold the altitude.
  • Instrument Approaches: Autopilots with this capability will fly preprogrammed instrument approaches to the point where the pilot either takes control and lands or has the autopilot execute a missed approach.

The autopilot is a powerful computer that takes input from either the pilot or a navigation device and essentially does what it is told to do. GPS navigators, for example, can have a full flight plan entered from departure to destination, and the autopilot will follow the navigator’s guidance.

These are the majority of the controls on the autopilot installed in my airplane:

HDG Knob = Heading knob (Used to set the desired heading)

AP = Autopilot (Pressing this turns the autopilot on)

FD = Flight Director (A form of navigational display that the pilot uses)

HDG = Heading (Tells the autopilot to fly the heading set by the Heading Knob)

NAV = Tells the autopilot to follow the input from the selected navigator

APR = Tells the autopilot to fly the chosen approach

ALT = Tells the autopilot to manage the altitude, controlled by the following:

VS = Vertical Speed (Tells the autopilot to climb or descend at the chosen rate)

Nose UP / Nose DN = Sets the climb/descent rate in feet per minute

FLC = Flight Level Change (An easy manual way to set the autopilot)

ALT Knob = Used to enter the desired altitude

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

SECTIONS

arrow
BIG QUESTIONS
More from mental floss studios