There comes a time in some robots' life when they have to leave the lab and go to elementary school. That time recently came for Switchblade and iFling, two robots developed by the UCSD Coordinated Robotics Lab led by Prof. Thomas Bewley (robotics.ucsd.edu).
The two robots put on quite a show at Curie Elementary School in the University City neighborhood during science night. They were there to get students excited about science. They successfully accomplished their mission, judging by this video recorded during the event:
To explain how the high-tech robots move, Bewley and his graduate students, Nick Morozovsky and Saam Ostovari, had brought two low-tech accessories: a broom and a drumstick. They asked students to try and balance each on the palm of their hand. The students soon discovered that the broom was much easier to balance than the drumstick. The math that explains why this happens also helps explains how Switchblade and the much smaller iFling move.
"It was awesomely awesome," one student said, after watching the two robots show off their moves.