It's hard to have the zen confidence that Luke Skywalker has under pressure, while piloting an X-wing down a Death Star trench with a couple of TIE fighters on his back, par exemple. But while we may never be called upon to lead a rebellion against a dark empire (or maybe we will?), almost everybody 21 and older has had to go toe to 2.5-meter-away-toe with a dart board out at the local cantina. In that case, if the Force — beer and perhaps slightly more beer — doesn't work for you, then Mark Rober's Automatic Bullseye Dartboard most definitely will, because it's essentially a reverse targeting computer.
Rober, who has worked at NASA JPL for 9 years, founded a company called Digital Dudz, and produced many scientific videos, has been working on the Automatic Bullseye Dartboard for three years with a former team member from NASA. The result of their efforts is a system that can track a dart, predict its trajectory, and then move a dartboard into position for nearly 100% bullseyes all within half-a-second and with sub-millimeter precision. It's sort of like Luke is the dart, the Death Star is the board, and in this case, the Death Star is suicidal and really wants to be nailed in the exhaust port with a proton torpedo.
In the video, Rober discusses how the board works -- a system of six cameras to track a dart moving through the air, a computer to predict its trajectory, and motors to quickly move the board's bullseye into the spot where the dart's predicted strike point will be. The system doesn't work with any dart, however. It requires a dart outfitted with retroreflectors so that the six cameras can "blast" the dart with infrared light, radar-like, in order to track it.
Needless to say, the working board is quite a feat of engineering, and will work better than the Force (beer) at helping you to...
What do you think about Rober's Automatic Bullseye Dartboard? Let us know in the comments below!
Images: Mark Rober