Science of the Winter Olympic Games: Olympic Movement and Robotic Design
Science of the Winter Olympic Games: Olympic Movement and Robotic Design
Sunday, 16 February 2014

Yes you read the title correctly and this is an attempt to cash in on the current interest in the Winter Olympics, but it can be forgiven. The videos of both athletes and robots are amazing.

The National Science Foundation has teamed up with NBC News to bring us a series of videos, ten in all, that explain the science of the winter sports.

"The series' diverse topics reveal how key engineering and science concepts and cutting-edge technology play an integral part in each athlete’s respective sport and help maximize their performance at the 2014 Sochi Games. "

 

winterol2

 

The first nine are interesting if you are into science in general (see More Information at the end for the link the other videos):

  • Physics of slopestyle skiing: Nick Goepper
  • Engineering the half pipe: Shaun White
  • Engineering competition suits: Shani Davis
  • Injury and recovery: Lindsey Vonn
  • Science of ice: J.R. Celski, Britanny Bowe, Gracie Gold
  • Science of snow: Ted Ligety, Heather McPhie
  • Engineering faster and safer bobsleds: Steve Langton, Steve Holcomb
  • Alpine skiing and vibration damping: Julia Mancuso, Heath Calhoun
  • Figure skating physics: Evan Lysacek, Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner, Meryl Davis, Charlie White

But the final tenth is a must for anyone interested in robotics:

  • Olympic movement and robotic design: Meryl Davis, Charlie White, Julie Chu, Shaun White

"Professor Raffaello D'Andrea at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, describes how control systems engineering is laying the groundwork for the design of more "athletic" robots."

  

 

To be honest some of the connections between pirouetting skaters and quadcopters are contrived, but as I said in the introduction it's worth watching for the spectacle and the ideas:

 

 

 winterol1

 

There are some lesson plans on the NSF website if  you are interested in using the videos as teaching resources.

More Information

Science and engineering of the Olympic Winter Games 2014

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