July 31, 2008
50's Movie Hero, Robbie the Robbot
Want a kewl movie bot without having to assemble it? The Robot Store has Robbie the Black Planet Robot, the 50's tin replica. Wind him up and he walks while his face fills with sparks. Robbie is all of 9" tall with a price of only $14.95. While you are shopping, check out the online store's other pre-assembled creatures and kits, as well as links to other botty stuff.
Via The Robot Store
July 31, 2008
Author Murasaki Shikibu Immortalized
"The Tale of Genji," a famous novel in Japan, was written by Murasaki Shikibu. Kyoto University's Robo-Garage has honored her with a robotic replica. Standing 31 cm high and weighing 1.5kg, the bot wears a kimono similar to those worn in the 11th century, the time that the book was written. She has a built-in MP3 player, runs on NiMH batteries and moves with an 8-axis system. Murasaki is so far only a prototype, but Robo-Garage is planning a limited edition of the robotic author.
July 31, 2008
Japanese Comic Zenjiro Partners with PaPeRo
This has to be a really strange partner for a comedian. Zenjiro has teamed with one of NEC's PaPeRos, bots that speaks Japanese and English. Apparently they perform a skit that makes fun of Japan's English language teaching with the robot as the instructor. While this does not sound like an outstanding performance idea to us, NEC must be thrilled to be getting free advertising under the guise of humor. While we couldn't find any video of the two and their act, we did find about 10 seconds of blue humor on YouTube.
July 30, 2008
Flight of the Wall-E Bee
Our bud at RobotsRule is at it again, this time with a new video entitled "Flight of the Wall-E Bee." Created mostly with the iDance Wall-E, look for guest appearances by the U-Command Wall-E, Femisapien, and the WowWee Alive Chimp head.
Via Robots Rule
July 30, 2008
Bob Simon Meets Robonaut
If you caught "60 Minutes" this past Sunday, then you are already familiar with the Robonaut, a NASA robot that is designed for "EVA" tasks, those not meant specifically for robots. While he has been around for a couple of years, we got to watch him go through some of his paces as he tooled around and shook hands with reporter Bob Simon, then passed him a rock. Robonaut's arm has a 2º degree of freedom wrist, and a five finger, 12º of freedom hand. If you missed it, or its original airing in April, you can catch up on the CBS site.
Robot Taught Auzu Bandaisan Dance
A research team from Tokyo University has taught a bot to imitate dance steps. Produced by Kawada Industries, the 1.5 meter tall dancebot named HRP-2 or Promet can imitate auzu bandaisan, a Japanese folk dance. It learns with a video capture technique that records the steps. The reasoning behind this is that they want to record and preserve traditional dances that may be lost once the original humans that performed die. Wouldn't it just be easier to teach another human?
July 29, 2008
Sixth Framework Creates Empathetic Robots
Feelix Growing is developing software that allows robots to express empathy. The bot features cameras and sensors and can identify a facial expression, a voice, and an emotional state. Coordinator Dr. Lola Canamero says that, "tactile feedback and emotional feedback through positive reinforcement, such as kind words, nice behavior or helping the robot do something if it is stuck."
The Sixth Framework Program has been going on for about 3 years with researchers from from 6 countries. They are hoping that adding this trait will make robots more accepted by those that use them.
Via ICT Results
Mr. Pitiful Sings Praises of Roomba
Mr. Pitiful, one of YouTube's most popular musicians, has just completed his newest tune. Entitled "Brand New Friend (the Roomba Song,)" it is too funny for words. Maybe iRobot will make it a commercial success. If you like it, visit his MySpace Page, listed below, for more of his work.
Via Mr. Pitiful
H.A.L.E. to Celebrate 10 Years of Lego Mindstorms NXT
Nevada Space Grant, Energizer, the University of Nevada-Reno and National Instruments have teamed together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of
Lego Mindstorms NXT. College professors, middle school students, and Mindstorms freaks in general are planning on launching several of the bots today to collect data and explore Earth's atmosphere. All concerned are hoping to set a world record with H.A.L.E. (High Altitude Lego Extravaganza.)
The robots will be inserted into 2 weather balloons, launched outside Reno, and will go as high as 100,000 feet up. After the balloons burst, the NXTs will parachute back down to the planet.
Via Mindstorms News at Lego Mindstorms NXT
July 28, 2008
UK Border Patrol Hires a Hero
The U.K. has begun to use robots to inspect vehicles for illegal immigrants. Border officials say the the bots are about "the size of a briefcase," with hi-res video cameras, searchlights, four-wheel drive. In addition, they can be equipped with heartbeat detectors and sensors to identify chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear substances. Nicknamed Hero, the battery-powered bot searches underneath automobiles, buses, etc. as well as closed spaces. Each one costs about £6000 (~$12,000.00.)
PutterBot Golfs for You
For those who need a golfing buddy, Crabfu has yet another new bot to add to his already impressive collection. The PutterBot has 2 servos for tracks, one for the putter and one for its head. It also has a chassis made from a Tamiya kit. He mounted the head/light directly on the servo for a better gravity center and because "it just looks cuter." A right stick controls the bot's movements and the left takes care of the head and putter.
Reborg-Q Protects and Tells
Sohgo Security Services (ALSOK) has produced Reborg-Q, a security bot for Japanese shopping centers. Recently featured at the 2008 Security Show in Tokyo, the name itself comes from Star Trek's Q and the Borg. The robot has been on patrol for the last few months and checks for unauthorized people as well as water leaks or fires. Reborg-Q also features a touchscreen interface for giving weather, time, and missing kids information. One business used theirs to rat on employees working overtime. We suppose that makes up for the 380,000 yen ($3,543.00) per day fee that is charged to rent him.
July 25, 2008
Mars Lander Turns Itself Off
This past weekend, the Mars Lander Phoenix's robotic arm received instructions to do something, but realized that it could injure itself. While it recognized the problem and tried to correct it, it was unable to do so. It shut itself down! While the NASA team sent it new instructions, they are still waiting to see if that resolves the issue. The concept of it being able to do that is almost incredulous. Maybe it will sing "Daisy" a la Hal when it is really injured.
Via PC World
Robo-Fish Take to the Water
Kristi Morgansen, a roboticist at the University of Washington, and her team have developed some robotic fish that group together to track other fish or pollution. So far there are only three that are each controlled by an onboard computer, depth sensor, compass and radio transceiver. While being tested, the robo-fish keep in touch with each other and alter their course when necessary with two pectoral fins and a tail for propulsion.
Morgansen says that by using several at a time there is a better collection of data. "Artificial fish have been on the wish lists of oceanographers and the military for years. It is hoped that mimicking nature's propulsion methods could allow vehicles to be more efficient and maneuverable, and deploying them in shoals would allow more complex missions."
We get it. Our enemies would never guess that instead of submarines we have schools of robotic spies.
Via New Scientist
Must Have Robot: Simba Infrared Control Robot
Danger, Will Robinson! Simba Infrared Control Robot is our Must Have of the week. Using his remote, he will walk in any direction. With flashing lights, he will also speak to you and protect you by firing soft foam green discs from his chest. At a height of 12.5 x 7" and a weight of about 2 1/2 pounds, the bot comes with 24 discs, requires 6 AA batteries (not included,) and is yours for $39.99. We love that although Amazon's recommended age is 6 - 8 years, the manufacturer says that Simba is great for those who are 6 to 99.
Via Simba Toys at Simba Infrared Contro Robot
July 24, 2008
GigaPan Creates Incredible Panoramas
Carnegie Mellon University Researchers have come up with the GigaPan, a gadget that can capture over 1 billion high-res pixels. You simply attach it to your digital camera and tripod and it automatically clicks the shutter with a robotic finger to create overlapping images. The result is a very kewl panorama of up to 90 minutes. CMU is hoping to release the GigaPan later this year for a price of $150.00 - $300.00. Check out the results on gigapan.org.
Via Picture Snob
Manekin Robotto Walks the Runway
Talk about skinny! The Hyogo Prefectural Institute of Technology has unveiled its Manekin Robotto which is, in essence, a fashion model robot. At a height of 160cm and a weight of 30kg, the robot has 16 joints and motorized cylinders that allows it to cross and bend its legs. It is controlled by an SDcard with instructions, via a cell phone, or by PC. Made with an aluminum frame, the Manekin Robboto can grace your runway for a cool $940.00. We wonder if they make them in a healthier looking model.
UMan Manipulates Objects to Learn
Grad student Dov Katz and one of his professors, Oliver Brock, have created a new concept in robotics. Instead of using software to program the bot, UMan (UMass Mobile Manipulator) pushes around objects to see how they work. The robot looks down from above with his webcam, learns how it moves, then uses the information to figure out what it does. It then can utilize whatever it picks up. Katz likens the movements to that of a baby. Imagine what UMan will be able to do when it grows up!
Via Technology Review
July 23, 2008
Snakes and Locusts Go Robotic
Herose Fukushima Robotics Lab is working on robots that can move without legs. After studying how the reptiles can do this, they developed the Snake Robot. We didn't even know snakes had biomechanisms.
Now take a look at this prototype bot that can jump more than 24 times its own size. Based on the common locust, the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems' Self Deploying Microglider is 5 cm and weighs 7g, and has elastic elements and a linkage leg system for lift-off.
Via HF Robotics Lab and LIS
Robot Girl Music Video Stars FemiSapiens
If you liked the song "Barbie Girl," then you will love this parody by Robots Rule's Robert Oschler entitled "Robot Girl." Starring a trio of WowWee's FemiSapiens, look for cameos from robotic Yoda, Miss Piggy, Robosapien, Tri-Bot, and Wall-E, among others. If you really dig it, you can download a free stereo MP3 of the tune.
Via Robots Rule
Kiva Robots Get Warehouse Duty
Kiva Systems in Woburn, Mass., has gone into the robotics warehouse business. It consists of a central computer that keeps track of the bots and the racks in the building, then uses algorithms to plot their courses. Their efforts are to allow inventory items to come to the warehouse workers rather than the opposite. The squat robots hang under the racks, lift them up, and take them to their destination. They move along straight lines and make 90º turns when necessary. About 500 Kiva robots are already in a Staples in Pennsylvania and Walgreens' distribution center in Denver, Colorado utilizes them. Why do we get the feeling that soon the shelf stockers will be replaced as well?
Via Space Daily
July 22, 2008
B21 Takes on Kitchen Duty
We can always use another kitchen bot. The B21 works by using the same tools that we do. Developed at the Technical University of Munich, this video displays a visualization of what it can do. The robotic chef uses RFID technology by embedding tags into each tool rather than its learning objects by shape. Even more impressive, the B21 can teach other robots. While it may not be fast food, it would certainly be efficient.
Via New Scientist Tech
Crabfu Creates Cute Creatures
Crabfu makes very nifty bots, mostly of the animalistic kind. One of his latest is a R/C Tortoise that uses a 4-channel radio system. It features 4 sub-micro servos and each axis of its transmitter stick controls a servo. Check out his web site to see other creatures that include Swashbot and Flapper the fish.
Speecys SPC-101C Surveillance Bot
Tomoaki Kasuga worked for Sony until he decided to begin his own robotics company Speecys. His latest SPC-101C has 17 servos for almost human movement, as well as dual stereo speakers and a built-in camera. The 13" tall bot weighs 3.3 lbs. and can perform such tricks as bending backwards. Kasuga's creation can be used for surveillance, as it has face and object recognition. SPC-101C has a 3D editor display window, can speak, and is wireless.
July 21, 2008
Spike, the Robotic Ultra Dinosaur
Spike the Dinosaur walks, stands on his back legs, blinks, growls, snorts and roars by remote control. Push down on his head to open his mouth and feed him a boulder. Press again and he drops it. Standing 27", he needs 3 AA batteries, and comes with a 9.6V NiMH rechargeable battery. Recommended for anyone over the age of 3, you can get your own Spike for $140.00, then go out and scare the neighbors' dog to get him out of your yard.
Via Fisher Price
Beware of Robot Stickers
Those who have guard robots instead of dogs will have to get at least one of these for their front door. Created by Mister Robotics at Suicide Bots, the sticker is an updated re-release of their original and will only set you back $3.00.
Via Suicide Bots
Tilted Twister Solves Rubik's Cube
There have been other robots that can solve the Rubik's Cube, and now Hans Anderson has programmed his Lego Mindstorms NXT to do the same. The Tilted Twister has a set of sensors that detects when holds the puzzle, then calculates the moves. Using algorithms, the Twister can solve the cube in an average of 60 moves in about 6 minutes. While it may not be as fast as Rubot II, it certainly will beat most humans. Being the decent guy that he is, Anderson is sharing his instructions and plans with anyone who wants them.
Via Tilted Twister
July 18, 2008
TMSUK-4 Goes Shopping
Robotics company tmsuk now has a telerobotic shopper. Demonstrated recently at the Izutsuya Department Store in Kitakyushu, Japan, the modified TMSUK-4 humanoid robot was controlled via a NTT DoCoMo video-capable cellphone at another location. Won't it be a great day when we can get our bots to buy our socks or shop for groceries without our having to be there?
Via Pink Tentacle
Bon Voyage to the Scarlet Knight Glider
Rutgers University students and engineers literally launched an underwater robot off New Jersey's coast May 21. The RU-17 nicknamed the Scarlet Knight Glider will be traveling for the next six months across the Atlantic carrying letters to whoever manages to catch it when it lands. Goals include education, testing of new lithium batteries, and creating an international community. The plan is for the underwater glider to head for Cape Touriñán, Spain which is about 3,308 miles away at a speed of 0.5 knots (~.58 mph.) So we figure we should check back in about 240 days.
Must Have Robot: Robo-Robbie
He walks, he talks, he dances, he shoots foam disks, he says goodbye, he amuses kids when you can't. He is Robo Robbie, all of 12" tall, and our Must Have Robot this week. Running on batteries (not included,) he has a clever auto-turnoff for kids who forget. RR can be yours for $34.99.
July 17, 2008
SmartPal V Cleans Up
Yaskawa Electric has come up with the SmartPal V for domestic duties. Weighing about 280 lbs. and 52" tall, the robot tools around on wheels, has four CCD cameras and can move at a speed of 3.6 kpm. The bot knows its owner, can respond to questions, and can recognize items that need picking up. It will also interact with others of its ilk. While it can run for about 2 1/2 hours until it needs a charge, we think with the mess around here, we would be lucky to get an hour's work out of it.
Bandai Robotic Crabbery
If you like your robots crabby, take a look at Bandai's robotic crustaceans. While we are not sure if the "Hex Bug Crab" walks sideways from the translation ("while moving the plural feet,") we do know that it has sensors that make it move away from sound and head for darkness when it can. Available in blue or red, the Robotic Crab will set you back ¥2,625 (~$26.00.)
Via Bandai (translated)
Pittsburgh to Celebrate 250th Anniversary Robotically
By the spring of next year, and partially because of Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh will become the permanent home of the Robotic Hall of Fame. This year, in honor of the city's 250th anniversary, CMU, the U. of P. and other foundations will be sponsoring Robot 250, a robotic arts festival. BigBots will be scattered throughout the city and there will be robot-building workshops, a theatre production and a botty film festival with such films as "Shrek," "A.I.," and "Westworld."
Via Robot 250 Festival
July 16, 2008
Limited Edition Sonny of "i, Robot"
Big fans of the book/movie "i, Robot" can now own a literal piece of the bot with the NS-5 Sonny. The head has a motion sensitive blue LED, and those evil blue eyes. There will only be 3,000 units available in the Limited Edition which will set you back KRW135,000 (~$135.00) at Funshop.
Take the MST3K Quiz
If you were a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, mental floss has come up with a mini-quiz to test your knowledge. There are only 10 questions to see how you stack up against your fellow MST3K groupies. And, by the way, if you are still into the show and miss the old series, you can order DVDs, clothing, and other oddities on the official site or Amazon.
Via mental floss
Care-O-Bot 3 Service Robot
Care-O-Bot 3 is a prototype of the next generation of service robots. Created by the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart, Germany, the 1.45 meter high robot has Stereo-vision color cameras, laser scanners and is aware of its surroundings. It can be controlled both manually and by spoken commands. The bot has a highly flexible arm which can pick up items without breaking them. It works similarly to Panasonic's DSM-Hand, but perhaps not as frightening.
July 15, 2008
Bugbots, Artsy Robots
Etsy's "TinyMind" has come up with a line of Bugbots, tiny robotic creatures that, although limited in function, are one of a kind and should be considered art. For example, Lilly is solar-powered. Place her in a sunny window and she flaps her wings. She was freeform soldered with a meter movement, solar cell, chip, resistor and two capacitors. Lilly is available for $60.00 and TinyMind will customize a Bugbot just for you if you have your own idea.
USB Robot Dances it Up
Who doesn't want a Dancing Robot when you are computing? The USB bot moves when you make any kind of noise, i.e. music, typing, and co-workers harassing you. We have had toys similar that just keep going when you plug them in, so you might want to only bring him out of his robotic coma for special occasions, like when you are reading RobotSnob. The DR is available for ¥3,000 ($~30.00) from Rakuten.
Via Tokyo Mango
KT-X Picks Itself Up
KumoTek Robotics and Vstone Corporation have teamed to create the KumoTek-X (KT-X.) This bipedal bot can stand, walk, run, and somersault. It can be programmed to pick itself up after falling. At 13" tall, KT-X has 17 servo-activated joints, 75 pre-programmed motions, and 60MHz HV processor with 512kB ROM / 64kB RAM. The company claims it has extremely user-friendly programming for robotic virgins. The price? A whopping $1,199.99.
Via Audio Cubes
July 14, 2008
Robots, the Movie, Rules
We just saw "Robots" for the first time. While it might not be as slick as Wall-E or endearing as Nemo, we have to admit we dug it all the same. In the 2005 film, a youngish Rodney travels to the big city where he falls in robotic love and hangs with botty friends known as Rusties. Lots of voice cameos by the likes of Jay Leno, Al Roker, and Mel Brooks, and look for other movie references such as an appearance of the Tin Woodsman, and quips from, among others, "Singing In the Rain" and "2001." We suggest you put it on the top of your Netflix queue, or get the DVD as robotically inclined kids off all ages will want to watch it more than once.
Via Robots at Robots, the Movie
BEAR Will Be Going to War
The Vecna Technologies Cambridge Research Laboratory near Boston recently revealed its BEAR (Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot.) Funded by Congress for over a million big ones, the bot can lift, carry, and put down humans in dangerous situations. It can also manage other heavy objects up to 500 lbs. over rough terrain and even stairs. The BEAR can travel on its "belly" for miles should the need arise. Vecna is also planning to make versions for healthcare, disaster rescue, and contaminated areas. Check out Robot Magazine for more details.
Via Robot Magazine
Pleo is Now Eternal
Lo and Behold! Ugobe will resurrect your Pleo should he/she meet an unfortunate end. While the robotic dino has its warranty and can sometimes be saved by the company, if it cannot PleoWorld will remove its "digital soul" and reincarnate it into a new one for a reduced price. It will then carry on with the original personality. This is tantamount to cloning, don't you think?
July 11, 2008
What does Pixar's Angus MacLane do to ward off stress? Sometimes, he plays with Legos like the rest of us. He built this Wall-E in about 7 hours over a 3 year span at the same time the robot was being built in the computer. Part of the delay came in waiting for tracks to be released. His problem was solved when the Wookie Attack Set became available. Although he is not happy enough with the eyes on his robotic model, we think it would be hard to build a better Wall-E.
Via The Brothers Brick
Robotic Middle Manager Haunts Australia
This video is downright eerie. Performance artist Momoyo Torimitsu let her robotic Middle Manager loose on a busy Australian intersection. According to the artist, "The battery-powered robot is supposed to symbolize the Asian economic crash and Japan's rigid 'salaryman' culture."
Yeah. We wonder why she didn't let it loose in Toyko.
Via Diagonal View
Must Have Robot: Tekno Mega Mech R/C Robot
This Friday's Must Have Robot honor goes to Tekno's Mega Mech R/C Robot. Even if you are over 48" tall and weigh over 8 lbs., the bot promises easy assembly and inflates with an included foot pump. A remote controls his movements and a button push produces one of 5 pre-programmed phrases. Mega Mech needs both AA and AAA batteries to run (not included.) If you have a skittish cat, remember to close the door before you let the bot loose.
Amazon at Mega Mech R/C Robot
July 10, 2008
Anette Hosoi, MIT Associate Professor, has a fascination with snails to the point that she collects them for her students to study how they can walk on any surface, whether it is sideways, backwards, forwards, or upside down. After studying the slime, she asked them to design robots that can do likewise. The RoboSnail was the result of the project. It has rippling, moveable segments on a layer of synthetic snail sludge and can go anywhere its living counterpart can. Anette is hoping that the bot can be used for invasive surgery or going underground in places that may be difficult for humans.
Sega i-spin Dances
Sega Toys recently released their cheapy version of the Rolly. Their egg-shaped dancing bot responds to your tunes coming out of its speaker. The i-spin can attach to audio players and will also repond to human voices. At a size of 95 x 80 x 160mm, it runs on 3 AAA batteries, and comes in blue or pink at a price of ¥5,250 ($52.00.) We found one of their commercials on YouTube, which is almost as cheesy as the i-spin itself.
Via Sega (translated)
July 9, 2008
Korean Bot Analyzes Blood
Korea's Pohang University of Science and Technology researchers have developed a robot that performs about 70 different blood tests so far, with the ability of 100 by next year. The 1.6 meter tall bot has a built-in reagent dispenser, protein detector, and software to do its thing. While this is only a prototype at this stage, the scientists are hoping to release it to the general public by 2012.
Via Fareast Gizmos
Toyota Partner Robots Play Tunes
Competing with Sony's ASIMO, no doubt, are Toyota's Partner Robots, which can play the violin, trumpet, tuba, trombone, French horn, and percussion. Released late last year, the bots occasionally gather for impromptu concerts. The company is working on their dexterity as well as coordination. Once perfected, they are hoping that they will become household robots. We think they should get together with ASIMO and go on tour.
Via Pink Tentacle.
Black-I Robotics Creates LandShark to Sniff Out Bombs
Brian Hart lost his son in Iraq in 2005. Doing more than just grieving, he teamed with Richard Hart and and Arthur Berube to come up with Black-I Robotics and a series of Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV robots) to go where humans should not. His LandShark can be programmed to plow up earth where a trip wire or explosive is hidden, or drop disrupters that sets off jets of water to disarm a bomb. Black-I is counting on the bot to be available next year with a hefty price of $65,000.00 to $85,000.00 a pop. When our tax dollars have to be used for war, we are all for them going this route.
Via Black-I Robotics
July 8, 2008
Rocks and Robots - Summer Camp for Michiganders
If you live in Southeastern Michigan and have an interest in robotics, Rocks and Robots is a combination science and adventure program for ages 7 - 17 who want more to do with their summers than hang around the house. They offer summer camps, workshop weekends, and special events designed around kids' brains and
bodies. Those who are only interested only in robotics can take part in a "Mayan Adventure" by building a Lego NXT Mindstorm
and exploring a pyramid. If it sounds intriguing, contact Katie Tilton at 734-645-0211 or visit their site for rates and more information.
Via Rocks and Robots
Bots Perform Thousand-Hand Bodhisattva
Twenty one hearing impaired dancers often perform the Thousand-hand Bodhisattva in China. Now the University Science and Technology Department has taken 15 robots and taught them to perform the same dance. One of Time's favorites, the bots can also hug and do push-ups. While we couldn't locate a video of the robots in action, if they are anything like their human counterparts, they must be awesome.
Tufts U. to Develop Bionic Caterpillars
Tufts University has received a $3.3 millon DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) grant to develop squeezable bionic caterpillars. The bots will be able to enter 1 cm spaces, then expand to a size 10 times larger. They are also bio-degradable. The research team will be programming the robotic insects to move in confined spaces, climb trees or buildings, and follow ropes or cables. Applications will include landmine detection, search and rescue, and perhaps even carrying smaller versions of themselves for tinier areas. For that kind of money, we figure they will learn to become robotic butterflies.
Via Tufts e-news
July 7, 2008
Wall-E Becomes a Video Game
It seems that more than 63 million went to see Wall-E on his opening weekend, and there are already video games with the little guy. There is a version for Leapster, a combination of five educational games featuring both Wall-E and Eve for $24.99.
For gamers with other systems such Sony PSP, Playstation 2, Xbox 360, PC, or Mac, THQ's game is a series of puzzles that attempt to get one of the robots through an environment by manipulation. You can find this one at prices beginning at $19.99.
Via ABC News
San Jose Art Museum Features a Summer of Robots
If you are fortunate enough to be in the San Jose area this summer, you should try to catch the Robots: Evolution of a Cultural Icon exhibit at their Musuem of Art. Running until October 19, the show features the development of robot iconography in the last 50 years. There are sculptures, paintings, photographs, digital media, and installations created by over 20 artists. Included in the exhibit are "Video Labels" by various artists, including this one from Clayton Bailey, who explains where he gets his materials and why he is into robots. Sit through the whole video and you can see some of his incredible creations.
Via San Jose Museum of Art
Seascout Prototype Saves Swimmers
Next time you hit the beach, you might come across New Zealander Andre Harley's Seascout Aquatic Rescue Robot. It features a GPS tracker and EIPIRB technology, and works manually or with pre-programming. There is internal lighting, a sunroof, and a radio system onboard for communications. You can see more pix and details on the designer's site.
Via Andre Design
Time Magazine Honors Favorite Robots
It seems that Time magazine loves robots, too, and recently compiled a photo essay of their 16 favorites. The collection includes the Sommelier, a wine-testing bot, "Twendy-one," for nursery and household assistance work, a robot jockey, and Wall-E, of course. We will be going in depth with some of them because many of them are our faves, too.
July 4, 2008
Mr. Asahi, the Bartender With Class
Wouldn't it be nice to go into a bar, or in this case pub, stroll up to the counter and the Asahi Bartender pours you a brewski? No asking for tips, no cutting you off when you reach your limit, and someone you can talk to who will listen, no matter how much you whine. Although the brewery is located in Japan, Mr. Asahi, a combination of robotics and animatronics, speaks in a delightful English accent and can not only open bottles, but deliver a pint on tap. We say Cheers! to the bot.
Via channel flip
Win a Free Ride to RoboGames 2009
Instructables has teamed up with RoboGames to create a Robot Contest. Come up with your most creative idea, build it, submit with detailed plans and pix, and you could win a trip to RoboGames 2009. The second place winner gets a RoboPhilo Walking Android Kit and a Robot prize package. There are also some other cool prizes, so check out their site to get contest instructions and official rules. Submit your entry by July 13.
Must Have Robot: Mr. Clock Radio
Okay, he is loud, he is obnoxious, but what better way to get up in the a.m. than with Mr. Clock Radio? He plays Revelry, yells at you to wake up, and announces the time. The Geewiz bot features an analog AM/FM tuner, an MP3 player, multiple wake-up settings, and a light and motion sensor on its LCD backlit display. We found Mr. CR online at Amazon for $65.95.
Via Geewiz at Mr. Clock Radio.
July 3, 2008
R2-D2 USB 4-Port Hub
One can never have enough Star Wars robots around. Plug the R2-D2 USB 4-port Hub into your computer and he lights up, moves his head, and speaks in that animated language we have all grown to love, even if we can't understand it. The hub will be out in August, but you can pre-order now at Geek Stuff 4U for $67.72 if the force is with you.
Via Akihabara News
Machine Science, Affordable Robotics Kits
Machine Science is a site that features robot kits that would turn any budding Science Fair entrant into a winner. Choose between a Starter Kit, a Mobile Robot Space Kit, a Text Messenger Kit, and others. They carry free project guides, tools, and miscellaneous parts with prices starting at about $40.00. They also hold annual Sumo Robot Wrestling Tournaments. We figure this video will provide a bit of an incentive.
Via Machine Science
Pleo Marked Down for Anniversary
It's hard to believe that our fave dinosaur, Pleo, has already been on the planet for an entire year. PleoWorld is celebrating the occasion with an incredible anniversary offer. If you have not yet purchased one for yourself or want to get one for a friend, you will receive a $100.00 discount if you order on their site. The deal is only available for 2 weeks, so head over to their site before July 12, enter the code PLEOWORLDISONE, and take advantage of the $235.00 price.
July 2, 2008
ABI Predicts Massive Robot Sales by 2015
ABI Reasearch put out a report that claims that by the year 2015 people will spend as much for a humanoid robot as they would for their next car. Analyst Philip Solis says that within 7 years the market will expand to $15 billion dollars.
In his book "Love and Sex with Robots", A.I. researcher and author David Levy says the bots will be able to carry on conversations, respond to other's emotions, and have some feelings of their own. While we are not sure that we would go that far, we can't wait until we get our own Rosy.
Readybot Hires Roomba
Ya gotta love the Readybot. It was devised by a team of engineers and designers in Silicon Valley who arranged a contest (a la DARPA Urban challenge) to build a kitchen cleaning bot. The result is the Readybot, who has been around for awhile, but has recently decided it needs help. So the team added a Roomba to pick up the little stuff. The group is hoping to expand the growing domestic robotics industry with its publicity. We thought we wanted one of these robots before, now we are convinced. Now if they would just teach Readybot to clean the cat box.
Via Readybot Home Page
Robot Writing Submissons Being Accepted
Love robots so much that you write about them? After Michael Ugulini's successful acceptance of "Days on the Wind Farm" for Amazon Kindle, Robot in the Woods is now accepting submissions for their first Build-A-Book project. Send your novellas, short fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and artwork, like this entry, Mudma, by artist Mike Wrathell. There is no limit to how many original manuscripts and works of art you can enter on the site by the Nov. 14 deadline. Those that are accepted will receive a percentage of royalty shares. Check out the site for more specifics.
Via Robot in the Woods
July 1, 2008
Novint Falcon Attempts 3D Gaming
It may look like a bot, but the Novint Falcon is actually a game controller. The device allows you to play in 3-D while it moves up and down, left and right, and forward and backwards. The company claims that using the Falcon adds a realistic touch to virtual images by feeling the character's action. While we would probably hold back unless we could test one for ourselves, a Limited Edition is available for $189.99 that comes with Newton's Monkey Business, the Feelin' It Sports Pack, 24 mini-games, and two grips.
Robo-Pong, for the Ping Obsessed
There is always one person at every gathering that wants to play ping pong to the point that you just want to paddle him/her. What better gift than Newgy's Robo-Pong? Available in 3 models and several packages, the basic entry level 540 has low speed and frequency levels and a manual trajectory change. The package includes a ball thrower, bucket, control box, transformer, connection cable, and 48 robo-balls at a price of $229.00. Go for the premium Robo-Pong 2040 and it will capture and toss back for $695.00. Note that the commercial call its "ultimate opponent" a new species.
Tartalo Knocks Before Entering
The Autonomous Robotics and Systems Research Team at the University of the Basque Country are trying to increase autonomy in robots so that they can do more than simplified tasks. Tartalo, their latest creation, can identify different locations. The 1.5 meter tall bot has sensors to keep him from bumping into walls, and has been programmed to recognize rooms, corridors, front halls, and junctions. He also knows what a door is and knocks at those that are closed. The UPV/EHU researchers are hoping that in time Tartalo will be able to distinguish between faces, voices, and objects.
Via Space Daily