August 29, 2008
At the recent Taipei International Robot Show, VIA unveiled its Lynxmotion Johnny 5 kit. Based on the robot from the film "Short Circuit", the kit is intended for beginning robotics builders. The 14.25" high bot is fitted with a Pico-ITX board, the VIA EPIA P700, featuring the VIA VX800 unified chipset. Johnny is compact, heavy duty, and has low power consumption to make him simple to construct for scientific, entertainment, and educational purposes. The kit is available at prices beginning at $629.31, batteries and "eyes" not included.
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August 29, 2008
It would appear that Sega's female E.M.A. (Eternal Maiden Actualization) will be available to those of us stateside as of September 25. Made by Sega in Japan, the 200 × 360 × 100mm fembot has a whopping ¥18,900 price (~$172.00,) unlike its twin WowWee's Femisapien that will only set you back $99.99. Nonetheless, in the spirit of competition and fair play, we declare the E.M.A. our Must Have Robot of the week.
Via Amazon Japan
August 28, 2008
Well, now. This robotic Jesus created by "jacques couscous" moves, does Kung-Fu and, in his own juvenile tones admits, "I can kick some serious butt" and "Are ya feeling lucky? Well, are ya?" Learn how to make your own and his companion/foe Bald Baby Buddha Buddy on instructables. While this project involves using a box cutter, a successful mash-up should protect you from your dashboard, no matter who is out there.
August 28, 2008
Last Thursday, burglary suspect James A. Prevatt III had been in a Maryland motel room with his pregnant girlfriend when he went a bit nutso. Wanted in four states, he claimed that he would detonate a bomb or set fire in his room. So the man was sent pizza and soda by a robot, but Prevatt threatened to shoot it and didn't take the food. Granted the man was probably exhausted and said that he had been doing some drugs, but that was no excuse to inflict violence on the messenger. He was finally nabbed by humans when the bot brought munchies-curing hamburgers, soda, and cigarettes the next day. No explosives were found.
August 27, 2008
Industrial robots will have to learn to get along with human co-workers as shown in this clip from the University of Minho, Portugal. Notice that the ARoS berates its helpmate when the human makes a mistake. After a second one, the bot again complains. We hope that at the very least they will make them with kinder tones in the future, say like Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the voice behind the Star Trek's 'puter.
Via New Scientist
Combine WowWee's Elvis Alive and the Terminator and you apparently get the Elvinator. A work in progress, you can get details to DIY. He was constructed by GW Jax with the addition of a red LED, a jaw piston, a re-skinning, and programming to move, recognize voices, and interact. We are thinking that when the project is finally completed, he will say upon being turned on, "I'll be back, thank ya vera much." Come to think of it, he does resemble the Govinator.
August 26, 2008
"shrimpy" has created the eyeRobot, a prototype that guides visually impaired and blind users. The owner pushes and/or twists the handle to show it its preferred path, and the bot finds the way using sonar. It was made with an iRobot Create, sensors, potentiometers, and miscellaneous hardware. A winner from Instructable's iRobot Create Challenge, he built the robot for less than $400.00, lots cheaper than a $12,000 guide dog and costs much less to feed.
Wander down to Coney Island and you may see a Grindhouse booth dubbed The Waterboard Thrill Ride, created by artist Steve Powers of the Creative Time Public Art Forum. For a mere dollar, you can check out his take on the torture at Guantanamo Bay with automatons as participants. The exhibit will be in Coney Island until Sept. 15, then it will move to the Park Avenue Armory as part of Creative Time's Democracy in America exhibit. Pretty powerful stuff.
(Note: Those who are sensitive to harsh language might want to mute the audio.)
Via Network World
August 25, 2008
Lockwasher's designs feature some of the most original robot art we have seen to date. He takes found objects and turn them into rayguns, rockets, robots, etc. We have a special fondness for his team of 23.5" Gigantor and crony Visetti, made with an old electric fence controller, Smoothie maker spin-on lids, an espresso maker base, two golf pull cart flanges, bakelite wheels from an Electrolux and a spin-on oil filter tool. You have to check out the rest of his collection on Flickr, as his pieces are going fast.
Via Lockwasher Design
Trossen Robotics holds contests every few months for those who like to do it themselves. Their last competition ended July 31 and the top prize went to the Homebrew Wall-E and his creator "4mem8." You can get the complete winners' list to give you some inspiration to enter their next one.
August 22, 2008
New rover prototypes nicknamed Bradley and Bruno were unveiled by the European Space Agency (ESA.) Tested by space company UK Astrium and expected to land on Mars in 2015, the bots have six-wheel steering and can turn or move sideways. With the ability to plot their own courses and save time, they also have "wheel walking capability" which allows them to anchor with five of them on a steep slope and inch forward. It seemed scary enough when Phoenix turned itself off. Imagine what this one will be able to do as its main mission is to search for past or present life.
We thought this week we would help do our part to save the planet with our Must Have Robot. Use an ordinary aluminum soda and turn it into a Robug with this Green Science kit. It includes a plastic body, wire wings and legs, motor, wires, screws, and detailed instructions. The best part is that you have to recycle your own can, so the kidlets can use Pepsi, jockish geeks can utilize Red Bull but, as for us, we will stick with our Bud. The elementary bot comes in a gift box and has a price starting at $8.99.
Via Green Science at Robug
August 21, 2008
The National Science Foundation has been working on Sentry, an underwater bot that can go deep as 5,000 meters (3.1 miles) without linking to a ship. The 1,212 lb. free-swimming device was built and operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI,) who installed 1,000 lithium-ion batteries and various sensors. Designed to swim or hover, it measures such things as ocean temperature and pressure. During its first test, Sentry used a photo-mapping/seafloor imaging system to build maps off the coast of Oregon and Washington.
Lego Mindstorms NXT continues to inspire creativity, as in the form of Alphonso Martone's Pin-Plotter. Finalized after 2 tries, the third is made of one NXT brick, 3 motors, 3 touch-sensors, and lots of Technic bricks. It creates a printable area of 3.6 x 2.7" with a bitmap of 1,500 holes in about 40 minutes. Using a 0.3mm needle, it has a maximum resolution of 1.3 holes/mm (33 dpi.) The gadget runs on 6 1.2 V NiMH AA NXT batteries. We dig that a driver was included in the clever device.
Via NXT Pin-Plotter III
August 20, 2008
The Ministry of Defence has created a competition for urban warfare equipment. The Mira team's entry is a 3 ft. flying saucer. Team member Chris Mellors says, "The bottom line is, we want our technology to help our Forces."
Sure, until someone freaks and shoots down the little bugger. The winner of the competition gets a trophy and a possible gig at the front line.
Via Times Online
Take a peek at HPI's G-Dog, using the same tech as their G-Robot humanoid. The four-pawed canine has 9º of freedom and runs with the aid of his PRU-11 Controller. At about 5.3" long, the G-Dog was recently released in Japan for about $1,000.00. Watch through the end of the video to see him being put through his paces.
Via Robot Dreams
August 19, 2008
Calling Dr. Frankenstein! A robotic rat controlled by a bit of real rat brain has be made by British scientists at the University of Reading, led by Professor Kevin Warwick. The robot is linked wirelessly to 300,000 neurons kept in a cabinet. When the ratbot receives signals, it turns left or right. They are now trying to teach it to get used to its surroundings to prove that memories are retained in nerve connections.
Warwick previously experimented with a silicon chip transponder that was implanted in his forearm in 1998. He then managed to operate computers, doors, lights, and heaters without moving. He even wrote a book on the subject, "I, Cyborg."
Via New Scientist Tech at "I, Cyborg."
It may not be strictly robotic, but it does have botty characters in it. Besides, this beta site is so much fun you just have to try it. Our bud Michael Jacobson and his bud Sammy have created Animasher, which is a very kewl and simple way to make animation. And yes, it has more than its share of bots, and a couple of stars from Warner Brothers in this animated shot.
August 18, 2008
Takao Someya and his research team at the University of Tokyo have developed a type of rubber that can conduct electricity, They say that e-skin can feel heat and pressure, like its human counterpart. The technology can be applied as a skin for robots and can stretch 1.7 times its size, but its conductivity drops by about half. The e-skin is made by grinding carbon nanotubes with an ionic liquid and adding that to rubber.
And yet another R2-D2 has hit inner space. This time it is a micro cooler that will keep your brew chilled while you toil away in your cubicle. Plug the Fridge into your USB port and may the frigid be with you. Get yours for $35.00.
August 15, 2008
In a collaboration between technology firm Qinetiq and Aberystwyth University, the first robot planes recently took test flights over UK farmland. The UAVs (autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles) stayed aloft about an hour on battery power and mapped nitrogen levels in soil to decide if they needed fertilizer. Jonathan Webber of Qinetiq says, "You don't need to put pilots in a vehicle where you are only collecting data, providing you can do it safely."
Hmm. With all the recent turmoil on the planet, why do we think they may be used for other applications?
Elmo Live is finally available for pre-order and as such qualifies as our Must Have Robot of the week. At a size of 5.5 x 11 x 15" and a weight of 2.2 lbs., he bobs his head, waves his arms, stands, sits, and crosses his legs. He can be activated by tickling (of course) or a squeeze on his tummy, foot, nose or back. He sings, tells jokes and stories, and plays games. This is a must have that we predict will be the hottest toy this holiday season. He comes with a MSRP of $65.99 and will arrive October 14.
Via Elmo Live
August 14, 2008
Segatoys has released this robotic Baby Chick as part of their Dream series. It chirps, cheeps, and flaps its wings when petted. Ignore it and the bird will complain. At a size of 8 x 6 cm, it comes with 3 watch batteries and its own nest for $35.99. At least it will not drown in its drinking dish the way a real chick of ours did many years ago (*sniff.)
Via Audio Cubes
Wowwee's Rovio is now available for pre-order. The spybot will patrol your house with routes that you pre-program with its software. You can even accomplish this with a mobile phone or any web connection. With the simple instruction "go to," it will check to see if there are any intruders, make sure that pets and teens aren't up to any mischief, or make sure you turned off the coffee maker. Run by a micro-GPS system, if the robotic dude falls down, it gets back up all by itself. And when its batteries run down, it will head back to its dock. Expect the Rovio's debut sometime this month with a $299.99 price.
Via Robots Rule
August 13, 2008
Researchers believe that SARs (socially assisted robotics) can connect with autistic children better than humans. They found that those who blow bubbles, make facial expressions, and toot horns seem to increase Autism Spectrum Disorder kids in both their speech and in getting along with humans.
One study paired an ASD child with a Bubblebot, which only worked when the child pushed a button. The result was that there was more interaction than when the bot blew randomly. We think that it is teriffic when bots are used in this manner rather than just helping out the military.
Via Discovery Channel
For those who like to see their bots' innards, the Cam-10 Mico Robot stands only 4" and uses one N battery (included.) Also available in black, turn it on and watch it umm, er, walk. At a mini-price of $14.00, get a pair and perhaps you can begin your own robotic dynasty.
August 12, 2008
Partially developed by students at Nanyang Polytechnic Institute, the 6-legged spiderbot can climb stairs, squeeze into narrow places and navigate on harsh terrain. The Hexabot will be able to avoid obstacles and help rescue trapped victims or sweep minefields. When it lifts three legs it can really hustle. The video also shows it doing the limbo, most helpful when taking an exotic island cruise.
Via EE Times
Segatoys has announced their latest robotic pet, Yume Hamusutaa (Dream Hamster.) Designed for females between the ages of 20 and 40, take your pick of a Golden, a Roborovski, and a Winter White Russian Dwarf hamster. Each is 3.5" and is available only in Japan so far for $11.00.
August 11, 2008
Sculptor Michael Rea has a unique gift. With a wry sense of humor, he created "A Prosthetic Suit For Stephen Hawking with Japanese Steel" out of wood, rope, and foam in 2007 as a tribute to the scientist. He made the art after seeing Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill." The robotic suit is 8' tall, has a hatch in the back, and is also interactive. Check out more of Rea's art on his site.
Via Michael T. Rea
You can now pre-order the Ultimate Wall-E from Disney. This bot can chat, dance, play music from your MP3 player, and follow you around. The robot has 4 audio sensors for 360º sound detection, 4 motion sensors, and obstacle sensors. Of course his eyes light up and blink, and his hands can grip. With the infrared remote, you can create up to 1,000 action combinations. The Ultimate Wall-E comes with the ultimate price of $259.95 and should become available within the next 10 weeks.
Via Disney Shopping
August 8, 2008
A research group at Carnegie Mellon has been working on the Gutbot, a small camera pill that is swallowed. The scientist then controls it with a wireless remote to tell it when to stop. One of the most difficult aspects of the project was to find an adhesive that would, "stick repeatedly to tissues like intestines, esophagus, stomach, heart, and kidney surfaces," said Metin Sitti, professor and principal investigator of the NanoRobotics Lab at CMU.
The result was using an oil-like liquid found on beetles' foot hairs. The Gutbot was recently shown off on animals with successful results.
Via Technology Review
It's becoming an Amazon World. We found Pleo there and, in its honor, have made him our Must Have Robot of the Week. There is no time like the present to adopt one of the little critters as he is becoming much less expensive to own, not to mention to feed. And then there is that nasty housebreaking you can forgo.
August 7, 2008
We admit that we don't use pencils much these days, as the keyboard is our writing instrument of choice, but this 4" walking and working bot is pretty kewl. Insert a pencil (it prefers hexagonal) and as the implement is sharpened, it gets powered up. Empty his head when full. The robotic device comes with its own wind-up key and will set you back $5.99 (pencils not included.)
If it looks like sushi, and swims like sushi, but doesn't taste like sushi, then it is probably the University of Kitakyushu's Tai-robot-kun. The sea bream (red snapper) robofish weighs 15.4 lbs. and is covered in silicone. It propels itself silently like its real-life counterpart, at least till something larger comes around and chomps down on it.
Via Pink Tentacle
August 6, 2008
We find this toy even more clever than the Bow-Shooting Boy. This Chinese automaton was built in 1920 by Phalibois. The 5' tall robotic magician appears to make a doll to appear and reappear. It was auctioned off late last year by Skinner Inc. and, according to "wexrex" sold for about $70,000.00.
The Heart Robot was developed in part by Holly Cave, shown here. This plastic bot reacts to sound, touch, and those around it. It was given its name because of its visible heart that beats at different speeds. This robotic puppet was on display last week at the Antenna Gallery at London's Science Museum. This is yet another example of how scientists believe that emotions will help bridge the gap between our botty friends and humans.
Via Space Daily
August 5, 2008
Micah Carrick is not your average robotician (is that a real word?) He has now created the 5th generation of his FailureBot, a project that involves a "build a line" robot. After studying datasheets and searching through parts, he came up with the FB on a limited budget and from scratch. Kudos to him and his brainwaves. Hit his site and get extensive details.
Via Micah Carrick
Taiwan's GeStream BeRobot makes a claim to being the smallest humanoid robot on the planet, even smaller than the I-SOBOT. Standing only 15cm tall, it can perform push-ups, (although we don't know why it would want to,) kick mini-footballs, and gets back up after falling down. Run by remote control, it has an AI-Mg alloy skeleton, is programmable and, as the site says, is "much funny." Look for the 2008 models in September.
August 4, 2008
Don't have a robot in your bathroom yet? Airyusha has come up with this Robotan Toilet Paper Holder. Made of heavy-duty ceramic in your choice of colors, it actually comes with a roll of 100% of environmentally safe recycled paper. We guess that makes up for the hefty $49.99 price tag.
Via Audio Cubes
We are happy to report that all the Lego Mindstorms NXT that were launched at last week's H.A.L.E. have successfully returned to the planet. While up there, each of them took pictures and performed a variety of experiments. Check the site for more images to come and to find out what else the little robotic buggers are planning.
Via Gizmodo at Lego Mindstorms NXT
Toyota has unveiled their line of personal transportation robots they call Winglets. All three models are about 18 x 10" and the smallest is foldable and weighs a mere 22 lbs. Looking at the video, we think we need a bit of balance to master the Type S, while the M and L PTRs appear to be more of the Segway ilk. We still find them environmentally correct modes of transportation and would love to give them a spin.
August 1, 2008
Robots have been around longer than most of us think. Tanaka Hisashige, of the Edo period in Japan (1603-1867) originally created this Bow-Shooting Boy as part of a series of Karakuri mechanical dolls. They were made for rich feudal lords and merchants. Even today they are mounted on floats during festivals in the country. The lad loads the arrow, pulls the bow, and shoots. Now you can build your own Gakken model. The toy is 150 x 160 x 250 mm and weighs 970g and can be your best friend for ¥9,800 (~$91.00.)
Now that NASA is thinking moon again, the ESA (European Space Agency) has created a robotics challenge to design a better vehicle. Eight university teams were selected to create a robotic rover that must move from where it lands to a crater, go into it at an incline of up to 40º, retrieve something from the bottom, come back, and must do it all remotely. Each team must maintain a web blog during the challenge.
Via Space Daily
Our Must Have Robot this week are WowWee's Alive Cubs. Give one of them a pat and he will purr and meow or roar with supposedly realistic sounds. His eyes blink, his mouth moves, and he has sensors to react to your cuddling. Forget about your robotic pet and it will snore for 5 minutes before
shutting itself off going into a deep sleep. There are 4 versions, the Lion, Panda, Polar Bear, and White Tiger. Each requires 4 AA batteries (included) and is priced at $59.99.