October 31, 2008
We had to go back a couple of years to find a robot spooky enough for Halloween and this one, from the UK University of Reading, fits the bill. Morgui (Mandarin for Magic Ghost) was deemed so scary that he was banned by the ethics and research committee from being seen by anyone under the age of 18. The disembodied head has five senses and huge eyes that follow you around the room. Those senses include visual, audio, and radar, infrared, and ultrasonic. Mo, as he is called by his creator Kevin Warwick, was designed to keep an eye on the humans who were watching him. Let us know if you find any scary robots tonight. We suspect that there will be lots of them out there.
October 31, 2008
Yeah, we know that WowWee's Rovio is simply a glorified webcam, but it still deserves our Must Have Robot of the week status. The Wi-Fi enabled telepresense robot features autonomous navigation, is self-charging, and has a color cam and mic. You can be anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection. What a great holiday gift for a family member who is overseas. Pre-order for $299.95 to get yours.
October 30, 2008
Plasticland carries many gift bots for those who like to express their passion, including this Mini Metal Robot Key Chain by Kikkerland for $12.00 and the Lucite Robot Love Pendant Necklace for $22.00. Check out their site for even more ideas.
October 30, 2008
One of the robots displayed at the recent Robot World 2008 in Korea was Cafero. The kitchen robot by Yujin has a touchscreen and serves, but given the limited information, that may be the extent of it. Still, we thought it was worth a mention because if it wasn't for our caffeine fix, we probably wouldn't make through the day.
October 29, 2008
While some of us envision building colonies on Mars someday, European researchers have been developing small autonomous bots that work together like insects to perform the chore. The I-SWARM Project is composed of 100 tiny robots that can reconfigure themselves as needed for different tasks.
"Small robots that are able to work together could explore the planet. We now know there is water and dust so all they would need is some sort of glue to start building structures, such as homes for human scientists," said Marc Szymanski, a researcher at the University of Karlsruhe in Germany.
We suspect those first humans would include the I-SWARM team, who certainly will have earned the honor.
Via Science Daily
The Robotcraft Boxing Fighter is a fine solution to getting rid of all those hostilities. With a twin motor gear box, it can fight while moving forward, backwards, or turning left or right. Hit his opponent enough times and he will fall down. There is also an adjustment if you want to make the match more of a challenge. The kit comes with a practice punching ball so you can get him in shape before the main event. The boxer needs two R6/AA/UM3 batteries (not included) for the remote and comes at a price of $29.00 each. Check out some of Robotcraft's other designs.
Via Robot Store
October 28, 2008
If you are thinking about the holidays already, we found you an all-tin Atomic Robot ornament. The original Japanese robot is no longer manufactured, but you can get a facsimile to grace your tree this year. At a size of 3.5 x 1.25 x 1.25", it comes with a gold string for hanging and its own gift box for $9.98.
Via Tin Toy Arcade
Plug the Chatterbot Dog/Cat into your USB port and you have another annoying, yet personable robotic toy to keep you company while you are hard at work on your 'puter. Each one has an individual personality and will barrage you with jokes, chatty dialogue, and your life in general. Type in a word and a routine is triggered. Its on-screen interface software will make you
despise love him even more since you can control the amount of discourse. Compatible with both Windows and Mac, the Chatterbot comes with a MSRP of $42.39.
Via Chatterbot Dog/Cat
October 27, 2008
We find it truly amazing when we find such talented artists as Etsy's buildersstudio. Most of the Robot Bride and Groom is made of wood, with only a few metal gears. They stand about 3 1/2" high on a 5" long base. They would make a fine cake topper or wedding gift for about $95.00. Check out their other creations, all of which can be customized.
Japan certainly loves their movie monsters, as evidenced by Bandai's R/C Mechagodzilla. Standing about 20" tall, his eyes, nose, and mouth light up as he turns his ugly head in 360º a la Linda Blair. So far he is only available in Japan for ¥84,000 (~$828.00,) but hey, at least you will be protected when the original Godzilla returns.
Via Amazon Japan
October 24, 2008
Tower Hamlets is utilizing a 6 meter high robot to help promote its recycling program named "We Can Recycle More." The UK's "Mr. Recycle More" was made out of 33 bins and wanders around the streets in search of trashy people who are littering. Upon finding them, it will personally and painfully recycle them. We are just kidding about that last part, but seeing something that large would make you want to wrap those newspapers and cut down on your styrofoam usage, now wouldn't it?
Via Let's Recycle
Start thinking holiday shopping before the prices go up. Trossen just got in a new shipment of the Star Wars R2-D2 Astromech Droid, our Must Have Robot this week. The Interactive bot stands about 15" and walks, talks, and responds to over 40 commands. He can serve as security guard, play games, freaks out if you mention Darth Vader and can find you if you are up for a game of hide and seek. R2 needs 4 AA and 4 D batteries (not included) and needs a limited amount of assembly. Pick one up for $159.99.
October 23, 2008
Scarab is a product of the Lunar Rover Initiative backed by NASA. It can handle darkness, extreme temperatures, and intermittent communication. The Carnegie Mellon bot is practicing on a dormant volcano in Hawaii to extract water, hydrogen and oxygen. It is equipped with a drill that can retrieve a 1 meter core sample of the ground. CMU has been working on the project for about 10 years. Do you suppose it can shut itself off like the Mars Lander?
The Korean Institute Science and Technology (KIST) has developed Mahru and Ahra that, unlike ASIMO, who runs on network-based intelligence, work on network infrastructures with motion capture systems. Mahru understands voices and commands and can carry them out. As you can see from the video, he is quite supple and deserves the title of humanoid. The robot can also emit 2 aromas depending on his "mood." We wonder, when Mahru gets fully developed in the next 10 years, what that odor would be when he is really teed off.
October 22, 2008
Those who live in Japan who have mobility issues will soon be able to rent a computerized suit that reads signals from the brain and helps them to walk. The garment is powered by a 10kg battery operated computer system which is attached at the waist. HAL, short for Hybrid Assistive Limb, comes in three sizes and can be leased for ¥220,000 ($2,200.00) a month. A one-legged version will be available for a ¥150,000 ($1,500.00) per month fee.
Via Fareast Gizmos
Check out the Discovery Channel's Roboreptile. This has to be the ultimate robotic reptile for those who have watched "Jurassic Park" more times than they will let on. He can walk on four legs or run on two. His color adjusts according to the light and he moves his had, snaps at unsuspecting humans and whips his tail in a threatening manner. At a size of 33 x 10 x 12", the Roboreptile can be yours for $147.77.
October 21, 2008
Say hello to the Tomy Robo-Q, supposedly the smallest robot on the planet. At a size of 3.4cm high, the bot has artificial intelligence that allows it to play games and navigate. It can kick and pass a ball via remote, can go through a maze and dodge obstacles in its path. Available in 4 colors, it will be sold in Japan beginning in February for ¥3,500 ($35.00.)
At the recent ROBO-ONE 14 competition in Japan, Yorgoroza-V demonstrated his dancing skill. Described as a Michael Jackson clone, the bot stands 40cm tall and weighs 2.9kg. The bot can not only dance, he participates in robotic fighting events. We are impressed with his skills, but we think the real Jackson would have been able to stay on the stage a little better.
October 20, 2008
Elbot is a computer program disguised as a bot onscreen that recently won the Leobner Prize for Artificial Intelligence. The program actually fooled 4 of the 12 humans that questioned him to see if he was live. If you push his red button on the site below, you can chat with him, too.
This begs the question, "Are you sure that your latest chatroom bud is a person?" If you are not sure, head to Artificial Solutions main site and chat with Frank, a really creepy interactive AI that when we posted "LOL" responded, "Happy user, happy robot."
In a moment of weakness, or perhaps insanity, we ordered an Elmo Live from Amazon last month. Knowing that it would probably be the hottest toy for little ones, we pretended we were ordering for our kids, but knew deep in our hearts that we wanted to play with it, too. We recently received a note from the site, stating that there would be a delay in delivery to make it November 15, a couple of weeks later than expected. This means that they are indeed in short supply. We will let you know when/if delivery occurs. In the mean time, if you want one, now is the time to order.
Via Elmo Live
October 17, 2008
Somebody had best alert ASIMO. Mitsubishi's Wakamaru NYT is our newest Facebook friend. It seems that the yellow dude already has over 160 buddies on his list. Next thing you know, he and others of his ilk will be taking over MySpace.
This was so weird that we had to make it our Must Have Robot this week. The R2-D2 Soy Sauce Bottle stands 4.75" tall. Tilt his head and he spreads Star Wars
joy soy sauce on all your Oriental cuisine. We expect you could also fill him with sugar, cream, or another liquid, still ya gotta have a weird sense of commercialism to think this thing up. You can get one at a price of $45.00, soy sauce not included.
Via R2-D2 Soy Sauce Bottle
October 16, 2008
Takeji Nakagawa takes Keyaki, teak, walnut, and white ash wood to create these handcrafted robots. His take on it is, "I don't really have an exact answer but I often relate my robots with the future. What we really want is a future full of trees and something more natural. I don't think humans can live without trees no matter what advances technology makes."
We dig that he prefers potential buyers actually view the pieces before purchase. Prices for the unique toys range from $50.00 for small ones up to $6,000.00 for the largest pieces.
Via take-g toys
We hope that when Japan starts releasing service bots for all of us that the scientists consult someone who can design a face that is not this creepy. Repliee R-1 comes from Osaka University and is meant to resemble a 5 year-old. Designed for the elderly, she has 50 sensors and several motors to make "her" seem more human. Apparently she will be able to move, interact and fetch.
October 15, 2008
R2-D2 now comes in plush. The backpack is a fun pal for any fan of the Jedi. At a size of 19 x 15", it has adjustable straps and enough room to carry all your Star Wars Memorabilia. Get yours for $49.99.
Via Think Geek
Roboticists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have developed a system that allows a fruit fly to almost drive a remote controlled car. We didn't believe it a first either but it seems that the little bugger is tethered to a rod with an LED display around it. Images from a camera mounted on the car are transmitted to the screen. Although it cannot actually move, the flyborg thinks that it can while in the simulator.
Via New Scientist
October 14, 2008
We think that TOKYObay's Robot Latch Clip Charms and Clocks are just too cute. In a world where most robots are scary, these guys are must haves for anyone who wants a kinder robotic world. The Charms are 2" tall, have moveable arms and legs, and are available for $15.00. The various timepieces are also posable and can be yours for $36.00 - $48.00.
David Hanson created a robotics company of the same name and developed Zeno, a 17" boy toy who can recognizes faces, smiles, laughs and remember your name. Although he is still at the prototype stage, Hanson will keep working on it because, as he says, "We want to be damn sure that by the time [robots] become as smart as we are, they have a conscience and compassion and that we are friends. There's no guarantee. They could be psychotic."
We hope not, David! Zeno frequently makes appearances so check out his site for his touring schedule.
October 13, 2008
Eric Joyner certainly has a passion for both robots and Krispy Kremes. His book, Robots & Donuts is a 176, full-color page collection of his art work. Each page is 9 x 12" and the entire book is certainly a great gift or addition to anyone's coffee table. Joyner's art is frequently on display and if you happen to be in NY Nov. 15, you can catch a solo show at the McCaig Welles & Rosenthal gallery in Brooklyn. Contact him if you are interested in either his book or his Limited Edition Prints. We would love to invest in this Final Blow Premium Edition that goes for $350.00.
Via Eric Joyner
Fujitsu recently updated their Enon robot. The service bot is now a smaller size and has additional safety functions. Enon is meant for providing information, assisting the disabled, acting as a security guard, or for delivery. If you are fortunate enough to get to Tokyo some day, you can find one permanently at work as a visitor's guide at the Kyotaro Nishimura Museum. It includes a quiz about the works of the mystery novelist. Those who pass receive a certificate for their efforts, but be sure to brush up on your Japanese first.
October 10, 2008
Meccano has two new Spykee kits for you to create. The Vox is controlled by your iPod and reacts to your verbal questions with movement, light, sounds, and facial expressions. He can also be used as an alarm clock with your PC via USB. Tools are included in the £139.99 (~$248.00) kit.
The Control Spykee Cell works with your cell phone via Bluetooth. He allows video streaming and pictures as well as acting himself as a camera. He also lets you know about an incoming text message with movements, light, and sound effects. The Cell is available for £159.99 (~$284.00.) Both need 6 AAA non-included batteries to operate. Pre-order for an October delivery.
Via Mail Order Express
Our Must Have Robot this week is so simple that even those who tend to be somewhat robotically challenged can program it. The Scribbler Robot starts off with pictures rather than words. It comes fully assembled with a BASIC Stamp 2 brain and is pre-programmed with eight demo modes. Put a marker in its pen port and it will draw as it moves along. Included with the Scribbler are light, object, line detection, and stall sensors, a speaker, 3 LED lights and 2 independent DC motors. The bot comes at a price of $99.99.
Via Scribbler Robot
October 9, 2008
Robotics has come a long way. The Toy Robots Initiative was established in January 1999. While it is no longer active, it was meant to make a closer relationship between robots and humans via education, toys, entertainment and art. Located at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, one of its projects was Robot Improv.
This involved two bots in a short skit, with one trying to leave the room and the other trying to get it to stay. Each of them had a goal, location knowledge, and an internal emotional model. There was no pre-determined script! They only worked with sets of actions and dialog that the robotic actors, named after Sesame St. characters, chose from. We know it sounds a tad far-fetched, but you can see samples of their scripts that include lines like:
"With my sonars, I can almost see this painting. or window. or whatever it is. Curse these sensors." and "But you have to stay! I'm pregnant. Again!"
Via Robot Improv
Halloween will be here before you know it. We went shopping and found several costumes for your robotically inclined kids at reasonable prices. The list includes:
Rodney Copperbottom, Transformer Bumble Bee, and
R2-D2. If you want to go top of the line robot, Wall-E comes in a one size fits all with this costume (gloves and mask included) for $84.99.
Via Amazon Costumes at Rodney Copperbottom, Transformer Bumble Bee,
October 8, 2008
David Cook designed All Right to go through mazes and, although it can turn left, tries to go right as much as possible. Powered by LiPoly batteries, the robot has an LED display, sensors and pushbuttons to accomplish its task. Cook has written a detailed article on his site Robot Room describing his making of the bot in detail.
Via Robot Room
Remember the Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots? Hammacher Schlemmer has an updated version for those who were fans of the originals. The mini-warriors stand 11 1/2" tall and can move 360° for hooks, jabs, bobbing and weaving. The bots have 8 different maneuvers and verbally complain when punched. Added to the action are speakers that play music and make crowd noises. The Robotic Pugilists need 4AA and 4C batteries for each (not included) and have a price of $89.95 for the pair.
Via Hammacher Schlemmer
October 7, 2008
We told you about the robot band, The Trons, back in June, and now it seems they are moving on up. Mercedes-Benz is flying the group and its creator Greg Locke from New Zealand to Europe to help launch one of their new models. It seems that the car company caught the act on YouTube. What's the advantage to having a robotic band? Locke says that he has only replaced one motor so far and knows that they won't suffer from stage fright. We wonder if they will have demands when they become International stars and ask for a better grade of oil.
The Silverlit Wingsmaster I-Wing was designed with actual bird wings in mind to keep it aloft. The flying robot has super wide infrared control, specific flight patterns and is tough enough to survive bumps, collisions, and tough landings. The i-Wing comes with a built-in Li-Poly battery and needs 6 AAs for the remote. You can choose from 3 styles and see it in action on UK Amazon. I-Wing's price is £19.99 (~$35.00.)
Via Amazon UK
October 6, 2008
Artist Martin Bricelj created RoboVox, your first step in assisting robot domination. Simply text a message from your cellie to the 8 meter tall dude and he will read it aloud. Bricelj claims his creation is "an interactive public monument, with the purpose of serving as [the] people's voice."
Check out his site for appearance locations. We're thinking of texting "Klaatu barada nikto." We think that Gort and Patricia Neal would be proud.
Nissan has been working with the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at Japan's University of Tokyo and the two have come up with the BR23C (Biomimetic Car Robot Drive) as a way of developing crash prevention technology. Based on the movements of bees, the vehicle works on a "safety shield" concept.
According to engineer Toshiyuki Andou, "The split second it detects an obstacle, the car robot will mimic the movements of a bee and instantly change direction by turning its wheels at right angles or greater to avoid a collision."
Nissan is hoping to incorporate the tech into its cars by 2015.
October 3, 2008
Although we cannot afford most of the pricey robots, we wanted you to know that we do have our own mini-collection. Shown here are two of our botty buds who hang around our desktop and get to come out and er, play, in their limited fashion. If you would like to start your own collection, head to your nearest dollar store, Amazon, or check out the site below with Tin Toy Robots, based on vintage designs. There are over 100 available, most of them at incredibly reasonable prices.
Via Neat Stuff
Since the holidays will soon be upon us, it is time to order some of those gifts now. Our Must Have Robot this week is a fine solution for newbies who want to do it themselves. The Discovery Exclusive Build Your Own Robot Kit is a simple to assemble bot with light and sounds and about 40 pieces. It not only includes step-by-step instructions and a screwdriver, it has a mini-price of $19.95. The RobotronX comes with a tethered remote and is recommended for those who are aged 8 and up.
October 2, 2008
About to be unveiled at CEATEC Japan 2008 the end of this month is the female version of Murata, known as Murataseiko-chan. She rides on a unicycle and was built as a "playmate" for Murata Boy created in 2005, who is on a regular bike. Both have sensors and gyroscopes to stay in balance. Why is it that most of the time male bots are built first and the females are secondary? (hehehe.)
Via Robot Living
Somebody should alert Sigfried and Roy. This mechanical Tiger Shiva has been around for a while, but is new to us, so we had to share. Created by artist Kezanti in Brugge, Belgium, you can see more shots and video on the artist's site.
October 1, 2008
Europe, like the U.S., usually prefers their robots to look like machines while the Japanese are comfortable with humanoid shaped bots because the Shinto religion believes that machines can have souls, according to robotics researcher Bruno Siciliano. As examples of some of the humanoid bots in Europe, check out those made at the Robotics Lab at the University Carlos III of Madrid like Maggie, a robot built to study human robot interaction, intelligence, and autonomy.
This odd looking bi-pedal bot showed up at the Taipei International Invention Show. Created by the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, he can walk two meters, and sing via synthesizer, not that you would want him to. Look closely at the robot's face. Does he not look similar to one of its creators on its right? Especially with that hairstyle and glasses.