November 28, 2008
We are in awe of Nemo Gould. The artist creates robotic sculptures out of various materials that include old appliances, furniture and other recycled items. His detail is incredible. Look into the center of the Little Big Man, and you get the little dude. Both were made out of a vintage wooden radio cabinet, street lamp poles, vacuum cleaner parts, an industrial food processor, antlers, chair legs, a dining room table top, a floor polisher, pieces of hardware and scrap metal, and motors and lights. The bot has a motion sensor that makes him react when anyone passes.
Some of his work, in addition to robots, includes animals, vehicles, even a UFO. If you are interested in seeing more of him/them, he often displays and sells them. Contact Nemo on his site Neomatic or join his mailing list.
November 28, 2008
We spent weeks scouring the Internet to bring you some Black Friday deals, making them all our Must Have Robot(s) of the week. Well, maybe not that long, but we did manage to come up with a few from Amazon. Here then, since you are probably too tired to do much beyond shop from your 'puter, are our picks.
Robot vs the Aztec Mummy - $2.21
Robots, Widescreen Edition - $3.99
Robot Chicken (which isn't technically about robots, but it is the Star Trek Episode) - Season 2 - $9.99
Other Kewl Robots
Star Wars Episode I Tatooine Accesory Set with Pull-back Droid - $8.01
i-Que Personal Robot - $79.99
Tin Can Robot Science Kit - $14.95
GelaSkins with Screen Protector for iPod Video 5G (Red Robot) - $9.64
Tekno the Robotic Puppy - $24.99
Still haven't found what you want? Check out our Holiday Gift Guide and this kewl book with gift ideas, Robots Rising, for only $0.01 (really!) Happy shopping!
P.S. We found one more! A whopping $100.00 has been taken off the Playskool Kota My Triceratops Dinosaur, which reduces the animated creature to $299.99. This is a third off. Not bad, eh?
November 27, 2008
If you cannot afford the real thing, how about a Paper Robot? They come in all shapes and sizes. Choose between a basic blank robot, Megatron, Magnus Style Prime, and Optimus Prime, who actually transforms into a truck. These, and many others, have plans that are free to download.
Via Paper Robots
November 26, 2008
Paro is a "Mental Commitment Robot," designed with such sweetness that it provides relaxation and motivation, psychological and physiological effects for its owner. Created by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Denmark has purchased 1,000 of the robotic baby harp seals for health care facilities and is hoping to complete the adoption process by 2011. The AIST says there is an improvement in vital signs and social skills when in play and we suspect the furry bot has earned his title of "World's Most Therapuetic Robot" by Guinness.
November 26, 2008
You can't help but admire the new MechRC Humanoid and we recently discovered that he is available Stateside for a less expensive price than we originally found. With high torque metal gear servos, LiPo batteries for longer run times and a 3D visual software programming interface, he comes with its own remote from Trossen for $599.99. With that kind of savings, you can buy an iSOBOT and have robot wars.
Because iRobot has yet to create a winterized Roomba, perhaps a viable alternative is to adopt Roofus. The bot can collect and dump snirt (dirty snow) both autonomously and by remote. Designed by Michal Glogowski, the prototype can also be used with attachments to mow your lawn and clean your house. Roofus has 2 electric motors, caterpillar tracks and sensors on each side for navigation.
November 25, 2008
While we know that some robots want to kill us humans when we sleep, this Robot Lamp will warm up your bedroom, office, or bathroom and keep away the bad ones while spreading electronic love. Made of polypropylene, the light is 50cm tall, has a black plug, switch and cable, and a £24.99 (~$37.99) price.
Via Robot Lamp
Darpa's BigDog is about to go through a robotic hormonic step up. While he can already carry more than 300 lbs. for about 13 miles, the organization wants to eventually allow the drone to be able to carry 1250 lbs. at 10 mph and operate by GPS, as opposed to its current remote. The project has been dubbed "Legged Squad Support." They would also like the 4-legged L3 bot to be quieter while sneaking up on the evil enemy. We suspect that's not going to happen anytime soon.
Via Legged Squad Support
November 24, 2008
This video pretty much speaks for itself. It looks like this cat likes Roomba as much as Radar likes Elmo.
We have such sad news to report. The Rutgers University undersea robot RU-17 went 3,500 miles towards its destination of Spain, then disappeared about 250 miles northwest of Flores Island in the Azores. Scott M. Glenn, the head of the team says that he believes it is on the bottom of the ocean. The Scarlet Knight was last heard from Oct. 28. when it sent a message that its internals sensors detected a leak.
While the project may have accomplished its mission of getting students more involved in oceanic sciences, we still hope that maybe RU17 will phone home or be found. Another trek is planned next March.
November 21, 2008
You know how demanding those robots can be. This NEC Teller prototype recently debuted at the iExpo trade show in Tokyo. The company foresees it being employed as a ticket taker. The user selects the e-money icon and swipes their cellie over the reader/writer in its left hand. NEC says they can also add voice recognition, a handy tool to catch all those terrorists at Disneyland and to suggest attractions according to said tourists' age and weight.
Here's the skinny on Elmo Live, our Must Have Robot this week. We recently took him out to play and made a quickie video to share. Our kitten Radar couldn't quite figure him out. We guess he thought he was for him.
So the bad news. Elmo doesn't move his legs. That is not that big a deal, but we would have liked that to be incorporated into his design. He sheds. Not much, but enough to keep babies away from him. He sometimes makes so much noise when flapping his arms, etc. that it is difficult to understand him.
The good news is that he will be adored by younger kids, toddlers (and kittens.) He tells stories, jokes, dances, and is easy to interact with once you get the hang of him. Squeeze his nose, left foot, tummy or back and he does his thing. By the way, he comes with 6 AA batteries. Make sure that you put him on a flat surface or he will fall over as he did at the end of the video. Yeah, we know you can hear us snigger when he does.
Via Elmo Live
November 20, 2008
Algaster is a clever little bot that harvests up to 100kg of algae at a time. Designed by, Stefano Pertegato, Philipp Frank, Marco Nicoletti, Francesco Schiraldi, and Eloisa Tolu, he can be used in areas that are heavily polluted. He stores what he reaps in 10 containers that come up to the surface by hot-air balloon. Several are needed but they are autonomous. Each is controlled by GPS and works on robotic legs so that the ecosystem is not harmed. We would love it if they would design a smaller version for our fish tank.
If you already have your Robbie the robot wind-up, we have found 2 more related items. The Coin Bank also functions as a digital alarm and slot game. Standing 10" high, he displays your balance, lights up as his chest moves back and forth, and talks. The bank is available for $39.95. Your collection wouldn't be complete without the original Forbidden Planet from 1956 that starred Walter Pidgeon and Ann Francis. It's available in DVD for only $10.99.
Via Robbie the Robot
November 19, 2008
R. Stevens has created the webcomic "diesel sweeties" with his own take on robots, humans, and the relationship between them. Needless to say, this can be more than just casual and often goes beyond a G-rating. There are over 2,000 to date and you might want to bookmark the site as they come out daily. If you really like his work, he also designs t-shirts, socks, totes, and other goodies.
Via diesel sweeties
We admit it. Roaches may be one of God's creatures, but the site of them makes us cringe in horror. UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab has developed RoACH (Robotic Autonomous Crawling Hexapod) that equally creeps us out. At a size of 35 x 14 x 13 mm, the bot has a flexible polymer skeleton with 2º of movement and two sets of legs that bend forward or backwards. It can move one body length per second for about 9.5 minutes on its battery power before needing a recharge. You can build your own roachbot for about $1,000.00, but honestly, would you want to?
November 18, 2008
While the diminutive iSOBOT by Tomy usually retails for $149.99 up to $199.99, Trossen has them on sale for only $95.99 for those who live in the U.S. That's up to 50% off, people! At a height of only 6.5" and a weight of .77 lbs., he has 17 servos to control his action. He also has a built-in gyroscopic sensor, voice-recognition, pre-programmed motions and a 200+ word/phrase speaking vocabulary. His 3 AAA NiMH batteries are included in the price.
Honda has devised a new strap-on Walking Assist Device for workers. The device supports body weight, reduces stress on the knees and helps when going up and down stairs and crouching. Engineer Jun Ashihara says it will also be useful for standing in long lines and making deliveries. Don't count on it for dancing, moving sideways or climbing uneven surfaces. Honda will begin testing the prototype later this month with its own assembly line workers.
November 17, 2008
We keep reading snippets of info about Disney's future movie "Pet Robots." They have picked up the option of the graphic novel which is about 4 kids who get lost on a field trip, come across 4 military bots named Rock, Wind, Aqua and Skye and apparently they bond. There is not much other news although we know it is being produced by the company Binderspink and the screenplay will be written by Colin Trevorrow. By the way, we actually found a paperback copy of the original book by Scott Christian Sava for $11.04 if you want to get an idea of what the movie might look like. Visit Blue Dream Studios to see the birthplace of the Pets.
Via Hollywood Reporter
Shimon is a second generation project from Georgia tech that can play the marimba with help from Haile, a robotic percussionist. Working on algorithms, Shimon boasts richer sounds and is more interactive by giving visual cues and bouncing its head to the beat. He/she can also analyze harmony, rhythm, and melodies to improvise while playing. We wonder if they have met ASIMO, who would surely like to sit in. You can catch a clip of the two in action here.
November 14, 2008
Jules is a copycat robotic head created by robotics engineers at the University of Bristol in the UK. He mimics facial expressions and lip movements of humans. The head has 34 servo motors and a video cam that maps images to his flexible rubber skin's electronic motors. David Hanson, the team's head, sees future applications in health care settings. While some studies show the humans sometimes reject bots that resemble themselves, others say that the closer they get to realism, the easier it will be to accept them.
Via New Scientist
It's a double Must Have Robot Friday. "Wall-E" is coming to home video Nov. 18. Pre-order the Blu-ray Three-Disc Special Edition for $22.99 now to get one for the holidays for family fun. You also get a download. There is a widescreen single DVD available for $16.99.
If you are an extreme fan of the movie bot, iRobot has teamed with Disney/Pixar to create a limited Wall-E themed 530 Roomba. Due to come out the 20th, 400 special editions are similar to others of the series. It will clean three rooms with help of wall transmitters and knows to return to its dock for a recharge. Contact iRobot if you can cough up the $860.00 deluxe price.
November 13, 2008
Now there is a Robot Toothbrush holder to go with your TP Holder. At a size of 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5", it comes with a suction cup holder and will also support a razor, thermometer, or magic wand. The robots come blind-boxed, which means you don't get to choose the color, but at a price of only $8.00, we figure that is a really fair deal.
Via Urban Outfitters
We have discovered some Limited Edition wooden Deathbots that are too kewl. One Gama-Go bot wears lederhosen and toasts Oktoberfest with his beer stein for $22.00. The same price applies to the Undertaker. The Deathbot Gold just looks evil, doesn't he? He comes at a price of $60.00. Death Detective will also set you back $60.00. Each is 5 or 5.5" in height.
November 12, 2008
You gotta love Peter Reid aka "legoloverman's" cast of characters. Who knew there could be so much imagination in one human? Take a peek at his entire Photostream on Flikr, which encompasses about 20 pages, and is composed of lego robots like these Omicrons, space ships, and almost all things sci-fi.
Via Peter Reid
We're not sure how we managed to miss this one before Halloween as it certainly creeps us out. Several students at the HTL Saalfelden engineering school came up with Hexapodmeisterschaft. He won last April's Austrian Hexapod Championship, his six legs getting down to the Mambo #5. You go, bot! While he is quite competent with all those limbs, maybe by next October we can grab ourselves a WowWee Roboquad and Mask and come up with our own G. W. Quadmeisterschaft.
November 11, 2008
Oki and Okimura have gotten together to create a concept model seat that "can embrace the sitter through robotic technology." The idea is based on human skeletons and muscles as a child that is sitting on her/his parent's lap. With a carbon frame and cushion shape, we think the prototype certainly sounds promising, but we are just not sure that we want the botty chair to have that much control.
Via Fareast Gizmos
The Phoenix Mars Lander is apparently no more. And so we say goodbye to a robot that we came to think of as almost a pet. Perhaps he will make one more valiant effort to phone home, although with the weather conditions unfavorable, it is doubtful.
Combine a UFO, helicopter and lightshow and you get the ROBO-P. Suitable for indoor use, it comes in blue, pink or orange. With built-in batteries, it will fly for 6 minutes on a 25 minute charge from its included station. At a size of 3.5 x 3.2cm, it has a range of 16.5" and also comes with a controller and face stickers. Unfortunately, the manual is in Japanese, but hey, you don't need it, do you? The ROBO-P comes at a price of $43.00.
Via Japan Trend Shop
November 10, 2008
We recently saw an episode of Grey's Anatomy that featured the simulator Stanley, so we decided to research him a bit. Last year, the dean of Des Moines University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kendall Reed, created an entire $1.5 million sim laboratory with 6 of the mannequins, 2 adults, 2 kids, and a birthing center with mom and newborn. Each one breathes, blinks his/her eyes, has a heartbeat and a pulse, and can go into several clinical scenarios. Unfortunately, while the one on teevy seems almost human, the bots only speak through a faculty member using a mic in an adjoining room.
Via The DO
One of our favorite sites, Akihabara News, recently reviewed Takara-Tomy's Aero Spider. The diminutive R/C car runs on the floor, walls, windows, and the ceiling. The principal of the technology is an internal vacuum system that helps it adhere to the surfaces. While we may not understand it fully, we can see it works. The Aero is available in red, black, blue or grey at Geek Stuff 4 U
Via Akihabara News
November 7, 2008
Someday when you are stuck in your high rise cubicle, you may look out the window and find yourself er, face to face with Skybot. The robotic system consists of a computer to control a lifting crane and a bot with adhesion technology. After the robot is in place, the computer controls and monitors its work via sensors. The company is quick to let you know that their product is green, as it utilizes environmentally friendly detergents.
Plasticland has just let us know that these Retro Robot Glass Ornaments have been restocked, however they are in limited supply. They therefore qualify as our Must Have of the week. Each one is 4.5 x 2 x 1.5" high. The set of four is limited to one per person and will not become available again until next year, so we suggest if you want them to grace your tree this year, you should head over to their site and plunk down the $28.00.
November 6, 2008
Serious collectors would love the 50th Anniversary German ST-1 Strenco Robot this Xmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa. Standing 7 1/2", he is a gold-painted sheet metal robot with clockwork drive and comes with his own embossed box with a numbered letter of authenticity. This limited edition of 2000 bot is available for $79.99.
Via Robot Island
We realize that the French company Adebaran is working to make us all a better life through robotics, but there is something so comical about their Nao video that is difficult to take him seriously. Between the happy music and the juvenile voice, we wish he would just be quiet and pick up the rubber duck already! Nao should be available next year for about $15,000. That's a lot of bucks for an android that will clean up your room.
Via Aldebaran (translated)
November 5, 2008
This robot seems to have multiple personality disorder. His head has a color LCD that will display different modes, such as comedian and fortune teller. Others are available by download. Wowee's Mr. Personality can converse with you, has 64MB of memory and an SD card to download a few more. He also has an omni-directional base with seven motors which allows him to move in and around obstacles, 4 IR sensors, and comes with a remote. Mr. P needs 6 C batteries (not included) to be his charming self and is available at a $240.13 price.
Via Mr. Personality
If you were one of those that bought Takara Tomy's Flower Rock, one of the first robotic gadgets that moved to music, then you will be pleased that they are celebrating their 20th anniversary with the new 2.0 speaker. Connect your MP3 player to either the soft or sharp petal version and be just as amused/annoyed as you were back in 1988. The musical device is available for $89.99. The video demo may be in Japanese, but you will get the gist of it, nonetheless.
November 4, 2008
Transformers aren't just for kids anymore. AOK's 13 x 9 x 15" Remote Controlled Robot Car may start out upright, but can also turn into both a sports car and truck. Controlled by two joystick commands, it can go left or right and dance when standing. After changing shape, it can go forwards, backwards and turn. Use the AC adapter for 4 hours to get 30 minutes on its rechargeable batteries. The RCRC's remote also needs one 9V battery (not included,) has a 100' range and comes at an $89.95 price.
Via Hammacher Schlemmer
What better way to get back at your friends, co-workers or pesky cat than with the Tyco R/C N.S.E.C.T. At a size of 10 x 15 x 17" and a weight of 8.5 lbs., it has laser-like eyes that will change depending on its mode. Make it creep across the floor on some unsuspecting victim while its claws reach out to grab, then turn it into a single or rapid fire missile blaster. The two shooting modes will carry as far as 25+ feet. The best part of the creature is that he is now marked down for the holidays, from $99.99 to $37.89, which makes it a whopping 62% savings.
November 3, 2008
Recon Scout started out as an experimental NASA one axle project that is now being used by SWAT teams and the military. The 7.4", 1.2 lb. bot can survive a 30 foot drop or throw and works like a grenade when you pull its pin. While we are not crazy about the idea that they are building a better
mousetrap grenade, we are also amazed at how much of our tax donations go to war. This one comes at a price of $6,000.00, $9,000.00 to get one with night vision.
Via Bot Junkie
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Toyota and the University of Tokyo have teamed up to develop AR, a service bot that it so precise that it can recognize clothes by their creases in order to pick them up. If he drops anything, he knows enough to pick it up, unlike a few adults we know. The domestic assistant can not only do the wash, but can serve drinks and sweep the floor, including moving furniture if need be. Professor Masayuki Inaba claims that the robot is still too clumsy and slow and needs more work. We would be glad to volunteer to take AR under our wing and have all the practice he needs until he gets it right.
Via Mainichi Daily News
November 2, 2008
Isn't the Net a wondrous thing? It seems that as time goes on we can almost always find video demos of our robots. October was no exception. Look for even more clips in November as well as lots of extra gift giving ideas for the upcoming holidays.
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday
November 1, 2008
Robotics can get to be quite expensive, as those of us at Robot Snob know. But with the economy being the way it is, we have scanned the Net to find the best bots for fewer bucks. We have included categories by the budget as well as kids' stuff, those for adults, and some for DIY fans. Happy shopping with our First Annual Gift Guide!
Grandport has several kits for those who are just getting started in robotics. With brightly colored pieces and plastic pieces that snap together, choose from Tarmo, Sumobot, and TouchMe. Solarbotic's Herbie the Mouse needs some soldering, but will keep anyone amused by his battery-powered antics. Discovery's Kids Electronic Gadget Lab can make over 100 projects with 30 snap pieces.
There are many robots that may do a little less, but can amuse adults and children alike for under $25.00. Most of them have been out for awhile, and as we all know, the longer an electronic is out, the more outdated it is, and the price drops. But kids and those who are not yet robotically inclined will love one of these.
The WowWee Robotics Roboquad is one of these. Originally about $90.00, you can now get one for $23.97. WowWee also has other bots for little funds, such as their Mini Robosapien V2, the Mini Robopanda and the blue R/C FlyTech Dragonfly. We have shown you this one before, but the Discovery Build Your Own Robot Kit is a great kit for amateurs.
There are plenty of windup stocking stuffers and miniature bots for those on a super-budget. Our selections include Schylling's Classic Windup Robot, the Galactic Robot Windup, SparkDino, Boogie Bots, the Mazinger Z Wind-up Tin Toy and the Mini Robot Tin.
If money is no object, at the top of the list has to be our fave Sesame Street character, Elmo Live. Although they will be in short supply, we think it is worth the effort to find one, although you may end up paying more than the current list price of around $60.00. We also suggest a Pleo, who becomes more affordable all the time, and have new applications every time we turn around.
For pets, althought the Litter Robot LRII Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box seems a tad expensive, think what a great gift this would be for yourself! And we cannot leave out our favorite module Lego Mindstorms NXT, the do-it-yourself kit that is so popular that it has its own site.
Of course, iRobot has the perfect gifts for those who hate household chores. Now there are several Roombas available. The original Roomba cleans both carpet and bare floors and starts at a mini-price of $129.99. The Scooba will clean the scummiest of bathroom and kitchen floors. It preps, washes, scrubs and squeegees on wood, linoleum, and other surfaces. The Dirt Dog cleans up sawdust, small nails, nuts and bolts, and is the perfect gift for wives that want to hint around to their mates. The Verro is perfect for those who can't afford poolboys, while the Looj is a good way to erase something off the honey-do list. Don't forget the ConnectR that allows you to see and chat with family and friends. There are limited supplies of the ConnectR, but you can get on their mailing list for future availability.
If you have someone in your life who prefers the DIY route, try one of these suggestions. Trossen has a wide variety of them that include their humanoid kits come in all price ranges. They also have kits for beginners that are not only fun, but will get your child on the early road to robotics.
Let's not forget those Movie bots. Although we covet the can-do-it-all U Command Wall-E any fan of the film and iPods would settle for the i-Dance WALL-E for less than $20.00. Transformer fans will surely love the Deluxe Payload Armored Truck. Movies are always welcome for the holidays and a really fine way to keep your kids occupied when you are exhausted from all the festivities. We recommend Robots or I, Robot for teens. Finally, if you have never seen the movie Short Circuit (from 1986), this is a fun family fare for the holidays.
For younger kids, try one of Hasbro's FurReal Friends. Their collection includes Squawkers McCaw Parrot to the more affordable Newborn Chimp, Kitten, Dalmation Puppy and Honey Bear, all of which are under $20.00. Buy more than one at a time and they are even less expensive.
Robot Gifts for Toddlers and Babies
Finally, let's not forget the little ones. If you know someone who recently added a newcomer to the family, how about a Robots : People of the Future or this Robots Love Dancing Onesie? There is even a plush Disney Meet the Robinsons 10" Carl the Robot Doll.
Still haven't found what you want? Keep checking in the weeks ahead with us and we will be relentless in our search to make this holiday affordable for all our botty friends. Let us know in our comment section if you find something that will make others gleeful this season.