January 30, 2009
Must Have Robot: Minoru 3D Webcam
Minoru (which means "Reality" in Japanese) is a 3D webcam. Hook him up to your PC and his eyes light up. The recipients of your image will see you in 3D on any IM, OoVoo, Skype or other messaging program. Apparently, you can also take 3D images and videos and upload them to YouTube or other social networks. Minoru's software has stereoscopic anaglyphic processing to enable the technology and he is attachable by USB. He comes with 5 pairs of glasses so others can view the 3D imaging when they are not watching episodes of "Chuck". The device also doubles as a standard 2D webcam. We don't know if this is a feasible product at $89.95, but he is cute enough to warrant our Must Have robot this week.
January 30, 2009
Japan Amazon Sells "Cardbo"
We know Japan loves their bots, but we think this is more of a "we can get you to buy anything" kind of thing. The country's Amazon is actually selling these 13cm tall bots based on their "Cardbo" manga character. They are charging ¥2,200 (~$20.00) for the battery run bot and are limiting orders to 2 per person. We couldn't figure out if they were made of plastic or simply leftover packing boxes, but for that price, we could build you guys something nice out of an empty toilet paper roll and a couple of cardboard mini-boxes.
January 29, 2009
Pekoppa, Robotic Therapy
We admit it. We talk to our plants, but somehow they never respond back with the same enthusiasm. Sega Toys launched the Pekoppa ("Nodding Leaf") a while back that not only will listen to you, but will respond by fluttering its leaves and bending its stem. Spokesperson Minako Sakanoue claims that the sound-sensored gadget would be good for therapy or as encouragement for those who are making sales pitches by phone. There must be a lot of lonely people in Japan as they have already sold about 50,000 of the $26.00 gadgets since their launch last September. Sega is also planning to release a flower version in June for ~$30.00. Hmmm, where have we seen these before?
Via Japan Trend Shop
January 29, 2009
Beetle Larvae Movements Model for Robot
Sung Kwon Cho from Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh has come up with a propulsion system based on the movements of beetle larvae. The creatures can rest without sinking because of the tension and bend their bodies down to move forward. Cho's system is low-powered, needs little maintenance and has non-moving parts. They are planning on using the technology in robots and tiny boats. Check out PhysOrg to see it in action.
January 28, 2009
Machine bOb and PP3 vs. Fusebot
Machine b0b is part of Wayne Poulton's line of robots and the second in his "Machines" series that includes PP3. We're not sure, but it would appear that b0b's eyes light up in robotic glee. Each is available for £9.99 (~$14.00,) but we bet our Fusebot could take either one in less than 10 seconds.
Clay Bailey's Wide Range of Robotics
Although his early roots were in ceramics, Clayton Bailey found his way into some of the most amazing robot art we have seen. (His bio is a trip in itself.) He has made over 100 of the full size bots, ranging from Marilyn Monrobot to Wrestlebot to Dogbot. Bailey also makes pop and ray guns. The book "Happenings in the Circus of Life," by G. Joan DePaoli is illustrated with 200 photos, drawings, charts, and maps, and a fine way to keep a little bit of the artist close, even if you cannot afford his sculptures.
Via Clayton Bailey
January 27, 2009
Robot Chicken Frisky Robot
All the rumors are true. Even robots need love. We caught a glimpse of this 5" Robot Chicken bot that is, um, having his way with a washing machine (not included.) The wind-up freestanding plastic action figure from the TV show is available for purchase and if you find your other bots getting unruly, you might think about investing the $16.99 now for a March delivery date.
Via Big Bad Toy Store
R2-D2 Gets Escape Pod
Word has it that our bud, Jim Quinlan, is working on an escape pod for his R2-D2 to take to the upcoming MegaCon. He tells us that his R2 is fully functional and an exact replica of the one in Star Wars. Controlled by RC, he moves, lights up and even talks. If you would like to catch up with the trials and trevails of one of our fave builders, check out the link to his blogspot below.
Via Florida Robot
January 26, 2009
Robot Lamp Base Protects With Light
We are not sure why this is featured on the Urban Outfitters site, but robots do tend to show up in the oddest places. The Robot Lamp Base is made of ceramic with metallic silver finish. At a size of 4.5 x 17 x 2.5", it also has a foam rubber base for stability and needs a standard light bulb (not included) to light up the night. Get yours for $30.00.
Via Urban Outfitters
ABC's Wife Swap Seeks Couple Into Robotics
Hey gang, wanna be on TV? This is your chance! The ABC show "Wife Swap" is looking for a special couple for their fifth season. If you have not seen the show, it is reality plus without scripts or sets. They are looking for a two-parent home with at least one child between the ages of 6 and 17 living at home. Here comes the botty part. The family must be "passionate about either building robots or using robots in their everyday life."
If you think you qualify, contact us and we will forward any info you have or hook you up with the producers.
Note: It appears we were in error, but we still welcome comments.
For complete details, contact:
January 23, 2009
Must Have Robot: Furby
Speaking of Furby, it just passed its 20th anniversary. The first generation was conceived by Tiger Electronics in 1988 and over 40 million units of one the first autonomous robots were sold. We never got one, because for a while there they were in such demand they cost up to hundreds of dollars. But a couple of years ago, we noticed that they were selling online for $19.99. We bought one for our cat, thinking she would appreciate the company. No such luck. Our poor Furby spends most of his time now in the closet, at least until he achieves antique status (he has already doubled in value.) In honor of the anniversary, we name the Furby our Must Have this week.
January 22, 2009
Dave, the Solar-Powered Zombie Bugbot
Anyone who ever had a Furby and wanted to kill it after the first 20 minutes can surely sympathize with Etsy artist "tiny minds." As part of his Solar Bugbot series, he took what was left of his and turned it into Dave, the solar-powered zombie Furby. In order to do this, he skinned and gutted the deceased creature then installed a small solar motor. He subsequently mounted it on a plinth, whatever a plinth is. After Dave stores up enough energy his eyes, ears and mouth get moving. Even tiny minds calls it "eerie." Be that as it may, the one of a kind Dave can be yours for $95.00.
Bob May - B9 Robot Tribute
We are a couple of days late on this one, but we wanted to pay homage to one of our fave robotic actors. Bob May was the man behind the B9 robot in the TV Show "Lost in Space." Although he didn't provide the voice (that was Dick Tufeld,) he nonetheless developed a wide fan base. Because the suit was difficult to get in and out of, he would stay in it all day, even for a smoke. That must have been most amusing to the cast. For May, the danger is over, Will Robinson. He left us Jan. 18 of congestive heart failure. He was 69.
Via Daily News
WowWee's New Pets
At the recent CES in Vegas, WowWee displayed their next generation of toys, including Joebot, (the latest incarnation of Robosapien,) who can walk, dance and beatbox. Also displayed were the Spyball spycam, a mini-Rovio which has WiFi and is remote controlled, and new Alive Cubs, the Seal Pup, Husky Puppy, Koala Joey, and Leopard Cub. The Alive Sleeping Cuties pets include the Labradoodle Puppy, Beagle Puppy, Cinnamon Persian Kitten, and White Persian Kitten.
January 21, 2009
MDS Nexis Up for Adoption
Nexi, an MDS (Mobile Dextrous Social) bot that features an expressive face and ability to interact with humands, is now for sale. This robot combines sensing, actuation, contro, design and computation technologies. We know the cute li'l guy will not come cheaply as they don't list his price on Xitome's site, but when we do find out, we will get back to you.
Via Xitome Design
Interview: Giant Robot Builder Jaimie Mantzel
Jaimie Mantzel is building a giant robot. He believes the world needs more of them and we agree. When finished, it will be 12' tall and 18' across with room for him to pilot it. We were so fascinated with the concept that we had to ask for more details.
First off, let's take a walk down your long road traveled in Vermont. You built a dome, a road to the dome, a lumber mill, and a workshop. When do you get to the actual robot creating?
A lot of that stuff is related to the robot buildings. I've had the dome for years with no road. I started building the giant robot a year and a half ago in friends basements, garages, and outside at my place. It was a bit of a pain, so when I stumbled across a free steel airplane hanger style building (quonset hut).... I decided to take it and turn it into a workshop. That was where the road came in. I figured it would take about the same amount of time to carry a couple tons of steel as it would to make a road, so I spent a month and a half digging a road. I've got the workshop standing. I'm slowly getting it into a usable state. The robot is about 80% done. It may sound like a lot, but there's still plenty of work to do on it. I'm doing everything I can now so that I'll be able to devote the spring to finishing it.
What inspired you to make your Giant Robot?
Robotech...? Shadow Raiders...? Transformers...? Cartoons. Ya, basically cartoons.
How long do you think it will take?
I should be able to finish the thing in less than a month of steady work. ...of course... my workshop isn't insulated, and the Vermont winter is holding things up.
How will you get into it? How will you control it once you get in?
Kinda like a tractor or a bulldozer. Climb up there. Open cockpit that I'm sure wouldn't pass any safety standards.
Have you come up with a name?
Nope. It seems that I come up with names for things after they've proven their usefulness. I just recently named my wood stove "Mr. Burns" after 3 years of faithful service.
Are Michael's renderings pretty close to what it will look like?
Nope, not even close. :-P The big robot is made of Aluminium, and it'll look quite a bit different than the little plastic prototype.
Do you have days when you just want to hang it up?
Nope. I have days when I'm tired. ...when I feel like I'm up to my eyeballs in ridiculous projects, and my brain is swimming with incoherent thoughts. Actually, there've been a lot of those lately. (ha ha.) When I feel like I've bitten off more than I can chew, I see it as a sign that I'm living life the right way. When things are easy, I'm not learning anything, adventures lack their spark, and life in general is less exciting.
What do you intend to do with it once it finished? Do you have a cross country trip in the plans? We could call Guinness.
Uh.... if you asked me this before I starting building it, I'd probably have had an answer. At the moment, I can't see the forest for the trees. I'm swamped in tiny details, and subtle mechanics. All I see right now is a big robot coming to life, and me sighing a huge sigh of relief.... and laying down right there to sleep for about 3 days.
Suppose for a moment that others were also building Giant Robots far up in the woods away from civilization. Do you think maybe they will contact each other and revolt?
The topic of "taking over the world" comes up a lot surrounding my giant robot. In reality, I could take a sledge hammer and reduce the thing to scrap without much effort. I also have absolutely no interest in "taking over the world". I have enough things to deal with without dealing with everyone else's problems! :-)
You draw, do animation, write, and build. What can't you do?
I can't become pregnant....? Hmm... I also can't just up in the air and fly. I do try that every now and then, though. ...just in case. Flying, not bearing a child.
We understand that you have also written a book?
Jaimie- Yep, I've written a couple books. One called "How Big is the Universe?" It's about how big the universe is. I'd explain more, but thats why I wrote the book, and made all those nice pictures. I also wrote a book on parenting. The cover has a father punting a baby into a pit of alligators, and the scene has a big "X" over it, and beside there is a scene of a father happily holding a baby that is pooping on his shoe. That scene has a big "check" on it. That pretty much covers the gist of the book. I think its called, "Stuff to Remember.... and stuff .....about Parenting." You can read both of them on my website. I even read one of them on my YouTube page.
Tell us about some of your previous creations.
Previous creations. OK, my first fairly complex creation. When I was 12, I built a 2 legged walking thing out of Popsicle sticks. I built the entire thing from my head, and had no way of testing whether or not it would work until it was finished. I probably spend around a month gluing Popsicle sticks together, making a drill press, cutting up coat hangers, etc. I had an idea of what I wanted to happen but I was somewhat surprised when it actually worked. That was the point when I realized 2 things. 1. I love building things. 2. I was unusually good at it. Luckily those 2 things go together very well. :-)
What was your first motorized gadget?
It was a motor with a propeller on it, a couple "AA" batteries, and a little toy car. I was 5, and taped all the stuff together so the propeller propelled the car. It didn't work particularly well, but it did work.
Reading your main site bio felt almost like an intrusion because you got so personal.
Ya. I think its silly how people constantly hide things and lie in this culture. Actually, I think its worse than silly. I think it's terrible. I guess being open is my way of combating that particular tradition.
Where can people get in touch with you?
It's easy to get in touch with me. My website, Jamius.com, has my e-mail on it. It even has a "donate to the giant robot project" button. I'm easy to find on YouTube as well. My ID is JMEMantzel, although searching for "giant robot project" finds me pretty quickly.
We read that you tried to get a grant but it didn't happen. Maybe you could be part of President Obama's new stimulus program.
Ya, hook me up with 700 billion dollars, and I'll build the most awesomely awesome robot ever. uhh... ok, seriously, any time I try to do anything with grants or business world types, there's so much time wasted that it just isn't worth it. I am very open to a grant, however I'm not willing to jump thought hoops for 4 months of my life that could be used productively. I've found it much more beneficial to deal directly with actual people. It may sound strange, but just having a donate button on the giant robot page, and documenting the project has been much more beneficial than any grant, or job, or schooling has been. Financially yes, but even more... emotionally. It is inspiring to hear about other people doing similar things, encouraging me to do what I'm doing, or even having some teenager out there donating $5, and saying, something like, "if I had a million dollars, I'd send it to you." I have to say that without the Internet, I'd be a much lonelier person with my non-conformist attitudes. Ahh... did I just get mushy? Oh well.
Or the military. Put an Uzi in it and DARPA will snap it up.
It's funny how many people mention such a thing. My giant robot design is much more for traversing rough terrain. I feel that it would be pretty easy to destroy in a combat situation. It's all gangley with all these legs sticking out just waiting to be blown off by an RPG or a Bazooka. (ha ha.) Why don't people use the word bazooka anymore???
How about donations? We suspect you are a starving artist.
I wouldn't say starving. I'm doing pretty well. I built my house to require very little maintenance and set up my life to be low cost. That way it's very easy to live cheaply. I 'spose that is how I manage to have time to build inventions. There is a bit of a problem when I need to buy parts or tools. The more of that I have to do, the more I have to work, and the less time I spend on projects. I've been getting enough donations on my website to almost cover the materials costs of the giant robot, so that has been an enormous help. There are a few more parts I still need to get, but I'm sure I'll figure out some way to make it happen between surprise donations, looking for deals, and getting lucky at the junkyard.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Break a giant leg and keep in touch.
Thanks! ...although I can think of a few giant robot parts that make me more nervous about their potential to break than the legs!
Via The Giant Robot Project
(Thanks for the tip, Jim)
January 20, 2009
TOFU, the Stretch and Squash Robot
We recently discovered MIT's Media Lab's TOFU, created by Ryan Wistort. Named after the food, this bot can also stretch and squash. The weird looking bot's technology has been previously used by animators to create social expressions in 2D. Its eyes are OLED, giving it an even eerier appearance.
Via MIT Media Lab
Looj V.2 Displayed at CES 2009
At the recent CES, iRobot unveiled their 2nd generation Looj, a 2008 Best of Innovations Award winner. The gutter cleaning bot now has an internal antenna, an anti-flipping auger, is faster, and its battery can be changed without a screwdriver. The company says that the remake is a result of customer input. We think that anything that keeps us from having to climb a ladder to do that nasty chore is well worth its $129.99 price. Look for it this spring, after the icicles finally melt.
Via iRobot Gutter Cleaning Looj
January 19, 2009
Bob Guides Hotel Customers to Their Doors
The centralized computer system prototype Bob gets friendly with hotel visitors that have a little too much to drink or simply cannot find their room by internal navigation. Designed by Estonians Jan Graps and Ken Ruut, customers are given a sensor. Each has the name of the guest as well as directions to the room. Fingerprint readers are on each door and if the wrong room is reached, hotel reception and security is automatically alerted.
Via Design Boom
Go-Robo Software Helps Teach Robotics
A new series of Go-Robo software has come out from Q4 Technology, designed to help young students teach their WowWee robots to dance and perform. They can save and edit their work as they go along. Go-Robo Choreographer and Dawg Trainer for Wrex allows kids to download Gridscript programs and use their Roboremotes for playback. You can get either for £40.00 (~$58.00.) The Studio Software allows editing and playback for 11 of the bots, with sound effects and music if desired. It was conceived for the more advanced students and has a price of £60.00 (~$80.00.) If you or your kids are interested in teaching your FemiSapien or Robosapien to salsa, contact Q-4 (costumes extra.)
Via Q4 Technologies
January 16, 2009
"The Big Bang Theory" Features Killer Bot
We're not much for bad sitcoms that make geeks look bad, but we just had to watch Monday's episode of "The Big Bang Theory" that featured a Killer Bot. The show still sucks, but it was nice to see that writers know the advantages of roboguards who are keeping us safe from the bad guys. If you missed it, you can catch the entire CBS show online.
Via Big Bang Theory
Must Have Robot: Rosie the Robot
We think that one of our first exposures to robotics had to be Rosie from "The Jetsons," the ultimate service bot. We loved her so much that we have made her our Must Have robot this week. This Funko "Wacky Wobbler" is about 7" tall, comes in her own themed window box and is made of PVC plastic. Best of all, you can put her on your desk or dashboard for only $10.90.
Via Jetsons Rosie the Robot
January 15, 2009
SAM Telescopes Aid Robotic Spies
We weren't quite sure what this was about at first glance. Sometimes we are not the brightest bulbs in the chandeliers. But when we see "military" and "iRobot" in the same article, our curiosity is peaked. It turns out that the Situational Awareness Mast (also known as Zippermast) telescopes from Geosystems can make a cam on a UGV check out the higher heights. This video is proof enough for us.
Via Defense Tech
Hot Deal: VHS Bad Robot Movies
If you are still using your old reliable VCR while those around you are purchasing Blu-ray, this is the time to load up on some really bad B Robot Movies. We found 1993's Robot Wars for a mere $6.44, 1998's Robo Warriors at an amazing price starting at $.50, Robot Jox from 1990 for as little as $.90 and the animated Robots for only $3.00. Check out the link for more under $10.00.
Via Bad VHS Robot Movies
January 14, 2009
Robot Alarm Clocks Double as Memo Holders
These aren't the first botty clocks we have found, but we have to admit their movable bike chain limbs are quite attractive. The clock is fully functional and has an alarm, flashing eyes and note clips to keep those memos handy. Choose one for only £9.99 ($19.78.)
Greg Brotherton, Master Sculptor
We just couldn't wait to show you a glimpse of our latest find, sculptor Gregory Brotherton. Self-taught, Greg has been doing this incredible work for 20 years. If you are fortunate enough to get to La Jolla, CA, before January 31, hit the Device Gallery on Drury Lane to see his art as part of their Reconstructed Exhibition.
By the way, Greg's work is also available in the book "Device Vol. 1 - Fantastic Contraption." Getting a copy would be like having your own collection of his fabulous work and those of other artists.
January 13, 2009
Mr. Robot Head Plays Games
Think eco-friendly with Mr. Robot Head. Wind him up via his handle and watch him play. He is actually a puzzle and if you can get the loop to go from one side of the wire to the other, you will be rewarded with the bot flashing his LED eyes and making strange noises. At a size of 9" square and a two pound weight, he is recommended for kids over 4 at a price of $28.99.
Robot Suit Aids Farmers
Researchers at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology recently demonstrated their new robot suit designed to aid farmers. The 55 lb. wearable machine has 8 motors and 16 sensors to assist those who need leg and joint support when crouching or reaching up. During the demo, the man wearing the suit picked both radishes and oranges. The team is hoping to make the prototype commercially available in 2 or 3 years at a price of about $5,000 - $10,000 dollars. Those farmers had better be having banner yields to afford them at that price.
January 12, 2009
Cam-BABY - Robotic Whining
Robots can not only be treacherous, they can be obnoxious as well. The Cam-BABY is 4" tall and responds to sounds. It will try to walk to you, its eyes flash and it makes gurgling noises. If it trips and falls, expect crying that will only cease when you pick it back up. Frankly, we find them a bit eerie, but they are available for $44.95 each.
Via Audio Cubes
BaR2D2 - Bartender That Never Needs Tipping
This has to be one of the kewlest DIY projects we have ever seen. We dug it so much that we interviewed BaR2D2's creator, Jamie Price. Trust us, you are going to want one of these.
Jamie, thanks for chatting with us. You have your own business. How do you find time to create?
I have a typical office job Monday to Friday. I tend to work obsessively on a project for months, then take a break so I don't get burned out. I work in my garage during the weekends.
What inspired you to build BaR2D2?
My friend, Shaggy, showed up at a robot combat event (my other hobby) with a radio-controlled cooler. We joked about taking it to the next level and the idea grew legs and started really growing.
How long did it take?
The actual construction took about five months (keep in mind that it's not really done yet!). I sort of thought about ideas and designs for a year before starting.
About how much did it cost to assemble?
I had many of the materials on hand in the shop from other projects. I also combed eBay and craigslist for deals on the larger components. I didn't really track the cost of the final product.
BaR does so much! Did you add gradually or have a plan before building?
He was mostly planned out before building. Once I started cutting pieces and saw some of the dimensions, I did have to change one or two things. There was supposed to be one more level that contained a stereo amplifier, mp3 dock, and two 6.5" speakers. I had to eliminate that as it would have made the robot another eight inches taller and way too top heavy.
You control him by remote?
Yes, BaR2D2 is controlled by a six channel Futaba hobby radio. This controls - the drive, beer elevator, drawer, and sound effects.
Does he seem to have any glitches or navigational problems, i.e. if someone bumps into him in a drunken stupor?
BaR2D2 has been lucky so far and everyone has been really careful around him.
What kind of feedback have you gotten when you took him out on the town?
BaR2D2 made his debut at Dragon*con in Atlanta and the response was VERY positive. He attended several parties and robotics forums. You can see from the video the "wow' factor he brings to a party.
Have you entered BaR in any competitions? Are you planning on showing him anywhere that our readers can come see him? Maybe you should trot him down to the MegaCon in Orlando that will be held at the end of February.
BaR2D2 is currently entered into The Craftsman Workshop of the Future Contest hosted at Instructables. The winner will get $20,000 in tools from Craftsman! Make sure to check out my entry and vote for BaR2D2! Note - there is also a video and tons of construction pics there.
As for future appearance, readers can check BaR2D2 out at Dragon*con 2009. A couple other appearances are in the planning stage.
Are you planning on upgrades?
Several upgrades are planned - The commercial shot dispenser is being replaced with a custom bottle rack that will hold six ingredient bottles and a pressurized air/regulator system that will electronically mix drinks from a computerized database.
How about teaching him to be a designated driver?
Maybe we can add a seat and helmet?
You said that you don't have any formal training, but this does not look like a simple project.
My dad was always building furniture in his spare time, so I picked up that from him. When BattleBots was big, I got into combat robots and learned a ton from that.
This is your latest project. What other ones have you come up with?
I built a 60-pound robot and competed in BattleBots season 4.0 and did well. After that I built a handful of others. I also build contest winning Halloween costumes and the occasional prop.
How long have you been building your creations? Do you have plans for others in the works?
I have been building crazy things for the last 10 years. As for future plans, I like to have a solid concept before I build something. I like projects that will keep me interested and that are out of the norm. Maybe I will build a friend for BaR2D2?
Do you have any interest in building one if someone asks?
If the conditions were right and there was enough creative license, I could be persuaded...
Maybe you can create one that would serve sandwiches and coffee. Conventions and large corporations would love that. Come to think of it, they would love BaR, too. Do you plan on taking him past the prototype stage?
I haven't really thought too much about its future as it really isn't complete yet.
Where can others get in touch with you for more information or help if they want to build their own?
Good luck and let us know when you decide to market him. And save us a t-shirt!
I may consider doing a run of shirts.
Via Jamie Price
January 9, 2009
Sparebots Made of Recycled Electronic Parts
It would appear that others construct robots out of leftover junk besides our own destrutobots. Lenny and Meriel create Sparebots from electronic resistors, chips, sockets, caps, etc. Check out their others on Flickr and Lenny's blog. We suspect that the coming of the robot wars is emminent, should the two cadres meet up in time.
Via Lenny's Blog
Must Have Robot: Elektra the Robot Girl
We don't know why, but robots have a tendency to be male. We came across Elektra the Robot Girl made by Schylling and decided she rates as our Must Have of the week. She is 5" tall, works by a key to wind her up and also features an on/off switch. If you do not have a fembot in your collection, this is an inexpensive choice for $20.95.
January 8, 2009
Tomy Rocobo Robot Pet - Pay Attention!
Takara Tomy has come up with yet another useless but kewl robot they dubbed Rocobo. This robotic pet virtually eats, sleeps, sings, and demands your attention with an occasional pat on the head. (You know what happens if you ignore them for long.) Available in your choice of colors and designs, you can get your own Rocobo for $24.99.
FIRST Competition Features "Lunacy"
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) recently concluded its 18th competition for students in its home state of New Hampshire. More than 42,000 of them competed this year. Included was a new game called "Lunacy." Robots had to pick up 9" balls and get them in trailers attached to their opponents. Played on a low friction floor, teams had to deal with physics in addition to robotics. If you are a student, teacher or parent interested in the next one, contact FIRST. They have lots of information as well as scholarships available.
January 7, 2009
Transformative LED Flashlight
It's not often that we find a bot that performs a useful purpose. The Transformative is an LED flashlight and nightlight. He can stand up and turn into two other creatures when he is just hanging out. Meritline calls it "reforming and scrambling," while we know it is simply another robotic mode of attack. At a size of 9 x 4 x 2.7, he runs on 3 button cells (not included) and comes at a price of $19.98.
Books for Robot Newbies
If you were lucky enough to get a new bot for Christmas and are not sure what to do with it, we found a variety of books to get you started, all at inexpensive prices. "Robot Programmer's Bonanza," by John Blankenship and Samuel Mishal, will teach you things about RobotBasic and help you learn how to program and get your bot to do something besides sitt around the house. "Robot Building for Beginners," by David Cook, an engineer at Motorola, gives expert advice while providing loads of pictures in over 600 pages.
"JunkBots, Bugbots, and Bots on Wheels: Building Simple Robots With BEAM Technology," by David Hrynkiw and Mark Tilden, is a DIY guide to BEAM (Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, Mechanics) robots. Finally, if you received a Lego Mindstorm NXT, the "Unofficial Lego Mindstorm NXT Inventor's Guide," by David J. Perdue, is a good place to start. Let us know what you come up with!
Via DIY Robot Books
January 6, 2009
G-shock Robots Celebrate Casio Anniversary
In order to promote their 25th anniversary, Casio came up with G-shock Robots. Designed by Shiro Nakano, they seem to appear at various retailers in Japan. We expect that if enough bot-freaks pay attention and respond, we will see more of them in the States in commercials and maybe even real-life models.
i-SOBOT Named Robot of the Year 2008
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) was established in 2006 in Japan to encourage the development of robotics. In December, they announced that the 2008 robot of the year was Takara Tomy's i-SOBOT because of its decent price, advanced technology and entertainment value. We have heard some vague rumors that Tomy was thinking of discontinuing the diminutive bot, but suspect they will now rethink this.
Other awards went to Book Time, an auto-page turning bot and a rice planting robot developed by the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization.
Via Pink Tentacle
January 5, 2009
Clear Cut Assists Firefighters
Jordan Guelde and Daniel Shankland II have designed a robot that just may become more popular than Smokey the Bear. The Clear Cut clears large areas around a fire to keep it from spreading. The prototype has hubless motors and an integrated fuel system to make it work. We think that if the pair can develop it even further, they might consider equipping it with a very large hose.
MegaCon to Feature Famous Bots
Robofans, if you are fortunate enough in Orlando, Florida February 27 - March 1, you have to attend the MegaCon Convention. You will get to see Jim and Yvonne Quinlan's working Sci-Fi bots such as Futurama's Bender, B9 from Lost in Space, Robby from Forbidden Planet, and C3PO, R2-D2 and Jawa from Star Wars, among others. Also attending will be James Callis from Battlestar Gallactica, Beau Bridges from Stargate SG and the Hulking Lou Ferrigno. Prices are relatively inexpensive for the event and we just wish that we could join you. Send us some pics if you get to go and have lots of botty fun.
January 2, 2009
Should There Be Ethical Rules for Robots?
Noel Sharkey, a professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, claims in an article he published in Science Magazine that there may be risks and ethical problems related to service bot usage. He says that people who control them must be made accountable when working with children and the eldery.
"The question here is, will this lead to neglect and social exclusion? We do not know what the psychological impact will be for children to be left for long hours in the care of robots."
"I have no concern whatsoever about robots taking control. They are dumb machines with computers and sensors and do not think for themselves despite what science fiction tells us," he said. "It is the application of robots by people that concerns me and not the robots themselves."
Watch out, Professor Sharkey. We know better. ;)
Via Sidney Morning Herald
Must Have Robot: Tin Can Robot Kit
Take an empty soda can, a screwdriver, a AA battery and Griffin Technology's Tin Can Robot Kit and you get our Must Have robot this week. Add the motors and gears and he will buzz around and click at you in a most annoying manner. Preorder for a January 14 delivery date for only $14.95. By the way, this one is recommended for kids over 3.
Via X-Treme Geek
January 1, 2009
The R2-D2 Chorus Line
Perhaps the only thing geekier than a chorus line of R2-D2s are the clothing choices of their handlers. Thanks to Orudo Vansan and team. This was done a couple of years ago but still worth a viewing.
Robot Snob Monthly Round-Up - December 2008
We certainly found a bunch of great deals for the holidays during December, though sadly if you check back, some of them may now be more expensive. Don't despair. We will have plenty of new bots in 2009 as well as videos, toys and artsy bots. We suspect that the destructobots will rear their evil heads occasionally as well.
Lego Mindstorms NXT
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday
Basil Bellies Up to the Bar
Louise and Jim Gunderson have created Basil (rhymes with dazzle,) an autonomous bot that currently has the sole purpose of going up to a bartender, ordering a brew and carry it back to its owners. Through a lengthy process you can read about from the 7 page link, he gets ready after a few problems that the Gundersons work out. Here is an exerpt from what went on during his premiere.
"My name is Basil," he declares. "What do you want me to do?"
"Apologize to people."
"Ask for beer."
We hope they at least program him to tip. The couple has also released a book, "Robots, Reasoning and Reification", undoubtedly a must read for those that can and do.
Via Westword at "Robots, Reasoning and Reification"