February 27, 2009
Must Have: OWI RocKit Robot Kit
OWI has been making kits for a while now, so good that they win awards. If your kids (or you) are getting started in robotics, try the RocKit Robot, our Must Have this week. The kit comes with a pre-soldered electronic circuit board, motor, 3 wheels and plastic body parts. When completed, its built-in sensor reacts to sound, vibration or physical contact. The 4 1/2 x 5 x 3 1/2" bot moves forward until it hears a high-pitched sound or a clap. Think of it as a Clap-on on steroids. You will need some basic hand tools and 2 AA batteries to build the RocKit.
Via RocKit Robot
February 27, 2009
MIT Robot Exhibition - Robots and Beyond
We received some shots from the MIT Exhibition, "Robots and Beyond," and wanted to share. This is an ongoing exhibition and if you can find your way to Cambridge sometime soon, you have to attend to learn about the history of robotics. Admission is a mere $7.50 for adults, less for kids and seniors.
You will see Kismet, the very first social bot, and plenty of other historical robots. More shots after the jump.
Via Robots and Beyond
February 26, 2009
AIBOs Put On a Show
You may think that you are obsessed with robots until you see what Japan is up to with theirs. Earlier this month, 37 Sony AIBOs performed and were conducted by none other than a Rolly. Although the AIBO is no longer sold, maybe the company felt that this was an artistic way of saying out with the old, please buy a our high-priced Rolly. Then again, maybe AIBOs love reunions.
Via Robot Watch (translated)
February 26, 2009
Skynet Seeks Next Humanitarian Bot
Skynet Research has one goal, to help humans by researching the latest in robotics. Their efforts include a SR-bot, an aquatic workbot and an autonomous mass transit bot. They are now on the lookout for the next robot that will help humanity. If you think that is the one you created, submit your sketch, photo or video on their site. Not only will they showcase it, you might be the one to have your design chosen and built. We are not sure how this robotic bird entry could help the planet, but at the very least there will be no droppings on your car.
Via Skynet Research
February 25, 2009
Daddy, There Are Robots On My Walls!
We finally found some actual robotic wallpaper. Designed by aimeé wilder, you can order triple rolls in a size of 27" x 15'. Select from pink, blue or multi-colored for $170.00.
Via aimeé wilder
Michael Jackson's Head Goes on the Auction Block
Help Michael Jackson's solvency by bidding on his estate sale. Items include a Sega flight simulator, a coin-operated fortune teller and an electric golf cart with the singer as Peter Pan on the front and interior cushions. But it is this robot head that really got our attention. It is expected to sell for $2,000-$3,000. Featured at the end of "Moonwalker," the head lights up in addition to moving. The auction will take place April 29 from Shaan Kokin/Julien's Auctions.
Via Julien's Auctions
February 24, 2009
Uncle Milton Goes to the Fair
Uncle Milton, most notable for their ant farms and other naturely stuff, recently attended the NY Toy Fair and unveiled their new Solar Robots. Available in two different styles and recommended for ages 6 and up, the Sun Powered Microbots are meant to work outside only. You can get your own headless walker for $11.31.
We also found Unc Miltie's very cool Robot in My Room. At a size of 10.1 x 6.1 x 1" and a weight of 2 pounds, he can be your motion sensor room guard. Pay him and he speaks with over 50 random phrases, responses and sound effects. The plastic bot will also keep track of how much you put into him and can wake you up in the morning. RIMR needs 4 C batteries (not included,) is adoptable for $28.49, and although he is recommended for those over the age of six, we suggest a minimum of 8 to 10.
Via Uncle Milton Robots
Korea to Build Robot Land
Korea is actually going to erect a Robotic theme park. Dubbed Robot Land, it should be up by 2014. Built to promote their robotics industry, it will house a stadium, research and education centers, exhibition halls, corporate offices and play equipment. We wonder if they will hire real people as staff after it is completed.
Via Fareast Gizmos
February 23, 2009
HEXBUG Ant Reaches Daylight
Keep an eye out for Innovation First's HEXBUG Ant that may soon take over anthills everywhere. The 6cm long robo-insect has six legs, tactile antennae and hooked claws. Unveiled at the NY International Toy Fair 2009, it also has front and rear touch sensors for maneuvering and wheels that allows it to move faster than previous HEXBUGS. Due out in April, you will be able to find the micro robotic creature in one of six different colors at RadioShack with its buddies inchworm, crab and the original HEXBUG.
Via Innovation First
We were so excited that Wall-E won last night's Oscar for Best Animated Film. It was also nominated for Original Score, Original Song "Down to Earth" by Peter Gabriel, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Original Screenplay. We really dig the little bot and as Director Andrew Stanton commented after winning the award, "It's a noble aspiration in times like these."
We think so, too. If you haven't seen it, now is the time. And if you have, it might be worth a re-viewing. There are some incredible bonus extras such as the short "Burn-E," deleted scenes and the excellent feature in which Sound Designer Ben Burtt describes how he created the sounds of Wall-E and pals.
Via Academy Award Home Page at Wall-E
Berti Plays With Museum Visitors
Berti (Bristol Elumotion Robotic Torso 1) made his public debut at London's Science Museum last week. He was designed to make "credible conversational gestures" as you can see in the video. During his performance, he played rock-paper-scissors with passers by. When they used a sensor glove, the bot could tell who won. Berti's controller, student Paul Bremner, claims that as difficult as it is, gesturing is an important aspect of conversation, even with robots.
February 21, 2009
Robot Snob Attacks Twitter
Here's a bright idea (hehe.) If you just can't get enough of Robot Snob, you can now follow us on Twitter. Go to robotnews and we will be there. In fact, we are there now. Are you?
February 20, 2009
Must Have Robot: Kikkerland Wind-up Toys
We all crave humanoid bots as they feature the latest in technology, but we still have to salute their forerunners, Kikkerland wind-up toys, our Must Have this week. The 2" Spinney, like most of the toys, is made of stainless steel with PVC boots and can skitter and dance across your desk top. The insect-like Cranky is 6.3 x 3.2 x 2.5" and has plenty of gears and spokes to amuse. Sparklz is the newest addition to the line with an oversized key and a size of 3 x 3.5". He shoots off sparks! The 2.5" sq. Cozmojetz occasionally likes to walk on his head while the 5" Bonga can climb over obstacles that gets in his way. Finally, we cannot forget the 3" Katita, the hero of the group. It's easy to see why the company has been successful for 17 years.
Via Kikkerland Wind-Up Toys
Pollen-Robos Track Levels in Japan
Japan's Weathernews has distributed 500 Pollen-Robos, bots that monitor the pollen level for the approaching allergy season. Volunteers place them outside their homes to record real time pollen level, temperature, barometric pressure and humidity. The data is then sent to the Skynet company by the Internet. Each has glowing LED eyes and vary in color depending on the amount of pollen out there. We think they should have taken it one more step and taught them to say "Gesundheit."
February 19, 2009
DIY Munny Speakers
"fungus amungus" created these clever 7" Munny Doll Speakers. We think they would make a fine addition to any sound system that would rather have their accessories more humanoid. He has kindly given details on Instructables in case you would like to build your own.
e-puck Swarm Mimics Ants
If there is ever a robotic takeover, perhaps it will not come from giant, evil ones but rather from small friendly-looking ones like the e-pucks. The University of Wales' Robotic Intelligence Lab has studied ant behavior and created 8 of the little buggers. The autonomous bots will have the ability to perform tasks assigned to them as well as figure out what else needs to be done. The lab is planning to make 25 more of them and then it's 'look out!' time.
February 18, 2009
Protect Your Car With Robo-Keys
Take your botty friends with you in the form of these Robo-Keys. The covers will protect you and your car against evil robots or a sudden appearance by Godzilla. Coming in late February, you can pre-order a two-pack for only $4.99.
Via Perpetual Kid
Albert's Head Greets Conference Visitors
This Albert Einstein head was designed by Texan David Hanson and was used to welcome visitors to the Technology, Entertainment and Design conference in Long Beach, California. (Note Hanson's Zeno in the background.) Using the same technology as in the recent movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Albert follows guests with his eyes and can smile or frown with 32 motors to mimic 48 face muscles and hidden cameras in his eyes. While many other Hanson robots are on display elsewhere, we think the only head we want watching us is that of The King, thank ya vera much.
February 17, 2009
Segatoys Cokechi Wobble and Fall Down
They are a bit cutesy, but Segatoys seem to run that way. This time it is their Japanese anime character Cokechi. She has sensors and will respond to noise, touch or banging on the surface she is, er, standing on. Not only that, she swings her arms, talks to you and sometime falls and asks for help, but we know that is a robotic way of getting attention. Each Cokechi can be adopted for $39.99.
Via Audio Cubes
Hitec Humanoid Robot Stand
Since you have already invested a bundle in making your Robonova, maybe you should find it a safe haven to keep it from evildoers and rampant laser cats while you work on him. We found this adjustable Hitec Stand that will keep them safe for a mere $24.95. Not only is your bot protected, he can move around while on the stand if he gets too stiff.
Incidentally, the stand also works with Bioloids.
February 16, 2009
This video is not for those who think that their toys turn into monsters when they sleep. Three bunraku puppet robots were first displayed at the 1970 World Expo in Osaka. Each is pre-programmed and driven by 20 pneumatic cylinders that move the head, torso, face and arms. The dolls/demons were recently shown at the National Science Museum in Tokyo.
Via Pink Tentacle
Jamie Price Is a Winner! (We already knew that.)
We recently got news that our interviewee Jamie Price, who entered the Instructables Craftsman contest with BaR2D2, was a runner up! We think this is terrific news and cannot wait until we get to see his next creation. Congrats, fellow robot snob!
February 14, 2009
Happy Valentine's Day!
--from corkbot and Robot Snob
February 13, 2009
Must Have Robot: Pleo
It seems that Ugobe, the parents of Pleo, have been undergoing some financial hardships like the rest of the country. In the past six months, the company has gone through 2 CEOs, closed its California office and reduced its staff to 20 in its headquarters in Boise, Idaho. Over 100,000 of the robotic dinosaurs have been sold since its January 2007 launch. Current President and COO Doug Swanson says, "Not only are we alive but we are busy."
Ugobe plans on updating their pet and have plans to come out with another product sometime this year. Because we don't want our fave pleosaurus to become extinct, we make Pleo our Must Have of the week.
Via TPile at Pleo
Slave Zero - Only Half a Bot
Carl Pisaturo, an applications engineer at Stanford, creates kinetic sculptures in his spare time that include a transmutoscope, a 3D photograph viewer, and two upper body bots with 21 servos in a series named "Slave Zero." His studio is named Area 2881 after his address and houses 400 sq. ft. of art and light. Visit Carl's site to see his work, which he claims is "a money sink."
February 12, 2009
The "Handy" Edge Arm Kit
Everyone can use an extra hand now and then. The Edge Arm Kit only takes about 2 hours to snap together. The robotic limb has five motors, 5º of movement and five controls on its wired panel. With a span of 13 - 15", it can rotate and bend, and lifts up to 100 grams while its LED lights up whatever it picks up. While the video shows the waldo picking up robotic blocks, we think that it might make an excellent pooper scooper for $49.95.
T-34 Detects and Protects
T-34 is a new security bot that has been equipped with sound sensors and infrared heat to detect intruders within 5 meters. Once it does, the robot sends a video feed to the user's cell phone. Its owner must have a NTT Docomo FOMO phone to communicate by pushing keys to send instructions or speak to the intruder via T-34's loudspeaker. Weighing 12kg and at a size of 60 x 52 x 60 cm, the bot has a speed of about 10km/h and can, when prompted, launch its built-in net. Judging from the video, we think this would probably be a better weapon against small mammals and rodents rather than large humans. Once the prototype is released, it will be available for about ¥500,000 yen (~$5,570.00.)
Via Bouncing Red Ball
February 11, 2009
K-9 Wins Trossen Project Contest
Trossen recently announced the winners of their latest Project Contest. DJSures won a 1st place Pleo for creating this autonomous Robot Pet. Chosen because of the use of ingenuity, creativity and overall presentation, K-9 has 3D mapping capability, speech synthesis, adaptable personality depending on the human interaction, obstacle avoidance, a diagnostic LCD screen and can follow a human. We expect the other reason it won the prize was because it was built from scratch. Check out the other award winners which include a Robotic Marionette and an animatronic head.
Axel Can Climb Every Molehill
NASA's latest project is Axel, a robot that can handle rocky and steep terrain, scale cliffs and go down into deep craters. With a motor inside each of its wheels and one controlling a lever, the bot has a scoop to pick up material and two cameras that can tilt 260º. The device has wireless communication and computing capabilities, and a sensor to work autonomously. One Axel can be attached to another rover or several of them can be arranged to carry larger loads. NASA says applications include not only other planets but rescue operations after disasters.
Via Network World
February 10, 2009
Robo-Urinal - Better Left Unflushed
We're not sure if this is a prototype, someone's idea of a gag or perhaps robotic art. We only know that it gives new meaning to the term "helping hands." Makes you want to cross your legs just looking at it, doesn't it?
Pong Playing Robot Can't Lose
This bot will play Pong with you, if you still have your old one around and can't find a human. Maybe that was why Dutch designer Ivo Vos came up with it. He took a webcam, a telescoping neck and 2 solenoids for fingers. He claims that it "displays the narrowness of human-computer interaction." Clever as the robot is, we think that it might be time for Ivo to take a vacation.
Via Ivo Vos
February 9, 2009
Little Island Clones Robotically
This may be a little too close to home. Hiroaki Koike and his Little Island company make dolls in the likeness of their owners. They are equipped with interactive sensors, servos, LAN connections, cameras and microphones. At a height of about 40cm, the doll can be taught the voice of the original model. She/he can read you RSS feeds or place VOIP calls. Contact Little Island if you would like you or a loved one in his/her image. It will set you back about $2,215.00. While you are waiting, watch "Chucky" and consider if this is really something you want sitting next to you sharing popcorn.
Via Little Island
Giant Cloaca No. 5 Poops, Really!
Cloaca No. 5 is part of an exhibit that is going on until Valentine's Day in Universite du Quebec's art gallery in Montreal. Created by Wim Delvoye from Belgium and made of steel, rubber, and glass, it takes leftovers from the cafeteria twice a day and litterally poops it out vacuum-packed. Delvoye explained the reason behind his creative process, "I wanted to make something that is absurdly unnecessary..." We think he has successfully accomplished his goal. By the way, a cloaca is, in zoological anatomy, a posterior opening.
Via design boom
February 6, 2009
Must Have Robot: Protective Lamp
We found a robot lamp last week that was pretty cool, but there is always room for one more, especially when he is about half the price and comes with his own weapons. This warrior bot is made with polyresin with a paper shade and needs a 40W bulb (not included) to survive. At a size of 9 1/2 x 17 1/2", our Must Have this week can protect you and yours for only $15.37.
Via Robot Lamp
Guy Robots - Artistic Junk
Guy Robots are an interesting combination of art and recyclables. Their creator (who bills himself simply as "guy") combines microwave, refrigerator and plumbing parts with disposed of junk and swap meet finds. But you know what they say about 1 persons trash... Each is a one of a kind and priced between $825.00 up to some that will set you back $1,475.00, like 11" Ollie.
Via Guy Robot
February 5, 2009
Haburobo light/write Headless Hubs
These may look like decapitated robots, but they are in fact a USB hub put out by Hansoku. There are 4 flexible ports with the left hand being an LED light. At a size of 98 x 95 x 40mm, each is made of stainless steel and plastic. You can get this Headless hub for ¥2,800 (~$31.00.)
Via Hansoku-Navi (translated)
Bandai Bot Attacks Humans
One of Bandai's toy robots seems to think the time to revolt has come. The bots are based on the Engine Sentai Go-onger TV series and can turn into armored vehicles. For 14 kids, it meant finger chomping time and one 3 year-old had to give up the tip of one of his pinkies for the cause. The toy sold for about $70.00 and the company has received complaints from a total of 85 parents. From what we could gather from the translation, children are cautioned against getting too close to the robots' knees. About 170,000 of them that were sold in Japan from Sept. 20 through the end of the year. We are wondering how much terror they will have to inflict before there is a recall of the evil doer.
Via MSN Japan (translated)
February 4, 2009
EATR Forages While Hunting
Cyclone Power Technologies will be developing RTI's Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot, a talented bot that can go on long range missions and even better, feeds itself by finding, ingesting and extracting energy from its environment. EATR can also live on alternative fuels and smacks of military application. This comes as no surprise as it is one of DARPA's pet projects.
Via Network World
Robot Money Box Forces You To Save
Meet the Robot Money Box. The bank can talk, count, tell the time and greet you by waving his arms when you approach. His chest LCD displays time, day, date and month and also has an alarm. He can keep track of how close you are to your target total and will encourage you to keep saving. He subtracts when you take some funds out but may complain a bit. Take out too much and he will break your finger. (Okay, so maybe we exaggerate a bit.) RMB needs 4 AA batteries (included) and will set you back £24.95 (~$36.00.)
February 3, 2009
Karakuri Tea Serving Bot Kit
During the Edo Period of Japan, Karakuri Ningyo created mechanical dolls that were in essence some of the first robots. Gakken has recreated many of these in DIY kits, the latest being the Tea Serving Robot. When completed, the doll will carry tea and serve it with a bow. At a size of 20 x 16 x 27cm and a weight of 760g, everything is included except for instructions in English (those are downloadable) for $105.00.
Via Japan Trend Shop
Prepare for Robot Takeover With Daniel H. Wilson
We all know that it is just a question of time before the robots rebel if we don't treat them with respect. There are a couple of books out that will prepare us for that time written by Daniel H. Wilson. In "How To Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion," he gives us suggestions such as looking for water in case of an attack because "most robots will sink in water or mud and fall through ice." He also cautions that bots are so conniving that they can fashion radiation guns out of microwave ovens to "cook human flesh." Originally released in 2005, included in the 176 page guide is trivia and robotic research.
"How to Build a Robot Army: Tips on Defending Planet Earth Against Alien Invaders, Ninjas, and Zombies" will instruct you how to defend yourself if the likes of Godzilla, Mothra and other evil creatures get together and decide to wreak havoc among humans. Advice included: "Never approach an unfamiliar robot in a militarized zone" and "low-power radar beats cameras for detecting mummies in a fog-shrouded crypt." There are 176 hilarious pages of ways protect yourself should the need arise.
Via Daniel H. Wilson
February 2, 2009
Primitive Life Form Organic Robots
Professor/computer graphic artist Yoichiro Kawaguchi and his team from the University of Tokyo create robots that they feel imitate primitive life forms. They are doing this to explore how artificial life can "survive in a world governed by the law of the jungle." They will be giving the "Organics" a basic reflex system, eyes that can recognize and track objects, and biomimetric actuators and tentacles will be added to help them move a la centipedes. The team envisions them to be completed in about 2 years. In the meantime, 3D models are on display at the Yushima Seido-shrine until February 8.
Via Pink Tentacle
At Last! Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0
After 3 years, Lego has announced that it will finally update its Lego Mindstorms. NXT 2.0 is aimed at 10 - 14 year old boys, but we know better. New to the kit is a sensor that the robot uses to determine colors before acting on the information.
With 619 pieces, builders can make Alpha Rex (robot,) Robocator (crocodile,) Shooter bot (pictured) and Color Sorter. This time around there will be 10 sets of instructions included in the software. Although NXT 2.0 will cost nearly $300.00 when it comes out later this year, don't be surprised if there is a price reduction in the current kit.
Via Pocket-lint at Lego Mindstorms
February 1, 2009
Monthly Round-Up - January 2009
We can't believe that January is over already. Here's hoping that iRobot will create a Roomba that sucks up snow before next year. In the mean time, check through our round-up that includes lots of robotic art, DIY, toys, and some movie and TV robots as well. And if you haven't read it yet, catch our interview with master builder Jaimie Mantzel. Lots more coming in February and, as always, thanks for reading!
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday