March 31, 2009
Take This Robot to Your Leader's Nose
You can admit it. You already own the Robotan Toilet Paper Holder, so you might as well get the Robot Tissue Holder to go with it. At a size of 6 x 17", it is constructed of fabric and will hold most cube-shaped boxes (not included.)
Via Perpetual Kid
March 31, 2009
Cornell Creates Self-Replicating Robots
Researchers at Cornell University have developed a robot that can self-replicate. A machine was made from cube-shaped modules that functioned independently and when combined, created an exact copy of itself. Each contained a microprocessor, a motor and electromagnets and was preprogrammed with building instructions. Fortunately for us all, the team claims that it can do little but reproduce at this point, but they foresee applications in the areas of nanotechnology and space exploration.
Via National Geographic
March 30, 2009
BigDog and K-Max Go to War
We have mentioned BigDogs being used by the military and now it seems the Boston Dynamics robots are actually being sent to Afghanistan.
Also going to war will be unmanned K-Max helicopters that can carry loads of up to 6,000 lbs. During its run, its autonomous flight brain finds the best route and will alter course should it come across a no-fly zone. The more we read about robotics in war situations, the more we think that both sides should send bots to fight and the last BigDog standing wins.
Via Fox News
March 30, 2009
Nude Robot Model Headlines Japan Fashion Week
When Japan's Fashion Week opened last week, the first model to make it to the catwalk was a nude robot. Used to demonstrate the economic crisis in that country, designers have chosen to make clothes for "real people" as opposed to haute couture. We were thinking that they should skip the high-priced models altogether. You certainly wouldn't have to worry about a robot suffering from bulimia.
March 27, 2009
Must Have: Special Edition Black Lego Mindstorms NXT
Never doubt the talents of someone who can combine a Mindstorms NXT, a Bionicle, a Technic set and a few Lego bricks added into the mix. Should it show up in our neighborhood, we will be on the first train out.
Speaking of Mindstorms, Lego is celebrating their 10th anniversary of the micro-controllers with a Special Edition in black. If you get in on the action, you will have access to other materials such as a special program for the NXT, a personal certificate of ownership, wallpapers and building instructions for special models. This certainly qualifies it as our Must Have this week.
Via Bionicle Robot Head
Bandai Namco to Erect Giant Gundam
How does Bandai Namco celebrate the 30th anniversary of its Mobile Suit robot franchise? You build a life size Gundam, of course. Made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic over a steel frame, the replica's head will move, 50 points on its body will emit light and mist will be shot out on unsuspecting tourists. The Gundam will be erected in the Odaiba Shiokaze park in July but will only be up for 2 months. They haven't quite decided what to do with it after that time. We think it would make a great companion to the Statue of Liberty.
Via Bouncing Red Ball
March 26, 2009
LeBistro - Robotic Pet Feeder
One more chore can now be dismissed. The Petmate LeBistro Portion Control Pet Feeder is a programmable pet feeder that will automatically dispense up to five pounds of kibble. You can schedule it to distribute as much as 2 cups up to three times a day. The gadget works on 3 D batteries (not included.) Petmate also has a smaller version and Waterer available. We hope the next generation includes a pooper scooper because YOU didn't stay home and let your dog/cat out!
Anies Go Down Under
Japan's Topy has created a strange race of Anie robots that love to crawl. Compact and lightweight, they are controlled either by wired or wieless LAN remote and have high traction rollers that can climb 1.3 times their radius. Available in 4 sizes, their onboard cams shoots video and still images. Although they are designed for large companies, we bet that they would be happy to custom create one for you so that you don't have to go down into those nasty sewers where you know that baby crocodiles lurk or crawl spaces that may house giant cockroaches.
Via Robots Dreams
March 25, 2009
Hire an Atlas Robot for Your Next Party
Having a party? Company function? Convention? Think about hiring Atlas Robots. They will greet your guests, mingle and dance, roast your host, and show people to the nearest bathroom. These bots can be programmed to be specific in terms of names and/or company information. Heck, we figure you can turn 'em into singing telegrams if you can afford them. Of course, they have humans that control them, but you probably won't notice after the crowd arrives.
Spookiest of all, Atlas has this to say about their horde, "At parties, company picnics and hospitality suites our robots will add fun and excitement wherever they go." 'Nuff said.
Via Atlas Robotics
March 24, 2009
Watch Out for mechGorilla!
Rong Yiren plays with Legos and has made some awsomely creative spyBots, mecha/droids, medBots and polarBots, but it is this mechGorilla that caught our attention. We expect it will protect until a mechKing Kong comes along.
Via Rong Yiren
CareBots May Take Over
Part of Japan's push for robotic service industry helpers has to include the CareBots. They have an onboard wireless webcam and follow their designated patient. They carry supplies, deliver bedpans and medication, take vital signs and report back to GeckoSystems in the event of an emergency. They babysit your tots when you are cooking or catching up with the latest ball game while their Security bot can guard or search and rescue without intervention. We think that with enough Gecko bots, we won't need any humans.
March 23, 2009
i-Toad Disguises Roomba
Why have just an ordinary Roomba when you can make yourself an iToad? The cover consists of felted wool with glass eyes attached and its elbows are sensors. The description claims, " Works independently, requiring no supervision or instructions." There is not much to say about the creation after you see the video of the horned toad except that somebody has way too much time on his/her hands.
Cars May Soon Answer Back
Hal may soon be hanging out in your car. Ford Global Technologies has applied for a patent on an Emotive Text To Speech System and Method. It seems that you can chat it up to this navigational device and it will answer back. For example, ask it for a restaurant and it will give you a list of some in the area. And there is more. The EAS has sensors that can detect the emotional state of the driver and will respond based on that. There will also be an avatar somewhere down the line. We figure that the first to purchase the technology will be those who yell at their cars when they stall or praise them if they get you home after an extended commute. "My pleasure, Dave."
March 20, 2009
Must Have: The Gunslinger
One of our absolute fave movie bots was played by Yul Brynner. Known in the movies "Westworld" and
"Futureworld" only as "The Gunslinger," he was as scary as they come. We have made the endearing Wall-E and Pleo as our Must Haves, but we think it is time that one of the evil ones gets credit, too. If you have never seen these 70's movies, now is the time. Although they do not have the advanced CGI and effects as current ones, how can you resist this guy? Head to YouTube for more clips if you aren't convinced.
Via The Gunslinger
T-53 Enru - Smaller, More Efficient, Just As Scary
In 2004, Tmsuk developed T-52 Enru for rescue work. Weighing about 6 tons, it features waldos designed to save victims of earthquakes, car accidents and other emergencies.
The company didn't stop there. After working with the national fire department in Japan, they came up with a new and improved model, the T-53, that is more compact and has better maneuverability. The bot was used in recovery efforts during the Kashiwazaki City earthquake. Check out Tmsuk's site. They have been working on service robotics from as far back as 1993 with their TMSUK-1, a receptionist.
March 19, 2009
Forknife 2, Armed to the Teeth
Surveyor Corp. recently released an open-source Google Android app to operate its Blackfin-based robots. They used several bots to demonstrate its flexibility, including a SRV-1 Blackfin, a YARB Robotic Blimp and the clever Forknife 2 that can cut up your cupcake if it really needs to be segmented.
The basic SRV-1 Kit (pictured here) is available at Trossen while the Console app is free on a Google code page. Check the link to see more details and images.
Saya Goes to School
Saya was originally created by Hiroshi Kobayashi at the University of Tokyo as a service bot that could replace workers such as secretaries. It took about 15 years for him and his team to develop the humanoid bot that is now being tested as a teacher. Saya can speak different languages, perform roll call, set tasks and makes facial expressions, including anger, while doing so. We wonder how long she can perform before some nasty kid shoots a spit wad at her.
March 18, 2009
TU-24 AEGIS - Mini-Rep of the CIS
We don't know much about Morgan190, but we do know we like what we see. He has created some of the most ingenious Lego bots around, like this TU-24 AEGIS. The combat/defense droid is part of the CIS trade federation and is armed with dual laser cannons. Both head and figure are hand-painted and the torso features a decal. Head over to Flickr to see more of his work.
Via Morgan190 Flicker Page
EyeTable Aids You Through Your Date
The EyeTable won Honorable Mention in the 2nd annual Smiley Award (named for Professor Scott Fahlman who created :), the smiley emoticon,) presented by Yahoo for innovation at Carnegie Mellon University. Undergraduates Ilya Brin, Dan Eisenberg and Kevin Li came up with the clever furniture that analyzes how people respond to each other during dates. The technology uses headsets and Wii controller technology to study gestures and speech patterns.
Grafitter took the top award, $500.00 and a crystal trophy, for technology that allows you to collect personal information such as word usage, tags, and Grafitter-formatted tweets, and show it in graph form on Twitter. Designed by Ian Li, this is what came up when we entered our twitter name, "robot news." We don't need a graph to tell us what we are most focused on. You can head to the site if you would like to play with the demo.
Via Carnegie Mellon News
March 17, 2009
Robotic Memory Stick
In addition to the Robotic Flash Drive we found back in June, we also discovered this 1GB Memory Stick for those who believe that it is easier being green. He may not hold as much as his shinier counterpart but his eyes light up during data transfer.
Via 1GB Memory Stick
Happy St. Patrick's Day - Hic!
Look who we found all dressed up and ready for St. Paddy's Day! Enjoy the festivities but don't indulge in too much green beer!
Sukima - Ghostly Interaction
Keio University and Keio University of Art and Design got together and came up with the Sukima (interspace) Robot, designed to provide a "space with a virtual human body." The bot has human presence sensors, eyes which are information out put interfaces and mechanical hands underneath the desk and between bookshelves. All are connected to a PC via Bluetooth. When the sensors detect a human, Sukima responds as if "real."
The team claims that their poltergeist with personality can be used for artistic purposes or to keep people away from dangerous or limited access areas. We opt for the first idea. Somehow Sukima doesn't look all that scary.
March 16, 2009
Coppa - Simple, Yet Oddly Capable
Coppa is your basic robot controlled by eee class laptops via USB and runs on a 12V rechargeable NiMH battery. Available from RoBe:Do are this and other programmable bots, as well as accessories such as webcams, light sensors and gripping arms to add to your project. The Coppa is 13 x 15 x 12", weighs 10 lbs., is available for $1,649.00 and comes with desktop stand, battery and charger (computer not included.) That's quite an investment, but if it literally delivers, we are all for it.
Via RoBe: Do
Robot Crawler Carries Victims to Safety
Look at Yokohama's new addition to their fire department. The robotic transporter carries a human from a disaster, such as an earthquake, to a safe place. Its 4 wheeled belts can crawl over obstacles and its motor can carry a human up to 110 kg (almost 250 lbs.) The crawler also measures vital signs, has infrared cameras and can be remotely controlled.
Via New Launches
March 13, 2009
Must Have: Terminator Bots
Yahoo has gone to great lengths to uncover rumors concerning "Terminator Salvation," which will debut May 21 (Memorial Day weekend.) While we don't know if any or all of them are true (besides the Christian Bale rant,) we do know that this film will showcase a sh**load of robots, as you can see from the trailer, and as such makes the Terminator our Must Have this week.
Not only does it make us want to re-screen the original "Terminator" and sequels, we may just splurge on the Collector's Edition and greedily surround ourselves with action figures.
Via Yahoo Movies at Terminator
Pyuuun, Two Sugars, Please
Robo-Engine's LifeLog Robot may be your future best friend. Aside from serving you tea, Pyuuun has 8 sensors such as movement, sound, distance, infrared and temperature, which translates into an ability to let you know if someone is invading your private space or the temperature in the room takes a drop. It contacts you via WiFi and has 6 hours of usage on one 12-volt battery charge. Save your pennies. Pyuuun comes with about a $3,000.00 price tag.
Via Robo-Engine (translated)
March 12, 2009
Bionic Knee Wins iF Award
This bionic knee just won an award from the recent iF (International Design Forum) in Germany. The JT20 von Bauerfeind joint from Rokitta has 2 - 3º mobility and is made for a body weight of up to 150kg. It certainly looks pretty functional and we expect it will take us that much closer to a future bionic man/woman.
Via iF (translated)
Gamelatron Robotic Orchestra
The Gamelatron combines computers with Balinese and Javenese percussion to make a robotic orchestra. Each drum and bell is controlled by 117 mallets from a laptop running a MIDI. Shown here with composer A. Taylor Kuffner, the Gamelatron is currently appearing at the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, NY. While this may not be the band to hire for your wedding reception, you certainly wouldn't have to worry about much of a tip. Visit their site to see the musical robot in action.
March 11, 2009
Keep Battlestar Galactica Alive With Memorabilia
While Battlestar Galactica will come to an end in the next couple of weeks, you can keep a piece of it with a full size Cylon. Standing 7', the fiberglass replica has those evil red eyes and menacing hum in stereo. The droid can be yours for $7,900.00. If that is a bit steep for your budget, how about a mini-version? This droid is 8", has over 20 points of articulation and comes with wrist armor, and changeable hands.
If you prefer your Cylons in human form, #6 is available. In her classic red garb, she may look as tall as the toaster but she stands only 7" tall. Then again, if you fear the evil ones and figure that they have left the show and may invade your personal space, the "How To Spot A Cylon" 24 x 36" Propaganda Poster can bring you some comfort.
Via Sideshow Collectibles
Wu Yulu's Bumpy Ride
Wu Yulu is a repairman who lives in a small village outside Beijing and loves making robots. It seems that not only are they gaining notoriety, but they are selling as well. The repairman frequently displays his creations to the delight of the neighborhood, but not his wife who has finally given up trying to persuade him to quit. He names them Wu and a number because he says, "They are all my sons, so they must bear my surname." He is shown here with Wu #32.
Via Robot World News
March 10, 2009
Clean Up With Robot Towels
We have shown you wallpaper, lamps, toothbrush holders and now robotic towels by artist Kathy Steig to add to your home. If you keep this up, your entire house will be protected. Each is made of cotton with a cutesy robot embroidered on the front and is available for $15.00.
Alex Fojtik's Menacing Spectrum
If robots ever go to war, we want Alex Fojtik on our side. His latest Lego creation is this Prismatic Shadow that comes equipped with camouflage plating and a defraction rifle. With 16 points of articulation, many of them ball joints, Spectrum not only looks scary, we figure we could use him to watch over lesser bots that have no defense. Take a peek at Alex's other projects from our link.
Via Alex Fojtik MOC Page
March 9, 2009
Enter the Steampunk Cylon Contest
You dig Battlestar Galactica and your favorite character is the Cylon. You dig Steampunk and think your design is frakkin' better than theirs. This qualifies you to enter DVICE's Steampunk Cylon contest. Send them an image or picture of a model and they will select a winner before BG's season finale. The winner will be announced March 20.
R2D2 Goes to MegaCon 2009
Our bud, Jim Quinlan, just got back from MegaCon 2009 that ran through March 1, and has pronounced it and his R2D2 successes. He did note that some of the lights weren't working on Robby and the ears on B9 stopped, but we figure it is amazing that he even builds them.
You can see about a gazillion shots from the event on his website as well as some of R5-PQ, a droid built by Jim's friend Brad in honor of his son Paul. What a wonderful thing it would be if we all had someone build a bot in our honor when we leave our physical forms.
Via Florida Robot
March 6, 2009
Must Have: FUNKit Robot in DJ Disguise
We thought this robotic DJ was strange enough for a second glance and deserved our Must Have this week. The KNG FUNKit DJ Animated Speaker System for iPod dances and scratches to the beat. The built-in docking station amplifies, charges and syncs iPod 3G and 4G, iPod video, iPod photo, iPod mini, and iPod nano while pre-programmed lights flash in sequence. Available in silver or black, FUNKit has an auxiliary input for other music players and an output of 6W.
Via FUNKit DJ
Artist Makes Giant Transformer
Artist Guillaume Reymond's latest creation is a video with vehicles amassing to create a giant robot transformer, as opposed to the other way around. He used several different types of vehicles and choreography, although it wouldn't do you a lot of good unless you were flying over it, so we appreciate the video. Reymond's earlier work was a "Human Tetris." Uh-huh.
Via Not So Noisy
March 5, 2009
Simple Robot Kit
With all the advanced bots out there, we were pleased to find a simple kit that can make some retro ones, including two humanoids that can pull sentry duty, a truck and a spider. The kit comes with a circuit board, lights, battery holder and connector, buzzer, and 32 page guide. You (or your kids) provide the energy and batteries. Recommended for ages 9 - 12.
Via The Robot Kit
Nanorobot Manipulates Molecules
U.S. and Chinese scientists claim that they have a 2-armed nanorobot that can manipulate molecules inside a device built from DNA. The researchers say that it is programmable and can create new structures and therefore create new synthetic fibers, improve DNA-scaffolded computer assembly, and advance and improve encrypted information. The New York University and Nanjing University scientists claim that the nanobots perform with 100% accuracy.
Via Space Daily
March 4, 2009
Throw a Wall-E Bash!
Ever since we cheered for Wall-E's Oscar, we keep running into him in the oddest places. You can actually throw an entire party for the lovable bot with a cake topper, cups, plates, table cover and napkins. That's a party for 8 for less than $30.00. Don't forget the party favors!
Via Wall-E Party Favors
RG3 Cleans the Greens
If you are a golfer, you may soon run into the RG3 (Robotic Greens Mower 3,) which made its debut at the recent 2009 Golf Industry Show in New Orleans. The robotic mower from Precise Path not only keeps greens tidy, it may soon have the capability of mowing fairways, raking sand traps and applying pesticides and fertilizer. The RG3 runs on 2 lead acid batteries for its 24V DC motor and one for its computer, and gets about 3 hours of work done before needing a recharge. It uses ultrasonic and infrared technology to triangulate a location that exists in a perimeter set up by 4 beacons and can run at night because it is "whisper quiet." Precise Path claims it has 100% coverage when at work, as opposed to other robotic mowers. It had better. The RG3 has a MSRP of $29,500.00.
Via Precise Path
March 3, 2009
Enter Your Service Bot in the Next Roboexotica
We weren't sure this was legit, but after a thorough search of the site, it would appear that Roboexotica exists. This is a contest/event for bots that can serve or mix cocktails, converse with human customers, somehow relate to the smoking culture, or have "other achievements in the sector of cocktail culture." Check out their site and feel free to apply for one of their many prizes. The next one is to be held in San Francisco although we couldn't find a specific date.
As a footnote, our bud Jamie Price tells us that he has updated Bar2D2 and it can now mix drinks with an automatic mixer and Lazy Drinker Software. He says he may make it to one of the Roboexoticas. Hopefully, he will bring us back some pics.
NY L Line Now Run by Computer - With a little help from its human friends
As of last week, the NY L line trains became fully controlled by a computerized signal system. The belief is that the NY Transit will be able to run them more often and closer together. The Brooklyn-Manhattan line will be utilized at first during off peak and overnight hours. A few conductors will oversee the $300 million Communications Based Train Control operation for a while. Although the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) had wanted to remove them, this apparently violated their contract. Makes you kind of wonder if you are the next to go.
Via NY Daily News
March 2, 2009
Oboe Saves Family Memories
Oboe doesn't play music, but instead was designed to absorb knowledge from the elderly before they literally leave the planet. With their stories intact, designer Arnaud Deloustal claims that their "essence" lives on. We could see this becoming a viable product, a sort of robotic family tree, as long as the Oboes don't use the information to take over humans.
"It's A Small World" Gets Makeover
Disneyland has updated "It's a Small World," one of their earliest animatronic rides. This delighted my kids when they were small but almost got me kicked out as I tried to decapitate one of the little buggers. Many of the characters are reportedly created in the style of the original, such as Alice in the UK scene, and there is a new "Spirit of America" scene that supposedly crosses all nationalities. The original press release declaims the rumor that the ride was shut down because of it boat riders ever-increasing girth. Whatever the reason, we find the video as obnoxious and annoying as ever.
March 1, 2009
Monthly Round-Up - February 2009
It's March, and where we are, it is sort of midway between coming in as a lion or lamb. It's more of a hedgehog. Be that as it may, take a peak at our Monthly Round-up, with our overly affectionate tribute to Wall-e and other winners that include Jamie Price and Daniel H. Wilson. More silly, serious and everything in between for March, so keep up!
Lego Mindstorms NXT
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday