April 30, 2009
We were recently invited to the Saratoga, CA Rotary Art Show, being held this Sunday, May 3. Lockwashers will be showing up in booth 300, so stop by if you get the chance, as it will be their only personal appearance this year.
Via Lockwasher Design
April 30, 2009
Trossen has a new kit for amateur builders. The OLLO Bug Kit comes with detailed instructions and everything you need to build 4 different versions of the plate and rivet system. When complete, it can trace lines, detect objects in its path or be controlled with wireless remote. The bug kit is available for $99.99.
April 29, 2009
We understand that this "huggable, intelligent" Belgian robot was designed to be a kid's playmate. They will be placed in hospitals to provide comfort, moral support and information. With a fully actuated head, he has 20º of freedom and can show facial expressions. An operator utilizes an RUI to get him to work. What we don't understand is why they named him Probo. Maybe it's a European thing.
April 29, 2009
Get your toddlers to clean their plates with the Robots & Rocketships Kids Dinner Set. Made of Melamine, it comes with a 4-compartment plate, bowl, 2-handled spillproof sippy cup with lid, fork and spoon. Zurp! Whiz! (which apparently means "yummy" in robospeak.)
Via Robots & Rocketships Dinner Set
April 28, 2009
Yokohama is staging 5 months of merriment to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the port opening. The French art group La Machine is bringing their "living machines" to join in the festivities. Included will undoubtedly be their 12 meter tall Giraffe, Rhino, Spider (shown here in their earlier London appearance,) Gulliver and Sultan's Elephant. Our thanks to Artichoke and Matthew Andrews for the images.
Via Yokohama 150
Willow Garage has been working on the PR2 for academic and industrial research and development labs. About the size of an average human, it has integrated arms, mobility, computation, sensors and batteries, eliminating the need for building one from scratch. Running on the ROS software platform, it is still in the prototype stage, but if you want more information, you can get on their mailing list.
Via Willow Garage
April 27, 2009
Imagine having a goal to draw 3 robots a week for an entire year. That's exactly what Shoebox artist Chris Grine is doing with his "165 Bots With Stuff." So far he is up to 36 (probably 37 by the time you read this.) We hope when he is finished he will put them all in a book or poster. Until then, visit him often!
Via 165 Bots
Like its earlier living generation, the Pleo is about to become extinct. Ugobe, its parent company, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. One of our fave non-human pets, the company had moved and gone through some changes in staff. We could speculate those might be the reasons, or perhaps its higher price tag than others in its class, or maybe the fact that he was never improved upon as they had planned at the onset.
Whatever the reason, their sites are no longer active, although we did note that he is still available for purchase on Amazon, at a definite reduction from the original $350.00 price. Pleo, we hardly knew ye.
April 24, 2009
Mother's Day is coming up, so to prove to her that you love both robots and her (or your mate,) why not get her a bit of jewelry for the occasion? The Black Robot Charm is movable, is over 1 1/2" in length and has a crystal heart and hat. The silver movable jointed Robot Charm is about 1 1/4" and also has crystals on his heart, chest, mask and legs. And if your mom is a pink freak, a third Pastel Charm is 1 1/4" in length and accented with pink and Aurora Borealis Austrian crystals. All come with necklaces.
Via Robot Necklaces
Festo's AquaPenguins not only resemble their live counterparts, they can move like them. They can be manuevered in all directions and even swim backwards. Applications include being used as autonomous underwater crafts while communicating with other robot penguins to keep them from colliding. Wanting to do more than just invade the ocean, the German company also came up with AirPenguins, but we suspect that spying capabilities isn't part of their plans.
Via Festo (translated)
April 23, 2009
Fred Baier designs furniture that are both functional and futuristic. He made 3 roll top, drop leaf, transformer robot desks out of birch, then stained and lacquered them. One of his Dual Quads can actually be yours for £11100.00 (~$16,400.00) or Baier can custom design you something.
Via Fred Baier
A new robot lawnmower has been created, this one cleverly managed by a modified Wiimote. Part of the Plant Robotics Project, The Casmobot (Computer Assisted Slope Mowing Robot) was created by researchers at the University of Southern Denmark. Robotics are built into the mover and it is controlled via Bluetooth to a computer. The mower can move forward when the controller is tilted down and backwards when tilted up. It can work manually or by computer with autonomous navigation based on RTK positioning.
roboworld 2009 will soon be upon us. Opening day at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh is Saturday, June 13. There will be games, a dance contest, lots of exhibits including one with Keepon and a greeter named Andy. They will also be inducting into the Robot Hall of Fame:
- Mars rovers Spirit & Opportunity
- DaVinci Medical Robot System
- Huey, Dewey & Louie from the 1971 film "Silent Running"
- T-800 Terminator from the 1984 film "Terminator"
April 22, 2009
Leave a robot in the NE corner of Washington Square Park and see if anyone will help it get to the SW corner. That was the idea behind the Tweenbots, a race of human dependent robots that engage help from wandering pedestrians. They were made out of cardboard, in case they got eaten by a wandering dog or stomped upon. Moving in a straight line at a constant speed, they carried a flag with their destination. Inventor/artist Kacie Kinzer kept a hidden camera to see if they got the help they sought.
Recorded over several months, the cute little bots were rescued when needed and none were ever lost or damaged. One man even told it, "You can't go that way, it's toward the road." We are impressed with the study and are wondering, had the Tweenbot been a homeless person or lost child, would the same results occur?
In honor of Earth Day, we could replace a light bulb, turn off our computer for a couple of extra hours, or various other energy saving chores, but we figured the best thing to do, because we love robots and the planet, was to get you to help. To this end we came up with the I Grobot. The glazed ceramic container is 3 1/2 x 3 x 2 1/2" and can be used as a home to grass, catnip, or any other herb you can think of. Peat moss and seeds are provided to help you help eradicate your carbon footprint.
Via I Grobot
April 21, 2009
Kikkerland's Robot Alien is a retro wall clock that they actually named Kim. Push her nose and she will tell you the time in that ancient bot kind of way. Made of aluminum and plated metal, she also has an optionl hourly chime when she will flash her eyes at you or an alarm that will beep or make a rooster crow. Designed by David Dear, she requires 3 AA batteries (not included.)
Via Robot Alien Wall Clock
Device will be featuring a new exhibition beginning April 25 and running through June 20. Entitled "They Move," artists Greg Brotherton, Benjamin Cowden, Nemo Gould, Tom Haney and Reuben Margolin will be featured. Even if we cannot make it, if you live in the San Diego area, try to make the first day reception at their new location in Barrio Logan, 1815 Main Street Building B.
Via Device Gallery
April 20, 2009
By the year 2020, Japan plans to send astronauts and a two-legged robot to walk on the moon. Specifics will be project should become finalized within the next 2 years. We wouldn't be surprised if they sent an entire group up there to build a botty colony. The country also wants to promote research that involves military satellites, such as a ballistic missile warning system.
Via The Raw Feed
Robots are becoming obvious in their usage by the military. An anti-tax protester tossed a box of tea bags on the White House lawn last week. The Secret Service, being cautious as they are when they don't know what it being thrown over the fence, sent in one of their robots to check it out. And when Captain Richard Phillips was being held as a hostage, the military sent in a Navy ScanEagle, an unmanned drone, to send images of the situation.
Via Washington Post and Aviation Week
April 17, 2009
No sooner is Easter over, than Mom's Day is on the way. In honor of the occasion, iRobot has a deal for them (and stay-at-home dads) online. Grab an iRobot Scooba 380 before May 10 and you get $50.00 off and a free bottle of cleaning solution. The Scooba preps, washes, scrubs and squeegees hardwood, tile and linoleum. This premium version can handle 3 to 4 average size rooms per charge. The offer is good until May 10.
Via iRobot Web Specials
As promised, we provided some questions to the Bots for Tots program. The interview was recorded by founders Don Thacker and Alexis Nordling to give you all the details. It's a little lengthy, but is important because you really want to know who is going to teach you the finer points of soldering, don't you? The pair gives all the information you will need and gives a call out to help name their mascotbot, (although we think they should show the little bugger.) The workshops are free and the B4T project could always use donations.
Via Bots 4 Tots Interview
Duke University and Univ. of New Mexico researchers took the basic principles of the swimming game Marco Polo to increase a robot's ability to detect and intercept things that are moving via algorithms. The bots have camera sensors that can identify where cells within a certain space are and then can figure out where it will move. Obviously, this can have military applications in the future, but we wonder if we could use it to simply find our car keys.
Via Science Daily
April 16, 2009
Want to see how you or someone you
love fear looks as the Terminator? Terminate Yourself is a way of promoting the new "Salvation" movie, but hey, you need to do what you can to find out what your robotic pets may do when they evolve.
Via Terminate Yourself
April 15, 2009
Occasionally, we envision a new home, which we will probably have designed in the shape of a giant Roomba. The Circo Robots Bed in a Bag can protect you against monsters under the bed or in the closet. The set comes with comforter, flat and fitted sheets, 2 shams and 2 pillowcases. Made of cotton and polyester, all is machine washable. Choose between twin and full sizes and let the protection begin.
The 39 x 58 x 5" LA Rug Go Robots Rug is both fire retardant and easy to clean, not to mention protection against bedbug sized evil bots and centipedes.
Via Robot Home Furnishings
Why is it that every time we see a sub-adult humanoid robot it creeps us out? Is it unnatural? Or do those who are making them have a different point of view? Either way, this CB2, a 4' 4" toddler is being programmed to think like a baby and takes note of its mother's facial expressions and categorizes them. Made with rubbery skin, it has 197 pressure sensors to recognize human touch. After 2 years, it taught itself to walk with human aid and 51 "muscles." Eventually, the Japanese Society of Baby Science believes that a "robo species" will be developed with learning abilities somewhere between humans and primates. Our guess is that it will still creep us out.
April 14, 2009
This transformer may not be the scariest on the block, but its garish color will certainly embarrass the others. At 28cm tall, the RC Transmutation Android has flashing chest lights and five joints in each arm, and can protect you with its blaster rifle. It can morph into a vehicle and run forward, backward, left and right with the controller. Coming from China, the default charger for the bot is 220V, so in addition to the $17.95 price, you may need to order a 110V adapter.
The Octopus IP has sensory motor capabilities in a design that is based on the arms of its real counterpart so that it performs similarly in water in terms of speed, control, flexibility, dexterity and applicability. The Italian Institute claims that it is the first entirely soft robot that will be used to check out the ocean floor. It can bend in all directions, has 194% of elongation in each arm, a 40N pulling force and 50 x 106 neurons in each arm. We find the idea and video both fascinating and freaky, do you?
Via Octopus Project
April 13, 2009
This mini-insect kit runs on solar power. The Frightened Grasshopper may sound like something out of a bad David Carradine TV show, but can in fact perform either in direct sunlight or any light bulb that is not fluorescent. At about 2", your kids make it for a science fair project and you can use it to freak out the cat. The kit comes with a PV cell A motor, solar power panel and everything else to keep it hopping.
Via Frightened Grasshopper
Undergrads at MIT were given a project to create a race of gardening bots that can water, harvest and pollinate plants. At a price of $3,000.00, each moves on a Roomba-like base. Using sensors to tell when the cherry tomato plants need water, they will go to the pump. They know when the fruit is ripe, as they were programmed with a growth model, and will pick them with their botty arms. We are not sure we should go into the pollination aspect. Suffice it to say that they are undoubtedly hygenically correct. Future applications include creating a fully autonomous garden with the robots delivering fertilizer and pesticides when needed.
Via MIT News
April 12, 2009
This HAL does more than sing "Daisy." The Hybrid Assistive Limb suit comes from the teaming of Cyberdyne Corp. of Japan and Daiwa House. It was originally created for those with disabilities. The cybernetic clothing increases user strength up to 10 times normal and could also be utilized by those in farming and industrial occupations. Cyberdyne explains how it works:
"When a person attempts to move, nerve signals are sent from the brain to the muscles via motoneuron, moving the musculoskeletal system as a consequence. At this moment, very weak biosignals can be detected on the surface of the skin. HAL catches these signals through a sensor attached on the skin of the wearer. Based on the signals obtained, the power unit is controlled to wearer's daily activities."
At a price of about $4,200.00, it has a battery life of about 5 hours. Still in the works, HAL will soon be available to give us all a leg up.
April 10, 2009
Bunk Bots never seem to stop reproducing. To celebrate the latest lines, Jason Hilbourne has come up with Star Trek and Watchmen plushies and are giving some away! How awesome is that? Visit Plastic and Plush before April 20 and let them know in their comment section which is better, Star Trek or Star Wars?
Then head over to Toycyte by April 12 and discuss "Nite Owl vs Batman: who has cooler gear?"
Via Bunk Bots
If there was ever a worthwhile program for children in these economic hard times, it has to be Bots 4 Tots in Chicago. They accept donations to bring robotics to kids who otherwise would not have contact with them. Partially sponsored by Robot City Workshop, for every $25.00, a 10 - 15 year old receives a non-soldering DIY Jungle Robot kit that she/he will build at the workshop. Tools and assistance from founders Don and Alexis is also provided and there will be no more than five at a time for the utmost attention.
After May 31, kids (or parents for them) can apply to take part in a B4T workshop or sign up to keep in touch with what is going on there. Please visit their site and donate what you can. And stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Alexis and Don next week.
Via Bots 4 Tots
April 9, 2009
Remember the Robo-Q? Tomy enjoyed their success with the tiny robots so much that they have expanded their line with non-transforming Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in honor of the movie "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Standing about 1.3" tall, they are coming out in Japan early next year at a price of about ¥4200 (~$42.00.)
Fourteen students from Malardalens University in Sweden got together with artist Mikael Genberg to create the House on the Moon project. They are hoping that Roony, an autonomous rover, should be sent to the moon, carrying materials and consequently build a small cottage. While this is a work in progress, they are hoping to complete the objective by 2012.
Via Project Roony
April 8, 2009
Crafters will love the Robot Lolly Mold that can be used for chocolate candy, soap, plaster and cement. FDA approved, the molds are recommended for kids over 3. Each figure is 4 1/4 x 2." The company makes other molds as well, but what can top a chocolate robot?
Melonie is a timer that can be used by older kids as well as parents. Made by the French company Crea Crea, it winds up and when time is up the 7" Melon bot will do a little samba. Ole!
Honda Research Institute has developed a BMI for robots. This particular interface allows researchers to control ASIMO via a sensor cap and his brain. The company worked in conjunction with Advanced Telecommunications Research (ATR) and Shimadzu Corporation to make the technology possible. Honda claims that it has 90% accuracy without any specialized training. This will certainly come in handy should all the evil scientists in the world finally decide it's time to take over the planet.
Via Akihabara News
April 7, 2009
If it waddles and sort of looks like and sounds like one, then it must be a Robot Duck. We found one, but unfortunately its feathers have been replaced with robotic parts. It comes with motor and a small part that requires assembling and needs to eat 2 AAA batteries (not included) to waddle on down the road. When completed, the ducky project is about 4". Get two and you can add a Robot Goose when someone clever enough devises one.
Via Robot Duck
Two research teams have claimed that they have created autonomous robo-scientists that can reason, formulate theories and discover scientific knowledge autonomously. Hod Lipson and Michael Schmidt of Cornell University in New York, have developed a program for Twister II that deciphered Newton's laws without any physics instructions.
Meanwhile, Ross King and team in Wales at Aberystwyth University made Adam, who carries out actual experiments and plans the next one. Their next project will be Eve, who will search for new medicines. We can't wait for Cane and Abel. We wonder if they will be able to create other bots in their own images.
April 6, 2009
Clever Trossen Robotics created a low cost Dancebot kit. The original Keepon was quite a hit on YouTube with over 2 million viewings, but was built with state of the art technology at a cost of over $20,000. Yeah, we know this has to be an April Fools kind if thing, because if you look closely at it, it is composed of a double decker marshmallow, an unfolded paper clip, ramen for hair, and Sharpies to decorate the other "thingies."
What is more terrifying than a 24 ft. robotic baby that spits fire? Probably the fact that Kenji Yanobe's Giant Torayan can also sing and dance. The bot was on display at the recent Roppongi Art Night in Tokyo, along with other artists' offerings. No word yet on the casualty count.
Via Pink Tentacle
April 3, 2009
The EchoBot can record messages up to 10 seconds from your buds or workmates. When the eye sensing device is triggered (within 3 feet,) it will play back the message. Available in both Belle and Mel models, each is 7" tall and has accordion style legs with suction cup feet. So the question here is, if you have both and you are not present, and one plays a message while the other is in the same room, do either of them make a noise?
Mikey77 claims that one of his greatest challenges is seeing how small a robot he can build. The main difficulty is that the mechanical system and batteries take up most of the volume. Mr. Cube R-16, a 2 cubic inch micro-sumo, is the result. It can move and explore a small box and can react to its environment with a bumper switch. Mikey has kindly left directions if you would like to create your own version.
April 2, 2009
Now you can have an ASIMO for your very own. The 6", 1/8 scale action figure performs nearly all of the feats of his larger humanoid counterpart with 26 - 34º of joint freedom. Although he retails for about $20.00 in a Science Museum Gift Shop in Japan, we notice that by the time he makes it to eBay, he costs considerably more than that.
Via Robot Watch (translated)
This is no cutesy Roomba. The new iRobot Warrior X700 is being prepared for urban warfare. Weighing about 250 lbs., it can haul 500 lbs., 150 of them with its arm alone. Available by the second half of next year, the bot can go 10 miles per hour to deploy weapon systems or needed supplies to troops and can perform some functions autonomously. Even scarier, the X700 can fire a machine gun or 40mm round of explosives and one variant can shoot 16 rounds a second simultaneously from four barrels. As of now, the company hasn't perfected its return to base if communications are lost. We certainly hope it can tell the difference between a good guy and a bad guy and, for that matter, a civilian.
Via Defense News
April 1, 2009
ArtMuvz Illustration has designed an entire line of clothing that includes a tag-along robot. Most of them are made of cotton, come in assorted styles and sizes and run about $24.95. While the design is only an illustration, we find the pocket bot to be an clever companion, even if he cannot be a protector.
Via ArtMuvz Illustration
Now that spring has almost sprung, we are hoping that there will be more bots of the friendly type this month. Take a look at March's posts that you might have missed that featured many of the evil ones, lots of DIY, videos, military robots and more.
Lego Mindstorms NXT
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday
Our bud Jaimie Mantzel seems to be getting some notice on that mountain in Vermont. A local television station went out to visit him and we thought we would share links to the 2-part broadcast. Good job, Giant Robot builder.
Via Jamie Interview, Part 1 and Part 2