Search the word "robot" and you get about 93 million entries. We cannot believe how much the area continues to grow, not only in medicine, science and the military, but also in getting children involved early. Whether you are 5 or 50, this is your chance to check to see if you missed anything this month.
If you truly are what you eat, then this Facebank makes a lot of cents. This a sterling character that will hold your nickels back until you need them, save your pennies from heaven and when you need your dough, it will rise to the occasion. This Must Have robotic bank has sensors that make it react when it is about to gorge and needs 2 AA batteries (not included) to swallow.
iRobot continues its patriotic duty to develop Packbot robots for the military. This time they are working on LANdroids, small networking and surveillance robots. Ember runs on reversible treads with flippers to pick itself up and make its way over obstacles. It also has a cam, an antenna mount and its own Facebook photo album. Soldiers can carry the bots that weigh less than a pound and send them in a swarm to check out suspicious locations and create a wireless network. Hopefully, they will be able to produce them so cheaply they will ultimately be disposable.
We know that sometimes bored zookeepers will allow the animal inmates to paint, so we guess that Oscar G. Torres was thinking along the same lines when he created Jackoon. Named after artists Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, the bot paints in a similar style as its namesakes. A camera located on the ceiling directs it based on an image and colors. Jackoon made his debut at the Spring ITP show.
Summer will soon be here. Keep the little nippers (and/or Mom/Dad) busy with the Tree of Knowledge Robotics Science Kit. The kit has pre-assembled circuits that you simply affix to the base and add a body. One bot detects with IR rays, one is operated by any TV remote and the third is light sensitive.
Who wouldn't want to have this 3 1/2 Tin Dragon wreaking havoc on your pets and neighbors? Each one is assembled, soldered and painted by hand. Powered by a nickel-plated brass boiler double-acting Wilesco steam engine, it is part of a limited edition of 100 from Tucher and Walther with a humongous price of $1,495.00.
If that is a bit past your budget, they also have a Wind-up Dancing Tin Robot. At a size of 2 x 4 x 6", this is also a limited edition of 1,000 for $139.00.
Fans of Monty Python should also follow the films of Terry Gilliam. We recently rescreened a couple of them. "Brazil" features some rather early robotic efforts by the artist as well as one of Robert DeNiro's best roles. "Baron von Munchausen" features a rather gruesome robotic bird and fish and an unforgettable Robin Williams performance that even the kids will love. The talented Jonathan Pryce is in both of them.
Take a look at this KHR-2HV that is powered by an iPod touch. "ogutti" has programmed Robochan's arms, legs and its head through its brain, sensors and interface. Connected through serial ports, Robochan can also memorize its movements to repeat them and can speak Japanese. We bet if he could, he would ask his maker to quit poking him for a bit.
Professor of computer science at Georgia Tech Ronald Arkin is developing a guide to making sure that robots are programmed with ethics when on a battlefield. Based on his soon to be released book, "Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots," he is creating hard and software that tells robots when and what to fire.
While that technology will undoubtedly not exist for another 50 years, humans will still be involved in the operation of military bots. Should there be an error, the builder or software engineer would ultimately be held responsible. But wouldn't it be a wondrous thing if we could have bots fight our wars so that humans could stay home?
Similar to Kacie Kinzer's Twinbots, Martin Buss and a team from the Technical University of Munich created ACE, aka Autonomous City Explorer. They sent the bot, equipped with sensors, software and cameras, to the Marienplatz without directions, about 1.5km away from the school. ACE had to rely on humans to point him in the right direction. To make a long story short, it took almost five hours and 38 people, 21 of them who were merely curious, to get him to his destination. What we want to know is once ACE found his way, could he be programmed to show the Twinbot the way, or vice versa?
Look, it's another Transformer, this time in the guise of the Takara Ravage flash drive. The 2GB drive is compatible with Windows98/Me/2000/XP/Vista and Mac and both USB 1.1 and 2.0. Due out in September, the device will cost you $42.99. For $2.00 more, you can get collectors grade packaging for display purposes.
You may not be able to rent or buy Terminator Salvation after this week's premiere, but in honor of the event, we have found some kewl related stuff that qualifies for our Must Have of the week. Sign up to be notified when the film will be released, order a t-shirt, get an action figure, play the soundtrack or the Xbox game. Let us not forget the pièce de résistance, the 6" T-bust designed by Mike Locascio, which will be released mid June.
The United Arab Emirates University has been working on a project that involves Sarah, a mobile wheel-based robot with stereo cam, who has her own Facebook page. While FaceBots is only being used for testing at this point, the IRML (Interactive Robots and Media Lab) plan to open it up to the public next January. From what we understand, Sarah meets someone, researches personal information and uses it as a starting point of interaction. Those interactions become the events on the robot's page and future communication will use memories from past encounters. The project hopes that its circle of friends will include other robots. Sarah, meet Wakamaru NYT.
Check the skies in December of next year and you may see a Phantom Ray on its way to war. Based on the military's X-45C, the UCAS-D prototype drone will soon undergo lab testing of its capabilities which include electronic attack, hunter killer and autonomous aerial refueling. If all goes well, after the 2010 first flight, 10 more have been scheduled.
The Canadian R&D firm Dr. Robot has developed Hawk with camera eyes and 2 arms that are each 2 ft. long with six joints and grippers. Controlled by remote, it can be trained as a security bot, bartender, musician or anything else you can devise. As evidenced by the other videos and the hype on their site, Hawk can be used "to serve and protect, for development and entertainment."
Ann P. Smith takes broken machine and electronic parts and turns them into robotic art. Although based in Providence, RI, her sculptures have been seen all over the world and are now displayed at Eco Age in London , risd/works in Providence and Cog and Pearl in Brooklyn. If you are fortunate enough to be in one of those areas, drop by and give her work a look-see. Her site also offers pieces and postcards of her work for sale.
Dude, we didn't even know that Qees existed, much less that they are on their 1000th. This Limited Edition Qee has its robotic brains rolling around in its head so you can watch it ideate. At a size of only 2 ½", it comes with an attachment to hook it up to your cell phone, iPod, or backpack.
Fukitorimushi ("wipe-up bug") takes the Roomba to an entirely new level. The autonomous cleaner moves like an inchworm and drags its nonocloth belly around until it finds a dirty spot. Then it emits a red light and uses an extra effort to clean it. What makes this service bot special, at least in its creator's eyes, it that one grows fond of it after a while and that having to change the cover occasionally makes it more of a pet.
Robotic animals are now being used by U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials to catch poachers. The robocreatures are molded fiberglass and covered in animal skin or fur that has been taken from illegal kills or are donated. You, too, can have a robotic turkey, raccoon or other animal of your own for a mere $500 - $5,000. Unfortunately, if you head to the site, you will find that they also recommend purchase for use as a decoy or target practice. Shame on them. We hope that some dark night they find that they become the prey.
The Star Wars Droids are more than just cell phone straps. R2-D2, R2-Q5 and R2-R9, each at a size of 7.0 x 4.5 cm, will blast the dark side with an LED beam. Made of ABS plastic, each comes with a key chain and three LR44 batteries for ¥1,380 (~$14.37.)
Stanford has been working on a helicopter that can actually learn to fly by "watching" other ones. Andrew Ng and his team of graduate students equipped an off-the-shelf RC copter with accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers, with tracking that can be accomplished either on the ground or by GPS. During a demonstration the AI flier performed various maneuvers including rolls, loops, flips and more. Possible future applications might include fire and war area searches, but at this point we are still in awe that it teaches itself.
Must Have: Virtual Families Review: The Next Best thing to AI
Technically these are not real robots, but they are about as close to AIs as you can get. Our buds from LDW (Last Day of Work) were kind enough to let us play their new game Virtual Families. You pick your main character and teach him/her to work, repair the house, cook, clean up, etc. Then you find a mate, start having kids and teach them the same. The game operates in real time so it is more casual than most games, but the SIM can go on for generations!
The play is similar to the company's other games, the original Virtual Villagers, VV 2 and VV 3 in that it takes time for the characters to learn certain skills. When they do well you, reward them with a green pat on the head and when they do something you disapprove of you are supposed to chastise them with a red one. There are also objects to discover and a shop where you purchase food, pets, room improvements and more.
We figure it will be the only game we will play for decades. At this point, we are still on the first generation, but we noticed that you have to make sure your buds are happy, well fed, and rested as they can catch diseases. Kids will like the special features of buying clothes and treats for their family as well as getting trophies for their efforts. We just dig having the SIMs around as company after a long day of work.
It's a robot. It's a lamp. It's a robot lamp with heart. This looks like any other robot lamp until you turn him on and then he shows the love. A perfect gift for any fan of the softer side of robotics. At a size of 18 x 9 x 4", it comes with a 40W bulb and can be yours for $29.00.
Have a nuclear power station problem? Call for Reactorsaurus, an oversized 75 ton waldo that is going to strip the 1950s built Dounreay defunct reactor by remote control. It has two robotic arms with pincers and "roving photographic eyes." The seabed near the PFR (Prototype Fast Reactor) will also be cleaned up as radioactive particles were found in it. At a cost of 2.5 billion pounds, they are hoping to complete the project by 2025. In the meantime, we have visions of Simpsonesque creatures popping out of the water.
The Gremlins have returned! This robotic Gizmo sings and dances his way into your heart. At a size of 8" tall and with an 11" ear span, the Plush Mogwai sings the original song in the movie. He comes with his own batteries so you can wake him up that much quicker. Just remember not to get him wet, expose him to bright light or feed him pizza after midnight.
We can't wait to see this one on the road. The Croww 540 can cross sand or ice while carrying heavy loads, equipment, or people while also providing shelter and protection. The prototype has a baseplate, 6 legs, cameras, sensors and a detachable cylindrical battery. It transforms with air tubes in its legs that automatically inflate it into a tent. We bet the military will grab this one, but we think this would make a great camping vehicle.
The Shadow Caddy would make any golfer happy as she/he wouldn't have to put up with idle chitchat from a human. It will follow its user around the course without the use of a remote. Instead it follows a transmitter attached to a belt with an object detection system to avoid other golfers or solid objects. The robotic caddy recently won the 2008 People's Choice Award for Australia's Next Big Thing, and we figure this is big bucks as the company is hoping that golf clubs will purchase them and rent them out. Watch for a June debut in Australia and Europe.
Transformers are always popping up somewhere, but this is the first time we have seen them as footwear, well almost. You can't really wear them, but wouldn't it be something to be able to run towards danger instead of away from it? Check out Remy's Transformers that include gaming controllers, vehicles and keychains.
University of Munich Hospital scientists have created the EyeSeeCam, a head mounted control interface. It tracks from the viewpoint of the wearer and transmits data to servo actuators. Operated by remote control, it can then control a robot or other electronic devices. You only need a standard laptop with a 6-pin firewire port for connection. Designed to study cognitive behavior, the German team plans to turn their discovery into a commercial product.
"Monsters vs. Aliens" has only been out about a month and already the market is flooded with licensed products. We found a 6" Clone Robot with fire boost that will launch missiles from his head and Gallaxhar's Space Attack UFO that houses both the evil genius and the robot and drops two bombs. And although the movie won't be out for renting/purchasing for awhile, you can always play your fave character in a game on Nintendo DS or Wii.
Takara Tomy is working on a new line of robot pets that utilizes the technology from their Robo-Q series. Details are sketchy at this point but supposedly they will have some interactive features. As the originals could detect objects and play ball, we suspect that maybe these little buggers will do likewise.
Craig Senovich, an engineer by day, opened Half Crown Hill Orchard with the purpose of cleaning out his great-grandfather's land and planting 1,300 trees. He also installed a drip irrigation system, field sensors and a weather station, and connected them to his personal PC.
He then turned half of the area into robotic technology test site for the United States Department of Agriculture. Brad Hamner, of Carnegie Mellon, is now testing an autonomous vehicle that may be able to take over some of Senovich's chores. "It would be nice to be able to have some automated stuff just to mow the lawn," he said.
What to say about a majorly chained restaurant whose main claim to fame is offering up the greasiest, most carb-laden food on the planet? Only that Denny's new Grand Slamwich (1,320 calories, 89 grams of fat) commercials are awesome, dude!
A member of WowWee's Robo Community hacked his Rovio's software and turned it into an automatic fire extinguisher. The bot can identify a blaze and extinguish it with a custom fire suppressant spray. "Colt 45" is hoping that he can get some funding to turn the prototype into one for commercial use or perhaps even equipping it with a gun to turn it into an anti-terrorist bot.
We told you about a year ago about a team from Rutgers who attempted to send their UAV Scarlet Knight across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain, but it sunk just short of its destination. Not giving up, I-Cool (International Coalition of Ocean Observing Laboratories is at it again with a Teflon coated version of the SK. After a couple of days out, they had traced it in the Elephant Trunk area, where it reported scalloping activity. They then turned the underwater autonomous vehicle east and it completed a 6 hour underwater test. Here's hoping that this trek will be more successful. We will keep you posted on its progress.
In June 2007, a Swedish industrial worker was attempting to perform some maintenance on a defective robot that usually carried heavy rocks. He believed it was turned off and as he started to work on it, the bot turned on him and grabbed the human's head. The man managed to fight off his aggressor but not before receiving several broken ribs and almost losing his life. Public prosecutor Leif Johansson thought about pressing charges against the firm but compromised with a 25,000 kronor ($3,000) fine. Sure, let this one slip, but what about the next time, bucko?
SHOAL is an interesting idea. They are robot fish with chemical sensors that sniff out and report pollution in harbors and rivers in Europe. Their creators believe that they will be more efficient and less expensive than humans, who sometimes don't know until after the pollution has wreaked havoc. The first will be released in the Port of Gijon, in northern Spain. The three-year research project will begin next summer, moving near sewage pipes and underneath ships and will communicate via WiFi. We just hope the military doesn't catch wind of it.
Huosheng Hu, the head of the project, says the robotic swimmers are shaped for their ability to avoid danger and move quickly. The video shows a smaller version built for the London Aquarium.
Cepia's B2B Bots make Rockin' Robots look like girly men. Crusher and Buzzsaw each have attitude and will shout insults while punching his way to victory with accompanying sound effects. Radio controlled, the pair have four wheel drive and have surely earned their title of Must Have robot this week.
April showers bring May showers snow. We don't know what's up with this weather, but we do know that there were plenty of bots showcased during April. Perhaps they are conspiring now behind our backs. Check out our update if you missed out on any of the robotic fun.
Bucknell University has been working on the Tbot that not only rolls around on all four wheels, but can stand on its two rear ones. The v1.0 bot has 8º of freedom, two main drive wheels with active suspensions, two steerable front wheels and two shoulder joints. Maybe by v.2, they will give the Tbot a face. Check out video of the robot in action on the ITEE website.