July 31, 2009
Monthly Round-Up - July 2009
If it walks like a robot and talks like a robot, then it is probably not a duck. Check out our round-up if you missed out on any of our finds this month and rest assured we will be bringing you even more robot art, toys, wearables, kits, service bots and must haves in the months to come.
Lego Mindstorms NXT
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday
July 31, 2009
Must Have: WowWee Universal RoboRemote
Owners of WowWee robots, including Robosapien, Tribot, Roboreptile, FemiSapien and others might want to think about also adopting their RoboRemote Robot Universal Remote Controller. The included software helps you to program and store sequences of actions with customizable function buttons. Not only does it work with the IR controlled bots you have now, the remote will work with all future generations of same. The Roboremote works up to 6.5 ft. away, runs on 3AAA batteries (not included,) supports Windows XP/Vista and can get automatic updates for new products via USB.
July 31, 2009
Wearable ASIMO Kigurumi Costume
Show your love for ASIMO by donning your own Cosplay Kigurumi Costume if you are shorter than 175cm (about 5 1/2 ft.) They are being sold in Japan at various online retailers for ¥375 (~$400.00.)
Via Gamers Web
July 30, 2009
Neorest Robotic Toilet
What do you find when you watch late night talk shows? For one thing, you discover that someone gave Will Arnett and Amy Poehler a robotic toilet. The Neorest 500 and 600 has a seat that heats up automatically and its lid lifts up and down by itself. It has front and rear washing with auto-air drying. When you have finished, it deoderizes and flushes by with an activated sensor. Even scarier, the company has incorporated FuzzyLogic that records usage and re-educates itself week so it knows when to shut down to save power.
July 30, 2009
Archie Serves and Scares
The Vienna University of Tech, working with the U of Manitoba, created the humanoid Archie, designed to cook, clean and play games. At a price of €15,000 (~$21,000,) they are hoping to unleash him on the mass public eventually, but we suggest they work a bit on his head, unless the purpose is to also scare them.
July 29, 2009
Miim Dons Wedding Dress for Runway
This is getting downright eerie. Saya teaches, Actroid DER-2 acts and now Designer Yumi Katsura uses Miim to model a wedding dress. As HRP-4C strutted her stuff down the
cat robotwalk, she commented that she was happy to be wearing it. Miim's developer, Kazuhito Yokoi, claimed he felt like the "father of the bride." Hoping to continue to promote his creation, he would like her to work more in fashion and entertainment. Maybe she should meet with DER-2 for some tips.
Via nine msn
Build Your Own Paper Robots
Can't afford the real thing in plastic or metal? The book "Build Your Own Paper Robots" by Julius Perdana and Josh Buczynski contains 14 models to design, print and build out of paper. The accompanying CD has ready-to-print templates and enough patterns and colors to make your own horde of at least 250 variants. You can pre-order now for an August 18 delivery.
To keep the kidlets away from your project, there is a "Create Your Own Robot: Sticker Activity Book" for them as well. It comes with 38 pieces to mix and match.
Via DIY Robot Books
July 28, 2009
Actroid DER-2 to Replace Billy Mays?
Kokoro's Actroid DER-2 has made her debut in a TV commercial for Kincho's Preshower UV insect repellent/sunscreen spray. Entitled "The Woman Who Doesn't Rust," we figure there is a valid point there.
Via Pink Tentacle
Robots to Be Intrumental On Mars
Peter Wordon, NASA Ames Research Center Director, said in a recent article of H+ magazine that that robots will play a key factor on Mars in the future. They will be necessary for both converting carbon dioxide to oxygen and surveying underground life forms.
"If we really want to settle Mars, and we don't want to have to carry millions of tons of equipment with us to duplicate the way we live on Earth, these technologies will be key."
We think Director Worden has some lofty plans and since water and carbon have already been discovered there, perhaps there really would be a Martian or two waiting to greet us by the time humans get there.
Via H+ Magazine
July 27, 2009
Robots Invade the Great American Pastime
Professor Masatoshi Ishikawa, from the University of Tokyo, has managed to come up with a couple of robotic baseball players. The Pitcher is a 3-fingered hand that can throw a foam ball 90% of the time in the strike zone at 25 mph. (We guess the other 10% is to keep things interesting.) The Batter has a sensor to detect strikes and balls, lets the balls go by, and hits 100% when it does swing.
The professor is working on getting the batter to hit in all parts of the field and increasing the pitching speed to 93 mph. While this is an interesting idea in the ability to make robots perform particular actions, we think the only ones who would watch a game with an entire robot team would be ASIMO and Wakamaru.
SD Comic Con - Where Robots Abound
Last week, San Diego held its annual Comic Con with its share of robots, including Astro Boy, a CG animated film, based on the classic manga with a young robot searching for his "identity and destiny." Also making an appearance were Steve Yun, writer, and Tommy Yune, director of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, a live-action film and the Stitch Experiment 626 project, creatures based on Stitch of "Lilo and Stitch."
Stay tuned as we will soon be interviewing one of the Stitch Experiment Project's creators.
Via Comic Con
July 24, 2009
Must Have: DIY Ollo Makes 12 Different Bots
Ollo is a DIY kit for beginners. With easy to use plates and rivets, there are instructions to help you build 12 different types of robots. Best of all, no cutting or soldering is involved in the process. Once you build one and feed it a battery, it will move forward, backwards and pick up random objects. When you get bored with your creation, take it apart and simply build another.
Flossie Tests Castrol Products
In an effort to promote their motorcycle engine oils, Castrol has a robotic mascot that tests bikes and scooters. Flossie is self-learning and can react to changes in gear patterns, clutches and throttles. The bot never gripes about the weather, being tired or particularly loud engine noises during its trials, leading the company to believe it has the perfect employee.
Via Castrol Moto
July 23, 2009
Send RoboMail to Protect and Amuse
Gagatree has 3 mailable robots to send to someone who shares your passion and presumably likes to build with paper. Available in Red Guard, Art Skin and Fabric Dolly, they also have larger versions available for holding CDs. Look for some of them now on the site with others to follow this month.
EATR is Vegetarian
Shades of soylent green. It seems as though some sites got overexcited about the eating habits of the EATR by implying that it may ingest more than just plants. This prompted its makers to issue a message to let us all know that bot won't eat any dead bodies in its path.
"In response to rumors circulating the Internet on sites such as FoxNews.com, FastCompany.com, and CNET News about a 'flesh eating' robot project, Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. (Pink Sheets: CYPW) and Robotic Technology Inc. (RTI) would like to set the record straight: This robot is strictly vegetarian."
We will buy that, but what about insects and small woodland creatures hidden in the brush?
July 22, 2009
Can Material Beliefs Bots Coexist With Humans?
The folks at Material Beliefs have a whole 'nother way of looking at domestic robots. Instead of looking like us, they resemble furniture and household accessories with the end result of co-existing with humans, albeit a bit sadistically. The team has come up with a mousetrap coffee table robot, a UV fly killer parasite, a fly paper robotic clock, a fly stealing robot and a Lampshade Robot.
When flying insects become attracted to the light, they fly into the holes, eventually croak and fall into the lower fuel cell. They then generate power for the LEDs which are activated when the house lights get turned off.
Via Material Beliefs
July 21, 2009
BERTIs Sing to UK Museum
Recently 3 BERTI robots made another appearance at the London Science Museum. Since the museum is now 100 years old, the bots sang happy birthday in its honor. Perhaps they could hire them out as singing telegrams.
Wakamaru to Appear in Drag
Walkamaru is joining Osaka's Tenjin Festival this month. About a million visitors will be treated to the MHI bot that is being taught the Osaka-jime and will meet and greet during the boat parade.
Via Pink Tentacle
DIY Piperoid Paper Robots
We don't know how Piperoid came up with the ideas for their robotic character kits, we only know that we think they would be a great idea for kids learning to use scissors with no glue needed. Choose between Rob and Skip, Penk and Goriborg, and Guyzer and Bean or any of the other amicable creatures by the company.
July 20, 2009
Cornell Creates Hybrid Insect MEMS
This is one more reason to beware of DARPA. Cornell researchers implanted electronic circuit probes into tobacco hornworms. Once they go through both the pupae and chrysalis stages, the moths can be controlled with them. These insect cyborgs are part of DARPA HI-MEMS (Hybrid Insect MEMS), with its goal to be used in security applications. We expect that the way most humans, including the President, deal with pesky bugs may mean a very expensive method of surveillance destroyed when met by a fly swatter.
Make Robot Animation with Xtranormal
If you can type, you can make movies. That's the idea behind xtranormal.com. Pop over there and make yourself a robot video then put it on YouTube or other sites and share. Sign up is free, but if you are seriously into it, you can get an upgrade with more actors, voices, action and higher quality. Prices are $4.99 month, $39.99 year, and a commercial account is a one-time $239.99.
(Many thanks to Conner over at Botropolis for the discovery!)
July 17, 2009
Must Have: Bossa Nova Prime8 & Penbo, for the Common Folk
Bossa Nova's Prime8 and Penbo robots are the first products to come from the spin off of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. The Prime8 claims to be one of the fastest bipedals around and is controlled by remote. He has a tendency towards the barbaric, can play apish games and will be released mid-August. Penbo, the robotic penguin, is aimed towards girls and comes with Bebe. She plays games and responds to her babies in a unique way for each color. It will also debut this August and is available for pre-order now.
Via BN Concepts
QuicKART 2000 - No Big Whoop
We admit we don't get out much these days, especially to mega stores, so when we saw this QuicKART 2000 at Target attached to a bunch of shopping carts, we had to check it out. The collector/security guard at the store let us take a picture of this robotic gadget that didn't seem to do much in the parking lot. Apparently you are supposed to lead it and it does the work, but he was pushing the sucker for all it was worth. Once it reached inside the doors, it shoved about one hundred carts a few feet in. That was it.
We expect that Target believes the hype that the company claims, that it reduces risk of injury, and employee turnover, faster recycle time of carts and an overall 50% productivity increase. After watching the rather puny employee struggle with it, we think that instead of spending a couple of thousand on the time
saver waster, they could throw a picnic for the employees or get them some decent health care.
July 16, 2009
Support Your Local Robot
It's hard to believe that robots are also having trouble finding a gig these days. Japan's industrial production has declined about 40% because of the recession. Sony cut out Aibo in 2006, Takara Tomy may not release future versions of its i-Sobot because of lagging sales and we all know what happened to Pleo. Even the Yaskawa Electric factory in Kyushu has shut down all but one of its robotic workers (shown here) that used to make more of his kind. A 2007 government plan called for a million robots to be working by 2025, but unless they become less expensive to create, that goal will probably not be achieved.
Via The Age
Two Robots for Two Personalities
Peruvian Luitpol Ruiz, a graphic designer and artist from the NOVICA group, has created this limited edition Robot Keychain. At a size of 0.2 x 2.8 x 4.5", he is handmade with aluminum and stainless steel, and has springs for arms and legs. Then again, if you lean more towards the evil side, this Sterling Silver Angry Robot from Pugster may be more your type.
Via Robot Jewelry
July 15, 2009
Momozono Robot Ramen Features Robotic Chef
Momozono Robot Ramen is a ramen shop that opened last November in Japan and has the distinction of its own robot chef. Customers place orders on a computer and can specify flavoring such as amount of soy sauce and salt, or richness of the stock. A human cooks the noodles while the chef-bot makes the blended soup. A conveyor belt takes it back to the real chef and he adds the noodles and topping. Although there are over 40 million permutations available and the process only takes about 2 minutes, owner Yoshihira Uchida spent about ¥20 million building it. Considering that the robot is limited in its chores, we hope he will also teach it to clean up afterward.
Via Mainichi News
ROBOT Keeps Rolling
Nils Voelker took his Lego Mindstorms NXT and tossed it into a hamster ball and came up with a "Rolling-Orbital-Bluetooth-Operated-Thing (ROBOT.) It moves in any direction when rotating the internal mass and is remote controlled via Bluetooth. Nils hopes to make it autonomous in the future, making his part in its operation practically nil.
Via Nils Voelker
July 14, 2009
WatCleaner Rids Water of Garbage, Oil
The IDC, Japan's International Design Competition, has bestowed an excellence award on the WatCleaner, a device that detects impurities in the water then disposes of them. The prototype will have enough sense to avoid living things and simply concentrate on oil or other forms of garbage. Made of plastic and aluminum, each will only be about 500 x 300 x 200 mm, and although no mention is made of how the cleaning bot will be powered, maybe it can run on the waste it absorbs.
Keep BG Alive Between Seasons
Battlestar Galactica may be gone but not forgotten. Show your solidarity during the off season with Han Cholo's Baby Cylon Gold Ring. A bit past your budget? Then proudly display your Battlestar Galactica Titanium Series Cylon Centurion. The 6.5 x 4 x 7" poseable die cast metal figure comes with display case to protect you from its wrath.
Via Battlestar Galactica Collectibles
July 13, 2009
RobotShop - Lots of Bots
RobotShop is a resourceful site for almost everything robotic. They feature personal and professional bots, kits and development platforms, toys, vacuums, security and surveillance devices and parts for all of the above. The company provides international service and shipping as well as extensive customer service. And btw, we really dig their mascot.
Support Livestrong via Chalkbot
By now you have probably heard that Lance Armstrong's return to the Tour de France was to promote his Livestrong campaign. He didn't stop there. Livestrong and Nike came up with a robotic painter named Chalkbot that prints messages along the path of the race. Want to participate? Get your message chalked out by sending it to 36453 and you will not only own a piece of the road, but will help draw awareness to cancer as well.
July 10, 2009
Must Have: Sega Dream Cat Venus
Sega Toys has previously brought out robotic animals such as their Dream Puppy and Hamster. Their latest is a Norwegian Forest Cat named Dream Cat Venus. With a photo sensor in its forehead and touch sensors in various areas of his body, he will move around, lay down and react when petted. The company worked with scientists from Tohoku University's Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer to make it more realistic, including the ability to purr. Venus will be available in Japan beginning July 30 at a price of around $110.00, robotic furballs and all.
Via Crunch Gear
NCSU Develops Robo-Bat
North Carolina State University has been developing the Robo-Bat, a remote controlled creature that can produce an entire range of motion but will return to its original position like its living counterparts. Instead of bones, cartilage and tendons, it consists of an elastic shape-memory metal alloy for its joints and other "smart" materials that respond to electric current. The team believes it can be useful in surveillance and learning more about aerodynamics.
July 9, 2009
DIY Loopin Creatures
Elena Corchero got together with textile electronics developer ZippyKit to help teach your kids some elementary robotics. Loopins come in kits that can be developed in two configurations. Made of precut felt, LED, batteries and battery holder, when completed, a Loopin's eyes will light up when its ears are touched together or makes contact with another of its kind. Available from the online shop Lost Values in different colors for £12.00 ($19.80) each, get several and you can have your own robotic hen party.
Via Lost Values
Robots for Kids
Designer Juice Cups are made of melamine, so they are mostly high heat resistant, shatterproof and safer than many made from other materials. But if you find out that the kids stuck Pepsi in the cup instead of juice, send them to the bathroom to brush their teeth. This little wooden Tatiri Toothbrush Holder Robot won't berate them but does come with a 2 minute timer so it will be more than just a fun companion.
Via French Bull
July 8, 2009
Chinese Doppelganger Creepily Realistic
The Xian Chaoren Sculpture Research Institute in China can duplicate humans so realistically that you can have your own doppelganger. The sculptures are made of simulated silica gel and are apparently a hit at art exhibitions, museums, and those who can afford them. Take a look at their site...which is the human?
Android, the Movie
We recently rescreened the 1982 PG rated movie "Android" with Klaus Kinsky, Brie Howard and Don Keith Opper (who also co-wrote it.) It may seem slightly dated but the animated sequence with the MAX 404's mini androids has made it a cult classic and must see viewing for any generation of bot lovers.
July 7, 2009
Toyota's Wheelchair Runs on Brain Waves
Toyota has developed a system that can drive a wheelchair with only brain waves. Working with Japanese researchers, the new technology takes only 125 milliseconds to go from brain to chair. The person in it dons a cap that reads signals, relayed to an EEG, analyzed on a computer program, then powers up the electric chair. The system allows for turning right or left but to stop one must puff into a detector placed on a cheek. Honda is also working on a system by using ASIMO, but neither will be available to consumers in the immediate future.
Robot Signs - Protection Both Inside and Out
Let everyone you know that you have robotic patriotic protection with this indoor or outdoor Robot Sign. Made of aluminum and vinyl, the 12" sign, made in the US, has 2 pre-punched holes and rounded corners for younger bot lovers. Then sneak out one night and replace your ordinary street sign with a 4 x 18" aluminum sign that can be custom designed. Go Robots!
Via Custom Aluminum Sign
July 6, 2009
G1 Optimus Prime Protects and Plays Music
This G1 Optimus Prime is musically inclined. When plugged into your USB, the 3 lb. gadget's helmet folds out to become a pair of speakers. Set to arrive this month for $49.99, get the collectors grade for an additional $2.00 that comes sealed inside its box.
Via Big Bad Toy Store
SCRATCHbot Rescues in the Dark
The Bristol Robotics Lab and the University of Sheffield have created the SCRATCHbot (Spatial Cognition and Representation through Active TouCh.) The robotic rat can run through the dark and feel its way around with plastic whiskers. The robot's sensors actually sweep like their real life relatives. The team is hoping that they will be used for rescuing victims from smoke filled buildings. Looking at the SCRATCHbot's design, we think it's a good think it will be dark.
Via Daily Contributor
July 3, 2009
Must Have: Tengu All Stars
He may not move around much but we found our Tengu way too much fun for humans when he first came out. (Note that the face cover was left on to protect him from our cat.)
Our bud Mr. Jones has a new batch that he has dubbed the All Stars. Each one is as much fun as the original but now you can make it more your own with wig and stickers. He will work through both Mac and PC USB ports and will respond to any noise he hears. He has several different expressions and will be your friend for £25 (~$36.00,) even when no one else will.
DIY Robot Voice Modulator
How curious that as roboticists strive to make their creations' voices more human, "randofo" has made a device to make humans sound more like robots. Using an IKEA clock body, flourescent desk lamp, condenser mic, voice modulator and some other parts, this looks like a project for someone who has more than average ability. When the DIY kit is complete, it can not only make you sound robotic, you can plug in other instruments, mics or audio players and play around with its vibrato and pitch shifting.
July 2, 2009
The clever Japanese company PCWR managed to turn our beloved Wall-E into a transformer. Perhaps if they had put him in the movie, it might have turned out to be a kinder, less violent film.
Learn to Draw Robots
For those who cannot build, but have talent as an artist, Keith Thompson has created this unique book that will teach you the basics of drawing 50 Robot designs with over 200 illustrations. Once you have your "starter" model, you can add to it to make it your own. Learn to create clockwork bots, insectoids, shock-troopers, bipedal anti-tanks and more.
Via 50 Robot Designs
July 1, 2009
AntDesignStore USB Robot Drives
Look, more USB Robot Drives. Made by AntDesignStore and available in 6 different colors, each holds 2GB and has eyes that light up in robotic glee. If you would like to add one or more to your collection, they are priced at ¥6000 each (~$63.00.)
Via Geek Stuff 4 U
Manga Robot Serves Coffee
Combine a Manga type robot and a Kondo KHR-2HV robot kit and maybe you too can get a bot to make and serve your coffee. Created by "Clockwork," it uses 20 digital KRS-788HV servos, one GWS-PICO-STD servo motor and is controlled by a PCB in its head.