September 30, 2009
Toyota's R&D has a bot designed for speed. It can do 100m in under a minute which makes it a 7km run. We are not sure why they felt it necessary to make this one, but maybe the company wants to warn us to continue to be very afraid.
September 30, 2009
We dig it that designers continue to make robotic accessories. Our latest finds are these rhodium plated Earrings with mobile hands and legs. At a length of 60mm, they have accents of clear and black crystal and weigh only 2.1 oz.
If you are the DIY type, you can order Angry Robot Pattern European Charm Plated Beads from Pandora. Each cylindrical bead is made of base metal at a size of 13.24 x 7.91 x 7.59mm and is compatible with Pandora, Biagi, Chamilia, and Oriana beads and bracelets.
Via Robot Jewelry
September 29, 2009
Pop Sci reader Brian De Vitis took an R2-D2 cooler and created one of the kewlest mods we have ever seen. He gutted 8 game consoles so all the ports would fit in the right direction and still had space enough for a sound system and a projector! Want to date yourself? See how many of the controllers you can identify.
Via Pop Sci
September 29, 2009
The Beijing Institute of Technology have two new robotic family members. JingJing and BeiBei are life-size humanoids that can perform in the area of martial arts. Standing 5′4″ tall and weighing 143 lbs. apiece, this latest generation of BHR-1 and BHR-2 robots can also carry on a conversation. We assume that comes after the match. Creator Professor Duan Xingguang claims that current robotics is in a place that PCs were 30 years ago, but expects rapid advancement in the future.
Via Plastic Pals
September 28, 2009
Vietnamese Vu Van Thang won a top honor from the National Creativeness Competition for Children and Youth 2009. The 19 year-old's robot was constructed entirely from items taken from the trash, such as such as plastic pieces taken from kids' toys and soda cans. It has 11 small motors and can walk, as well as moving its hands and fingers. We cannot wait to see what Vu can do with real components.
Via Vietnam Net
Japan spends a lot of its time warning us about the size of their centenarian population (last report has it at 40,000.) The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) built Taizo (based on the word "taisou," which means "calisthenics,") to motivate their senior citizens to exercise more. With 26 joints, the 28" tall robo-instructor has up to 30 different moves. Taizo can go for about 2 hours on a charge, understands simple commands, can lead a group and will work for you at a price of ¥800,000 (~$8,000.00.)
Via Pink Tentacle
September 25, 2009
Sometimes a TV commercial inadvertently promotes another product, such as a download of the background music or clothing on a model. So when we see the USPS ad for Priority Mail that features the FemiSapien, we are impressed enough to make her our Must Have this week. Not only does she come loaded with 36 functions, 20 routines and 59 hidden functions, she can sing, dance and blow kisses. We bet WowWee is proud as punch of their spokesrobot, even if was only a cameo appearance.
Via WowWee Bots
Doka Harumi has been programmed with the motto, "I will sing, dance, and work to be helpful for people." Standing 130 cm tall, the Robo-One member was recently put through her paces in a 2 meter dash and then made to perform in a Bottle Traction event (shoving water bottles across a designated space.) Now, if her humans could get her to run to the nearest store to purchase those bottles, this would be a wondrous thing.
Via Robo-One (Japanese)
September 24, 2009
The company that created the Blaser robot laser tag system is back. This time, CraftHouse has released a set of humanoid robot hands, designed for use with the Kondo KHR series based robots, but adaptable for others. Both have 4 fingers and opposing thumb for grabbing and a pair will set you back ¥60,000 (~$630.00,) although their site claims that the first lot has been sold out.
Via Rakuten (translated)
Dragons Vs. Robots is an online game designed for kids 9 - 14. While its main focus is the two factions in a brawl, somehow it manages to include an energy crisis. After signing up and designing your avatar (dragon or robot,) the games begin.
Below is the storyline. Note that the word "energy" is used three times, so it must be important.
"Spanning over 200 years and three generations of future history, the Dragons Vs. Robots narrative involves a devastating energy crisis that leads to the rise of powerful robots and the reawakening of ancient dragons. The source of their conflict is Protium, a rare energy resource that serves as a life force for both dragons and robots. Humans, who also need this precious substance to resolve the energy crisis, must choose their allegiance -- and so the battle lines are drawn."
Uh-huh. A manga is also available on the beta site for those who would rather watch than play.
Via PR Web
September 23, 2009
This silly WiFi Controlled prototype has been dubbed the Pet Care Robot. Utilizing a web interface, it supposedly allows you to check on your pet at home through its eerie camera eyes that work even at night, talk to it through a built-in speaker and play fetch with remote controlled ball.
The bot's site claims "Lemme babysit your pet," reminding us of a SNL skit with Chris Farley and Adam Sandler "Let the [Herlihy] boy walk your dog." We say skip the real pet and teach the PCR to vacuum.
Via Mint Pass
Watch out. The Transformer Mouse is coming. Tomy is releasing a laser mouse that doubles as a dinosaur this November. It comes in different colors and is fully functional as a mouse. We are not sure when this one will hit the states, but it carries a MSRP of ¥4,042 (~$40.00) in Japan.
While you are waiting, you can order an 8 x 9 3/8" rectangular, easy clean Transformer Mouse Pad. The pad has rounded corners and is 1/4" thick.
Via Tomy Transformer Mouse
September 22, 2009
Boston Dynamics, father of the BigDog, has been awarded a contract to create the Sandia National Laboratories' prototype Precision Urban Hopper for DARPA. The 4-wheel robot navigates autonomously and has a single leg, allowing it to jump over 25' fences. Imagine their surprise when the enemy, in its compound behind walls, gets startled by the PUH. The project should be completed by late 2010 and the Pentagon says it would like a third of all forces to be robotic by 2015.
Via New Scientist
Samsung spreads its proverbial wings to try to compete with all products on the planet. Their latest is the Furot II, designed to keep up with the Roomba, but in a smarter way. It has a camera to avoid obstacles and to be aware of its location so that it doesn't repeat itself if the floor is still clean. It also has a memory so after 90 minutes, it goes off the clock for a recharge. No release date or price has been set.
Via Samsung Hub
September 21, 2009
Jeff-o decided to make a plush robot for his 2 year old daughter using a Bleep Labs' Thingamakit and Thingamagoop synthesizer noise maker. His instructions show you how you can do likewise in 11 steps. Pretty cute, but we are not sure that Thingamaplush would be the safest toy for a toddler.
An Italian company has been using a Neptune SB-1 remote control submarine to run fiber cables through sewers. The mini-sub is made by Thunder Tiger and comes at a price of about $600.00 from hobby shops. They say that the toy can reach almost every home that is connected to the sewer system and saves time, money and human resources. If other countries consider the idea, then it would a decent way to replace those who must go down and brave alligators.
Via Hobby Media (translated)
September 18, 2009
They're here! Tomy's line of Micro Pets has finally arrived. The mini-robots sing, dance, walk, play ball and interact with each other and you. They come with batteries, are pre-programmed and are available as Kuda, Ralphy, Dux and Coco.
KDDI AU's iida has teamed with Flower Robotics to create Polaris, a sort of combination cell phone and robot that can be your personal secretary. It remembers details of your life and learns about your tastes and habits. For example, the device will monitor your physical condition and diet and offers recipes for staying healthy. It suggests sites with medical, business and entertainment information. While still at the design stage, Polaris is said to "await the chance to be brought to life."
Via iida Polaris
September 17, 2009
"rodman LT" decided to build a master slave upper body suit with three joints and many potentiometers, armbands and tethers to control his Kondo KHR-1HV. He claims that with a bit more inspiration he may continue on to the lower body as well.
Via Robot Savvy
To keep the Transformer movie Revenge of the Fallen alive before it hits its October DVD release, the movie site has created a way for you to become one. Upload or take a head shot with your webcam, select your robot of choice and, after a few steps, you will be one!
Via Robotize Me
September 16, 2009
We really dig it when one of our buds here at Robot Snob gets some well-deserved publicity, so we just had to share. Nashville's Jamie Price, creator of BaR2D, was featured on the Discovery Channel Canada's Daily Planet show. He mentioned that he was thinking of making MP3PO next, a gold robot that would play DJ. Hit the link to see the video that features not only the mixolobot and Jamie, but a special cameo as well.
Via Discovery Channel Canada
Here's the thing. We have never been Bruce Willis fans, even when he began shaving his head and strove to be Mr. Macho. However, watching the trailer from Surrogates leads us to believe we can suffer through him for a couple of hours. Set to come out September 25, there are enough robots in this movie worth a viewing.
September 15, 2009
Waldo, Mote Marine Labs' 115-pound autonomous underwater vehicle, went missing last week and its creators were literally asking "Where's Waldo?" A $500.00 reward was offered on the $100,000.00 AUV, but apparently he was only 50 ft. away from where he was lost. The sub resurfaced and signaled its position to his owners. Waldo has been trolling the Gulf near Venice since 2005, seeking phytoplankton, a single-celled algae that produces red tide.
Transformer fans, beware. There is a new mouse in town. The 4.3 x 6.3 x 5.9" Mickey can shapeshift into a truck with trailer. Note also that he comes with a mini version of himself to lead the larger robot into the fray.
Via Mickey Mouse Transformer
September 14, 2009
The Benthic Rover was created by scientists and engineers to travel across the ocean floor 25 miles away from the California coast. About the size of a small car, its mission is to take photos of both creatures and sediment. The team is hoping that the robotic vehicle will help them document the effects of climate change and perhaps learn how the animals find enough food for their existence.
Via Science Daily
If you are familiar with the Swarmanoid project, then you are already aware of the effort to make robots that can act in human-made environments. Eye-bots sense and analyze the environment by flying or being attached to the ceiling. Hand-bots climb walls or objects. Now Foot-bots have been added to the mix, moving in all terrains and transporting objects. If one of the bots is disabled, another can be added without overly effecting the swarm. The leader of the pack, of course, would be Human-bot.
Via Swarmanoid Project
September 11, 2009
Google Japan celebrated the birthday of Doraemon last week, the country's robot cat who can bend time and transform matter. The feline is so popular that plans for a movie is in the works dubbed "Doraemon the Movie: Nobita's Great Battle of the Mermaid King."
We admit he is pretty cute and if you would like to partake in the belated festivities (his birthday is listed as Sept. 3, 2012) we suggest a Doraemon DVD marathon with the complete collection boxset (with English subtitles.). It contains 8 DVDs with 72 episodes.
We are not sure how we missed this one but somehow it deserves a "better late than never" mention. Last year, Nico van Staveren, gas station owner, came up with a car fueling robotic arm that opens the cars gas cover and unscrews it, takes the fuel nozzle and fills up the car. Staveren claims that he was inspired by a robotic arm milking a cow. The "Tankpitstops" are in several Dutch stations that can afford the $111,100.00 price tag.
September 10, 2009
RedZone Robotics has come up with a bot that will go down in those nasty sewers and inspect them or seek out abandoned crocodiles. With an easy to use interface, the autonomous Solo hits the murky depths in pipes from 8 to 12" and takes a 360º video that can be downloaded on a PC, unless it gets chomped on first. The inspector robot will launch at the WEFTEC in Orlando later this year.
Via Solo Splash
We had forgotten how cute Disney's Microwave Obliterator was until we recently came across him in the form of a plastic RC toy. The Mini M-O goes forward, backwards and side to side. At a size of 3/4 x 1 x 1", his infrared controller doubles as a storage base. Not recommended for kids younger than 3, he needs 3AAA batteries (not included.) His best bud Wall-E also comes in a mini-version at a size of 2 3/8' x 2 3/8 x 2".
September 9, 2009
Aldebaran Robotics' Nao was put to a test by playing with the Microsoft Surface. Watch as he zooms in and out on the tiger and shuffles around other photos. We have to admit that he is rather cute and doesn't seem to notice that he can play with the electronic table with no need of human intervention.
Via Technomaniac (translated)
Richard Young digs robots and has created about 40 of them mostly out of cardboard. Included in his collection is the articulated Bender Bending Rodríguez (Bending Unit 22) from "Futurama" and Pirate-Bot who oozes masculinity in spite of the fact that he dons a parrot and a pink shirt. Visit his site to see his entire collection of Kritches.
Via I am Kritch
September 8, 2009
Robini-i can compete in robogames as well as connect to an online community. Programmable by software and a USB attachment, it has 16 sensors and 4 processors and can react to stimuli and other robots. It comes bundled with some games, but you can download others then program and edit it with some serious attitudes. Robonica's starter kit will be available by the end of the month for $250.00.
Elenco's iBOTZ kits teach kids aged 8 and older not only how to put them together but how they work. No soldering is needed and they only take about an hour to build. Choose between Soundtracker at $31.95, Antoid with a price of $59.95, Hydrazoid with an MSRP of $43.95 and the deluxe Tribotz at $65.95.
September 7, 2009
The Veda International Robot R&D Center has created this glorified wheelchair to be released within the next year. It is the first device to come out of the new center, which opened in May. At a size of 1220 x 690 x 1170mm, it moves at three different speeds. The bulky looking Rodem (Robot for Enjoying Mobility) is can be "mounted" from behind and has knee and chest rests for a more comfortable ride. It doesn't look all that comfy to us. The chair should have a price of about ¥500,000 to 700,000 (~$6,000.00.)
A real "My Doraemon" is now available in Japan for those who are fans of the robot cat. Although it cannot walk, it does have a 1,300 word vocabulary to carry on a conversation, but you had better know Japanese. ePaper eyes interact and its expression changes. With built-in heat and light sensors, it can also track movement and note temperature changes and, if you turn off a light, it will tell you goodnight. Doraemon will set you back ¥30,000 to 40,000 (~$375.00) and is available for pre-order now.
Via Geek Stuff 4 You
September 4, 2009
Every year, Hallmark comes up with a few keepsakes for the holiday and this year is no exception. The 41/2" battery operated Robby the Robot is aimed at fans and even talks. Due out in October, you can add it to your wish list for $18.50.
In the meantime, we have found the definitive homage to Forbidden Planet with the Ultimate Collector's Edition. Included is a remaster of the original 1956 release, lobby cards and a second disc with "lost footage" (special-effects test footage,) "The Invisible Boy," a 1957 flick that featured Robby and "Watch the Skies: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us," a 2005 documentary from TMC. You also get a 3" die cast Robby, but alas, it doesn't speak.
RIBA (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance) was created by Japan's RIKEN and Tokai Rubber as a nursing assistant. Weighing about 400 lbs., he can pick up patients who weigh as much as 135 lbs. and has a soft skin made of urethane foam for comfort. An upgraded version of RI-MAN that could only pick up 40 lbs., the robobear can process data 15 times faster than its predecessor. Look for one in the next five years in a hospital near you.
Via RIKEN (Japanese)
September 3, 2009
The Eccerobot is (Embodied Cognition in a Compliantly Engineered Robot) designed to mimic a human's skeleton, joints and tendons. Made of a "springy, bone-like, thermoplastic polymer," the anthropomimetic bot has sensors that allow it to interact with its environment. We would be grateful if in lieu of skin, they at least give him a shirt to wear.
The US Office of Naval Research is developing a hull grooming robot named Hull Bug (Robotic Hull Bio-inspired Underwater Grooming.) Similar to a Roomba in its concept, it utilizes a biofilm detector and flourometer technology that knows the difference between clean and unclean surfaces. It then rids any ship longer than 45 feet of barnacles, oysters, algae and other marine life. They are hoping that the Hull will cut down the money spent on maintenance and extra fuel cost as organisms slow down the speed of the ship.
September 2, 2009
Tim Leeding's entry into Electrolux's Design Lab Competition was good enough to make it to the finals. His Butl-R-Bot does everything you have to with arms, fan arrays for movement, cameras and sensors. The result is that it can fly around and "cook meals, order and collect food, manipulate all tasks a human can around the kitchen and interact with all available kitchen utensils and appliances."
Leeding foresees his creation as coming true in 90 years. We want one now.
This may just look like a simple dome, but it is actually a "Smart Robot" that will change direction when it hits an obstacle. The kit requires a AA battery (not included) and contains everything you need to assemble your Smart Robot. Recommended for kids over the age of 8, get two and you can spend a few idle hours watching them avoid each other.
Via Smart Robot Kit
September 1, 2009
Suppose you and your robotic group are between robo sessions and want to help pay for expenses. The Green Robot Project aims to do just that. Groups build robots and design a landscape, aka lab. After being built, users on the Interweb pick one out and run it on her/his computer. They pay per minute and you earn some extra cash. It costs nothing to be a part of the creative side of the project and if you feel that you might like to join up, you can fill out an application on the Global Green Lab site.
Via Global Green Labs
We cannot believe that summer is almost over and that all too soon the evil winter will be upon us. Here's our roundup of our August postings, in case you were fortunate enough to get some vacation time and missed any of them.
Lego Mindstorms NXT
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday
This Dell commercial for their colorful Inspiron laptops, with the Chordettes song "Lollipop," almost makes us want to get one, but only if they prove they were made by robots. But we are seriously considering downloading the tune released in 1958.
Sheila Franklin Permalink
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