October 31, 2009
Happy All Hallows Eve! After you have gorged on all that sugar, hang back and check out anything you might have missed this month on Robot Snob.
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday
October 30, 2009
Never get tired of reading about robots? Then "Thank You, Death Robot" should be your next selection. Edited by Mark R. Brand, the 272 page book contains a collection of speculative fictional stories about death bots. We couldn't have promoted it any better than in its own description:
"If you run, it will catch you. If you hide, it will find you. If you resist, it will destroy you."
Via "Thank You, Death Robot"
October 30, 2009
Kobe's Konan University Faculty of Intelligence and Informatics has devised a guide robot that communicates with natural language. Relying on a database from the campus website, the ii-1 can not only answer 'yes' and 'no' questions, it can reply to those that ask 'why' and 'who' using Julius open source speech synthesis software. The autonomous bot can move around and avoid obstacles. Professor Hirotaka Nakayama and team plan to give it facial expression recognition to make it look more human friendly.
Via Robonable (translated)
October 29, 2009
Sanyo's new delivery bot stands 94.7cm tall and weighs 33kg. Running on wheels and stabilized with sensors, FlatThrucan manage not to spill that brew or bag of Cheetos you requested. It has cameras for image recognition and can be controlled via voice or remote control. What can't it do? Hand you said refreshments, duh.
Via Plastic Pals
October 29, 2009
Tekno now has a Newborn Puppy to go with his older brother. The minibot can go forward, right and left, and is voice activated. He has eyes that light up in several colors to express emotion, his ears flap and he will even carry his toy bone. The pup has presence sensors so when you give him a pat, he will respond. Best of all, he won't need house breaking.
Via Tekno Pets
October 28, 2009
This video of a skiing robot seems to be making the
rounds ski circuit. Made of two computing systems, one for vision and GPS purposes, the other for steering and stability, the Slovenian bot from the Jozef Stefan institute will be used to test equipment and for building virtual reality models.
The holidays will be upon us before we know it, and we are already looking for robots to make yours brighter. Along with the Hallmark Robby the Robot ornament, we found a Robot Parade Keepsake, part of the Series 2000 of retired ones that comes in its original packaging.
Via Robot Parade Keepsake Ornament
October 27, 2009
We admire the creations from Lipson Robotics, but somehow can't wrap our enthusiasm around the price. He makes them from "random" items found at thrift stores, recycle shops, construction sites and dumps. The bots vary from 12 to 30" and some have functional parts. Still, that $600.00 price tag, as in the case of Rapid 2, seems a bit NY pricey, even if we call it art.
Via Lipson Robotics
The ChemBot, being developed by DARPA, can shape shift between semi-liquid and semi-solid states by injecting air into a membrane that's filled with particulate matter. The plan here is to take the odd robot and place it where others can't since it can get larger or smaller, roll around, or pass through cracks in a wall. iRobot is in charge of the project to create the prototype after receiving a $3.3 million grant.
October 26, 2009
We first heard about the Alien Abduction Lamp about a year ago and it has finally gone from prototype to reality. We don't see any robots rearing their ugly heads, but you just never know. A limited edition of 2000 is being offered from the Earth Defense Force. Each steel lamp works with LEDs, has a glowing cockpit, is signed by designer Lasse Klein and has a UFO control antenna that can be turned on/off or pulse. Be the first on your block to adopt a few aliens for $100.00.
Via Alien Abduction Lamp
Researchers from Italy and Sweden have teamed to devise the first artificial hand that can actually feel. The SMARTHAND (smart bio-adaptive hand prosthesis) works by attaching human nerve endings to tiny electronic sensors. The recipient of the hand was a 22 year-old man who lost his own to cancer.
October 23, 2009
Protect those newborns from the evil robots with this 5 piece Carini Bambini Bedding Set. It comes with sheet, skirt, quilt, bumper and, to complete the package, a musical mobile to protect and defend. The blue and red bedding is 200 thread count cotton and is easy-care wash and dry.
Via Carini Bambini Bedding Set
Greg Schroll has created a spherical robot that uses gyroscopes for steering. The torque that is exerted increases as it spins for more speed and power. The clever part comes in when the bot jumps because you just never know when one will fall in a pothole. The graduate student from CSU says he used to daydream as a child about a soccer ball that could redirect its course when rolling. We guess that shows that dreams can come true. Because of his talent, Greg was named one of Popular Mechanic's 10 Most Brilliant Innovators of 2009.
Via Popular Mechanics
October 22, 2009
The UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab has decided that the world (and/or the military) needs a better robot cockroach. Made out of cardboard and polymer, the 4" DASH (Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod) can be built in an hour and moves at 5 ft. per second, which is equal to 15 body lengths. Its 6 legs run via DC motor and a servomotor is responsible for turns. The thing that really creeps us out is the fact that DASH can fall 92 feet and keep going.
Via UC Berkeley
Harvard has received $10 million from the National Science Foundation. Using their robotic fly they made in 2007 as a model, they will be creating a colony of robobees in order to study behavior and "intelligence." They will not only be able to fly, they will have smart sensors that can mimic the insects' eyes and antennae. Working with the Museum of Science in Boston, the team will also set up an interactive exhibit.
October 21, 2009
Mmmm. Donuts. When Snackbot isn't busy performing his usual applications, he will be serving the faculty and students at Carnegie Mellon. Snackbot has been originally designed to support research in the fields of design and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI.) He can autonomously move through a crowd, detect individuals, and recognize those he has met before.
Segway creator Dean Kamen has decided to co-host an international robotics competition in St. Louis. Held in Atlanta in the past 6 years, it seems that the contract of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition is about to expire. So Kamen and the CVC (Convention Visitors Commision) are taking it on for 2011, 12 and 13. Founded by Kamen in 1989, the event was designed for students to raise funds, design a "brand" and compete with other teams.
Winners have a chance at scholarships, but you know that in the back of the group's minds they are mostly thinking of the spending impact estimated at $7 million. It may not be the Olympics, but it may draw in a crowd of 15,000 competitors and their families. You go, Dean.
Via Biz Journals
October 20, 2009
Want something to come out perfectly? Then get a robot to do it like Boston's ARTAIC. They have gotten an industrial robot to produce mosaic artwork that looks almost as good as their other artists. We expect he charges a lot less as well.
Via Robots Dreams
October 19, 2009
With Halloween coming up, it is no surprise that even pumpkins are becoming robotic. Made by Ang and Nick, Punk-O-Tron was made with duct tape and pipe and will certainly greet the neighbor's kids in his own special way.
If you prefer the friendlier type, "bolts and bots" makes all kinds of bots out of polymer clay, glass beads and wire including this 2.5cm tall (~1") Pumpkin Bot.
Rob Meyer generally makes larger robots, but he came up with a 1:18 scale RC R2-D2 that stands only 6cm (2.36"). (Call Guinness!) The little guy has 2 GM15 pager gearmotors for the drive and one for the dome (which was made out of a measuring spoon.) He has an acrylic body and built up brass tubing for legs.
Every once in a while we find another "robot turns on owner" study and the latest concerns security issues. Tadayoshi Kohno, a University of Washington assistant professor, feels that they may not become evil as they become smarter. He claims, "There is a much greater and more near-term risk, and that's bad people who can use robots to do bad things."
During a study done during the past year, Kohno and his team found security weaknesses in Spykee, Rovio, and RoboSapien V2.These are their results:
- The robots' presence is easily detected by distinctive messages sent over the home's wireless network.
- The robots' audio and video streams can be intercepted on the home's wireless network or in some cases captured over the Internet.
- Only some robots give an audible or other alert when a user logs on, letting people nearby know that someone new is accessing the data.
- Only some robots periodically generate a noise or other signal when stationary, reminding people nearby that the robot is collecting data.
So remember, when you turn in tonight, take out the batteries of your bot before he/she smothers you with your pillow. And tomorrow, run out and grab a mini-cowbell so that you can hear him/her coming.
Via Science Daily
October 16, 2009
Halloween will be here before we know it. This year why not dress your kids up as robots? We came up with this collection beginning with Wall-E.
Turn your toddler into R2-D2 or older child (S/M/L) into C-3PO.
Make your kidlet a Transformer with either Optimus Prime or Bumblebee.
From the movie "Robots," Rodney Copperbottom comes in 3 sizes for kids and has a jumpsuit, mask, and chest, leg and shoulder pieces. Fans of Fender can get the same.
Adults can have their own with a Printed Robot Jumpsuit. It comes complete with 2 pincher/hands, head and chest box. This one is also available in a child's size.
Via Robot Costumes
The MaruBot Robot Football game was designed for those who don't have the proper reflexes for foosball. Designed for 2 or 4 players, the bots are controlled by joystick. Available only in Korea for now, the robotic players react when a score is made. The company claims that it will encourage cooperation with its players and "minimize individualism, isolation and violence of online gaming." Then again, it might encourage bickering, illegal moves and robot rebellion.
October 15, 2009
Now that you have made yourself into a Transformer, the next logical step is to send a personalized call to your buds as either Optimus Prime or Starscream. This is a part of the celebration for the release of "Transformer: Revenge of the Fallen" on DVD and Blu-ray October 20. While you are on the site, you can enter to win a car or customize your Facebook page.
Via Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
We have noticed that the holidays are creeping up on us in commercials and everywhere we look on the Net. Fisher Price's Toby has been around for a while, but who could resist the toy that talks, zooms around on wheels, lights up, is 8" tall and needs 3 AA batteries?
Via Fisher Price Toby
October 14, 2009
ABB Robotics showed off their FlexPicker robot at a HoneyTop food location recently. No humans means fewer germs as the super-sanitary bot locates pancakes with Ethernet cameras, while software allows them to recognize and grab said breakfast, then stack them for packing. The FlexPicker can stack up to 400 cakes per minute and can be reconfigured for other products.
Get a head start on your holiday shopping with Chuck, Playskool's voice-activated dump truck. He speaks over 40 phrases and sounds and will come when he is called. The toy vehicle literally jiggles when he moves and is packed with book and 3C batteries. By the way, we take away a few PC points from the company who claims in their TV ad that Chuck is the perfect gift for "your boy."
Via Playskool Chuck
October 13, 2009
At last week's CEATEC conference in Tokyo, Yamaha unveiled their updated fashion model HRP-4C. Equipped with Vocaloid, not only does Miim look a little less creepy, she now has the ability to sing via iPhone. Of course, she does so in Japanese. Still, this goes to prove there is an app for almost anything.
Via CEATEC Japan 2009
Developed by Hoya, the small Fire Spy Robot can
run roll into a blazing building before firefighters to find out what is going on in temperatures of up to 500º C for as long as an hour. A second robot will also be used for larger fires. Both will be deployed to fire stations located in Daegu, Korea for test runs through November. While they are in there spying, perhaps they can teach them to say, spray a bit of water at the same time.
Via Fareast Gizmos
October 12, 2009
We knew they would be out there somewhere. Takeshi Maeda created OmniZero.9 (his ninth robot) for the recent Robo-One competition. The 3 ft. tall Optimus Prime-looking bot can change into a vehicle by remote control. His head also flips to give a free ride to Takeshi. We may soon see a whole horde of Transformers, eh?
Via Daily Mail
If your eldest toddler didn't go completely bonkers listening to the antics of Elmo Live last year, your younger one will surely do so with the new Elmo Live Encore from Fisher Price. The new and supposedly improved muppet has new songs, jokes and enough banter to keep them amused for a least a couple of days during the holidays. In his words, "Who writes this stuff?"
Via Elmo Live Encore
October 9, 2009
"Astro Boy" is about to fly into in a theater near you. The film debuts October 23 and some of the voices featured are Freddie Highmore, Kristen Bell, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Cage. A kind of modern-day Pinnochio, the trailer looks good but this version doesn't seem to have the charm of the original.
Via Astro Boy The Movie
Nissan studied the movement of schools of fish and developed Eporos (EPisode O (Zero) Robot,) three-wheeled bots that share information to avoid crashing into each other. They use laser range finders and radio communication to determine where obstacles may be and then avoid them while still hanging near each other. The auto company is hoping to utilize the technology and apply it to future vehicles.
Via NY Daily News
October 8, 2009
Robotic wheelchairs are certainly becoming the "in" thing lately. The latest concept is the CARRIER. Designed as a project at the University of Applied Arts in the Studio Industrial Design 2, Esslinger, the chair can traverse all terrains with its Galileo Wheel and can even go up and down stairways. The CARRIER was built with a "trap door" for use over a toilet and moves in all directions.
The Panasonic subsidiary ActiveLink has been working on a Power Loader Suit that has 18 electromagnetic motors allowing the user to lift over 200 lbs. while feeling the movement. If the "dual-arm power amplification robot" looks and sounds familiar, it gets its name from the sci-fi classic movie "Aliens." The suit weighs about 500 lbs., will be used for disaster relief and may become available by 2015.
October 7, 2009
University of Electro-Communications student Taku Ichikawa managed to build a gladiator robot that he controls by brain power. Electrodes connecting the couple measure Taku's neural activity and spur the bot to walk, rotate and stab. The entire process takes about 1.5 seconds to transfer the signals and 0.5 secs. for the robot to respond. It cannot back up so there will be no retreat for this warrior, however the technology is being used to help develop a hands-free wheelchair project.
Via MDN News
Tetsujin 28-go has taken over Kobe's Nagata Ward. Modeled after the comic/TV Series robot, the 15 meter statue weighs 50 tons and stands as either protection against evil bots or a reminder of them. The project was actually meant to help revitalize the area after the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and will be a permanent fixture, unlike the giant Gundam in Odaiba. A completion ceremony was held last week to celebrate his arrival.
October 6, 2009
Designer Yuri Suzuki and artist Masa Kimura created their Breakfast Machine at platform21, Amsterdam, so that it would provide a full course meal in a Pee Wee Herman kind of way. It brews coffee, makes omelets, orange juice and toast spread with jam. Eat em up, yum, yum.
Not since Malcolm McDowell wore eyeball cuff links in Clockwork Orange have we seen something so creepy. The Miruko Eyeball Robot goes on your sleeve and consists of a built-in camera and WiFi. When it senses an object, it reacts to it by helping to, in this case, close in on the monster.
Via Pink Tentacle
October 5, 2009
Vstone has a new set of bots to play with that they have dubbed Robovie-nano. At a height of 23 cm, they have 15 moving joints and hands that grip, can be programmed to perform lots of tasks and movements, are cutesy to the max and will set you back ¥53,500 (~$596.00.)
Via Vstone (translated)
Honda has created what could be the next Segway (yeah, like we need another one of those.) The U3-X can travel left, right, forward, back and diagonally. The robotic unicycle readjusts itself which makes it the perfect assistant to those who have balance limitations. Its height allows the user to be at the same level as other pedestrians. The U3-X will debut at the Tokyo Motor Show 2009 this month and may become available next year.
October 2, 2009
The Complete Collection of Futurama is coming next month. Available for pre-order, included are all four volumes, 4 full length adventures and a limited edition collectible Bender head signed by Matt Groening and David X. Cohen.
Want more? Add a 5" nickel plated Bender and a couple of cans of Slurm Energy Drink and you can have a veritable Futurama Party.
Intel's Seattle lab has teamed with the University of Washington to create Marvin, a one-armed bot who travels via Segway. On display at some of their public events, he was also on hand during last week's annual open house. Aside from his usual tricks, he plugged himself into an electical outlet. Marvin can sense the energy from the outlet within about 2.5mm. So far his accuracy is at 93% and rejoices after his power meal by whirring, chirping and other botty noises. Researcher Brian Mayton says that service bots will need that ability as they will have to assist humans with limited maintenance and control.
Via Seattle Times
Prof. Hiroo Iwata, of the University of Tsukuba in Japan, has created robotic tiles that can detect where a walker will go next. Each tile has a cover of Kuralon EC, a fabric that is touch sensitive to pressure of a walker's foot. There are sensors to determine the direction, then the information is relayed to a central computer that figures out where the next tile should be placed. Seeing as though Hiroo does research at the VR (virtual reality) Lab, his system would probably best serve in simulators to imitate movement, but we think it would be a nifty application for, say, walking on water.
October 1, 2009
Hajime Sakamoto usually designs smaller humanoid combatants, but this time has come up with Hajime 33 who is almost 2 meters tall. He walks, stands on one leg and plays soccer. The inventor has plans to build a full size Gundam in the next few years. Check out his site for his previous creations.
Via Hajime Robot
So little time, so many robots! Another month has come and gone and it seems that every day someone or some company has devised another one to make our lives easier, amuse us or make us very, very afraid. Here then is a wrap up of September, in case you missed any of the robotic action.
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday
Panasonic probably developed this bed that transforms into a wheelchair for those who can't get around much anymore, but hey, couch potatoes will love it, too. The bed converts by the user and has a control system that is easy to operate. While it is a bed, it features posture support technology and helps the user turn over to prevent bedsores. A canopy allows viewing TV, operating electronic devices and has a security camera built-in. As a chair it can detect obstacles and people to avoid collisions.
The Robotic Bed makes its debut at the 36th International Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition (H.C.R. 2009) to be held in Tokyo from September 29 to October 1, 2009.