January 29, 2010
Robot Snob Must Have: Dress Up Your Babies With Bots
What does the best dressed robot-loving baby wear? For starters, she/he dons this 100% cotton Body Suit with protection at mealtimes with a 10 x 9" Bumkins waterproof Superbib.
When going out, the tot can sport a San Diego Hat Company chenille Robot Hat and nighttime is the right time for the Gerber Blanket Sleepers.
(Note: Clothing is not to scale.)
Via Robot Baby Clothing
January 29, 2010
Bioloid, the Wall Climber
Marko Wickrath, student at the Technical University in Dortmund, Germany, Robocup soccer referee and RoboGames Competitor designed Bioloid, a robot that can scale a wall. The robot studies it before it begins and sees it as a grid with an x and y axis. Then it autonomously climbs the randomly placed "rocks."
Via Suicide Bots
January 28, 2010
PETA Calls for Robotic Punxsutawney Phil
PETA, ever mindful of animal abuse, seems to think that Punxsutawney Phil, the national weather forecasting mascot of Groundhog's Day, should be replaced by a robot. They claim that the animals are generally shy and believe he should not be "trotted out to face human handling and hundreds of noisy people, flashing lights and cameras."
Bill Deely, Groundhog Club president, says that Phil not only gets a yearly checkup, but lives in a zoo enclosure with both heat and air conditioning. "He's treated better than the average child in Pennsylvania," Deeley said. Hmmm. He does look a bit shell-shocked in this photo.
January 28, 2010
Kiva Puts Bots in Charge of Distribution
Kiva Systems, a Woburn company that develops robots designed to automate warehouse operations, said in a press release that Boston Scientific Corp., a maker of medical devices, will use their robots in two distribution centers, one in New England, the other in the Netherlands. The release stated, "Elimination of operator walking and waiting enables worker productivity that may be significantly higher than with other automated systems."
Yeah, and they don't ask for coffee breaks or time off to attend their kids' soccer games.
January 27, 2010
Evolta Goes Green
Evolta has turned green. He isn't nauseous; he is being used to promote Panasonic's new rechargeable batteries. The cellphone charm will come with selected packages of the eco-friendly batteries in Japan.
Wind Up Bots Hang On
The Weeble-like No Fall Robots Wind Ups are only 2 x 1.5" each, but they still make great pals. Wind one up and let it loose on your desk or kitchen table and it will not fall off.
Via Wind Up Robots
January 26, 2010
Robotic Flower Girl Subs at Wedding
Allegra Fullerton got married last November but didn't have a flower girl. She asked her sister Laurel, a Mechanical Engineer Grad Student at Stanford, to build one for her. She did and the result is this pretty in pink bot. The WeddingBot not only tossed petals down the aisle when controlled by Laurel, she also danced a bit at the reception.
Mahru-Z Autonomously Cleans
Rosie the Robot has arrived. The 4 ft. tall Mahru-Z has a rotating head, arms, legs and 6 fingers and can "see" in 3 dimensions. You Bum-jae, the head of the cognitive robot center at Korea's KIST, says "The most distinctive strength of Mahru-Z is its visual ability to observe objects, recognize the tasks needed to be completed, and execute them."
Because she is autonomous, she can work her way through a room, pick up the dirty underwear in the process and toss it into the washing machine. Then she can take some food and toss it in a microwave. Let's hope that KIST instills the quality of cleanliness.
Via ZD Net
January 25, 2010
Purex Builds Linen Bot
Purex Co., a Japanese company that builds automated machines for the linen supply industry, has devised a bot that can pick up clean pieces with one arm while the other places it on a machine that smooths them out. The company hopes to commercialize the linen bot by 2013 and is improving its prototype now to be able to handle different types of linen at the same time.
Diego-San's Creator Takes Offense
After several blogs made derogatory comments about UCSD's Diego-San's creepy face, including us, the team leader decided to vocally fight back on Bot Junkie. Here are some of his comments,
"I am Javier Movellan, the guy in the picture with Diego San and the leader of Project One at the University of California San Diego. What you see in the picture was the finished body of Diego San and the first prototype of the face. The body is an amazing piece of engineering that will challenge the limits of control theory and will help us move towards a better understanding of biological motion.
The face on the other hand was an obvious mistake and we are working on a new design. But remember the face is just a silicon mask that can be easily changed. It is unfortunate that the pictures of the old face were made public. I actually thought that the pictures were going to be for an internal leaflet and not to be made public. Then again that's what robotic research is about. You make mistakes, learn from the experience and make your prototype better the next time."
At the very least, Diego-San is getting attention. Dr. Movellan, we apologize and hope that you release your clever bot with a new face ASAP. We will do our best to circulate those as well. Until then, lighten up.
Via Bot Junkie
January 22, 2010
Must Have: Robot Snob Movie Marathon
Forget Avatar for the moment, although that is a tough assignment, grab some popcorn this weekend and treat yourself to a robot movie marathon. Start out with the original "Terminator" from 1984, a true mark of the Governator's skills.
Then watch 1990's "Robocop 2" that sets a CGI adversary against the semi-human Peter Weller. Then for a truly strange finish to the day, watch Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow from 2004 with odd performances by a one-eyed Angelina Jolie, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and various bots.
Via Robot Movies
January 21, 2010
Mint Uses Cloths to Dust and Wet Mop
Evolution Robotics has unveiled the Mint, a robotic mop that can dust or wet mop hard surface floors by using Swiffer-type cleaning cloths. The bot is designed to get into corners or baseboards and can go under furniture. Its advanced navigational system has light sensor feedback for cleaning around obstacles while not missing the dirtiest parts of the floor. The Mint can clean for 3 - 4 hours (~1,000 sq. ft.) before needing a recharge and will retail for about $250.00 when it becomes available later this year.
Via Mint Cleaner
AR.Drone Controlled by iPhone/iPod touch
The French Company Parrot debuted their AR.Drone at the CES 2010. The quadrocopter is controlled via iPhone or iPod touch via a WiFi connection. The robotic flyer has two cameras, an ultrasonic altimeter and a gyro/accelerometer based stabilization system. It also features an "augmented reality" system that allows users to game on the video feed or compete against other drones. While the company claims that the AR.D is "intuitive and user friendly," we expect it to move to military status sometime soon.
January 20, 2010
I-Fairy Plays Receptionist
The I-Fairy made an appearance at the recent CES 2010. She can be used for a guide or receptionist as she has voice recognition and goes into her routine when approached by humans. She comes with text-to-speech and motion software and has a limited 9º freedom in her head and arms, although her wrists, fingers, knees, and toes must be moved manually. Perched atop a pedestal, the Tinkerbot costs ¥ 6,500,000 (~$70,000.)
Decorate Your Space With Robot Stickers
Discourage rowdy kids from writing on the wall with Robotic Stickers. The 19.69 x 27.56" sheet comes with bonus stickers. They are easy to apply to walls, doors, large appliances or other surfaces. They are just as easy to remove without leaving any residue.
Via Robot Stickers
January 19, 2010
TalkingRobo Teaches Language
Learn a new language with TalkingRobo. With speech recognition, he understands language and will suggest chatting topics. He has face recognition to remember your profile and recognizes images. Show it a picture and he will identify it. Available in several designs, TalkingRobo comes with a dictionary, encyclopedia and a beam projector. He connects to the web for updates, making calls and/or surveillance. Contact the company for price and release date.
Anti-Terrorism Robot Sent to Logan Airport
Black-I Robotics recently delivered a robot to Boston's Logan Airport that can help detect and disarm explosives. Paid for by $800,000 in Congressional funds, the Black Knight, named after the West Point mascot, replaces an outdated model, with its controller an Xbox console. The bot is one of three distributed and was dedicated to Army Ranger First Lt. Derek Hines, a West Point graduate who was killed in Afghanistan.
Via WBZ TV
January 18, 2010
Roxxxy - Now Everyone Can Have a Woman
One of the attractions at the recent Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas was TrueCompanion's Roxxxy, who is so triple X that you need to be 18 just to enter her site. Creator Douglas Hines says she will recognize you and converse with you in addition to her other "duties." Get your sexbot for $7,500 to $10,000 (depending on features) and for those of you that prefer males, note that Rocky is not far behind (no pun intended.)
UCSD Creates Ugliest RoboBaby Ever
This is just wrong on so many levels. Dr. Javier Movellan and the Machine Perception Laboratory at UCSD created "Diego-San." And this is not just an ugly baby head, it's a giant ugly baby head. Apparently it has been designed to study brain development in infants and has 20 moving parts, can stand up and communicates with facial expression. Featured in the Japanese mag Kokoro News, we wonder if the next page showed the evil bot chewing off its maker's head.
January 15, 2010
Robot Snob Must Have: Roomba
We are thinking of dating things from now on as B.R. and A.R., before and after Roomba. While we get to play with lots of shiny electronic toys, this holiday we caved and purchased our own robotic vacuum. We not only got free shipping with our basic 400, we also got a pet maintenance kit. We hate to use that word "awesome" but honestly, it truly is. After its initial charge, we let it loose in our upstairs hall to make sure all was well and it purred away.
The Roomba went into the bathroom and back down the hall, then did what iRobot says will never happen. It went down all 13 stairs to the first floor. But the great god of all things electronic was watching over us as it only lost the removable bin and started up again with nary a scratch.
Watching the robobot run back and forth while we were doing other nasty chores was so endearing that we almost started talking to it. We don't even mind the noise that many complain about. There are a couple of negatives, however. If you have very furry pets you need to clean the brush often and the vacuum does not like shag carpeting. That being said, head over to iRobot and find a Roomba you can call your own.
Via iRobot Roomba
Adopt-A-Bots Made From Recycled Gadgets
Brian Marshall builds robots out of discarded scrap metal and kitchen items. He uses measuring spoons, silverware, oilcans, pencil sharpeners and other gadgets to make art that is truly unique. Brian will be showing his creations at his Adopt-a-Bot show opening January 29 at the Red Mohawk Gallery in Wilmington, Delaware. If you cannot make it, visit his site for more clever bots.
January 14, 2010
Micromouse Captured on Video
Micromouse robots get faster each generation to the extent that it is difficult to capture them on video. Peter Harrison used a Casio FC100 camera set for 640x480 at 210 fps to slow the action down by 7x. Note that not only is the entry from the 30th All Japan Micromouse Competition still chugging along, there is a flicker caused by frequency between the frame rate and 50hz lighting.
Via Robots Dreams
University Of Malaga Robots Make Music
A University of Malaga group in Spain, led by Professor Elizabeth Barbancho, devised a Lego Mindstorms NXT that can play Name That Tune when you play chords on the guitar, tickle piano keys, whistle or hum. The clever bot will then suggest other songs that are similar. A team also came up with a system that uses augmented reality technology to make a virtual keyboard, useful for those without a real one. Other researchers from the group came up with a method of turning ordinary songs into a format that is similar to the one used in "Guitar Hero."
Via EPA (translated)
January 13, 2010
Tokyo Institute of Technology's Kitagawa Tsukakoshi Laboratory developed the Bari-Bari-IV to aid in rescues while minimizing risk of hurting humans trapped in the wreckage. Built with 2 plates, it burrows into the site and jacks itself up slowly so that there is less disturbance while removing debris. The bot is also equipped with a camera and speaker to aid in its efforts.
Via TI Tech
Take Your Robots With You
Save the planet while you tell the world that we need our robots. The Coelacanth Supersize 15 x 16 x 5" Tote Bag, made of polyethylene, is 100% recyclable, lightweight, durable and easy to clean. The company also puts out a 8.5 x 8.5 x 4.5" Lunchbag, saving you the expense of brown bagging it.
Via Robot Tote Bag
January 12, 2010
Cyber Quad Spies on Drilling Platform
Australia's Cyber Technology Pty. Ltd. has developed this take-off drone with built-in video camera that was recently used to survey an offshore drilling platform. Not only did the wireless Cyber Quad record footage at various levels, it landed on the platform, never missing a video beat. The device also houses sensors that can detect pollutants or chemical warfare agents. Look for the Cyber Quad in a war near you.
ATOM-7x Runs on Atom
Futurebots ATOM-7x (which stands for Advanced Technology for Optimizing Motion) certainly looks appealing and is powered by 2 Atom processors and runs Windows 7 and XP. After 8 years of development by Dan Mathais and team, the bot is set to make its debut with advanced stereo vision and 49º of movement. Atom seems to be making the rounds on the Interweb, but so far there is no video to prove the claim that he is quite the walker.
January 11, 2010
Robot Magnets Play Tunes
These Magnetic Robots don't just hang around your fridge or metal surface. Push the button on the four dudes and they will play you a tune. Batteries are included in each of the four 2.25 x 1 x 4" mini-bots.
Via Magnetic Robots
Platform Robot Produces Light Art
German designer Nils Voelker designed a 3-wheeled platform robot that can create art by moving colored LED lights while a camera shoots in long exposure. The images are made with graphic editing software and because the bot has several small wheels beneath it, it can be guided in any direction. Voelker says that the robot is part of another project by making a series of "paintings" for magazine publication. We are thinking it might be best used live to appreciate the artsy side of his creation.
Via Nils Voelker
January 8, 2010
Must Have: Insultabotz
Build the Insultabotz, load it up with one or several evil messages of up to 15 seconds apiece and let it loose in your workplace or home. When it comes in contact with any object detected by its IR eye, such as people, pets or water coolers, it will stop, reverse direction and issue an insult. The 6-legged robot is simple to assemble and is no doubt simply annoying.
Chiba University's Hummingbird Robot
Hiroshi Liu and team at Chiba University, Japan, have developed a hummingbird robot with a micro motor that can flap its four wings at 30 times/second. The flying bot is controlled by an IR sensor and can turn left or right, and go up or down. It can also fly in a figure eight. Liu says that the bot should be available next year and will be equipped with a micro camera for use in rescue efforts and seeking out baddies.
Via Washington Times
January 7, 2010
PR2 Demonstrates DMP
Peter Pastor, a PhD student at USC, used DMPs (Dynamic Movement Primitives) to teach PR2 new movements from only one demonstration. This is a huge concept in robotics when you think about it because it means that a bot can perform the same action even when not the objects are not in the same position. Kudos to Peter and Willow Garage and here's to their continued success.
Via Willow Garage
Avatars Aid Canadian HIV Patients
Canada's Montreal University has a new program that helps HIV patients get through their treatment with a virtual clinic. VIH-TAVIE utilizes avatars with names like Marc, Martin and Isabelle to help those that are ill during their daily lives as well as dealing with side effects of drugs. Those involved claim that the program helps them keep more in control of their illnesses.
Via Montreal University
Qatar's Robotic Traffic Controller
If you are in Qatar and need traffic controllers that can work 24/7 in the blustery weather and not complain, you simply team The Public Works Authority (Ashghal) and the Qatar Science Club to build a bot that can do the work for you. Designed by Rashid Ibrahim, Assistant Secretary General of the club, the robot is made of light fiber and runs on solar power.
Via The Peninsula Qatar
January 6, 2010
DASH, the Robotic Cockroach
There certainly seems to be a trend of robotic insects of late, maybe because they will last longer than humanoids. UC Berkeley created the Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexpod that can jump over objects twice its height and can be dropped off a four story building and move on. Run by a remote control for now, the 4" DASH was built with simple materials like a mixture of cardboard and polymer, watch batteries and inexpensive electronic parts from Radio Shack.
Paul Birmeyer, the student who created DASH, claims that these cheapo roachbots could go into rubble and seek out survivors by sniffing for carbon dioxide which would indicate that there may be life.
Via SF Gate
January 5, 2010
TIS-1CB Leads the Way
Drive to the company TIS (Transinvestservice) near Odessa, Ukraine and you just mite spot their "Giant Humanlike Combat Robots within the Security Department." The TIS-1CB, made from old cars, was built as a signpost to those who may be lost on the road.
Fiji Soft Intros Sakura-Chan
Fiji Soft's latest entry in the world of humanoids is Sakura-Chan. Debuting at the All Japan Robot Tournament, it has an LED display for facial recognition, a cam for seeing and speech recognition. The bot runs on Atom CPU, Ubuntu OS and WiFi and should be out sometime this year for what the company says will be a competitive price.
Via Plastic Pals
January 4, 2010
We Could Certainly Use an I-Shovel Now!
The I-Shovel automatically detects snow and will take care of that nasty chore for you. The prototype is made with with polycarbonate blades, wheels and handles, runs on rechargeable batteries with optional solar charging making it eco friendly. By the way, they are looking for investors and we are quite impressed even if too poor to contribute.
Aiko Meets the Folks
Roboticist Le Trung brought his girlfriend Aiko home for the holidays. The Canadian claims that he bought gifts for his $50,000 sweetheart because "Aiko is like any woman, she enjoys getting new clothes." He claims that she helped cook the turkey and hang decorations, a nifty trick considering that although Aiko can speak 13,000 sentences, she cannot walk. Trung has been working on V2 and will combine them and name her Yumecom (which means 'dream robot' in Japanese.)
Via Daily Mail
January 1, 2010
Must Have - Animated Vitameatavegamin Lucy
We think that the best "I Love Lucy" episode ever was the one with her demonstrating Vitameatavegamin. She has since been immortalized with this 14" tall animated Lucy with moving head, arms, and body. Both the classic scene and a DVD of Episode 30 are included. Lucy comes with a 120V AC adapter or can run on 4 AA batteries (not included.)
Via Vitameatavegamin Lucy
Robot Snob Monthly Roundup - December 2009
Happy New Year to all of you humans and robots! In case you missed anything this month, check out our roundup for December 2009.
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday
Duckman Builds Automatic Crossbow
Because "The Duckman" (undoubtedly named for his pets,) has arthritis, he decided to build an automatic crossbow. The electrically powered gadget cocks itself, holds 15 arrows and a firing capacity of 100 before needing a replacement.
Via Duckman Crossbow