March 31, 2010

Robot Snob Monthly Roundup - March 2010

redbot.jpgMarch saw plenty of robotic action, both literally and figuratively. If you missed any of our posts, here is your chance to catch up. Thanks for reading!


Autonomous Robots

Hot Deals

Humanoid Robots

Lego Mindstorms NXT

Make Your Own Robot

Military Robots

Miscellaneous Robots

Movie Robots

Must Have Robot Friday

Robot Art

Robot Movies

Robot Music

Robot Science/Medicine

Robot TV

Robot Toys

Robot Vacuums

Robot Videos

Service Robots

Sports Robots


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March 31, 2010

Cam Babies Respond to Noise

One can never have enough baby robots, if only to prove that they are not all bad. Cube Works Cam Babies wander around, respond to loud noise and complain when they fall down and cannot get back up. The 10cm tall babybots are available in two sizes and several colors for ¥1,590 (~$18.00) and ¥2,550 (~$28.00.)

Via Strapya World

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March 31, 2010

Whoa! New Zhu Zhus!


Say it ain't so! Not content with the gazillions they are earning from their original Zhu Zhu Pets, Cepia has released even more of the little buggers. Say hello our little friends Moo, Rocky, Spottie and Tex. They can be purchased in a group or separately.


Add in Fluffy Bunny and Butter Cheeks Baby and your Easter shopping is simplified.

Via New Zhu Zhu Pets

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March 30, 2010

Niko, The Robot That Tweets


When you have had your fill of tweeting your friends, you can actually tell a Lego Mindstorms robot what to do. This bot is controlled by a Nokia N900 phone and can move forward, turn around and take a photo. The images are then posted with Twitpic. If you would like to give it a shot, visit the robot via @N900Niko.

Via Nokia

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March 30, 2010

Robovie mR2 Speaks Through iPod Touch

Robovie mR2, developed at ATR Robotics and Communication Laboratories in Japan, communicates via its stomach. That in itself is odd enough, but the bot does this with an iPod touch when a user touches its screen. The 30 cm tall robot can also work via WiFi or Bluetooth and considering all the applications for the touch, there are as many possibilities for fun and games.


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March 29, 2010

Bots High Seeks Funding


We recently received an email from Joey Daoud who is in the midst of creating Bots High, a documentary about the BattleBots competition. He has been following teams since August and is trying to raise some funds to film the championship in San Francisco. If you would like to help his cause, you can contact him via the link.

Via Joey Daoud

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Ibn Sina Is First Android to Fly Emirates Airlines


We recently heard from Dr. Nikolaos Mavridis who caught us up on news of Ibn Sina (aka Avicenna) and FaceBots, the Interactive Robots and Media Lab's projects. They have certainly been busy. Ibn Sina went on display at the GITEX in the Middle East amd IEHE in Saudi Arabia. It turns out that the Arabic-speaking bot also became the first android to fly first class on Emirates Airlines. IRML's FaceBots were demoed at the Techriti in India. Check out their site to read about their other recent activities.

(Thanks, Dr. Mavridis)


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March 26, 2010

Must Have: Penbo and Bebe

Jessica Rusack of Litzky PR sent us a Bossa Nova Penbo to play with so we quickly put her through her paces. Recommended for kids between the ages of 5 and 10, our first reaction to the furry penguin is that she is literally bright enough to grab the attention of toddlers as she passed the "cat test." Grace poked at her a couple of times then sat down and watched as she waddled around and chatted in her weird language that almost sounded like English.

There is definitely a learning curve here. Penbo responds when you push her heart button, pinch her wings, tap her head or a do a combination of them. Her baby can be activated the same way and plops out of Mama's stomach in an enclosed egg. There are long and short pinches, and double taps, and Bebe has just as many.

Watch the weird relationship between mom and Bebe. They chirp to each other, dance together and Penbo gets noticeably anxious if you take her penguinette away. Bebe also is constantly communicating with her elder, so be careful not to lose her.

That being said, this is no Furby. Penbo dances, can be told to go left or right, sings a tune and plays 5 games. We tried a couple of them but musical chairs and tag works better if you actually participate. We could have used a toddler or two.

Penbo also has moods. She can be happy, sad, excited, bored or fall asleep if you forget about her. Once you get used to her language and the commands, she would undoubtedly make any little girl (or boy who likes pink penguins) a fun companion.

(Thanks, Jessica)

Via Penbo

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GoRobotics Celebrates 10 Years


GoRobotics is celebrating its 10 anniversary with a giveaway. We are certainly up for anyone who has been digging robots as much as we do for a decade. Head over to their site to find out how you can enter to win. Rules are not too difficult and winners are chosen randomly. The contest ends March 31.

(Congrat, William)

Via GoRobotics

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March 25, 2010

PR2 Self-Calibrates

We previously mentioned Willow Garage's PR2, the bot that managed to avoid obstacles, open doors and head back to his home base to recharge. Now he can recalibrate some of his sensors as well. It won't be long before he figures out who can really be in charge.

Via Willow Garage

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RUM Suicide Bomber


The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency may have been remembering Hitler's famous bunker or those hidden tunnels in the Middle East when they decided that a Robotic Underground Munition would be a handy thing to have around. A RUM hits the dirt, starts drilling and then blows itself up. The suicide bomberbot should also be able to communicate, avoid obstacles and have sensors so its can find its way. Contact the agency if you think you have the right stuff to create one.


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March 24, 2010

CIROMI Greets Theater Goers



Imagine walking into a theater to see a robot film and you are greeted by one. ED Corporation teamed with a newly renovated theater to turn So. Korea's ARO into CIROMI (Cinema, Robot, and Dreams.) So far he amuses customers with ads on an LCD screen after detecting them by laser range finder. He will also play games, take photos and send email. The future for the moviebot includes speech recognition for conversation and the ability to take tickets. ED's robots are also being placed in train stations and restaurants for patrons' amusement.

Via buzz (translated)

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Power Tube Fish Can Dive, Resurface

The Faculty of Engineering at Osaka City University have a robotic fish they call the "Power Tube." Fueled by a single solid-polymer cell, the 10cm fishbot can swim, dive and head for the surface by utilizing a frontal joint. While it started off with motor power, its creators switched to a magnet system to use less power and have plans to allow it to swim for 3 days on a single charge. The scientists plan on using the fish for rescue work and maritime research.

Via CrunchGear

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March 23, 2010

HDT Robotic Arm Carries 3 Times its Weight


HDT has released a new robotic arm system designed for medical, military and homeland security usage. It made its formal debut at the NDIA Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference last week. The MK1 robotic arm can carry more than 50 pounds although it only weighs about 14 lbs. It has 11º of freedom, 3 fingers and four actuators to move its 10 joints. It is controlled by a joystick and all of the joints can be controlled at the same time, making more efficient than previous arms.


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Robop Scares Those Pesky Birds


Instead of installing a plastic owl on your roof to scare away other pesky birds, try Robop. Developed by Edinburgh, Scotland resident John Donald, the robotic peregrine falcon can be controlled with your WAP enabled phone. Donald suggests that you move Robop around occasionally or the other birds might suspect that he is not the real deal. Not convinced? Download the 38 page guide that tells you all about the $4,200.00 security bird. We especially liked the part that explains why your bird population may increase when the "psychological warfare device" is employed.

Via Robop

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March 22, 2010

G182 Vacuums, Plays Security Guard


The G182 vacuum will clean your floors, automatically docks for recharging, then can become your very own security unit. The Smart Robot features a 360º degree pan and tilt, a WiFi IP camera and microphone so you can get the bugger to not only watch out for your stuff, but berate those who may covet it. Its virtual wall will keep it from running over your cat or falling down stairs. The vacuum comes from Chinavasion, a site that has a cheaper less expensive version of almost everything, except in this case as the G182 will set you back $494.78.

Via Chinavasion

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Cody Learns to Handle Hardware

Georgia Tech's Healthcare Robotics Lab is developing a humanoid that can open doors, cabinets and drawers. Controllable by joystick or physical interaction, Cody has vision via stereo cameras, a laser range finder and Meka Robotics' 7 DOF arms. His body sits on a Segway RMP 50 Omni mobile base with Mecanum wheels. While he only has hooks for hands so far, Meka Robotics is working on one with 3 fingers and a thumb.

Via Plastic Pals

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March 19, 2010

Must Have: Robo-Q RQ-01


The Robo-Q Mini Robot may only be 3.4 cm tall, but it can still amuse/annoy your family and friends. The RQ-01 can move forward, left and right via remote control and an IR sensor will keep it from bouncing into walls, people and pets. Don't forget 4AA batteries (not included.)


Set him up against the minute M-O1 that needs 3 AAA batteries (not included.) The mini-dude from "Wall-E" has a controller that doubles as a storage base.

Via Robo-Q RQ-01

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Recycler Teaches Grade School


David Buckley has been building robots since the 70's and one of his best is the rapping Reycler. He was designed to teach the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) to grade school kids in the UK. Not as modern as most, he is accompanied by a Recyclerteer (Education Officer) when he makes his appearances. There must be plenty of waste across the pond as he seems to be earning a cool £450 (~$670.00) per day.

Via Waste Watch

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March 18, 2010

Kompai Assists the Elderly

Robosoft's Kompai is a service bot that understands instructions and responds to its owner. The robot is intended for the elderly and disabled and can navigate autonomously. He takes notes, keeps a shopping list, plays music, video conferences and is a verbal calendar for his keeper. He made his formal debut at the ILTCI Conference in New Orleans last week.

Via Robosoft

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Osaka U Gives Birth to M3-Neony and Synchy


The M3-Neony was born in the same lab as the CB2 baby robot, but at least this one is a bit easier on the eyes. He weighs about the same as his real counterpart and has an integrated computer, 22 motors, 90 tactile sensors and 2 cameras. Teach him to walk and talk and his autonomous self will wander around searching for truth from a robotic point of view.

M3-Synchy is another robot from Osaka University that was created to study humans communicating with multiple robots non-verbally. The M3 in each one stands for "Man Made Man."

Via Get Robo

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March 17, 2010

Slobots Travel to Tokyo Show


Our bud Mike Slobot sent in several of his bots to this week's Kaiju Comrades 2 show in Tokyo. He used resin from a Japanese kokeshi doll and turned two Star Wars figures into the Abominable Slobot and Skyflyer V1. Way to go, dude!

Via Slobots

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Haibo Hangs at EXPO 2010


Haibao started out as a plastic mascot for the EXPO 2010 Shanghai China and has now become a functioning robot. There are 37 of them used for assisting visitors with information about the event and local transportation, and can even take photos. Best of all, the 1.55 meter tall bluish Haibaos speak 6 different languages. They will not only help out at the Expo, which takes place May 1 through Oct. 31, they will also hang out at Shanghai's two airports.

Via EXPO 2010

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March 16, 2010

RRoDMan Built From Deceased Xbox 360


After experiencing the sinister Red Ring of Death, Jasper Stevens took his own form of revenge and turned his Xbox 360 into a robot he named RRoDMan. No tape or glue was needed; the gamebot is held together by its wires. We find RRoDMan a bit sinister, too.

Via technabob

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MeBot Gets Involved

MIT has been working on MeBot, a semi-autonomous robotic avatar that duplicates the user's facial expressions. Arms are controlled by a second set of controls. The team found that people were more involved when the telebot was more involved. That pretty much seems like a no brainer to us.


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March 15, 2010

R2-D2 Clears Your Sinuses


R2-D2 is indeed blowing off steam but not because he is teed off at C3PO. This minute version is an actual humidifier. Remove his head, pour water into his body and plug into your USB port to clear those clogged sinuses. Officially licensed, he can be yours for $19.99.

Via ThinkGeek

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Kiva Gets to Work


The Gap has employed a Kiva Robot System in one of its fulfillment centers in Columbus, Ohio. Chris Black, V.P. of operations at Gap Inc. Direct, says that using the system frees employees' time and therefore let them sell, sell, sell during the holiday season instead of wasting their time fetching.

We also came across the news that Crate & Barrel is using the system at their Calif. Distribution Complex for picking, packing and shipping. It won't be long before Kiva is everywhere...

Via Kiva Systems

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March 12, 2010

Must Have: Hydrazoid Clap On


Everyone appreciates a good Hydrazoid. Build your own with this kit from Elenco. It needs only basic tools to assemble and once done, reacts to sound impulses. Clap your hands and it will move forward for 15 seconds. LEDs and illuminated fiber optic antennas make it more than your average bot on the block. At a size of 7 x 6 x 5", don't forget 2 AA batteries (not included.)

Via Elenco Hydrazoid

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Smile and Say "Robotic Cheese"


Ohio State University developed an autonomous paparazzi bot that may take your picture if you smile nicely. It stands at about the same height as a human and if your expression pleases him, Ken Rinaldo's creation will stop, aim, snap that camera and upload your image to a social networking site. The bots recently were invited to the 2010 Olympics, where they undoubtedly had to compete with other paparazzi to get close to Shaun White.


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March 11, 2010

ABE Missing in Underwater Chilean Expedition


The Autonomous Benthic Explorer was lost on March 5 during an expedition off the coast of Chile. The 15 year-old underwater ABE was being used to map the sea bed and collect samples for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. While its disappearance had nothing to do with the recent earthquake, the researchers believe that one of its glass sphere may have imploded. This means that ABE could not return to the water's surface from its 222nd, and now probably final, dive.

Via Cape Cod Times

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Robot Football Players Big Hit at CeBIT


Rajesh, Penny, Sheldon and Leonard apparently thrilled the crowd at the CeBIT Fair in Hanover, Germany when they performed in a football exhibition match. The University of Bemen's Wiebke Sauerland says that they use color and lines to "see" the orange ball, pitch it towards green and head for the yellow and blue goals. The team is planning to compete in the 2010 World Cup for robots this June in Singapore at the same time the "real" tournament will take place in So. Africa. Want your own sportsbot? It will set you back $13,500 dollars.

Via Google News

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March 10, 2010

Robot Deals With Plastic Garbage


Mitsubishi and Osaka University researchers teamed to make a garbagebot with robotic arm that has laser sensing technology to distinguish and separate 6 different types of plastic. The 5' 6" x 6' 9" robot is currently undergoing tests before being unleashed on the public. Smaller versions are planned a a price of £37,000 (~$56,000) each.

Via Osaka University

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Bots for Tots


Robots go plush with these three 8 x 2.5 x 13" Pillows. They are perfect for kids who could swallow small parts or are too young for metal bots. And when your toddlers tire out, lull them to sleep with this Robot Mobile from Tiger Tribe. Each of them is 4 x 2" and hangs from a stainless steel rod.

Via Robot Plush Pillows.

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March 9, 2010

WENDY Built for Studying Human-Roman Interaction


WENDY (Waseda ENgineering Designed sYmbiont) was built in 1998 to study human-robot interaction. She could crack open eggs, slice veggies and pick up small objects. At a height of 4'9" and a weight of 355 lbs., she has stereo CCD cams for visual recognition and runs on WENDY-OS and RHICS (Robot Human Interactive Communication System) move by imitating human beings. We think it's time she took on a more contemporary look.

Via Waseda

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Brauer's Uncommon Robots


We dig the fact that when Brauer makes robotic art, he does so by recycling. His bots are anything but common although they have basic names like Oscar and Horton. Here is his artful philosophy:

"In our modern world, where objects often have a single life, I aim at inventing a new existence for them by diverting them from their initial function. I particularly like the robust appearance of used steel and industrial materials. When I put them together, they start a new life as unique pieces of art, in which each component can tell its own story."

Check out his site for more robots.

Via Brauer (French)

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March 8, 2010

CCC Seeks Director of Robotics


Now is your chance to make your name in the field of robotics. Calhoun Community College in Alabama is developing a $71 million R & D park and they are looking for a director. To qualify, you need a Master's degree, 5 year's worth of management experience and expertise in robotics. Check out the requirements at Calhoun's site before March 11.

Via News Courier

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Bionic Foot Releases Energy


The University of Michigan created a bionic foot that can return some of the impact energy when the user walks. They are supposedly 30% more efficient than traditional prosthetic feet.

Professor Art Kuo said, "All prosthetic feet store and return energy, but they don't give you a choice about when and how. They just return it whenever they want. This is the first device to release the energy in the right way to supplement push-off, and to do so without an external power source."

Via U of M

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March 5, 2010

Must Have: Mattel Screature


While your wimpy friends are busy with their Pleos, you can surprise and attack with your Screature. He uses IR sensors to find and get his prey while screaming in that hideous dinosaur kind of way. Pet him on the back and he will be nice, but if you touch him on the nose, he will spit water at you. The Screature needs 3 AA (included) batteries to wreak havoc and can be placed in room guard mode to protect your other bots.

Via Screature

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So. Korea to Employ English Teaching Bots


South Korea has invested $45 million in robotic teaching assistants because of a shortage of real ones. The plan is to place 500 in preschools by 2011 and 8,000 of them by 2013. Meant to teach English, the bots are for those students who want to study abroad and be competitive with other English speaking countries. In the future, they may also assist in other tasks such as teaching toddlers to walk.

Via Korea Times

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March 4, 2010

Wii Remotes Contro Robo-Band Percussionist

Patrick Flanagan took two Nintendo Wiimotes and created a percussionist for the robo-band Jazari. When one plays, it can create a response from other ones to create a drum circle. The buttons control the tones and volume, while tilting can change the pace of the beat. The band was named for Al-Jazari, a man that supposedly created the planet's first robotic band in the 13th century.

Via Popsci

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Romotec Provides Caterpillar Telehandler to LAPD


Romotec, maker of robots for police departments, delivered a Caterpillar TL1255 Telehandler, a stronger, heavier and more versatile bot to the LAPD last week. the company claims "With the delivery of the robotic Telehandler, we've reached an important milestone for Remotec and our customers: We can now offer them an additional class of unmanned ground vehicles designed to meet new and emerging threats head on."

Whew. We feel much better knowing that a better bot is protecting us and that, between chores, can hoe a few rows of veggies.


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March 3, 2010

Cheeky Monkey Debuts at NY Toy Fair

One of the participants in the recent NY Toy Fair was the "Cheeky Monkey," designed by Nick Donaldson of Got Robots?. It can perform 16 actions via remote and should have a price of around $20 when released this summer from MechRC.

Via Robot Dreams

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Red Robot Protects Laptop


Cover your 17" laptop with this Red Robot Gelaskin. Made with 3M Technology, it can be repositioned or removed without leaving residue. Compatible with Apple MacBook Pro, PowerBook, and most PC laptops, the thin cover will keep it safe from dirt, dust, scratches and evil bots that lurk in corners.

Via Red Robot Gelaskin

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March 2, 2010

Roombas Enlist in the Navy


It seems we are not the only ones who dig Roombas. CS3 Scooba Stevens, Chief Miles O'Brien and ITSN Unger are part of the Navy's efforts to robotize the USS Freedom. Lt. Ed Early, the Freedom's spokesperson, claims that they have a whole fleet of them. Since the military has employed iRobot in many of its projects, we wonder if they get a hefty discount.

Via Military Times

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Korea Breaks Ground for Robot Land


We have previously written about South Korea's plans to build Robot Land. It seems that they are about to break ground at the theme park and hope to complete it in 2012. Included will be a roller coaster in the shape of a waldo, a stadium for robot competitions, water slides, exhibitions and a research development department. Let's not forget that some of the staff will consist of robots. Hopefully, enough humans will be around to witness the fun.

Via Robot Land

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March 1, 2010

TOTOROBO Hawks Greenmax


A company in Japan named TOTO makes Greenmax toilets and has decided to promote them with a robot action figure. TOTOROBO has a signature catchphrase, "Protect the Earth, GMAX! Ready - Switch, on!" This apparently has to do with the fact that the toilet is ecofriendly with a low-flush switch that uses only 4.8 liters each time.

Via Plastic Pals

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QTC Skin Allows Robots to Feel


Peratech is developing an artificial electronic skin for MIT's Media Lab. "Quantum Tunneling Composite" (QTC) is a low-cost, touch sensitive material that allows robots to know where and how much they have been touched. This is done via sensors on various body parts. This one practically makes its own punchline, considering the recent glut of bots like Roxxxy.

Via Technology Review

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