After holding a sort of graduation for their 11 PR2s, Willow Garage has shipped the first one off to Stanford University. The bot was uncrated upon arrival without incident and had already begun collecting data within a few hours. The remaining PR2s will be sent on their two year voyages during the next couple of weeks.
The Office of Naval Research has been funding a project at their Research Lab in Washington D.C. Octavia, named after sci-fi author Butler, made an appearance at last week's Fleet Week in New York City. The autonomous bot was designed to work with humans in a computational cognitive way. She has an expressive face, including moving eyes and head, workable hands and fingers, and gets around on wheels. Her sensor and camera system can react to her environment. Octavia is one of 3 MDS robots, the others being Isaac (Asimov) and Lucas (George.)
The T3 Solar Robot Kit lets you build a walking robot, scorpion or tank, each being motorized when completed. Recommended for those over the age of ten, the kit needs no glue or soldering and can run on a halogen bulb on overcast days.
The Friend Watch will keep you comforted when you are down to your last bud. Push the 'Speak' button and it will tell you what time it is. The digital watchbot also features several alarm sounds like owls and ringing bells. It will fit most adult wrists and will set you back only $14.95.
Swallowtail butterflies have larger wings than average ones and researchers Hiroto Tanaka and Isao Shimoyama have been studying them. The end result is this ornithopter that can flap its wings and fly without the aerodynamic forces used by other butterflies. While it may be a while before the technology is utilized in future aircraft, there is something quite amazing in watching this bugbot take flight.
Pioneer and iXs Research teamed to create Navirobo, the epitome of "awww." Place it on your car's dashboard and it will wave its wings in the direction that the GPS tells you (and him) to go. When it nears the exact intersection, his eyes start blinking and the arm waving becomes manic. We admit its cute for a $100 one-trick pony robot, but we think it fits in the same category of texting while driving, way too distracting.
Next time you go into deco mode, these Blips & Beeps Studded Robots can be placed on your clothing, backpack, laptop cover or any other flat surface. Use it as is or decorate further with paint, Sharpies or glitter. Blips & Beeps also come in Sticker Sets.
Mote Marine Laboratory will be launching an AUV from a boat 15 miles off Key West today. Waldo can detect oil and chemicals and will seek out residue in the Loop Current. It will then collect the data and send it to researchers via satellite. Pay attention, BP. This is the second bot that Mote has sent out and there are plans for a third to be launched off SW Florida. It's somewhat comforting to see active involvement without the bureaucracy.
Last week, the MuCar-3 was presented at the European Land Robot Trial in Germany. One of the first autonomous military vehicles, it can follow a lead car, stop and back up when necessary. The plan is that the bot, which is fitted with camera systems, computers, sensors and scanners, will be able to assist in seeking out explosives so that humans won't have to.
Robots beware. Researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute have created a synthetic cell. At a cost of about $40 million, the one-celled organism can actually reproduce. The bacterium was created as a demo, but many experts believe that it can be applied to others to create something "commercial."
If you want a real downer, you only need to spend a couple of minutes checking out BP's live feed of its oil spill. There is no plant or animal life, only the silent, endless gush of petroleum. This footage is brought to us courtesy of several robotics companies such as Oceaneering International Inc., Subsea 7 and C-Innovation.
The remotely operated vehicles are herded by pilots in this control room and navigated by joysticks. The ROVs also carry equipment, maneuver and drill. Perhaps it should be mandatory to make the feed a screensaver for everyone at BP until the hole is plugged up.
So your kids can't get enough Iron Man? Let them freak out family members and small pets with a Helmet that is voice-activated. One button moves the slow release visor, the eyes light up and there are three different battle modes. Push the combat mission button and orders are given while the battle sounds button issues power-up, flight and combat sound effects. Recommended for kids over 8, batteries are included.
Parents will love it, kids will complain at the lack of privacy. Adrian David Cheok, from the National University of Singapore, is developing Petimos, a bot designed to hold questionable invitations on Facebook until a parent can check them. They can then be accepted or deleted. The furbot works with the social network Petimo-World and when a child squeezes the ear of their Petimo or pushes a button, they can send messages and/or virtual gifts to others online.
Mercedes-Benz has begun using robots to test their vehicles using the same technology as DARPA. The robots steer, accelerate and break while an onboard computer controls the autopilot on a pre-programmed course. The car company is the first to use these maneuvers in safety testing that cannot be duplicated by humans.
The European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle 2 is on its way to So. America. Set to be launched later this year, it will bring up cargo to the ISS without the need of a human. The first ATV, named Jules Verne, successfully flew in 2008, filled itself with waste and burned up intentionally on re-entry. ATV-2 has been dubbed Johannes Kepler and will suffer the same fate after its mission is complete.
Bats use echolocation (biosonar) to "see" in the dark and now researchers are thinking of using it on robots. Simon Whiteley and team, from the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, mounted wireless mic sensors on 6 Egyptian fruit bats to record their calls. They then replicated it electronically. Future applications may include using the technology in sonar and in positioning robotic vehicles.
Get your kids or buds a head start on this year's Holiday with this Robotic Savings Bank. Touch a red activation pad and it will sound off one of 16 phrases that will encourage savings. Once fed a coin, it will sing "Santa Bring Me a Dinosaur." By December you will probably want to feed it to a raptor after listening to the same song for 7 months.
We would almost call this torture if it wasn't a toy. Fujitsu's Teddy Bear Robot is aimed at the very young and very old. With over 300 different responses and 13 sensors, it supposedly tracks via nose-mounted camera and smiles in reaction to a human. It will wave and kick its heels, but will fall asleep if you forget about it. No word on price, but after viewing the video we are thinking they might want to go back to the drawing board on this one.
The Husqvarna DXR 310 weighs 2 tons and loves to destroy. The compact demolition bot runs via user friendly remote control and is suited for both indoors and outdoors work. The company claims that it can climb stairs and operate on uneven surfaces. Put a jackhammer or claw in its hand and let the mayhem begin.
Celebrate the 30th anniversary of Bandai's Gundam with one of your very own. For ¥315,000 (~$3,400) you can get a Limited Edition RX-78-2 that stands 1.5m tall, weighs 38kg and comes with a beam rifle, beam saber and shield. A hex wrench set is included for assembly.
Stanford's VW Passat named Junior has learned to parallel park even better than the average autonomous car. It accelerates in reverse at about 25 mph, hits its brakes, turns its wheel, goes into a 180º skid then comes to a halt. Junior was put through his paces at the recent ICRA.
For the scholarly robot freak, these Robot Bookends would make a great gift. Made of wood, each side is 5.5" x 3.5" x 8" and personalization is available. And because we believe that those who still read still know what a pencil is, think about this 4.5 x 2 x 3.6" plastic Robot Sharpener from Kikkerland.
With all the fuss of late concerning drones in the military, isn't it a comfort to know that the next generation is on its way? Boeing unveiled its Phantom Ray this week, part of their Phantom Works division. While the vehicle has no buyers as yet and Boeing claims that it will only provide a 'spectre of security,' we expect that with partial funding from DARPA, it won't be gathering dust for too long.
Bandai's latest project is a set of transformers that start out as kanji figures and morph into animals. In four different colors, the Mojibakeru (moji means "character" and bakeru means "to change",) take the shape of a dog, tiger, fish, dragon, horse and bird and will be priced at ¥100 (~$1.00) apiece.
Prof. Chris D. Shaw and PhD student Ji-Dong Yim of Simon Fraser University, Canada took a Nokia phone and some Bioloid parts, and created CALLO and CALLY. As you can see in the video, the cell phone bot features various facial expressions when a call comes in. The phone's cam uses OpenCV for face detection and hand tracking to mimic arm movement. Partially funded by Nokia, the program was designed to improve consumer/product bonds. Boogie on.
First there way the I-LIMB Hand and now Touch Bionics has a new and improved version known as the i-LIMB Pulse. The bionic arm now has an aluminium chassis, knuckles and dislocators, pulsing technology for increased grip strength, many automated features and BioSim, Touch Bionics' Bluetooth-enabled software that allows users to personalize the prosthetic hand.
SOHLA (Space Oriented Higashiosaka Leading Association) is planning to send a humanoid robot to the moon by 2015. At a cost of about $10.5 million, the Japan-based group believes that Maido can help stimulate the local economy by getting smaller organizations involved.
SOHLA board member Noriyuki Yoshida thinks that humanoids are the way to go. "Humanoid robots are glamorous, and they tend to get people fired up. We hope to develop a charming robot to fulfill the dream of going to space."
Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace Corporation took a K-MAX helicopter and transformed it into a UAV, hoping to use it for resupplying field troops. They took it on a test ride that included 4 cargo airdrops at a time from 300 - 400 ft. up using a four-hook carousel. A total of 11 tests were conducted with one time use aerodynamic decelerators at a cost of about $375 each time. The unmanned copter, after further development, can be used either during the day or at night to hide from the dreaded evils of war and can carry loads of up to 4,300 lb. at 15,000 ft.
The Advanced Control Lab at National Taiwan University is working on JULIA, an interactive humanoid that works with touch screen or voice commands and has a display for home media information. She can be used as a security guard when you are at work and, when you get home, entertain you by singing and dancing.
At the recent 2010 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, the German Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics programmed a robotic arm to stab a silicone lump, a dead pig's leg and human volunteers. It was armed with steak and kitchen knives, a screwdriver and scissors. When the safety was off, the bot inflicted cuts on the lump and leg that were deemed potentially lethal. Fortunately, the humans only were used when the safety system was turned on, teaching us what we already knew. You never know when your robot will turn on you.
Willow Garage is offering 11 research teams its PR2 robots in a free, 2 year Beta Program. Because the bots are built with an open-source software platform, they can be programmed for many different roles in areas of perception, navigation, and manipulation. Worth more than $4 million, the recipients will be 10 universities in Japan Belgium, Germany and the US, and the tool and parts company Bosch.
By the way, one of those chosen is located at UC Berkely. This is the same team that taught a PR2 to fold towels. Now they will try to teach it how to do an entire load of laundry.
David Gilday took some Mindstorms components and came up with MultiCuber, a creation that can solve 2×2, 3×3, 4×4, and 5×5 Rubik's cubes with the same build. A larger one can handle the 6 x 6 version. Good show, David!
What's missing in this video? The remotest presence of humans. What is here is a very efficient ABB Robotic System packing Peperami Salami Sticks that knows to leave the inferior pieces behind. Mmmm, salami. Check out ABB's YouTube site for more foody friendly examples, including packing pancakes and sausage, and cake decorating.
Puck, Gilda and Rosie are robotic arms that work for SF's Autofuss as camera bots. The three Fanuc s430iL waldos were designed as car assemblers, but seem to have their new craft down. Although they are not mobile, they can also deal with props and rigging. Here's a peek at their video for Louis Vuitton. (You just can't go anywhere anymore without seeing Buzz Aldrin.)
BallP (Ball Inverted Pendulum) is a 20", 16.5 lb. robot that is a combination of gyroscopes, motors, controllers and accelerometers that can move in any direction on its plastic covered bowling ball. Developed by Dr. Masaaki Kumagai, director of Tohoku Gakuin University's Robot Development Engineering Laboratory, there are plans to make the bot more user friendly and able to tote items back and forth.
The Traveling Man keeps watch over Deep Ellum Station, making us think that if what Stephen Hawkins said about aliens is true, at least Dallas, Texas is safe. The 38 ft. sculpture weighs 35,000 lbs. and was designed by Brandon Oldernberg and Brad Oldham of Reel FX at a cost of 1.35 million.
Oldernberg claims, "It was important to us that our design not only celebrate Deep Ellum's heritage, but also represent what we hope for the future: a resurgence of traffic to our streets and businesses and a thriving artistic community for decades to come."
Note one of the unsung heroes of Saturday Night's Times Square incident. The NY Bomb Squad's robot was sent to check out the situation, break into the SUV via a window and help disarm the crude device. If you would like to see it in action, hit the link below to the Vancouver Sun. Since the car was near the offices of Viacom's Comedy Central, they are exploring the idea that the suspect was going after "South Park's" Matt Stone and Trey Parker after a depiction in an episode that showed the Prophet Mohammed in a bear suit.
Meet the Family Nanny. China's Siasun Robot & Automation is developing the 2'7", 55 lb. bot that can chat it up on an 8 hour shift after a two hour charge. She can also check email, text, check for gas leaks and call the police in case of an emergency. Nanny is due out in 2015 at a price of ¥10,000 (~$1,465.)
Controlling your Rovio may have just gotten easier. The EEG, made by Emotive Systems, utilizes facial gestures and brainwaves to control the securitybot. Signals are picked up by a PC, sent to a second one via Skype after interpretation by the Robodance 5 app, then sent to Rovio. Woot Woof.
We expect by now that everyone has seen the Dr. Pepper commercial that featured cartoonist Stan Lee and featured a robot that was assisting an actor to dress up "Iron Man" style. But for those who don't live in the States, here is the ad/promo.
We cannot help but be somewhat sad that the robotic subs cannot stop the oil in the Gulf, for if you have ever been there, you know what a beautiful place it is. Thanks for reading, fellow robot freaks, and catch up if you missed anything.