June 30, 2010

Martian Chronicles to Become Movie?


Rumor has it that Fox producer John Davis has optioned film rights to the Martian Chronicles. It had already been made into a TV mini-series in 1980 with Rock Hudson and Bernadette Peters. The producer's previous work includes "Alien vs. Predator" and "I,Robot" so don't expect a mega-movie.

Making Bradbury's classic seems a lot more feasible than another rumor kicking around that Mattel wants to produce a film based on their Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots.

Via LA Times

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June 29, 2010

KUL PR2 Works on Task Specification


One of Willow Garage's PR2s went to Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and they are working on cooperation between humans and robots. Using iTaSC (Instantaneous Task Specification using Constraints) and skills framework, the bot will be taught to pick up and carry an object at a certain force while avoiding both moving and non-moving objects. To facilitate the experiment, the team will integrate both a localization algorithm (MTTL) into the ROS and the OpenRobot simulator.

Via Willow Garage

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June 29, 2010

Yae-Chan Amuses School Children


Students of the Seibi Elementary School in Nara's Nishi-Kitsuji-cho district in Japan were introduced recently to Yae-chan, a two foot tall robot developed by the Nara National College of Technology. It was part of the elementary school's after school program designed to show how much fun science is. Apparently the introduction was a success as one of the students wanted to build his own in the future after playing with Yae-chan.

Via Mainichi

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June 28, 2010

Personalize Your Segway


If you own a Segway i2 you can now get it customized by Colorware for a mere $1,500. The company, that usually specializes in personalizing electronics such as phones, computers and gaming systems, also provides new ones tailored to your lifestyle for $7,500.

Via Colorware

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June 28, 2010

Robotic Lifeguard EMILY Hits the Beach

EMILY (EMergency Integrated Lifesaving lanYard) has taken to Zuma Beach in Malibu, CA and will hit 25 to other beaches by December. The sonar-equipped, remote controlled robotic lifeguard detects underwater movements of swimmers that may be in distress and zip over there at about 28 mph. She also has a camera and speaker so a human can add comfort from the boat or shore. Hydronalix, Emily's creator, plans to make them autonomous next spring and will sell them for $3,500.00 apiece.

(Thanks, Mike)

Via Hydronalix

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June 25, 2010

Must Have: MC Lars Gigantic Robot Memory Stick


Fans of MC Lars, this 2GB USB Memory Stick is for you. The 3" tall device contains MP3s from the album "This Gigantic Robot Kills," a PDF Digital Booklet and music video "Guitar Hero Hero." It has a handy keychain clip and can be reused when you have had enough of the tunes.

Via MC Lars Memory Stick

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Myon Carries on Without Limbs


Myon, a creation of the Neurorobotics Research Laboratory at Humboldt University in Berlin, has a benefit of modular body parts, which equals out to faster, less expensive repair. Equipped with a cyclopic eyepiece and touch screen control, it can still function should one of its limbs fail.

Via Design Boom

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June 24, 2010

Emiew 2 Sees Improvements

Hitachi has been working on improvements on Emiew (Excellent Mobility and Interactive Existence as Workmate.) The humanoid robot can now distinguish voices while cancelling out his own inner buzzes and whirrs and can keep his balance when going over obstacles left on the floor. At a height of 32" and a weight of 30 lbs., he can do his thing on either 2 or 4 wheels. Plans for Emiew 2 include surveillance and as a visitor guide.

Via Hitachi

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Robotinho Guides German Students

Would I be the only one thinking that the University of Bonn's Robotinho looks and sounds a bit pervy? Maybe it's a good thing that he is speaking German and we can't translate. Placed atop 4 Roombas 530s, a Robotis Dynamixel RX-64 servo is used for steering. The bot guides a group of kids around the Deutches Museum and introduces them to Steffy, Dynamaid and several of the other exhibits. Some of the kids seem a bit skeptical and seem to have as short an attention span as they would if the guidebot was human.

Via Hizook

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June 23, 2010

TOPIO Dio Makes Serving Debut


The Vietnamese robotics firm TOSY introduced TOPIO Dio at Germany's Automatica 2010. Standing 4 ft. tall and weighing about 99 lbs., he has 28º of freedom. Running wireless on three wheels and avoiding obstacles with a sensor, he sees with an onboard camera. While Dio is meant to serve (food and drinks,) the company also unveiled TOPIO 3, a bot that plays table tennis.

Via Look At Vietnam

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BP Removes Cap After ROV Bumps Into Vent


BP has removed the Deepwater Horizon's containment cap in the Gulf after one of the robotic subs hit a vent. They hope to reinstall it later today after checking to see if ice crystals have formed on the cap. Apparently, when the ROV bumped into the vent, gas came up through the vent that is supposed to carry warm water down through it. Oops.

Via BP

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Breezy Singer Could Fool Your Cat


Tomy, maker of all creatures robotic, created Breezy Singers Parakeets that sing with authentic sounds recorded by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Their heads, beaks and tails are activated by photo sensors and we are guessing that your cat might do a double take. Standing 2.25 x 9 x 6.25", each has an on/off switch and comes with batteries and stand. (Colors may vary.)

Via Breezy Singers Parakeets

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June 22, 2010

KCRS Attempts Line Following Robot Record

The Kansas City Robotics Society and Science City decided to try to break a couple of world records. They devised a 400 ft. course at Union Station with 1 inch wide tape in order to create the planet's largest line follower robot course. KCRS member Micheal Overstreet claims that records were set by 50 robots moving simultaneously for 2 seconds and 15 robots going a full minute.


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Bots Do Gruntwork at Scotland Hospital


When the Forth Valley Royal Hospital opens in Scotland in August, robots built by JBT corporation will be in charge of the grunt work, like delivering meals and dispensing meds. The ward bots will hang under the $444 million hospital, use service elevators when needed and follow a system of laser beams. With pre-programmed routes, staff members will control them with PDAs. The hope is that levels of infection will decrease by their usage.


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June 21, 2010

Noby Reacts to Keeper, Kind of

Kosuke Nakamura, a University of Tokyo post grad student, proudly displayed 2ft. 4 inch baby Noby recently. The baby bot, equipped with cams for eyes, mics for ears and 600 tactile sensors, was designed to better help understand human nature and development. It seems to have a ways to go.

Via Day Life

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RoboCup 2010 Begins


RoboCup 2010 kicked off Sunday in Singapore for the thirteenth time. All told, there are 500 teams from 40 countries competing in various categories. Of course, we know that the main emphasis is on the soccer games and the Federation is hoping that eventually the roboteams can compete against humans.

Via RoboCup 2010

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June 18, 2010

Must Have: Electric Robomower


Spring has sprung and the grass has riz so this year get a robot to do the chore. The 28 x 28 x 15" Electric Robomower can move 360º and up a 30º slope. It can be programmed to run automatically or by remote and has a built-in rechargeable battery. The two blades produce a cutting height of 1.6" at a speed of 6000 RPM and the company promises a relatively quiet operation.

Electric Robomower

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Watson to Take on Human Jeopardy Competitors

IBM has been hard at work for the past 3 years developing their latest Question Answering computer. Watson, named after founder Thomas J. Watson, is supposed to duplicate the human brain's ability to understand the meaning of words, know the difference between relevant and irrelevant content and deliver final answers.

The company is so sure of the ability of their computer they are working on an avatar so that it can compete on Jeopardy later this year. The research has gone as far as getting the computer to answer in the form of a question.


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June 17, 2010

CM Dragons Practice for RoboCup 2010

While humans compete in soccer matches at the World Cup in So. Africa, Carnegie Mellon is focusing on the CM Dragons, small autonomous bots that are controlled by physics based motion. The CMU team will be participating in the RoboCup 2010 that starts in Singapore June 19.


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Robots Clean Up at Narita Airport


If you should happen to travel to Tokyo, you may come across Narita Airport's cleaning robots. It is rumored that Narita-kun and Epo-chan do a bang-up job and are more fun to watch than your basic Roombas.

Via Shibuya 246

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June 16, 2010

Mung Encourages Sportmanship at World Cup

Mung is a product of a collaboration between students of KAIST and Yonsei University in South Korea. Its creators are hoping it will instill sportsmanship in World Cup 2010 participants. Originally meant to change color when it heard profanity, it eventually evolved into altering hues when a player fouls or is injured.

Via Plastic Pals

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Keep Time With Robot Watch


Now you can take a protective bot with you that also serves a practical purpose. This Robot Watch can hang on your keychain or be used as a pocket watch. Made of stainless steell and waterproof, it has a quartz movement and comes with replaceable battery.

Via Robot Watch

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June 15, 2010

Swarming Flight Array Takes Off


Scientists at the Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich have developed a Distributed Flight Array that consists of individual bots that fly together in a swarm. The drones have infrared beams to find each other and then connect with magnets. While each quadrocopter is somewhat clumsy alone, when they dock they become a "sophisticated multi-propeller system." Even if one fails, the others can still function and, if attacked, can detach and later regroup.

Via Red Orbit

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CareBot Undergoes Improvements

GeckoSystems has been improving on their CareBot software to make it simpler for users. The GeckoScheduler can now more easily set date, time, medication and TV show reminders. In this trial video, the woman (automatically referred to as "grandma",) goes into the kitchen and the CareBot is activated from sleep mode after she leaves the bedroom. Note how long the servicebot takes to get to the kitchen. Let's hope Grandma doesn't fall in the mean time and is not able to get back up.

Via GeckoSystems

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June 14, 2010

Monster Chess Set Made of Legos

Sponsored by Lego, a team of four very talented roboticists put together a Monster Chess set. Made of over 100,000 pieces and guided by Mindstorms NXT technology, the set and 156 sq. ft. board took over a year to complete. The game can be played in various ways, human vs. human, two computers or computer going against human. It can also reinact famous chess matches. Pretty impressive.

Via Team Hassenplug

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R2 Prepares for Fall Takeoff

NASA's newest astronaut will soon be taking off. R2, short for Robonaut 2, will start out by being tested by the ISS crew and will hopefully move up to performing real chores like cleaning and vacuuming. Weighing 310 lbs., R2 is set to launch this September.

Via Robonaut 2

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June 11, 2010

Must Have: Bicentennial Man Dehumanizes Robin Williams

Sometimes we dredge up some of those bad classic movies that feature humans attempting to be robots. Take the time to see Bicentennial Man if you appreciate the talents of Robin Williams, who tries his best to humanize himself while still maintaining lame conversation, this is a must see.

Via Bicentennial Man

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Chicago Gets Robotic Dinosaur Exhibit

KumoTek Robotics has launched an interactive robotics exhibit at Chicago's Field Museum. It features several dinosaurs built by Japan's Kokoro that respond to each visitor in a different way. The star of the show is RoboSUE, a Tyrannosaurus rex that has cameras, sensors and artificial intelligence, and is bound to scare the little ones. The show is scheduled to run through September 6.

Via Field Museum

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June 10, 2010

SWAT Sends in Robot to Assist Sacramento Standoff


Sacramento police are now in the midst of a 2-day standoff with an armed 25-year old man who is accused of robbing 3 banks and firing at a police officer. When Anthony Alaverez holed himself up in an apartment with a 1-year old hostage, a SWAT team tried to convince him to come out, but to no avail. So they sprayed the apartment with fire hoses and, when that wasn't effective, sent in their robot to peek through a window. Alavarez shot at it, but we assume the bot was okay as it was recently seen again attempting to approach the building.

Note: After 3 days, the standoff was over and the apartment residents returned home. The tot was none the worse for wear, unfortunately Alaverez didn't share the same fate.

Via News 10

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Monkey Controls Arm By Thoughts

University of Pittsburgh researchers have implanted sensors in a monkey, with the result being that he can control a 7-axis robotic arm with his brain. The two implants were placed in the simian's motor cortex, the part that controls the arm and hand. The team is hoping that their work will help those that are disabled or paralyzed but still has a long way to go.

Via cnet

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June 9, 2010

Bandit Works With Autistic Kids


Bandit was created to assist autistic children when family members may have problems in communication. Designed by researchers at the University of Southern California, the bot has camera eyes and has been programmed to make simplified facial expressions and movements. The hope is that he will help the kids become more socially active. They forsee that he will someday be able to play games, speak with them and modify behavior when needed.

Via Popsci

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Robot Stickers For Everyone!


Take away the crayons from the kids for awhile and give them some Circo Robot Appliques that are easy peel and stick. The 33 piece set only needs a sponged surface and can be reapplied and repositioned.


KR also has a set of Robots in Space Stickers that are easy to apply and remove. In addition to robots, it comes with a bonus set of planets and spaceships.

Via Robot Stickers

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June 8, 2010

Multi-Leg Robots Steal the Show

Sometimes you have to take a few minutes and appreciate that there are those out there that dig robotics so much that they will spend most of their waking hours building an entrant into the multi-legged robot competition for a ROBO-One event. This video is wa-a-y too much fun for humans.

Via Robots Dreams

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Robotic Fish Leads School of Fish


NYU-Poly's Dynamical Systems Laboratory have discovered that fish will allow a robot the be the head of their school if the conditions are right. This fishbot uses ionic polymers to power its tail by swelling and shrinking. The team, headed by Dr. Maurizio Porfiri, claims that the technology could be used to steer schools away from hydroelectric turbines. Perhaps they could also help them avoid large oil spills.

Via NYU-Poly

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June 7, 2010

SpaceJustin - Telepresence Break Dancer


SpaceJustin was designed to head into the final frontier and assist his human counterparts. The musical bot made his debut at the recent International Aerospace Show in Germany and did a bit of break dancing via telepresence. Let's hope that the astronauts remember to give him plenty of room to do his thing.

Via io9

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Tube Robot Practices on Pig

Boston University researchers have developed a concentric tube robot that can twist around inside a pig (for now) and still perform heart surgery. A series of telescoping curved tubes extend and twist away from the previous ones, allowing them to move through an artery. During the test surgery, the robot managed to plug holes in the pig's heart.

Via New Scientist

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June 4, 2010

Must Have: Dinner Set for Tots


The company may have a questionable name, but you gotta love this dinner set we found by Sugarbooger. The Divided Plate is made of melamine and has a suction base.


The Silverware Set comes in its own case and is non-toxic. The Sippy Cup holds 6 oz. and the lid is BPA free. All three are dishwasher safe.

Via Sugarbooger Robot

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Vgo Telepresence Bot Has Puny Head


Gee, another telepresence robot is about to hit the market. This time it is the Vgo, a bot you can send to work while you hang around at home in your skivvies communicating via your PC. Sensors and cameras help the bot maneuver and a full charge lets your spokesbot run all day. The Vgo will set you back $5000 with a $1200 yearly contract. Sign up to be one of the first to get your very own this fall.

Via Vgo

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June 3, 2010

Romeo, the Assistant

This is Romeo, the latest entry into the service bot category for assisting the disabled and the aged. Only a concept at this point, the 10 million Euro project will be able to do simple chores and interact with speech and gestures. Aldebaran Robotics should have a prototype by the end of the year and the real thing by 2011.

Via Aldebaran Robotics

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Stephen Colbert Wary of Jazz Robots

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
ThreatDown - Military Food Police, Jazz Robots & Pretty Girls
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

If you are a fan of Stephen Colbert, then you probably already saw his report that claims jazz robots are a threat to Americans. If not, here it is for the rest of you. Shimon is the product of Guy Hoffman and Georgia Tech, who designed it to be able to improvise.

Via Guy Hoffman

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June 2, 2010

iRobot Warrior Robot Demonstration

iRobot demonstrated its latest military bot, the Warrior, this week. Soldiers direct the robot into a questionable field. After arrival, the Warrior throws an APOBS (Mk7 Anti-personnel Obstacle Breaching System) across the air. Once the grenades hit the ground they explode, supposedly taking out any hidden IEDs or land mines and clearing the way for the military. Good news for those who support arming robots and iRobot's coffer, not so good for any human/animal caught in the crossfire.

Via spectrum ieee

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Microsoft RDS 2008 R3 Now Free Download


Microsoft is offering its Robotics Developer Studio for free to encourage others to get involved in robotics. They combined their RDS 2008 R2 (Express, Standard and Academic) to make RDS 2008 R3. The tools include a visual programming interface and 3D simulator. The fact that Willow Garage already is offering their ROS as open source may have weighed in on their decision but we think it is a good move on their part no matter the source of the inspiration.

Via Microsoft Robotics

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June 1, 2010

BP ROVs Work on Cut and Cap


Now that Operation "Top Kill" has failed, BP has sent their ROVs to cut small pipes and will soon be attempting to cap off the well with a containment valve. This would lead to a temporary increase in the amount of oil flowing into the Gulf, unless it fails. Once again, there doesn't appear to be a great deal of optimism as other workers construct two relief wells. BP certainly doesn't stand for "Be Prepared."

Via BP

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UofL Assists By Telemedicine Robots


The Frankfort Regional Medical Center in Kentucky can now rely on the expertise from the Stroke Center at the University of Louisville Hospital. The robotic telemedicine machine can be placed in an exam room and see, hear and diagnose patients, then suggest treatment. The UofL Health Care network program began in 2007 and now includes 13 hospitals in the state. They claim that more than 1,000 people benefited from it last year.

Via UofL

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