So ends another month here at Robot Snob with lots of bots and almost as many videos. If you missed any of them, this is your chance to catch up. Thanks for reading and keep those robotic creations, posts and comments coming in.
Elenco's latest kit can create an Escape Robot that can process information and maneuver around objects autonomously. The kit has a microprocessor, three infrared emitting modules and on IR receiving module. Two different sets of legs can be used for different types of movement. Some soldering is required (iron and solder not included.)
In an effort to learn more about human/robot interaction, this project from Bielefeld University has reversed roles as the BARTHOC humanoid head and torso with Shadow Hands asks questions about objects and the manipulation of them. A CyberGlove II sensor allows the human to perform a natural grasp for the bot to copy and as preliminary tests were successful, the team plans to go more in depth in future projects.
Duke University researchers are working on an autonomous robot that can take biopsies on humans based on ultrasounds. Using a turkey as the guinea pig because their flesh is similar to humans, they claim that the robot guided its plunger correctly to eight different locations 93% of the time without human intervention. We guess its that 7% that will keep the practice in the experimental stage a while longer.
Cornell University managed to create a robot that has broken a world record. The Ranger, controlled by remote, walked 14.3 miles in eleven hours untethered. This totals out to 70,000 actual steps. For those of you keeping track, this beats a 12.8 mile trek made by Boston Dynamics' Big Dog.
Bristol Robotics Laboratory's Ecobot III's sole purpose in life is your basic eat, digest, poop. The bot has a digestive system that ingests biomass via microbial fuel cells and turns it into hydrogen atoms with the addition of water and then excretes. Because of the microbes, the robot can exist on waste. So far the team has found that it can maintain itself for up to a week but only utilizes 1% of the energy that is available.
This Robot Cookie Jar was made by Vandor and is based on some of Japan's 50's and 60's designs. The ceramic collectible stands about 8" tall and is supposedly no longer being made. We don't know if that's true, but we think this would be a dandy addition to any kitchen.
Working with engineers, a team from MIT changed a Toyota 8-series lift truck into a workbot. It can locate, lift, move and put its cargo on any surface. Designed for both military and civilians, it can be used for high-risk duties in hazardous material storage facilities. The 3,000 lb. bot has a network of systems for navigation that includes sensors, a camera, PCs, servomotors, WiFi and a PDA.
Mmmm, pancakes. An Italian Institute of Technology team paired a Barrett WAM robotic arm and a simulated pancake in an effort to teach it to toss. While the video shows it to be almost an exercise in futility, it finally gets the hang of it. To further prove reinforced learning, team leader Sylvain Calinon also taught it to iron.
The scientific explanation may be a bit dry and complicated, but the gist of the story is that Virginia Tech is developing "softbots," robots that move similarly to Manduca sexta caterpillars. They "gut slide" to move forward as it turns out that their legs are not doing the walking. Future applications may include search-and-rescue or even internal travel in a human.
Two semi-autonomous vehicles from VisLab, of the University of Parma in Italy, left that city for a trek to Shanghai, China. The electric pair that run on solar energy will be following a vehicle driven by a human and travel 8,000 miles over the next three months. They will be traversing over various terrains with no fuel or human intervention. You can track the journey from the site with a map and cameras on the vehicles.
This Wall-E was created out of a LEGO Mindstorms NXT and is fully self-controlled. It can move forward, backwards and turn. He makes noises, holds objects, moves his head and is sound aware. And, like the original, this bugger can fold himself into a box. The project took 250 hrs. to build over the space of a year and has 5 RCX motors and 3 Levers.
Watch this video from Germany's Bielefeld University that features Flobi, a robotic head that can go from male to female. They are hoping that the somewhat comical face will avoid 'uncanny valley,' the theory that humans are repulsed by some humanoid bots. When are roboticists going to learn we just want Rosie?
Dr. John Q. Trojanowski and Dr. Virginia M.-Y. Lee, of the University of Pennsylvania, are studying tau, a protein that is damaged in a person suffering from Alzheimers. They have the assistance of a $1.5 million robot that fetches and carries plastic plates that contain wells, injects them with chemicals, then carries the plates to an incubator. It may also take the results to a microscope for analysis.
Hod Lipson and Charlie Richter use a 3D printer to create smaller and more efficient wings for flying robotic insects. It can make features that are only 16 micrometers and films about 40 micrometers thick in less than an hour. Their latest 4-winged bot was printed from polyester films on carbon fiber rods, weighs a mere 3.89 grams and can hover for up to 85 seconds.
Japan is certainly embracing Twitter, where they refer to tweeting as "muttering." The University of Tokyo and Waseda University are developing CoCoNatch, a bot that connects to a computer by USB and responds to incoming messages. In addition, about 20 words can also be recorded by the user. The plan is to sell them en masse this fall for ¥4,000 (~$40.00) or a prototype can be had now for ¥6,000 (~$70.00.)
Schooltime will be here sooner than you think. Stephen Joseph, designer of toddler chic, created this vinyl Robot Lunch Box. It features an insulated interior, a Velcro strap to hold a drink and can be cleaned with a damp cloth.
DLR's German Aerospace Center has developed a telepresence robot to repair satellites in space. About the size of a human, Justin has extremely sensitive fingers and stereoscopic vision to accomplish this. The head of the project, Alin Albu-Schaffer, sees a future that teams the humans and robonauts together. Although there is no target date for launch, it gives some lucky controllers the chance to vicariously hang out in space.
Boeing recently unveiled its Phantom Eye that will go into action 2011. The UAV has a wingspan of 150 ft., can cruise at 150 knots, carries up to 450 lbs. and has 2 Ford Ranger truck engines inside that run on hydrogen. The Eye can stay in the air at 65,000 ft. for as much as 4 days at a time. If that isn't enough, the company is already planning one that can stay aloft for 10 days and believes that with several working in tandem, they could handle 24/7 coverage anywhere.
South Korea has begun using robotic soldiers to keep up with the 1.2 million troops in the North. Developed by a group led by Samsung Techwin, the bots use heat and motion detection to find, warn and fire on soldiers that cross the Demilitarized Zone. At a cost of $330,000 apiece, that could be one expensive military force, but if they resemble this old video we found of an ST robot in action, very impressive.
We have to admit that we keep almost a constant eye on the Gulf situation, not only because we lived there and love how all life there is interconnected, but also because we admire the real heroes of the spill, the ROVs and their operators. It is some comfort that they have managed to cap the well, at least for now.
Most of the 'Fish' were made by Oceaneering, who have built about 500 of the ones in use worldwide. They modified them so that they can change tools without coming to the surface, which would take about 25 minutes. We are so fixated that we spend more time than necessary watching the live feed and stare hypnotically as one of the bots does something that looks so intricate that it is truly a marvel to behold. So here's to the Fish and the humans that operate them.
The Terasem Movement Foundation in Bristol, Vermont is home to Bina48. The humanoid head was modeled after a human named Bina, who spent lots of time teaching her vocabulary and applying personality traits. If she gets any more intelligent, perhaps she will request a torso.
NASA has issued a new contest for those who can create robots and the prizes are certainly worth the effort. Referred to as the Centennial Challenge there are three categories:
-Place a small satellite into Earth's orbit twice in one week in the Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge and you win a cool $2 million.
-Create a solar-powered vehicle that can run on its own stored energy in the dark in the Night Rover Challenge and $1.5 million is yours.
-In the Sample Return Robot Challenge, if you can get one to fetch without humans, the prize is $1.5 million. (Pay attention, Willow Garage. This one may be right up your alley.)
Proposals are due by September 13 with more details to come.
Musician/artist Steve Averill created Spruce Deuce, a robotic drummer made from birch plywood that gets his rhythm from arm and wrist servos. He is controlled by a Highly Liquid MD24 MIDI servo controller. Interestingly enough, the bot is quite proficient, holds his sticks the right way and seems to respond to voice commands, although he misses some of the subtleties one usually finds in jazz musicians. Oh, wait, that's a robot.
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne has developed a spy system for vehicles with cameras that can attach themselves to walls, trees, or other surfaces. Mirko Kovac demonstrated the system that can not only be used on various sizes of flyers, they can be placed on hoppers as well. Usage could include checking out catastrophic conditions and searching for damage victims.
Protect yourself from devious forces with this Evil Eye Robot Keychain. Made in Turkey, it is 3" in length. On the other hand, if you feel the love, the 4" Cutesy Keychain comes with 5 small robot charms, each about 1.25" long.
Although FURO is supposed to exhibit more emotion than earlier generations, the robotic waitress stills seems fairly non-committal to us. The Korean bot from Future Robot takes an order on its touchscreen, expresses mild displeasure when the customer changes his mind and allows him to pay by credit card.
Inspired by the film "Back to The Future II," Blake Bevin combined a shoe and Arduino microcontroller to create Power Laces (technically only one.) When he steps in the shoe, a force sensor activates servo motors to tighten its laces. He included a touch switch to reverse the process. Blake is an entry in Instructable's USB contest and would appreciate votes from Marty McFly fans.
What does Willow Garage do after lending out some of its PR2s to those who will teach them practical tasks? Use one to do something really important. Check out the video that shows the beerbot fetching the correct brew, open the bottle and deliver it. The Beer Hackathon Team's creation has certainly earned its keep, but suppose the beer has a flip-top?
Now you can have your very own underwater pet to take with you on your ocean adventures. The AQUA2 has 6 flippers to propel it in the water and even up on shore. (We dig the robot's eye view.) The McGill University fishbot works by remote fiber optic or Ethernet wire and can travel up to 120 feet (sing along now) 'under the sea.'
BP continues its efforts in the Gulf while its inhabitants are probably cringing at their "progress." The "fish" (ROVs,) removed the LMRP containment cap Saturday to prepare it for a new cap. Although the Q4000 is capturing some of the oil and gas, the well remains capless for now. So it goes.
With all the excitement of the World Cup 2010 and Robot World Cup, doesn't it make you want to gather your own robot horde team to conquer the universe competitors? Elenco's Soccer Robot runs on IR remote with a microprocessor and three motors, two for moving forward, backwards and turning, and one for kicking the ball. The 2-pack kit needs 4 AA and 4 AAA batteries (not included) to rule.
What began as a prototype microchip for a thin printer, then became modified as a docking system for satellites, has morphed into a robot that resembles a centipede. University of Washington professor Karl Böhringer and team are working on the microbot that has 512 feet arranged in sets of four, with each foot an electric wire between two materials. When currents hit the wires, the feet curl and shuffle like cilia 20 to 30 times per second.
Where does all this lead? Perhaps to a mobile device that can travel through cracks to explore where larger bots cannot go as it is only about 1 x 1/3" and weighs about half a gram. More of Dr. Böhringer's research can be found in the June issue of the Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems.
They may not be headed for moviedom, but the Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots are the main participants in Qualcomm's new mobile augmented reality platform. Even more fun for those who would like to play, the company has issued an Augmented Reality Developer Challenge with winnings of up to $200,000. Check out their beta now and prepare to play with their AR SDK when it is released this fall.
We are not sure if this is very kewl art or terribly wrong. Canadian Rob Spence lost an eye in his teens and now, with the help of some buds, has developed a prosthetic one that can broadcast video and will become a public feed. The device consists of a 1.5mm low-res cam, a small circuit board, video transmitter and a microbattery that Spence says can be recharged via his laptop's USB.
Harvard Material Shape Shifts Via Electric Current
Harvard researchers have developed flat sheets of composite material that can fold themselves into shapes after receiving an electric current. Similar to origami, the "Programmable Matter By Folding" contains 25 actuators, split into 5 groups and the shape is produced when they are activated in a sequence.
Iran has a new robot, courtesy of Tehran University. Surena 2 is 4.76 ft. tall and weighs about 99 lbs. Unveiled at Saturday's 'Industry and Mine Day,' it took 20 robotic experts over 10,000 hours to develop. The humanoid can walk slowly, but that seems to be the extent of his talent for now as no others were made public. It is believed that engineers are working on vision and sound capabilities.
Although China didn't do so well at the World Cup for humans, it did manage to take first place at the Robot World Cup in Harbin. One of its winners commented that "we will see the day when China's football will soar to the sky, no matter whether they are humans or robots." Perhaps they should begin practicing now.
A Russian robotic capsule missed its connection with the ISS by 20 miles last week, making it the second time the problem has occurred. The 24 ft. long space freighter, carrying equipment, propellant and containers of air, oxygen and water failed to hit its automated docking system radar link. Although the cargo was not considered critical, the crew did manage to bring Progress 37 in by manual docking.
We have finally found the definitive video from NBC's Kerry Sanders on just how BP's ROVs (nicknamed "Fish") coordinate and operate from the Ocean Intervention 3. Although many of the operators are ex-military with drone experience, we find it a comfort that many are twenty-somethings that grew up playing video games and are adept at operating the bots' joysticks.
Bluebotics' Nesbot is an autonomous coffee machine that features an ANT navigation system to find its prey customer and offer it a choice of 6 blends. The coffeebot is part of a project commissioned by Nestle Nespresso to seek out future coffee machine applications.
Someone at the Danish embassy in Tokyo decided to equip a robot to help support its team at the World Cup 2010. We guess robots aren't always the best cheerleaders as the Danes lost their match to Japan 3 - 1.
So ends another month of robot mayhem, especially with the ROVs involved in BP's operations. A source at their press office tells us that they are involved in every operation that humans would normally do but cannot at 5,000 ft., including connecting wellheads, pipes and other equipment. Here's hoping that they will help to put an end to the Gulf crisis soon.
The Georgia Institute of Technology designed a robot to rescue humans during disasters. Based on a sandfish lizard, the bot tucks its limbs into its sides then wriggles to go forward. The team built the 35cm sandbot with seven aluminium segments linked with 6 motors and covered in spandex. Adding more segments could make it faster and give it smoother movements.
The Nao robot from Aldebaran Robotics has been around since 2006, but the humanoid is constantly being updated in design and now has up to 25º of movement. To prove their point, the company released a video of 20 of them practicing a synchronized dance for France's Pavillion Day. The bots also have touch, face and voice recognition ability. Even weirder is this clip that replaced the original tune with Beyonce's "Put a Ring On it." There is something really eerie about their performance and we hope they stick to entertainment when the final robotic takeover occurs.