August 31, 2010
Score! With RC Soccer Shoes
Enjoy soccer but would rather not expend the energy yourself? These RC shoes will compete for you in a heated competition with a bud. Available in red or blue, they are controllable by two levers and buzz around on 4 wheels moving forward, backwards, left or right. The pair comes with 2 goals and balls but you supply the batteries that should give you a running time of about 2 hours. The fancy footwear will set you back £24.95 (~$39.00.)
August 31, 2010
Monthly Roundup - August 2010
Get ready for the hurricane aftereffects if you live on the East Coast. Grab that bottled water, duct tape and spend some time pondering our Monthly Roundup.
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday
August 31, 2010
ECH Taken Over by Robots, Almost
El Camino Hospital in Silicon Valley, CA have leased 19 robots to replace current workers. They handle chores such as delivering medication and food and take out the trash. The guy who took this video is certainly enchanted. The rentals amount to about $350,000 a year, according to Ken King, VP of facilities, while humans would have cost about a million a year. We are assuming that is more than 19 total employees as that would be a huge salary.
Via El Camino Hospital
August 30, 2010
Robots With a Sense of Smell
We just cannot fathom how/why researchers come up with some of this stuff. The University of Tokyo's Institute of Industrial Science took frog eggs, inserted insect RNA and ended up with robots with a sense of smell. This compact smelling sensor could be used in the future to detect the differences between chemicals, polluting gasses and hopefully a better class of burgers.
August 30, 2010
Rogun Protects Home, Amuses Tots
The Korean company KornTech has developed the 1 meter tall Rogun that promises to walk, talk, act as sentry by identifying faces and alert its handlers by cellphone. His cameras and face-tracking software allow the security bot to register unwanted visitors and we guess his 7" LCD display lets his child/owner be reassures that he is a friendly bot. The wireless robot is available for about $5,000.
Via Chinese Engadget (translated)
August 27, 2010
Must Have: Two Automated Pet Sitters
Let the Talk to Me Treat Ball amuse your dog when you haven't the time. The orb systematically speaks with a message that you record and dispenses treats randomly when your pooch rolls it around. Expect a fairly chunky pooch if you let him/her play too long.
And if your dog/cat likes to chase lights, the Frolicat Laser Bolt generates patterns automatically or manually. Insert 4 AA batteries (not included,) place it on a surface and it will run for 15 minutes at a time.
Via Interactive Pet Toys
Hydro-Quebec LineScout Inspects
While power line inspection robots are not a novel idea, we found this one hanging out in the Hydro-Quebec network in Canada. The LineScout is remote controlled with two joysticks and utilizes 360º cameras to inspect power lines. In usage since 2006, it can maneuver around obstacles and spots exact locations by GPS. After identifying any power problems, the bot is sophisticated enough to make minor repairs.
August 26, 2010
Iran Unveils Karrar Drone
Iran has been showing off its new UAV bomber. Named Karrar (farsi for Striker,) the drone can zoom up to 900 km/h with a range of 1000 km. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that it is a symbol of defense technology progress in the country, but it can apparently carry various types of bombs to let others know that it is not just for show.
MIT Developing Oil Sucking Robots
MIT's Senseable City Lab will be debuting a prototype of their SeaSwarm technology this week at the Venice Biennale festival. The 16 ft. long belt made of nanowire mesh can absorb up to 20 times its weight in oil. It skims the surface and absorbs the oil in its head, heats it and separates it from the mesh, then goes on to repeat the chore. Thousands of them can be used to swarm in the future. It is too bad that the tech was not available before now.
Via NY Times
August 25, 2010
Yurina Assists Bedridden
At the recent Next-Generation Robot Manufacturing Exhibition in Japan, Yurina, a home care robot, was put through its paces by first lifting patients of weights of up to 80kg and then converting itself into a wheelchair. The robotic vehicle can then be directed by voice, touch screen or controller.
Via Japan Logic (translated)
Throw a Robot Cupcake Party
Next time your kids (or significant other) begs you for a party, make it a Robot Cupcake gala. Twenty four liners and cupcake toppers are included in the package. Don't forget the robot and rocket ship Party Centerpiece.
Via Robot Party Supplies
August 24, 2010
Build a Sculpture For Remember Reach
Microsoft has launched Remember Reach for Halo fans. The site allows them to control a giant robot by remote and build a sculpture. A Kuka KR 140, an oversized robotic arm, places points of light. The site is part of the publicity for awareness of the soon-to-be Xbox 360 shooter release of Halo Reach. Help build the monument via Facebook and watch real time as it is being built.
Via Remember Reach
Robots Take Over Jobs
Focus magazine has shown an interesting infographic regarding robotic takeover in jobs. They predict 1.2 million of them in operation by 2013 and half by 2025, destined to replace humans in the workplace. If you study the data, you will notice that for every 1,000 workers in Japan there are 34 robots now, with predictions for more to come in the areas of auto working, food service and manufacturing.
August 23, 2010
ATHLETE Celebrates Dance Day
NASA has been testing ATHLETE, an all-terrain robot for use on the Moon and Mars, but recently took a day off in honor of National Dance Day to bust a move. This certainly proves that even hexapods can have rhythm.
Sentry Discovers Oil Plume in Gulf
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts sent out a robotic submarine in June and discovered a 22 mile plume of oil in the Gulf near BP's Macondo 252 well. The WHOI Sentry confirmed the spill recently and found that it had high levels of hydocarbons. While it was out, it collected about 57,000 chemical samples. That data will be used to study the effects from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Via Scientific American
August 20, 2010
Must Have: U.R.I.-NAL 9000
As promised, we couldn't wait to show you the work of Hauke Scheer and his company Scheer Imagination. This U.R.I.-NAL 9000 is astounding in its detail and we are so pleased that Hauke sent us one all the way from Germany to keep us company. Made of resin, this will surely be a collector's item.
Because we suspected that Hauke was as much into robots as we are, we decided to ask him a few questions and found that his talent and sense of humor are certainly worth the read.
I understand U.R.I. is a limited edition?
Yes, this medium grey colored variant is limited to 50 figures. However if they sell well I will produce more figures with different colors variations. Those will probably have higher production numbers so the medium grey variant will be the most valuable over time.
Is there a real U.R.I.-NAL 9000?
Unfortunately, no. I designed this character simply to be a fun toy figure. However a lot of people have told me they would love to have a real working one. So if there is some robot company out there that would be interested in producing a real one, I would love to hear from them. :-)
Do you foresee one in the future?
Well, you never know. It would be fun having hundreds of urinals walking through town on a Saturday night.
What was your inspiration?
I actually made another toilet robot before. That one was just meant to be a spoof on those cute Disney characters that are made from household items, like the ones in 'Beauty and the Beast.' However, I was always a little dissatisfied with that one because apart from being funny, the design did not make much sense. I decided to give it another try and come up with something that would kind of work in the real world. So the idea for the U.R.I.-NAL 9000 was born.
Will you be making any future robot figures?
Sure. I love robots and cyborgs and those will always be part of my work. The latest robot I created was the Flying Fridgebot from my Bionic Bjoern Figure Series. A prototype figure for that one is currently in development. The fridge will actually open and close and have some beer cans in it.
How did your career in the arts start?
I studied 3D modeling at the Vancouver Film School. Afterwards, I worked on a couple of small computer games as well as in advertisement. But during all that time I was always working on personal projects as well creating several of the characters I am now selling as figures on my website.
How long have you been an artist?
I have created science fiction and fantasy characters since I was in my teens. I started 3D modeling in my twenties when I was at university. My professional career started when I went to Vancouver Film School.
Do you make each one or just the first?
All the figures are actually sculpted and produced by a professional toy company in China. I send them various pictures of my 3D art so they can sculpt the figures to my designs. I wrote an article on the whole process a little while ago that can still be found in the notes sections of my Facebook page.
How does one make something out of resin?
Basically you have to create a silicone mold from your original sculpture and then you can start casting away in resin. You can get both the silicone for making the mold and the resin for casting in most art shops. Since you do not need expensive steel molds like you do with plastic figures, resin is used both by large manufacturers as well as hobby modelers.
Do you still do work for video games and advertisements?
At the moment I am concentrating on my own work and getting my figure business up and running properly. However, I am always interested in cool projects in either the video game or the advertisement industry.
What will be your next creation?
I am currently working on a series of animations for my Bionic Bjoern figure series. This one and others can be seen here. I will create various friends and enemies of Bionic Bjoern for these animations. However most of them exist currently only in my mind. :-)
How can your fans get in touch with you?
You can buy my figures here.
My art can be seen on this site.
If people want to get updated on upcoming figures they can become a fan of my company Scheer Imagination on Facebook.
Or they can just email me at: contact(at)scheer-imagination.com.
Thanks for your time and U.R.I, Hauke. Best of luck in all your endeavors!
Yellow Submarine to Explore Underwater River
The University of Leeds has recruited a robotic submarine to explore a river under the sea. Apparently the body of water is large enough to be the 6th largest river
on under the planet. The 23 foot long yellow sub carries a camera to explore what life may be hidden in the depths. Blue meanies, perhaps?
Via University of Leeds
August 19, 2010
Neato Ready to Rumble
The Neato XV-11 Robot Vacuum Cleaner is finally available to the masses. This robotic vacuum makes mental notes on its surroundings, cleans the perimeter, including corners, then runs back and forth along the center to finish the room by segments. Good for about an hour's worth of work per charge, the Neato will set you back $399.95.
Via Neato Robotics at
The Laser Guided Robotic Vacuum.
Yaskawa-kun Soft Serves Ice Cream
One of the latest service bots to become employed in Japan is Yaskawa-kun, a product of the electronic and robotics company of the same name. It will be dishing up ice cream at theme park Tokyo Summerland until August 22. After placing an order, the human can watch the bot as it prepares his/her selection. It is a good thing that this is a temporary position. The robot runs so slowly that if the long lines doesn't kill the project, the melting ice cream will.
Via Robonable (translated)
August 18, 2010
ROLY Aids Wheelchair Bound Children
Training younger children to use a wheelchair can be difficult and requires a therapist to take them step by step. Dr. Laura Marchal-Crespo and team at the University of California at Irvine have developed ROLY (RObot-assisted Learning for Young drivers) so that no assistance is required and the kids can learn at their own pace. The chair uses haptic guidance to follow a line on the floor using computer vision while the child determines how much control of the joystick is needed.
Via Medical News Today
Desktop Robot Assistants
It's a Calculator, message poster and pencil holder, but mostly it is a helpful robot that can hang out on your desk. Available in green, blue or white, this companion will make a fine companion for your Holmes Robot Desk Lamp with adjustable head, body arms and legs and clip-on hands for holding what the Calculator cannot.
Via Robot Calculator
August 17, 2010
NZ Bots Can Prune Winery Vines
New Zealand may soon have new helpers in its wineries. Canterbury University's Dr. Richard Green is working on a robot that can prune vines using 3D cameras to gauge distance. The target date for a working model is two years. The bot can be adapted for other industries but for now they see it as saving $20 million a year in that country.
Via PC World
Aimec 3 is Affordable Companion
Aimec 3 (Artificially Intelligent Mechanical Electronic Companion 3) is a 4 ft. tall service bot dreamed up by Tony and Judie Ellis of East Sussex, UK. With a camera for finding its way around, the third gen prototype understands verbal instructions and can perform chores such as dimming lights, turning on the TV and even access the Net to read the news. He can also sing, tell jokes and do impressions.
The couple is hoping to find a manufacturer and believes that Aimec will be the real deal in a couple of years at a price of £200 (~$311.00.) Ellis certainly knows what he is doing as he is the creator of the highly successful Cube World.
August 16, 2010
Robot to Search Great Pyramid
In 1992, a robot was sent into one of the Great Pyramid of Khufu's shafts to explore its contents. Upnaut 2 found limestone doors with brass handles. National Geographic sent in a drilling bot sometime later and discovered a second door. Now Leeds University's Dr. Robert Richardson has planned a third excursion that will probably take about 5 years to complete. By the end the drillbot, equipped with camera, may discover lost secrets in the Queen's chamber.
Popchilla Assists Autistic Kids
The Autism Center of Pittsburgh and Interbots may have made it one step easier to communicate with children who suffer from Autism. Popchilla and an interactive iPad app create Character Therapy, a program that a therapist uses to create emotions in the robot that in turn may help the child better understand their own. This video demos one of Popchilla's current apps, "Let's Do Shapes."
Via Pad Gadget
August 13, 2010
Must Have: Eve USB Hub Interacts
Two years after the release of the movie "Wall-E",
Disney continues to allow licensed products to keep it alive. We found this Eve USB 2.0 Hub with 4 ports that is both Mac and PC compatible. At a size of 2 1/4 x 2 1/8 x 3 1/4," she has adjustable arms, rubberized wheels and her eyes light up when connected.
Via Eve USB Hub
SFpark Automatically Adjusts Charges
It isn't exactly a robot, but any gadget that thinks for itself is good enough for us. San Francisco will be installing smart parking meters that will adjust their prices depending on demand. The prices for SFpark, varying from 25 cents to $6.00, will change once a month and the experiment will take place over a two year period.
August 12, 2010
Beaumont Hospitals Adopt da Vinci Robots
The three Beaumont Hospitals in Metro Detroit have acquired da Vinci SI Surgical Systems to assist them. Last week, the Troy hospital tried theirs out for the first time to perform a success laparoscopic prostatectomy. Surgeons Kenneth Kernen and Jason Hafron used master controls while viewing the image in 3D. Dr. Kernen claims that the robodoctor "has transformed surgery for prostate cancer because of the technical and clinical advantages in terms of visual magnification and refinement in an area that can be difficult to operate on using traditional techniques."
Via Beaumont Hospitals
William Provancher of the University of Utah and his team of mechanical engineers have collaborated with ROCR ('Rocker') the robot as the result. This little guy can climb a carpet-padded wall with the assistance of two hooks. Provancher sees the future of his climber to inspect buildings, bridges or nuclear facilities when equipped with a remote camera. Until that time, ROCR will be hanging out in the lab.
August 11, 2010
DEPTHX Finds New Bacteria
Thanks to NASA's ASTEP funding, an underwater robot is studying biology in a series of sinkholes in Zacatón in northeastern Mexico. So far the autonomous DEPTHX, guided by a team of several universities, has gathered 100 types of microbes, including three new phyla of bacteria. It will continue to seek the unknown in months to come.
Bionic Prothetic Arm is Controlled by Thinking
A new prosthetic arm is controlled by thoughts. Meant for quadriplegics, the limb is controlled via sensors that will be implanted in their brains. Sensors in the fingers send signals back to the brain. Still in the experimental stage, John Hopkins' APL has been awarded a $34.5 million contract with DARPA to develop the neural prosthesis over the next two years.
August 10, 2010
R/C Millenium Falcon Takes Flight
Star Wars toys continue to crop up, like this Milllenium Falcon. The mini R/C flyer is made of foam and has a double bladed helicopter motor. On a full charge you get up to 5 minutes of invasion time. Expect an August delivery when you pre-order at a $44.99 price.
Via Star Wars Shop
India Produces Robot Musical
India has produced a movie with dance-off movin' robots. Entitled "Robots," of course, it comes out of Kollywood in the Kodambakkam district located in Chennai, a city in the state of Tamil Nadu. We guess the country is finally into CGI mode.
August 9, 2010
Robot Supply and Repair Gives Back
Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, The Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair not only fixes your broken bot, they sell upgrades, attachments, kits and add-ons. They also staged a recent Robot Fair during that city's Art Fair in July. Best of all, their proceeds go to the free student programs at 826michigan.
Via Liberty Street Robot
U.R.I.-NAL 900, Relief At Last
We really dig the U.R.I.-NAL 900. In a limited edition of 50, the collector robot is 6 " tall, made of resin and can be yours for €55 (~$73.00.) Even if it doesn't talk and can't really help you out in the woods, Haute Scheer and his German company has come up with some of the best artwork and most imagination we have seen around here in a while. Look for an interview with Haute and review of URI in the near future.
August 6, 2010
Must Have: WowWee Roboscooper
By their own admission, WowWee's answer to Wall-E is Roboscooper, who will clean up on most types of terrain. With 6 wheels and multi-directional mobility, he can chat it up or issue sound effects while clearing an area or whacking objects. The mini service bot needs 6 AAA batteries and should ship the end of August at a price of $70.00. We will keep our eyes peeled for his arrival.
Tweet With Charatter
Charatter could be your new best friend. The blue bear will handle your tweets for you and even moves his mouth. He even has his own Twitter account. Powered by 2 AAA batteries, he will be available in October for ¥2,200 (~$25.00.)
Via Watch (translated)
August 5, 2010
NASA R2 Gets Twitter Account
NASA's Robonaut 2 now has his own Twitter account. R2 will soon be heading to the final frontier to see how robots function in space both inside and outside the ISS. By the way, to assure his readers, the humanoid robot tweeted that he is not related to either Hal or Boba Fett.
Via R2 Twitter
Telenoid Semi-Human Presence
Hiroshi Ishiguro's latest idea is the Telenoid R1, a robot that uses sensors to transmit movement and sound and replicate them in humanoid form. A controller sits beind a computer with webcam and software to cause the effect. Note that the bot is folically challenged so that according to its developers, will look "as both male and female, as both old and young." (Note also that it is limbless.) R1 will go on sale in Japan later this year for about $8,000.
August 4, 2010
Cimcorp Adopts RMT Robotics
Although it is located in Canada, the Finland-based Cimcorp Oy is now the proud owner of RMT Robotics. While both companies manufacture material handling systems with gantry technology, Cimcorp believes the merger will better serve warehouse, distribution and food and beverage markets. RMT will remain in Toronto under its present name.
Own a Mini AWESOM-O
So we are watching South Park reruns (Season 8, Episode 4/14/04) and out comes AWESOM-O, one of our fave Cartman characters. How truly gifted are Trey Parker and Matt Stone to make the military and Hollywood the only ones (besides Butters) who don't know he isn't a robot. It turns out that you can own a piece of AWESOM-O as an action figure, magnet or key chain.
Via South Park
August 3, 2010
Go to Work With Anybots QB
Join the telepresence robot set with Anybots' QB. The bot is controlled via your PC and features a 5 megapixel camera, speaker, microphone, WiFi connectivity and a whopping 3.5 mph speed. Be one of the first to pre-order one for $15,000 and become part of the official 100 Club. Membership entitles you to a signed, numbered QB, access to the launch party and Anybots updates.
Sparse Array Improves Robot Communication
Adaptive Communications Research and Santa Clara University have teamed on creating 'sparse antenna' technology, making it easier for groups of robots to communicate with each other and home base. They are arranged in circular patterns or grids, then signal-processing software turns their antennas into a transmitter. That is sent via one 60x super-signal to their headquarters. The technology can only work on a group of about a dozen.
Via New Scientist
August 2, 2010
Service Bots Taking Over Tokyo
Helpful service bots were featured at a recent expo in Tokyo. Participants included Chapit, a robot that can answer questions and crack jokes, the Personal Mobility Robot that has four cams and a sensor to help humans move around and DiGRO, an advanced helpbot that can draw pictures for kids that it finds on the Internet. Japan's latest estimate is that by 2050, 40% of its population will be over 65 so expect those service bots to be frequent companions.
Via Reuters India
Boilerplate to Become Graphic Novel
JJ Abrams will be making a new film based on the story "Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel," written by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett. Produced through his Bad Robot company, the graphic novel follows the world's first robot as it wanders through the 19th and 20th centuries. The idea to bring it to the screen was originally pitched on a website about 11 years ago and was apparently so convincing that some thought the robot was real.
Via Hollywood Reporter