September 30, 2010
RuBot II Sets New Rubik's Cube Solving Record
Pete Redmond's RuBot II has mastered the Rubik's Cube in less than 23 seconds. After being calibrated, a technician mixes up the cube. RB II then quickly scans a side and solves the puzzle. Needless to say, he easily made it to the Guinness Book of World Records. By the way, although RuBot is flashier, the human record is 7.08 seconds, so we are still the masters of that domain.
September 29, 2010
iCub Practices Archery
Now that iCub has mastered recognizing objects, he has moved up to firing a weapon with the assistance of Augmented Reward Chained Regression. By modulating and coordinating hand and arm motion, the ARCHER algorithm helps him improve with each subsequent shot. This is one instance where it would not be a good thing for a human to become involved in his learning curve, no matter how cute he is. Dr. Petar Kormushev and team will be presenting the iCub's progress at the Humanoids 2010 Conference this December in Nashville, TN.
Via Petar Kormushev
September 29, 2010
R2-D2 Strand O' Lights
Now you can share your never-ending love of all things Star Wars even at night with an entire strand of R2-D2 Lights. The string consists of 10 lights (for indoor use only,) with each 2.5" tall, a 12" span between them and a 30" lead wire.
Via R2-D2 Lights
September 28, 2010
Panasonic Bot Hair Washer
Not only has Panasonic been working on a robo-bed, they have developed a hair-washing bot for hospitals and health care facilities. With 16 fingers, it both washes and rinses shampoo probably as good as any human. The arms first scans the head to measure head shape and supposedly knows how much pressure must be applied. Three motors on each hand independently control the movements. We suspect it won't be long before the company comes up with a full body massage-bot.
Via Akihabara News
September 28, 2010
Latest XOS-2 Improves in Strength
Greg Clark, the actor who played agent Phil Coulson in the movie Iron Man, took the latest Raytheon XOS-powered Exoskeleton for a test drive. Engineer Rex Jameson claims that the robotic suit is more fluid and stronger than the first, no matter how much weight is placed upon it. It will be used for carrying heavy weights by the military and disaster rescue teams. Power consumption is reduced by 50% now and eventually they are hoping for an additional 20% when it becomes untethered.
BTW, for those of you who believe that cinematic Exoskeletons are better than the real thing, today is the official DVD release date of Iron Man 2.
September 27, 2010
Robot Helps Nab Gunman
With the assistance of a robot, New Castle County SWAT officers managed to use explosives to enter a Delaware apartment building last Thursday and get 35 year-old David Stanley to surrender with without incident. The occurrence took place after the man had begun shooting at vehicles, closing down a nearby highway for 6 hours. Stanley will face charges that include reckless endangement and weapons offenses. Several other guns were also found in the apartment.
EyePet Ready for Adoption
We saw our first Halloween commercial last week, as if we needed reminding to chow down on those mini-chocolate bars sooner than necessary and, even scarier, holiday spots are creeping in now, too. Less than 24 hours after announcing the arrival of the Playstation Move Bundle, the EyePet made its commercial debut on the boob tube. The good news? This is certainly the definitive answer to family members who want a puppy this year.
September 24, 2010
Must Have: Mint Duster/Mopper
The Mint has finally arrived. The automatic dusting/wet mopping robot will make you send your
baby Swiffer to a corner, even though you can use its cleaning cloths when the ones that come with the cleaning bot run out. Developed by NorthStar, its square design helps it in corners and sensors help it adapt to differing environments and floor types. It goes 3 hours on a charge, works under furniture and is mostly low maintenance.
Via The Mint
Core Robot Carries the Most Weight
Japan's Chiba Institute of Technology's Core is a headless bot that can handle heavy loads and knows to bend at the knees while doing so. At a height of 6' 2" and a weight of 507 lbs., he can handle up to 220 lbs. and can function as a helper, eventually working his way to assisting the elderly or disabled in the next couple of years. Oddly enough, Core shares his history with ASIMO as both are descended from Wabot 1.
September 23, 2010
NSYSU Uses Neural Networking in Robots
Humans increasingly expect their robots to be more advanced as time goes on, like the ones they see in movies and video games. Taiwan's Wei-Po Lee, Tsung-Hsien Yang and Bingchiang Jeng of National Sun Yat-sen University are using neural networks to go beyond repetitive behavior and reach emotional responses when interacting.
The team is dealing with:
-constructing control architecture to help the robot behave coherently.
-developing natural human/robotic interaction.
-building emotional responses and behavior into the robot.
The entire article was written up in the International Journal of Modelling, Identification and Control.
Via Times of India
AMEE is Runaway Star of "Red Planet"
Send Val Kilmer, Carrie Ann Moss, Tom Sizemore and a kickass robot to
the moon Mars in the year 2057, and you get the general idea behind the 2000 film "Red Planet". AMEE may not rank up there with HAL, but she is a force to be reckoned with. We don't want to give too much away, but you would think if we were advanced enough to get to Mars, we would be advanced enough to come up with another way to resuscitate a human who stopped breathing. Still, it is worth a viewing.
Via "Red Planet"
September 22, 2010
Isn't It Ironic?
While Stanford grad student Mick Kritayakirana was testing his driverless Audi TTS named Shelley on Pikes Peak, a helicopter filming the event crashed. The pilot and the crew suffered various injuries and were soon released from the hospital, while Shelley was unaffected by the crash. The autonomous vehicle has plans to retape in time.
New Cartoon Network Series Features Giant Robot
Genndy Tartakovsky, the brains behind such Cartoon Network faves as the 'Powerpuff Girls', 'Dexter's Laboratory' and the 'Star Wars: Clone Wars' miniseriesis is back with a new show, 'Sym-Bionic Titan.' The series features two alien teens who can morph into a giant mecha and a robot that leave their besieged home planet and seek refuge on earth. The humorous show debuted last Friday and we wish it a long run.
Via Sym-Bionic Titan
September 21, 2010
Electrolux Top Finalist Robot Fridge
You have one more day to vote for the peoples' choice in the 2010 Electrolux Design Lab final. The most popular so far is the Bio Robot Fridge by Yuriy Dmitriev from Russia. The refrigerator is fairly spaceage with gel morphs that replace shelving and its altering sizes and dimensions allowing it to be hung vertically, horizontally, and even on the ceiling. The final judging by panel takes place this Thursday, September 23, at 100% Design in London.
Via Electrolux Design Lab
BaR2D2 Gets an Upgrade
Just when you thought that BaR2D2 couldn't get any better, our bud Jamie has released instructions to his recently drink mixer upgraded barbot. Check him out!
HRP-4s Soon Ready for Ownership
The HRP-4 Robot can soon wreak havoc upon humans. Built by builder Kawada Industries and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), the HRP-4 is now advanced enough to surpass its cousin 4C, which was used to model. This 5 foot humanoid has 34 moving joints, efficient fingers and has the option of having its own notebook computer to increase data processing. You can use him to serve drinks, tend those power tools or clean up that kitchen as he responds to voice commands. Expect to pay ¥26 million (~ $300,000) beginning in January, software not included.
Via Pink Tentacle
September 20, 2010
Robot Sent Into John Hopkins Tragedy First
When an irate gunman struck John Hopkins last week, it was a robot that made sure the coast was clear. Paul Warren Pardus had been tending his mother at home until she was taken to the East Baltimore Campus for treatment. While snipers surrounded the building, part of the campus was put in lock down while other sections were evacuated.
When the bot was finally sent in, (which was probably similar to others owned by police departments like the one shown,) it was determined that the pair had probably been deceased soon after Pardus had shot Dr. David B. Cohen. It is a comfort to know that robots are depended upon for such a depressing chore to avoid extra violence.
Via Baltimore Sun
The White House is Looking for a Few Good Robots
Listen up, roboticists who need funding. As part of the President's FY2012 Budget, the White House has combined five Fed agencies for small business research to create grants for Robotics Technology Development and Deployment. Specifically, your robotics company can apply for funding for developing service bots, drug discovery bots and those that can disarm military bombs. DARPA will be overseeing the funding of the latter and although the grant may not make you rich, it can certainly help you develop your ideas.
If you want more information on any of the three opportunities, check out the link to the entire announcement. Applications must be submitted by December 20, 2010. Let us know if yours is accepted and details as we promise to be almost as excited as you are.
Via Robot Grant Information
September 17, 2010
Must Have: Crabs and Inchworm Hexbugs
Hexbugs now come in Crabs and Inchworms. Add them to your current collection, register them online and track your Nano collection. They come in various colors, can creep out your friends, family and pets and are less than 4" long so you can spook out the next cubicle.
Robotic Opera Set For Performance in Monaco
The Opera of the Future Group from the MIT Media Lab plans to present "Death and the Powers" in Monaco Sept. 24 - 26, the result of a 10 year project that features singing robots and a musical chandelier. Composed by Professor Tod Machover, it concerns a future without humans with the robots trying to understand what being alive was. More than 60 students and collaborators are needed to put on the show.
Via Laboratory Equipment
September 16, 2010
The Air-Hopper - Robotic Transportation
The Tokyo Institute of Technology is working on the Air-Hopper, a 4-legged bot that can walk on uneven surfaces and jump over large obstacles with the assistance of pneumatic cylinders. At a length of 129cm long and a height of 52.2cm, the hopping robot can leap as far as 70cm at heights as much as 40cm. We would love to take it for a test drive.
Via Robonable (translated)
E-Skin Makes Robots More Sensitive
Researchers at Stanford and Berkeley have developed e-skin, a "pressure-sensitive electronic material from semiconductor nanowires." They believe that the electronic skin, sensitive enough to feel a butterfly landing on it, can be used on robots who could determine how much pressure should be applied to tasks. It may also serve those with artificial limbs to regain feeling. We believe the first application may bring us closer to the day when robots become literal cuddle buddies with humans.
September 15, 2010
Girlzilla Dominates NY Lower East Side
The New York Lower East Side Girls Club took a $200 electric wheelchair bought on craigslist and added steel piping, recycled electronics and fabric and came up with a 14 ft. tall Girlzilla. The bot also has a giant eye and glowing bellybutton, linking a video camera and projector to display crowd images when she takes to the street. The purpose of the exercise is to get teen girls more interested in robotics, a field that they feel is mostly male dominated.
Via NY Times
Robotic Art Canvas Houses Clock
This Ready Robots Clock comes from Megan and Mendy Winborg and can be considered art as well as a functional timepiece. Each one is handmade and stretched over canvas and has a AA battery operated (not included) clock in its center. A portion of the price is donated to childrens' foundations.
Via Ready Robots Clock
September 14, 2010
The Chariot Assists in Standing/Walking
Exmovere has developed a Segway-based mobility device. Designed for those who have difficulty standing or walking, especially for an extended period, the Chariot is hands free and self-balancing and integrates vital signs, emotion monitoring and environmental sensors. The company has future plans that includes smart battery management, heating and cooling ability, wireless connectivity and GPS.
Machinarium to Come to Wii
Originally released by the Czech-based Amanita in October 2009, Machinarium will be making its way to the WiiWare download service. XGen Studios, the company behind Defend Your Castle, is assisting on the game that not only requires plenty of mouse clicking, but logic as well. The goal is for protagonist Josef to save his robogirfriend and the city of Machinarium.
September 13, 2010
PR2s Available for Purchase
For those who crave their very own Willow Garage PR2, they are now available to the masses, at least the masses who can afford them as one will cost you $400,000. With 11 of them already in the field, if you have a proven history of open source programs, you might be eligible for a $120,000 discount.
Via Willow Garage
GIT Teaches Robots to Lie
Can robots lie? This is the subject of research from a team based at the Georgia Institute of Technology that enables them to detect whether one is susceptible and use that gullibility against another based on algorithms. They feel that the deception could help it avoid being captured by evil military sources and calm those they rescue, but robotic experts claim that the ability would not only damage robots' current positive image, but may lead to teaching them to be able to gamble and hunt.
September 10, 2010
Must Have: RoboCup for Golfers
The RoboCup is an ingenious little device that will return your practice putts, even if you don't quite make the hole. It works at a distance of up to 14 ft., runs on 4 AA batteries (not included) and is good for over 12,000 returns. Designed for any kind of terrain, set it and its accompanying cord up on your carpet or back yard turf and let the practice begin.
Uncle Sam Climbs a Tree
One of the projects that Carnegie Mellon has been busy with lately is nicknamed Uncle Sam. In true reptilian fashion, he slithers along in biomimetic fashion and can now climb a tree. This latest version contains actuators, sensors and a camera for spying on the enemy, seeking out disaster victims and, because of its modular build, can easily be repaired. Obviously, this is a work in progress in progress as it is still tethered to its power supply.
September 9, 2010
Electric Walker 3010 Trains Via Voice
This electronic treadmill has an added bonus of nagging you while you exercise. The Electric Walker 3010 from Alinco will comment if you are working too hard or not hard enough and proclaims any change in speed and inclination. It will measure your heart rate by a sensor in the handle and can be adjusted to your needs. Foldable when not in use, the device will set you back ¥50,000 (~$592.00.)
Via Japan Today
NASA Adopts RoboThespian
NASA has purchased a RoboThespian from the UK's Engineered Arts to become a spokebot at the Kennedy Space Center. The 5' 9" tall droid even comes with a warranty once installed and we suspect that in true NASA participatory fashion, we can soon all help name it. The hundred thousand dollar humanoid runs on a 1.6 gigabyte Atom processor and has 32 GB memory. We have to admit that all we can think of in watching this promo is that we hope the first thing they do is put a spacesuit on it as, AI or no AI, this thing looks chilly.
Via The Register
September 8, 2010
We are not sure why David Weeks decided to design an ashtray that doubles as an artsy coffee table piece, but that's exactly what Robotrilla is. The 6 x 4.5 x 3" silver resin ashtray will stream smoke out of its eyes and nose, or can be used to hold candy, nuts, or teeny, tiny evil bots.
Enter Trossen's DIY Project Contest
It's Trossen Contest time once again so get those robotic juices up and flowing. Entrants will be judges by ingenuity, originality/creativity and presentation, documentation and explanation. There is no entrance fee and you might just win one of their incredible prizes that includes a $1,299.00 Interbotix Hexapod, Headplay VR Goggles worth $399.00 and a Roboni-I that retails for $150.00. The contest closes December 1.
September 7, 2010
iRobot Second Gen LANdroids
iRobots' wee LANdroids have finally taken another robotic step forward. The disposable robots now have cliff, front and yaw sensors, 4-way video cams, 2-way audio and an optional laser camera. The military bots are being funded by DARPA, who wants small, intelligent and inexpensive mobile communication.
ASIMO Commutes to Austria
ASIMO is on the move again. He (and his Honda keepers) have traveled to the Austrian Technology Fair to seek more feedback on his communication abilities. In particular, teamed with the Ars Electronica Futurelab, Honda set up an interactive game 'Deep Harmony' with volunteers to see if his gestures can be easily understood. Having seen ASIMO in action, we know that he is as close as it gets to human/robotic harmony.
September 6, 2010
Plex Outstanding on Jimmy Fallon
If you thought DJ Lance Rock, Muno, Foofa. Brobee, Toodee, Charme and robot Plex were simply characters in the Nick Jr. TV show "Yo Gabba Gabba!," then you missed their stopover from their recent tour to visit "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" last week. We wouldn't want to deprive you of the honor, so here you go. By the way, we think that Plex, portrayed by Lindsay Crouse, was particularly animated.
NASA Drone Sent Into Hurricane Earl
NASA's Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes project sent the unmanned drone Global Hawk directly into Hurricane Earl as part of an experiment to better understand how tropical storms evolve into hurricanes. The result includes this incredible shot from of Earl's eye. The GRIP mission includes three aircraft with 14 different instruments and several satellites and the study will continue through September 25.
September 3, 2010
Must Have: RC Skitterbots
Desk Pets has developed Skitterbots, 2" RC bots that claim to be the fastest insectoids around. They come in seven different colors and can race on their 6 legs at about one foot per second. Each can run on its built-in battery for 15 minutes after a 30 min. charge. Owning one will definitely illicit an 'ick' factor and two can race around your house or office.
DustCart Cleans Up Peccioli, Italy
In 2006, Scuola Superiore Sant' Anna in Pisa, Italy was given a grant to develop a better form of urban hygiene. DustCart was born and if you lived in Peccioli all you had to do to get it to perform was call it from your cell phone and it and its Segway base would deliver your new garbage receptacle. Toss in your trash, up to 70 lbs., and the bot would haul it to a dump.
This is no one trick robot. It can also measure air quality and provide city information like train schedules. DustCart, and its partner DustClean, passed the city test but at a double digit cost, it may be a while before the pair is hired out, although discussions to have DustCart turn into a neighborhood pharmacy delivery bot have been held. Hmmm.
September 2, 2010
U.bo Invades, Eats, Poops
Phison Electronics demonstrated its new pet robot U.bo ("U" for you, "bo" for ball shape) at the recent Tokyo Toy Fair. The company calls it an alien spore but it seems more of an advanced Tamagotchi that needs feeding, cleaning up, and will amuse you by walking, speaking alien and interacting. The 10 x 8.5cm AI features mouse buttons, touch sensors and a couple of motors for movement. It will run for 14 hours on 2 AA batteries.
Via U.bo Magicland
Noelle Gives Birth, But Not Without a Fight
The latest service bot in town comes from Ohio's Wright State University and was designed for health care professionals to practice emergencies in the delivery room. Noelle complains, groans and grunts and seizes her way through childbirth, with a detachable belly cover that every woman wishes she had. The $40,000 simulator keeps track of medical statistics and lets the participants perform several different predicaments, including some with her robotic baby. Good times.
Via Dayton Daily News
September 1, 2010
Electric Robofish Filled With Silicone Oil
Robofish keep getting more sophisticated as evidenced by this electric swimmer. Controlled via electrostatic actuators as muscles, the fish has been filled with silicone oil and even moves its eyes around to appear more lifelike. The creation from Germany's University Venture Creation Science and Technology Agency runs left or right by an operational joystick, the result being that its tail propels it forward.
Via Sendensha (translated)
Robot DVDs for Rainy Days
Are your toddlers, significant others, pets obsessed with both TV and robots? We found some obscure DVDs that look like they were precursors to present day ones. "Tiny Robots" shows a striking resemblance to Wall-E and the "Backyardians" seem to have an entire series devoted to robots.
Almost every kid of the past generation has seen the animated "Robots", but doesn't this cover Little Robot resemble one of the originals?