October 29, 2010
Must Have: Zombie Dog
If money were no object, how cool would this Zombie Dog be as part of your Halloween décor? With a silicone head, he snarls, growls and lunges at those who cross his path. This guy will set you back about $5,300 but when you check out the video, the scare factor has to be worth it. Have a great All Hallows Eve.
Via The Horror Dome
October 29, 2010
HRP-4C Boogies at Tokyo Expo
Take a peek at this eerie performance by HRP-4C at the recent Digital Content Expo in Tokyo. She is getting more natural all the time but someone should have covered up those legs.
The performance is almost a throwback to 60's TV shows like 'Hullabaloo' and 'Shindig,' 2010 style. Play both videos at the same time and tell me they didn't use the same choreography. By the way, the intro on this video is done by a very early George Hamilton and Lanie Kazan for those who keep track of that kind of trivia.
Via Fareast Gizmos
October 28, 2010
First All Robotic Surgery Performed
Canada's McGill University Health Center has performed the first all robot operation. The prostatectomy was done by a surgical DaVinci while a robot named McSleepy handled the anesthesia. A human team controlled the bots from a dedicated workstation via video control with 3D HD image quality. Dr. TM Hemmerling claims that the team will use the results to learn and plans on using the knowledge on different types of surgery in the future.
Via TG Daily
October 28, 2010
Jamming Transition Used as Robotic Gripper
Cornell University decided that the best way to design robotic hands would be by using "jamming transition," the theory being that densely packed particles act like a solid while loose ones behave like a liquid. They used a latex party balloon, filled it with coffee grounds and attached it to a robotic arm. The team, funded by DARPA, proceeded to test their theory by lifting a raw egg, shock absorber and various other items. The balloon deforms around the object, then a vacuum sucks all its air out. If you can make it through the entire video, we figure a robotic fist bump is in order.
October 27, 2010
MakerLegoBot Builds 3D Models
Will Gorman, a fan of Lego and robots, decided to combine his two interests and came up with the MakerLegoBot, a robot that uses the plastic building blocks to make 3D models from the programmer's schematics. Gorman has posted his instructions on his site and claims that, with a few modifications to the Mindstorms NXT project, the robot could clone himself. So long after we are gone, perhaps it won't just be the cockroaches that survive.
E.A.R.L. Strikes at the ITRC
E.A.R.L. (Enhanced Automatic Robot Launcher), named after Earl Anthony, known in bowling circles as "The Machine," is the second generation of bots designed to assist at
the International Training and Research Center (ITRC) in Arlington, Texas. Replacing Harry, a robot that was built in 1999 and recently retired, E.A.R.L. can consistently toss a ball at a speed of 10 to 24 mph at 50-900 rpm. He recently participated in a game against PBA star Chris Barnes. The bowlbot may be good but Barnes was the victor with a score of 259 - 209. E.A.R.L. will be used to help design lanes, balls and pins.
Via Bowling Digital
October 26, 2010
Bigtrak Jr. Updates Original
Witness the return of the 70's BigTrak rover. Like the original, Bigtrak Jr. has an onboard keyboard that can be programmed to go forward, turn and fire its photon canon while navigating around obstacles. Improvements include a memory save and accessory port for things to come. Moon crater accessories are included so that you can make your own other worldly obstacle course.
Via Bigtrak Jr.
Energid to Develop Robotic Fruit Pickers
Help design a Robonaut and you, too may get funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a robotic citrus harvesting system. Energid Technologies, who developed Actin and Selectin software toolkits used in NASA's bot, believes that the way to go is to use robotic arms to literally pick the fruit. Principal Engineer Dr. Chu-Yin Chang says of the technology, "Imagine a flexible picking mechanism that shoots out to remove an orange like a frog's tongue catching a fly. Now line up tens or even hundreds of these. That is the system we are developing."
Wax on, wax off.
October 25, 2010
'Check It Out' - Robotically Influenced Tune
We bet that if robots watched music videos the first one they would watch would be Nicki Minaj and Will.I.Am performing 'Check It Out'. It just doesn't get any more techno than this performance on the Letterman's Late Show. 'Nuff said.
Spielberg Takes on Robopocalypse
Dreamworks has announced that Steven Spielberg will begin shooting "Robopocalypse" January 2012. Based on an as yet unpublished Daniel H. Wilson novel, it concerns human survival when the robot apocalypse begins. Wilson previously wrote "How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion" also slated for moviedom with director Steve Pink and actor Jack Black.
October 22, 2010
Must Have: Eye-Flashing Robot USB Hub
Check out this 2 1/2 x 3 3/8 x 2 1/4" Robot USB Hub whose eyes light up when connected to your PC. Four 2.0 ports are located in each wheel and he has adjustable eyes and rubberized wheels.
Via Robot USB Hub
Shredder Mini-Tank Runs in All Terrains
While technically this is not a robot, we just had to share. Canadian Ben Gulak and his company BPG Werks are developing the Shredder, a DTV that rides like a mini-tank with a 48 hp rotary combustion engine and a top speed of 60 mph. While the current version has a handheld cable for control, the production version will feature one similar to a Jet-Ski handlebar.
The 21 year-old is in talks now with both military and civilian manufacturers and foresees its availability in another year for $3,500 to $4,000. In the meantime, the company is already taking deposits.
Via BPG Werks
October 21, 2010
Do Babies See Robots As Real?
In a bizarre experiment, University of Washington researchers tried to learn if babies believe that robots are sentient or inanimate. One of them brought out Morph and interacted with it for 90 minutes in front of 64 18-month-old babies, then left the room. Their conclusion was that 13 out of 16 that witnessed the exchange would continue to observe the robot, while in the control group that did not witness Morph relating to the researcher, only 3 of them seemed interested.
Via Science Direct
Heli-Trainer Practices Flight
Heli Aviation GmbH has paired with the German Max Planck Institute to create a system that can teach helicopter maneuvering safely and economically. The Heli-trainer is paired with a modified KUKA KR 500 heavy-duty robot and can repeat simulations including near crash misses. It can be lifted from 4 to 6 feet off the floor, controlled with a joystick and carry both pilot and passenger with a maximum weight of 500kg inside. We hope they remember to include a barf bag.
October 20, 2010
Experiment Tests Robotic Violence
Slovenian Borut Povse somehow managed to get some of his coworkers to volunteer to let his robot, a small production-line worker from the Japanese firm Epson, punch them continuously. Some of the six allowed the violence to go on 18 times and then rated their pain. A majority of them said that it was mild to moderate. While Povse claims that the experiment was designed to learn how to keep robots from harming humans, we wonder if it is a good idea to tempt Isaac Asimov's law of robotics that clearly states "a robot may not injure a human being."
Via New Scientist
dSolar System Can Control NXT Mindstorms
Run your Lego Mindstorms NXT by the sun with the Dexter Industries 2W dSolar System that easily attaches to any of your creations. The kit comes with a 9V solar panel, a power cord and adapter at a price of $90.00.
Via Dexter Industries
October 19, 2010
'Real Steel' Wraps Filming
Filming has concluded on "Real Steel," Hugh Jackman's new Sci-Fi movie. The plot concerns a former boxer (Jackman) who has to reinvent himself when 2,000 lb., 8 ft. tall robots take over the sport. He teams with his estranged son to build and train their own oversized Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot. Partially filmed in the thumb of Michigan, their camera helicopter caused temporary chaos last month when it snagged a power line. DreamWorks has planned a 2011 opening.
Via Real Steel
iRobot Debuts Next-Gen Robots
iRobot introduced its 5th generation Roomba at a recent a press event in New York, built with modular parts that can easily be replaced. It also has iAdapt technology, an internal sensor that "listens' for dirt rather than mapping and memorizing a room.
CEO Colin Angle spoke about the company's chembot being developed by the University of Chicago that he described as a"shape shifting, amorphous, squishable blob that can roll itself."
Kudos also goes to the company that launched their Seaglider, developed at the University of Washington and licensed by iRobot, that is still in the Gulf. It captures and monitors samples to detect oil as far down as 1,000 meters as well as reportng a wide variety of data, including measuring the level of dissolved oxygen.
Via PC World
October 18, 2010
EPORO and Solar Tree Slated for 2030
At last week's CEATEC 2010 in Japan, Nissan used the opportunity to show off its latest EPORO in its demo of their 39 ft. tall Solar Tree, a charger that generates 20 kW of power. The robotic car is rigged with a wireless power system, and can recharge itself on the tree as well as charging lanes on the road. Don't get too excited. Nissan targets 2030 as the year that the system becomes commonplace.
Via Pink Tentacle
German MIG Self-sufficient Taxi
Germany's Freie University has come up with a robotic vehicle that one ups Google's Pribot. Their laser, radar and sensor-equipped VW Passat that they have appropriately named "Made in Germany" lets the driver start a program and enter coordinates on an Appirion iPad app, then wait for his/her self-driving cab to arrive.
October 15, 2010
Must Have: Robot Costumes For All
Make this Halloween full flung family fun with robot costumes in all sizes. There is one for toddlers and one in sizes 4 - 6.
There is also a costume for medium and larger kids and one for adults that won't give away your real identity.
Via Robot Costumes
Gay Robot Part of 'Pretend Time'
We believe that robots have senses of humor, too. Proof positive to our theory is the Robot Skeleton that is Craig Ferguson's sidekick on the Late Late Show. Now Nick Swardson is including a Gay Robot as part of his entourage on his new show 'Pretend Time' that airs on Comedy Central. Apparently, the character almost got his own show when an audio sketch on an Adam Sandler CD appeared in 2004. Our fave line, "I wish I could quit you."
You can check out the first episode and the original with Sandler on YouTube
Via Pretend Time
October 14, 2010
Put HAL on Your MacBook
Add a literal touch of 1968's
"2001: A Space Odyssey" with a HAL decal that you can affix to your MacBoom, including older black and white models. Made of Avery Brand vinyl, both a one size fits all decal as well as specific sizes are available for $15.00. Expendable Decals promises shipment within 2 business days of cleared payment.
Via Expendable Decals
Lifesize RIC Hawks Android
RT Corp and Brilliant Service Co Ltd came together to build RIC (Robot Inside Character,) a literal robot controlled by Android. Encased in a plastic suit, the android can walk, move its hands and head, and plays synthetic sounds and music via wireless LAN. Displayed at Google Developer Day 2010, future plans include extending its functions by April 2011 then renting it to other companies for about $6,000 a day to promote other Android-based devices.
October 13, 2010
NNSA Sends MDAR to Patrol NNSS
Never send a human to do a dull job when a robot will do it and probably not complain. The US National Nuclear Security Administration recently loosed a Mobile Detection Assessment Response System on the 1,300 sq. mi. desert to patrol the Nevada National Security Site while cutting costs. The NNSS still houses old nuclear waste, weapons and research materials. There is only one MDARS for now, essentially a combination of Hummer and camera/microphone that contacts its controllers should it suspect a foreign entity or wayward alien. The NNSS plans to add a couple more over the next 6 months and rename the test site, but what really spooked us was the future plans they have for testing in the area.
Taiji Celebrates Isana Festival With Mechanized Whale
When does tradition become something that should perhaps become obsolete? Every year, the small village of Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture in western Japan celebrates the beginning of the annual whaling season with their Isana Festival. Included is a pseudo hunt by men in rowboats chasing a 30ft. mechanized whale around their bay. Unfortunately, the country has been subject to controversy of late as Japan claims that whaling is part of their culture, for both research and eating, while other countries and animal activists, such as those who created the documentary "The Cove," claim that there is unnecessary violence and killing that includes not only whales but dolphins.
Via Weird Asia News
October 12, 2010
Fujitsu Bear Cubs Still on Life Support
Fujitsu's Bear Cubs are still in the developmental stage, but you can tell by engadget's interactive video clip from CEATEC 2010 in Japan that they can giggle as obnoxiously as Elmo. The prototype first made its debut in May and creeped us out even then. It now can accomplish about 300 actions with 12 actuators, 13 skin sensors, a tilt sensor and a mic but it will be still a while before its public unleashing.
Google's PriBot Automated Cars
Since 2005, Google has been developing automated cars under the direction of Sebastian Thrun. An engineer sits in the driver's seat in case of an error and another controls a computer on the passenger side. The redesigned Toyota Prius is aware of speed limit, traffic patterns and road maps. Each uses video cameras, radar, sensors and lasers to detect other cars.
Already the cars have covered 140,000 miles with the emphasis on safety as the company believes that they could reduce the number of auto-related deaths. Other plusses include instant reaction time, less fuel used and 360º awareness. So far there has only been one accident when one of cars was rear-ended at a stoplight. Google believes that a launch is at least eight years away.
Via Google Blog
October 11, 2010
Trekbot - Affordable Robot Battling
Desk Pets' RC Trekbot should be ready to rumble soon. The hubless micro-robotic racer can turn on a dime, do headstands and flip in one of four frequencies so that multiple racers can perform. A thirty minute charge from your US port will give you 15 minutes of competition. The bots will be available in black, gold, white, and a clear shell at Toys 'R Us and Radio Shack for a mere $19.99.
Via Desk Pets
"Endhiran" International Success
Preliminary reports indicate that "Endiran" has earned about $21 million overseas so far (mostly from Tamil and Telugu versions,) with $1.5 mill from sales in North America. Another 35 million expected from Indian sales, making it probably the best-selling Bollywood blockbuster to date. Proof positive that if you want a hit these days, adding a couple of robots couldn't hurt. Just ask the BEP.
Via 16 Reels
October 8, 2010
Must Have: RC Iron Man
The 5.2 x 12 x 14" RC Iron Man from Hasbro will boldly go into battle with lights and sounds that will scare the evil Ivan Vanko away. If that doesn't work, fire off his four missiles. That'll teach 'em. The metallic dude comes with ammo, targets and batteries to get you going.
Via Hasbro RC Iron Man
Mini-Exoskeleton Can Wreak Mini-Havoc
While it wasn't really designed for this purpose, your kidlet will really stand out this Halloween when she/he dons this mini-exoskeleton from Sakakibara Kikai. At a height of 5.25 ft. and a weight of 400 lb., it will crush mere mortal toddlers in their plastic faces and flame retardant garb. The $21,000 price tag of the walker doesn't seem to include an adequate seatbelt, however.
Via Sakakibara Kikai (translated)
October 7, 2010
This Robot Does Windows
Think of it as vertical Roomba. The Korean Windoro window cleaning robot is a combination of two neodymium magnets, with one on each side of the glass. The Pohang Institute of Intelligent Robotics bot uses sensors and obstacle detection for movement, while using spinning pads and detergent to take care of the chore. Unfortunately, it cannot move from one pane to another and ended up costing PIRO about $260,000 to build, so we might stick to the hose for now.
Via Plastic Pals
Doctors Install First Robotic Heart
A 15 year-old suffering from Duchenne syndrome wasn't eligible for a heart transplant through his health insurance, so Dr. Antonio Amodeo of the Bambino Gesu Children's Hospital in Rome decided to install a permanent robotic artificial heart, the first operation of its kind. Powered by a battery worn on his belt and connected to a plug implanted behind his ear, the organ works as an hydraulic pump and will last about 20-25 years.
October 6, 2010
Robotic Arm Users Prefer Manual
Sometimes even robot researchers can overdo it. A team from the University of Central Florida came up with a way to improve a robot arm for those with physical limitations by a click of a button, the result being that the arm "decides" how to best perform needed tasks. They were surprised to find that users preferred the manual control over automatic because they found the latter "too easy."
Sheldon Meets the Woz
If you are a fan of the "Big Bang Theory," then you already saw the season premiere that found Sheldon as a telepresence robot that chats it up with the "Great and Powerful Woz." You can get the DVD of last season as well as the first two if you want to catch up with the nerdish humor.
October 5, 2010
BP Detained Initial ROV Effort After Explosion
Doug Martin, president of Smit Salvage Americas, told a federal investigative panel yesterday that soon after the April 20 spill in the Gulf, BP interfered with an effort by engineers to lower a ROV to stop the oil. He claimed that the company was concerned about how a heat build-up would affect the boat that would launch it.
Via LA Times
Fits.me Internet Clothing Dressing Room
The Estonian company Fits.me plans to take trying on clothing to a whole 'nother level. CEO Heikki Haldre believes the fitting room is the most important part of shopping for clothing. Their Terminator mannequins, available in 5 sizes, tries on clothing with the results seen instantly online. Unfortunately, only men's clothing can be demoed as they haven't quite mastered the, um, bodice of the female body.
October 4, 2010
Bot Assists in Missing Balloon Search
After a hot air balloon went missing last week over the Adriatic Sea near Italy, the Italian Coast Guard utilized an underwater unit that employed a robot to aid in the search. The balloon, carrying Richard Abruzzo and Dr. Carol Rymer-Davis, was equipped with a satellite phone, a radar transponder, VHF radios and 2 mobile phones, but so far the search has only come up with small pieces of debris.
"Endhiran" Finally Premieres
India's big budget movie "Endhiran" ("The Robot") finally made it to the big screen this past weekend. The Indian film stars 60 year-old megastar Rajinikanth and Aishwarya Rai and, with a budget of $35 million, has all the glitz, glamour and special effects equal to many Hollywood blockbusters. The official trailer shows bots that look midway between Iron Man and Terminator before the music even kicks in. Still, ya gotta love the pomp and circumstance of a premiere.
October 1, 2010
Must Have: Droid 2 R2-D2
Fans at the Star Wars Celebration V event in Orlando got a sneak peak at Verizon Wireless' Star Wars inspired Droid 2 R2-D2. The limited edition smartphone features a 1GHz processor, Android 2.2 and 3.7" display. With a custom media dock, the Motorola phone is priced at $250 after $100 mail-in rebate and with 2 year contract. To download apps and wallpaper, sign up for updates and find out how to get your own, hit the link below.
Via Droid Does
Monthly Roundup - September 2010
Catch up with our Monthly Roundup if you missed anything in September and get ready for the holidays! We expect lots of botty toys, kits and more this year.
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday
Volkswagen Ad Speaks to Newspaper Recipients
How spooky would it be to pick up your local newspaper and have it talk back to you? That's exactly what happened a couple of weeks ago to those who grabbed the Times of India. Chips were embedded in the last page in a Volkswagen ad so that when opened, it began to tout the virtues of the car. Pretty kewl, but we hope they don't try this at any local airport.
Via Digital Inspiration
Robot Revolution Closer Than We Think
As robot assisted work and automation rises and boosts big business, human productivity falls, and with that, more jobs will be replaced by our metal friends. (Note the rise of the GDP.) Roubini went to a great deal of time assessing the trend that reduces human employment. Yeah, but we still have to carry the oil can. Here is part of their evaluation and replacement:
- Fire bank tellers; install ATMs.
- Fire workers in toll booths and parking lots; install automated payment systems (e.g., FasTrak.)
- Fire cashiers; install automated check-out systems (e.g., gas stations and Home Depot.)
- Fire teachers for simple continuing education course; install online learning systems.