November 30, 2010
This is a quick edit (~8 seconds so don't blink) that notices the same red hue in a Droid ad, the TV series Caprica and one of our fave movie villains. You might say that the current generation of bots go back to the same roots. Hmmm.
November 30, 2010
The German company Festo took the design of an elephant's trunk and 3D printing to come up with an arm that is graceful and flexible. Intended for industrial bots, the Bionic Handling Assistant contains resistant sensors that can be held back before destroying any human close to it. The end of the arm has a 3-fingered gripper that wraps around an object, then collapses and traps it. Festo believes that this reduces the risk of injury that can occur in current service bot arms.
Via New Scientist
November 29, 2010
There are plenty of super deals this Cyber Monday so look for botty books at Borders, Roomba specials at iRobot, hourly specials at Amazon and deals at Trossen. Hit the link for more specials and check our Holiday Gift Guide for extra savings.
Via Cyber Monday
November 26, 2010
Trossen Robotics may not be holding a Black Friday sale, but our buds there always have such a wide selection at super-low prices that this is an excellent place to do your robotic holiday shopping. They have almost any Robot Kit imaginable, from Humanoids to Bioloids to Hexapods for both beginners and pros. Need parts? This is the place. Toys and Gift Certificates are also available.
November 25, 2010
It's Roomba Holiday Time! Whether you prefer a basic 530 Roomba, Dirt Dog or 532 Pet Series, iRobot offers all kinds of specials, including free shipping on purchases over $50.00 and a free hard floor cleaner with Scooba purchase.
Via iRobot Store
November 24, 2010
Toys "R Us" continues its holiday sales this week with several robotic toys, including 25% off the Rescue Pets Puppy that swims when plopped in the tub, the growling Dinosaur Train Interactive Boris and the RC Tonka Bounce Back Racer. The sale goes on through today and if you sign up on their Facebook page you can get advance information on their after Turkey Day sale.
Robo-deer is clever way for rangers to deter poachers. They set him up on the side of the road, make it move via remote control and snatch those who take pot shots. Featured on Operation Wild on Planet Green, the FWC claims that they have only made 7 arrests. For some reason, we are not surprised. Although we detest hunting, we expect that poachers are smart enough to know when the deer doesn't dash off when one drives back and forth, it's not real.
Via Tree Hugger
November 23, 2010
Dennis Hong, Virginia Tech associate professor of Mechanical Engineering, recently released a video of CHARLI walking, their humanoid project. The team explains why they are interested in the subject as well as showing off the next generation's new leg. Future applications will include more realistic prosthetics for humans.
Via Virginia Tech
A robot has been sent into the New Zealand coal mine where 29 men are still trapped. NZ Police superintendent Gary Knowles says that the Remote Positioning Device Wheelbarrow Revolution, normally used for the Army's bomb squad, is equipped with sensors to test for gas and cameras to report back via fiber-optic cable. A 150m tunnel being built there is about 2/3 complete.
November 22, 2010
Much thanks to Robots Dreams for managing to capture some footage at the MAKE Tokyo 06 of the Robotis Bioloid GP Robot. Dude, that guy can move and will undoubtedly kick some serious robot butt in future competitions.
Via Robots Dreams
The Chess Terminator, released to the general public last June, went up against World Champ Vladimir Kramnik recently. The champ seemed to take the match with a sense of humor, but we bet that isn't what was going on inside. At one point the human seemed to confuse the chessbot when he placed a pawn between two squares as CT remained motionless. Kramnik then apparently tries to shake um, hands and acknowledge a draw. He then flinches when CT moves again and calls him aggressive. Yeah, we know.
Via Chess in Translation
November 19, 2010
We figured sooner or later there would be robot bandz before the fad dies down and sure enough we found these Android Bandz. With 12 pieces per pack, they come in 6 assorted shapes, sizes and colors. They also glow in the dark.
Via Android Silly Bandz
The annual Stupid Robot Contest found itself in Budapest, Hungary this year. Take a peek at the video from Bacarobo 2010 that features plenty of useless bots that nonetheless will bring a slight chuckle or large guffaw. The winner, seen at the end of the video, won $2,700 but we expect the title was enough of a prize.
Via Plastic Pals
November 18, 2010
We may not be DIRECTV subscribers, but we have to admire their latest commercial that features a robotic battle. It certainly lives up to its tag line for Whole-Home DVR service. "Don't Just Watch TV. DIRECTV." Nicely done!
Geminoid F has once again made headlines in Japan. This time she debuted on the Tokyo stage in the play "Sayonara," playing an android caregiver to a human patient. While this couldn't have been much of a stretch for Gem, it's good that she has perhaps found her calling. The play's director, Director Oriza Hirata, claims that she has boosted ticket sales.
Via Escapist Magazine
November 17, 2010
A team from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) sent Tlaloque to search a tunnel that they believe has been sealed off since 250 A.D. Located in the ruins of the ancient city of Teotihuacan in Mexico, the tunnel is located under the Feathered Serpent Temple. Team leader Sergio Gomez says that they plan to enter the area next month. The project has been going on since they first discovered the tunnel in 2003 and it is said to lead to 3 chambers that may contain gems, shells and pottery (and perhaps a couple of mummies?)
Via Hispanically Speaking
If your kids are into the strange world of Yo Gabba Gabba, then they will surely appreciate the Gab 'N Sing Plush Plex. About 12" tall, he talks and sings and is designed for kids over 2 years old. For those who like the dark, the Plex Talking Flashlight is 7" long and needs 3 AAA batteries (included.) When they lift its arm, a black eye panel opens and he speaks while activating a light.
Via Yo Gabba Gabba
November 16, 2010
Online poker sites have been recently inundated with players who run bots to play for them. Full Tilt Poker confiscated funds and planned to redistribute the money to losing players in October and PokerStars did the same in July. Although it is not illegal, using them is against sites terms and conditions. Interestingly, some say that bots are also used by the sites themselves to provide opposition to keep the games going.
Via The Register
Want to share your latest robot with others? RobotBox is a new site dedicated to builders. So far the site has about 1,000 members and 200 bots. Join and you can upload your text, images and videos, including links to your robotic inspirations. Described by creator William Cox as an online portfolio for robot builders, members can vote on other projects and make new friends with similar interests.
November 15, 2010
During the recent APEC summit, Prez Obama took a few minutes off to play with some of Japan's most famous robots. He briefly viewed Geminoid F, interacted with Paro, the robotic seal and tried out an electronic wheelchair.
A team from the Georgia Institute of Technology has built Cody, a health service robot that can assist the elderly. He uses cameras and lasers to evaluate the patient and wipes him down with flexible arms and towels for hands. The first human to receive the care was co-creator Chih-Hung (Aaron) King, who described the experience:
"In the beginning I felt a bit tense, but never scared. As the experiment progressed, my trust in the robot grew and my tension waned. Throughout the experiment, I suffered little-to-no discomfort."
Via Discover Magazine
November 12, 2010
We were so impressed with Lisastarchild's Sleepy Robot collection that we decided not only to feature her in our Holiday Gift Guide but to delve into her artistic psyche as well. She was kind enough to grant us an interview.
What inspired you to become an artist?
In the beginning it was always my mom. when I was growing up she was alway making various crafts, but she was really into ceramics. In later years the work of artists/toy makers Buff Monster and Luke Chueh really influenced my art.
How long have you been doing this?
I started sculpting when I was 8 or 9 and dropped it for a while when the real world started to take over, but picked it back up in late 2009.
How did you come up with the name?
The first robot I ever made was a little bot nodding off to sleep. I liked him so much I named my shop/brand after him.
Which is your favorite?
That's tough because each one of my figures holds a special place in my heart, but if I had to choose... I used to sell a little robot drinking a beer that looked a little tipsy. I laughed every time I looked at it.
Where do your ideas come from?
Just random things that come to me when I'm sitting around doing nothing or sculpting. I have an entire notebook dedicated to ideas for robots and figurines I haven't created yet. My mind never stops churning.
Do you attend art fairs?
Yes. I attend fairs around North East Ohio mostly. I'm hoping to travel a little more once my finances allow it.
What kind of material are the bots made of?
Polymer Clay. I use mostly Sculpey.
What was the inspiration for your Zombie Toast?
A friend of mine has toast every morning for breakfast. Wanting to try something different one day, she put a piece of dark rye bread in her toaster. When it came out, the first thing that came to mind is that it looked like zombified toast. After that, whenever she made toast I'd ask her if she was making "Zombie Toast." A few weeks later I made my first zombie toast figure and gave it to her as a birthday gift. He still sits in her kitchen to this day.
Do you do special orders?
Yes I do. I make custom jewelry starting at $8 and custom figurines starting at $15+ depending upon details.
How about if someone wanted to personalize one?
All someone would have to do is contact me before purchasing an item via Etsy convo and let me know then additions they would like. I would update the listing accordingly for the custom. Personalizations are usually only $1-$2 more depending upon what a customer would like.
If someone orders one now could they get it in time for the holidays?
Yes. The cut off date for placing orders for guaranteed holiday delivery will be December 8th for Domestic and December 1st for international shipments. You can still place orders after these dates, but I cannot guarantee that the order will reach its destination by the holiday.
I would like customers to be aware that I will be out of town November 18th-December 1st. During this time there will be a delay in shipping. All orders received by 6pm EST, November 15th will be shipped before I leave. All orders placed after Nov. 15th will be filled and shipped in the order they were received as soon as I return.
You previously told me that you are an animal lover. I saw several, including the one you made in a monkey costume and your Mad Cow. Will there be more Sleepy Robot 13 animals?
Definitely! I have a few in the works now and will try to complete them as time permits.
What are your future plans?
I am currently working on trying to get a small business grant so I can move into an artist space, with a studio that will be open to the public. I am currently operating out of my living room and bedroom...frankly its kinda driving my boyfriend nuts! I also hope to have one of my figures mass produced in vinyl by the end of 2011.
How can your fans get in touch with you?
There are many ways to contact me:
Sleepy Robot 13's Facebook Fan Page
and via email (lisastarchild(at)yahoo.com)
Based on polymer and electrostatic technologies, SRI is developing electroadhesion. It allows an object to be stuck on any surface and move around or stay put. The company says that 11 sq.ft. of it can support 440 lbs. while using only 40mW of power. They are hoping to incorporate the tech into robots that can travel across any terrain to inspect natural disasters, military actions, and public safety threats.
November 11, 2010
Need some inspiration to get you to exercise? A free iPhone app, celebrating the tenth anniversary of Honda's mascot, counts your steps and for every hundred you take, Run With ASIMO rewards you with a movie of his development. You can also compete with others on the 5.8km Suzuka circuit. A similar one for Android smartphones should be released later this month.
In addition to the reading of Moore's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas', this year include 'Santa's Twin' by Dean Koontz (although the cover may be scary for younger ones) and 'The Twelve Bots of Christmas' by Nathan Hale. When the kids tire of the festivities, turn on "Nick Picks - Holiday" with 172 minutes of escapism.
Via Holiday Reading
November 10, 2010
Software developer Nigel Leck tired of arguing with those who disbelieve the signs of global warning and that humans are responsible for creating it. He developed the Twitter chatbot @AI_AGW that searches for set phrases and spits links back to the tweeter. Oddly enough, Leck claims that many times humans do not know that they are communicating with a chatbot. His plans for the future include expanding it so that it can get new arguments from humans who do what AI_AGW does. The robot has about 2,000 followers.
(Thanks to Steve Talkowski for the use of his TweetBot. While it is only an idea for now, we hope he makes this a reality.)
Via Technology Reviews
We never cease to be amazed at the imagination used these days when it comes to creating clever robot toys. Such is the case when it come to the windup trio of the 5" Minnie Mouse Mickey Mouse and their bud Goofy. Better yet, you can save a few bucks by purchasing all three of the Disney characters in a set.
Via Disney Robots
November 9, 2010
Clad in silver jumpsuits, three humanoid robots named Yume Robo have been climbing up and down a 15m wall every 20 minutes at the Shanghai Expo's Japanese pavilion for about the last four months. Intended to show how the country dominates in the field of robotics, each is 140cm tall and weighs 30kg. We were thinking that if they really want to impress the rest of the world, they might try to get the trio to run in the next NYC marathon. Now that would be impressive.
KSERA (Knowledgeable SErvice Robots for Aging) is a project that concentrates on service robots for older persons who need assistance in daily activities, disease management and general care. The project, involving seven partners from five different countries, began in February and will run until 2013. There are several goals involved, one of which is RoboEarth, a network and database where robots only can share information and learn from each other. Uh-oh.
November 8, 2010
The 7th World Robot Olympiad ran last weekend in the Philippines, with 1,000 elementary to high school students from 30 countries participating. The WRO 2010 was formed to help young people develop creativity and problem solving skills and they compete in two categories, technical and creative. The theme this year was 'Robot Promote Tourism'.
The delay continues for the final Discovery flight that will include crew member Robonaut 2. A hydrogen leak and small crack located in the foam insulation on the side of the giant tank have been discovered. NASA plans another launch attempt later this month. Because they only have the week of Nov. 30 through Dec. 5 or 6 to take off, if that is a no-go the flight would have to be delayed until late February 2011.
November 5, 2010
It seems like almost yesterday that robots were being developed for ping pong, but it was back in July, 2008 that we first discovered Robo-Pong. Back then it cost $229.00 for the 540 Table Tennis Robot, but now it is a lot less. The system comes with everything you need to challenge yourself including 48 orange balls.
Via 540 Table Tennis Robot
How many technicians does it take to build a rover? Last time we checked it was 12, although one seemed to be just wandering around. Maybe he/she was supervising. If you find yourself unable to tear yourself away from animal cams or are guilty of being one of those who tweeted to the space station, then you will really dig NASA's live feed of the Mars Science Laboratory's clean room in Pasadena, California. The "Curiosity Cam" runs Monday through Friday while a team assembles NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover.
November 4, 2010
Hammacher Schlemmer always does top of the line and the 54" tall Emotive Robotic Avatar is no exception. He can show that show he is happy, confused, angry, sad, or embarrassed with his eyes, body language and antenna colors. Controlled by an included tablet PC, a microphone and pinhole camera lets the operator keep track of what the emotional bot sees and 19 motors control his movement. The built-to-order aluminum robot can respond to questions. Our first would be, "Where are we going to get the $65,000 to pay for you?"
By the way, for those of you that think he looks familiar, this is Carnegie Mellon's Quasi, first developed in 2005.
Via Hammacher Schlemmer
The US Army is working on a plan to send surveillance video images from drones to smartphones. The Joint Tactical Radio System, targeted for launch in 2014, is said to be compatible with commercially available phones and is meant to cut the cost of operation. Tim Owings, deputy program manager for the Army's drone system, says that developing new encryption for the JTRS would allow "pretty darn secure" transmission of data in a very limited area. Let's hope it gets past that stage by the time the system is in place.
November 3, 2010
Lego has announced that a free app is now available for Mindstorms NXT owners that have an Android phone 1.6 or higher. MINDdroid will give you instant wireless access to direct your bot to walk, turn and activate its motor.
Turn your next party into a 3D Robot Fest. Meri Meri's Party Invitation and Party Set comes with 8 invitations, thank you notes and pairs of glasses.
And if that isn't dizzying enough, a Space Cadets Partyware Set contains 12 paper plates, 16 napkins, a garland strand and 12 more pairs of 3D glasses.
Complete your party with Fred & Friends' Yumbots Robot Cupcake Molds. Made of silicone, the 4-pack come in different colors with swiveling heads.
Via Robot Party Supplies
November 2, 2010
Kinova has developed JACO, a robotic arm that can reach almost a meter and lift up to 1.5 kg. Made of carbon fiber, it uses harmonic-gear-motors and has 6º of movement. The arm can be attached to a wheelchair, controlled by computer or joystick and is so flexible that it can hold a glass of water or pick up a flower. Don't get too excited as the JACO costs almost $48,000 from RobotShop Distribution.
Originally scheduled for today, two gas leaks have delayed the final launch of Discovery to Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 3:52 p.m. The space shuttle will deliver 6 NASA astronauts as well as Robonaut 2, who will become a permanent resident on the ISS. The Discovery will be carrying a Permanent Multipurpose Module that contains the bot, spare parts and supplies, and will be attached to the outside of the space station. While R2 is to be confined to a limited area after arrival, future plans include him assisting astronauts on space walks.
November 1, 2010
It's Holiday Gift Guide time here at Robot Snob and this year we found the majority of our robots at prices less than $30.00. Spend a few minutes and shop away, whether you prefer good ones that dance or fly around autonomously or evil ones that will challenge the recipient's skills. We guarantee you will find something for that robot snob in your life.
Our sincere thanks to Lisastarchild who produces the amazing line of Sleepy Robots 13. We are using one of her creations atop our guide because nothing says Happy/Merry Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa like Santa Bot does. Lisa began her line of bots because of the crappy economy. After losing work, she decided to make her art her mainstay. This is a very good thing for the rest of us. Visit her site for an incredible gift that will cost you almost nothing.
Alphie has come a long way from the basic toy that came out in the 80's. Designed for preschoolers, he sings, plays music and has buttons that light up. Similar to the original, he comes with 30 double-sided cards that teach letters, math, reasoning and other skills.
Last year ZhuZhu Pets, this year WowWee Fin Fin Friends. The animated fish come in various playsets (Castle displayed here.) Once you send one down a slide into water, she/he comes alive by swimming, lighting up, singing, dancing and making sounds. WowWee promises that the more you play with them the more responsive they become.
Struxx Robotrixx is a 502-piece construction system that comes with balls, sockets and rods that click together to form a robotic jaguar, shark or 5 ft. long T-Rex that roars while his eyes light up.
The Bladestar Flame Indoor Flyer can be controlled by remote or actually fly autonomously with built-in sensor detection. With 2 wings and its helicopter movement, it will perform in both beginner and expert levels. For your schizoid friends, the RC Dancing Robot can walk, turn left or right, grooves to his own music and can aim and fire foam disks from his mouth after warning you that he is about to attack.
Cepia's B2B Bot Buzzsaw Robot will roll around on its 4 wheels swinging its fists, shouting insults and has sound effects to enhance his hits and knockouts. Radio controlled, he comes in both red and black and silver and blue B2B models.
Technology is so advanced that even a 12" tall Buzz Lightyear action figure can utter 15 different phrases in his original Tim Allen voice. He can also light up, karate chop and pose. If the female in your life digs Pandora Jewelry, this sterling silver Ohm Robot will fit right in with her other beads.
One of the hottest toys of the season will undoubtedly be Sing-A-Ma-Jigs. Each talks in its own language, sings and, when paired with others, will harmonize. The more you adopt, the more music you get.
The Escape Robot Kit needs to be soldered, but once assembled will finds its way through any maze or will avoid obstacles in its place on its 6 legs. Elenco also puts out a Ladybug Robot Kit that avoids obstacles with IR eyes and six legs.
Zibits mini-RC robots come in a wide variety of characters that chatter and can do battle as each are located on separate frequency. Only 2" tall, our faves are the diminutive Spex and Dinc.
We had to put in at least one robotic creature to freak out your buds. That would be Uncle Milton's furry RC Tarantula that has light-up eyes and independent leg movement. Don't forget the batteries. Sanyo's eneloop Rechargeables will more than pay for themselves and save you the worry that the giftee will begin whining soon.
Looking for stocking stuffers? The Shiny Robot Stickers in paperback can be used to decorate a room, packages or toy box. The same is true with Create Your Own Robot Sticker Activity Book with parts that can be mixed and matched.
Apparently robots are in this year, as we found an overabundance of tree décor. This Retro set of four has each at a size of 2.25 x 2.25 x 4.5".
Add to that 6 (2 of each shown) Santas with trees on his tummy, reindeer with geared feet and snowmen with a snowflake.
Artist Janna Salak designed this Love Does Not Compute Ornament crafted of porcelain and this bot can be personalized. Don't forget the R2-D2 lights and a magnetic musical quartet that can hang out under your tree or on your fridge.
After you have stuffed yourself on that holiday feast, sit back with a good robot movie before the tryptophan puts you out. The Iron Giant from 1999 is still a classic. Similar to ET, a young Hogarth befriends the misunderstood massive bot while protecting him from others. For fans of anime, the Collection 1 of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is great for marathon viewing.
Robot Adventures features Robosapien and friends introducing younger kids to robotics with educational content without their knowing. And while the kids are watching theirs, adults can enjoy and early Toaster and Serge the robotic butler on the TV series Caprica, the prequel to Battlestar Galactica.
Over $50 - Ultimate Wish List
No list can be complete without at least one domestic Roomba. We feel so spoiled since we got ours as it picks up everything from dust to cat litter. Next purchase has to be a Pet Series Vacuum Cleaning Robot.
For younger kids, Dance Star Mickey walks, talks and dances. If Fisher Price continues to use the commercial that features Donny Osmond moonwalking with the electronic rodent, he will certainly cause a mini-commotion.
Fisher Price also has a new pair of RC creatures this year. The Imaginext Spike is an Ultra Dinosaur may not be as advanced as Pleo but he can walk, turn, blink his eyes and roars as he opens his mouth and blinks his eyes while his back spikes light up. And, although we dig the robotic pleosaurus, he certainly can't throw boulders or stand on his hind legs.
Big Foot is also RC controlled, does what Spike does, and can talk, pounds his fists, plays ball, and chews and burps. The i-Que Personal Robot contains the entire Merriam Webster student dictionary. He has text to speech capabilities, even in different accents and themes, and is full of thousands of facts and trivia.
Joebot responds to voice commands and can function in one of several play modes. He can dance, act as a sentry, play Simon Says and attack evil bots with his LED hands.
Finally, you cannot beat our buds from Trossen. Whether you are a serious roboticist looking for your first kit, in need of parts or advice or want to shop at their recently added online toy shop, this is one of the best sources for all things botty.
Have a great holiday season and remember 'tis the giving of yourself that is the best one of all.
Boo! Bet we scared ya, huh? Happy Pumpkin Day and don't pig out till you go into a sugar coma. Lots of botty things from this month to catch up on and stay tuned for our 2010 Holiday Guide that makes its debut tomorrow!
BP Fish ROVs
Lego Mindstorms NXT
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday