December 31, 2010
If you are breaking in the new HDTV you finall bought this year, here are a couple of the worst movies ever made with robots participating. 'Santa Claus Conquers the Martians' has a robot named Torg that clearly didn't know Asimov's three laws of robotics as it was instructed to destroy a couple of Earth children.
S1m0ne (aka Simone,) which we thought would be better since Al Pacino was its star, has him as a director who takes a Sim One computer program and fools the entire planet into thinking that she is real.
Via Robot Movies
December 31, 2010
They say that whatecer you are doing on New Year's Eve you will be doing the rest of the next year. We guess that means that you are reading our Monthly Roundup with a cuppa joe in your robe and slippers, preparing for that NY ball dropping that thankfully will not contain the human hamster Snookie. Happy, Hippy New Year and see you in 2011.
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday
December 31, 2010
Gostai has introduced Jazz, a WiFi telepresence robot that can be used for video conferencing or telesurveillance. With an infrared camera, laser system and map of its intended area, a remote operator controls it real time with an ordinary web browser. Jazz stores past incidents, can see in the dark or light up dark areas and can record in wide angles. You can feel super secure for an €8400 (~$11,000) investment.
December 30, 2010
One of the entrants in this year's Robo-One was THKR-4, who greets, opens the fridge and serves bubbly, pops party toys and gives a shoulder massage should the need arise. The service was created from off-the-shelf parts and is perfect for your holiday parties. The R-O was held December 26, 2010 in Yokohama, Japan.
Via Robots Dreams
December 30, 2010
Drexel University's Alyssa Batula and Dr. Youngmoo Kim taught a Robonova several tricks, including dancing, tapping a tambourine and playing the piano with only two digits. They used this particular humanoid because it can mimic human gestures and is both rugged and inexpensive. The two disadvantages, they say, is that motions are not precise enough and that processing must happen on an offboard computer, since the bot itself is underpowered. Still, we are impressed.
December 29, 2010
We understand that Coke wants to give the entire world a taste and, in fact, we have done some extensive traveling and one of the first things to greet us in any country has always been their logo on billboards, walls, etc. So it doesn't really surprise us that they use robots in their commercials globally. Check out Singularity Hub's collection of robot related ads, including this one from Brazil made in 2009.
Via Singularity Hub
The Elenco Weasel Robot has two sensors that enable it to "feel" its way around walls and corners. The two motors and sensors control its on/off operation and it uses the robotic "left hand rule" to find its way in a maze. Also added is a sonic tracking system so that it can follow a line. The kit needs some soldering and comes with a 3-speed gear box but not the 2 AA batteries needed.
December 28, 2010
While you were fighting at your latest family holiday meal, the Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam ad agency created an app for those who cannot hook up in person. The Virtual Holiday Dinner teams custom built mechanical dolls with Skype calling so that any family can enjoy each other in 15 minute slots. Although only 156 actually knew of and used the service, perhaps if you book now, they will open it again next year or open it up for family reunions.
via Virtual Holiday Dinner
A team from Japan's Tsukuba University has created the Talk-Torque 2 Robot that specializes in non-verbal communication. Although it can only move its arms, twist its waist and tilt its head, the bot's purpose is to act as a sort of museum curator. The video shows the first generation.
Via Plastic Pals
December 27, 2010
Witness the 15 sec. Rubik's Cube solving arm. Created by Rowan University's Zachary Grady and Joe Ridgeway, the system consists of a camera that captures how the cube is scrambled. Then it uses patterns and algorithms to solve it. Ridgeway himself is a solver, his best time being 45 seconds.
Via New Scientist
Expect to pay a little extra if you plan to go for a hot pot in China. The Dalu Robot Restaurant is their latest eatery. The robotic servers cannot serve the customers or pour beverages, but they tool around as the male waiters offer trays of food and the fems dance between tables. At a cost of $6,000 apiece, the Shandong Dalu Science and Technology Company provided each with motion sensors so that they stop when a human or object nears.
Via People Daily
December 24, 2010
A new hot toy, the Paperoni Magic Moving Pets, lets kids aged 4 and up to make 3D plastic characters that will run and jump after creation. The wind-up creatures kit includes a puppy, hamster and rabbit, with templates to make flower beds, dog house, hedges and carrots.
Via Paperoni Magic Moving Pets
Atsuo Takanishi of Waseda University in Tokyo and team have created a software simulation of their WABIAN-2R bipedal robot to study how it would fare should it go to the moon. The results of study that had the JAXA bot "pogo jumping" found that while it could leap as high as 1.5 meters, the stress on the astrobot's legs would make it fall over. So it's back to the drawing board to find a better compromise between speed and stability.
December 23, 2010
Our bud Jamie Price of BaR2D2 fame has come up with a new device for encouraging physical therapy. His Occupational Therapy Device is a tabletop application that is meant to improve dexterity, hand/eye coordination and left/right brain interaction. A sort of advanced Simon, the user has special gloves and must touch whatever button is lit. Check out his project and instructions for making one.
A 60 ft. tall statue was reportedly being built at the Floraland amusement park in China that resembled Gundam a tad too much. Sotsu Co., the company that owns the copyright to the Gundam in Odaiba district in Tokyo, is looking into the matter. Those who saw it noted that the Chinese version had the same EFSF and WB logos on its shoulders. Although the park's operator claims that the design was original, it is nonetheless missing for now, leading us to believe that the Gundam has some powerful friends.
This ia not a select incident. In 2007, the Shijingshan Amusement Park near Beijing tried to create mascots and figures that resembled Disney and Japanese Anime characters. Even if you cannot understand Japanese, it is obvious from the video that those characters are/were a direct rip-off. Most of the videos released at the time were taken off YouTube and a quick check at the park's site claims that it is "under construction." As far as we can tell, the Disneyesque characters and a banner stating "Disney is too far, so please come to Shijingshan" has been removed.
Via Japan Times
December 22, 2010
Check out this SAP commercial that features both NEC's PaPeRo and Optimus Prime in its spiel. The German software company says that it "offers technical account management for the life cycle of your solution and supports your implement of end-to-end solution operations." Yeah, we thought that, too.
Northern Illinois University and DOER Marine today plans to send its 28 ft. long submarine under the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, a place too treacherous for humans. It was designed to check out conditions below where the ice is eroding because of warm water. The cigar-shaped sub flattens and expands once in the water and can shoot images as well and take measurements of the ice, water and sediment.
Because it runs on power from a generator, it could stay down there indefinitely but a fail-safe was built in so that it could be hauled up by cable, just in case. Their first test drive will occur in Lake Tahoe March 11.
December 21, 2010
Although "Real Steel" is not scheduled to come out before October 7, 2011, trailers are still being released by DreamWorks. Sugar Ray Leonard served as advisor for the boxing scenes. Look for the finished product to be shown in IMAX and regular theaters when it finally arrives.
TU Muenchen has teamed with industrial facilities to create robots that will help to bundle items in warehouses in a more efficient manner. The TUM CustomPacker project's goal is to make the robot flexible enough for various types of products as well as create a safe human-robot relationship. While the heavy lifting will go to the service bot, humans will work on the lighter parts. The project began in July and will continue until sometime in 2013.
December 20, 2010
When NASA finally gets around to heading towards Mars in 2012, the Curiosity rover will have a Radiation Assessment Detector equipped to check out the atmosphere to see if it is safe for humans and other living things. It consists of a charged particle telescope with 3 detectors and a cesium iodide calorimeter. The RAD will also be able to better determine if there is any life on the planet.
ReWalk will soon be on the market and other companies seems to have the same idea. Japan's Cyberdyne has produced an exoskeleton device called the Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL, natch.) It anticipates the user's movements with sensors in a similar manner as ReWalk. HAL can be used to assist health and construction workers and firefighters, and is available for a rental fee of ~$1,600-1,800 per month.
December 17, 2010
Not one, not two, not three, but a dozen Galaxy Windup Futuristic Robots come in a pack that will make for great stocking stuffers. Each is 2 ¼" and has its own unique design.
Via Windup Robots
This video is not for the squeamish (or vegans.) Mayekawa's HAMDAS-R can debone 500 hams per hour, which usually takes 20 humans. The company will be selling them mostly to companies in Japan and will continue to research more efficient ways to trim "irregularly shaped, soft items." The robobutcher recently won a top prize at the Fourth Robot Awards held at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Technology in Japan.
December 16, 2010
Shades of the Tin Woodsman! Tony Sale built George, a 6 ft. tall humanoid, from a crashed bomber in 1950. The former RAF officer recently brought his creation back to life with new batteries and some oil. You can see George at his new permanent location, the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, UK that Sale helped found.
Via Tony Sale
IAM-BRAIN (the Institute of Agricultural Machinery's Bio-oriented Technology Research Advancement Institution,) has created a robot that can not only pick 60% of a strawberry crop, it can target the ripest and pick and cut in 9 seconds. This berrybot's camera images them in 3D and uses algorithms to detect the reddness. Farmers in Japan are now field-testing the new technology.
December 15, 2010
Watson will be going up against former 'Jeopardy' champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Often referred to as "Google on Steroids", the IBM bot has already competed against chess champ Garry Kasparov and won in 1997. This challenge will test Watson's knowledge, speed and ability to ask silly questions. You can see him starting on Valentine's Day in a 3 day competition.
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" will be coming out in Real D 3D July 1 and should be a hit, at least to its fans. Throw a Transformer Party with a Party Pack for eight. It comes with plates, cups, napkins, cutlery, tablecloth balloons, ribbon, crepe paper, candles and a centerpiece.
Add to that a Piñata and a Bumblebee and Optimus Cake with the 3-piece Topper Set to complete the fiesta.
Via Transformers Party
December 14, 2010
'Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III' will debut on Sunday, Dec. 19 on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Watch the hour long special as Chewbaca introduces Han Solo to his family, the Emperor and his minion Darth Vader try to handle their regime, Gary the Stormtrooper goes for a joyride on a speeder bike and Boba Fett finds himself inside the Sarlacc monster.
Via Robot Chicken
ReWalk is UC Berkeley's motorized robotic device that is controlled by motion sensors that feel the user's movements and translates them to motorized joints.The device goes outside clothing and consists of a harness, crutches and leg braces powered by a rechargeable battery.
Argo Medical Tech, who built the ReWalk and has been testing it for the last several years, will soon be offering it to the public for ~$100,000. We think that a recent cameo appearance on 'Glee' certainly made for great advertising. (Since when does a high school football coach make that kind of money?)
Via Argo Medical Technologies
December 13, 2010
The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department's bomb squad used their service bot to help end a stolen Mercury SUV standoff on Interstate 94 last Friday when the inhabitants refused to cooperate. The robot's cameras showed that there were only two people in the vehicle and it broke a window before the cops tossed in some tear gas, forcing the two to come out.
Incidentally, the driver, who was on parole and had previously been convicted of 14 crimes, had stolen the SUV from its owner, a man who picked them up Tuesday in Illinois and trusted him and his girlfriend because they gave him $20.00. He left them to go into a convenience store and found his car gone when he came out.
Tron Legacy comes out this Friday and we have to admit that the special effects are spiffy. Before you run to see this one, you have to watch the original Tron made in 1982. Those of us who saw it when it came out felt that that was the spiffiest ever, but then a lot of us were heavily medicated.
December 10, 2010
Get your kidlets their very own space station this holiday season with the Early Learning Centre Happyland. The 6 piece set includes a large robot that makes noise and rolls his eyes, his cap, an astronaut and three mini-bots. Recommended for ages 19 mos. to 4 years, the plastic is phthalate free and safe should your tot or small pet decide to take a nibble.
Via ELC Happyland
Google has reportedly purchased Phonetic Arts, a company that specializes in speech synthesis. They say that they will try to enhance computer robo-voices. The England based company that they now own has produced voice creation PA studio, Composer, sentence recording, and Generator, text turned to voice.
December 9, 2010
Pentax has issued a limited edition K-r Korejanairobomoderu camera. The digital SLR comes with a body, a 35mm f2.4 lens and robot head. There are only 100 of them and if you just have to have one, reservations begin Dec. 24, with shipping in January. The cam is available via their Japanese site at a price of $1,190.
Via Pentax (Japan)
Don't send a robotic Bon Voyage message just yet. Robonaut 2 has to wait to make his trip to the final frontier. NASA is delaying the 39th and last flight so that engineers can study and run tests on the cracks in Discovery's external tank. Because they did not make the December window, they are waiting for the next one to open in February.
December 8, 2010
During a recent fire in the Roseville, CA Galleria, the police department lost their bomb squad robot when the roof collapsed. Because they cost about $7,000, Lt. Michael Doaneire says that it cannot be easily replaced. They purchased the bot in 2007 and will now have to borrow others from nearby agencies. Perhaps they could have a bake sale or borrow a Geminoid F and put on a show.
Via News 10
Would that all of life could be organized as easily as this robot claims it is with the Logitech Harmony Remote. Compatible with over 225,000 devices, it only takes one touch to control your DVD player, access music or enjoy your home theater.
December 7, 2010
According to some of those WikiLeaks documents, countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Turkey are trying to get their hands on the Predator B, aka the MQ-9 Reaper. Apparently the UAE met with Air Force officials to try to procure one in 2007. Fortunately for us all the drones are on restricted export.
The Air Force's X-37B landed successfully last week at Vandenberg AF Base in California after its 7 month test run. The plane is about 29 ft. long, has a wingspan of 14 ft. and was built by Boeing's Phantom Works. Because the project is top secret, not many details were available concerning the unmanned vehicle's flight, but the results have apparently prompted the AF to order a second Orbital Test Vehicle that will be launched in the spring of 2011.
December 6, 2010
The WheeMe Massage Robot is meant to ease your tired muscles by moving across your back or front automatically and manages to stay on you. It has four small wheels and roto-finger to sooth your aches and pains. Then again, it might just be inserting that pod in your neck.
Via Dream Bots
You can never trust a robot 100%. Denver police received a call last week that someone had cemented a small toy robot to the base of a pillar. They were freaked out enough to send the Bomb Squad and keep people away, blocking rush hour traffic. Since they couldn't decide if the bot was just a toy, they decided to blow it up, just in case.
Via Denver Post
December 3, 2010
Tonka's Ricochet 4 x 4 Vehicle is not your basic RC toy. It will flip from side to side on the floor and also features a monster lift suspension that will let it flip in the air. The rugged car can go for about 15 minutes per charge and comes with a controller, charger and 9V battery.
When University of Washington researcher Jeansok Kim wanted to determine how animals dealt with fear when seeking food, he trained rats to retrieve pellets. Once they had mastered that, Kim added a LEGO Mindstorms Robogator that would snap at the rat when he left his shelter. To make a long
story study short, the rats eventually learned that they could retrieve pellets 30" from the bot and avoided ones that were only 10" away because that would put them in danger. Click here to see videos of the experiments, including one from the Robogator's perspective.
Via University of Washington
December 2, 2010
When you were a kid did you ever try to catch a firefly or butterfly in a jar, only to find that the effort either destroyed the poor insect through damage or asphyxiation? Tenyo's ChouChou Robotic Butterfly needs 3 AA batteries and a thump on its container to fly around. Available next month for $55.00, watching the video still gives us enough guilt to want to set it free.
Via Japan Gadget Shop
The European Union has invested 10 million Euros to study robots to be used in agriculture. Ten different countries are participating to develop a new technique for sensors, arms, grabbers and intelligence. CROPS will work on products and needs endemic to each country, i.e. one to harvest bell peppers, another to pick wine grapes and one to spray apple orchards.
Via Fresh Plaza
December 1, 2010
Vagabond Works designed the Land Crawler exTreme robot when his son requested a robot that he could ride. With 12 legs, it can carry up to 27 lbs. of human child. It may look a bit creepy, but it certainly outclasses a Segway.
Via Singularity Hub
We guess that even robots dream of robotic turkeys. Catch up with our latest posts on our November wrapup, including our recently released holiday gift guide.
Lego Mindstorms NXT
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday
How cute is Fisher Price's Toby the Totbot? Geared for toddlers, he moves his head eyes, waist and arms. Touch a button and letters, numbers and shapes are displayed on his light-up screen. At 12" tall, he can also sing and dance and comes with all batteries needed.
For older kids, Kasey the Kinderbot helps develop academic, social, and physical skills. He has 40 pre-reading, math, music and manners activities, moves most of his bod while talking and singing, and will get your chubby tot dancing and stretching.
Via Fisher Price Robot Toys