January 31, 2011
It's that time of the month again. Settle back, ignore the winter for a while and read our first monthly Roundup for 2011. Brrr.
Make Your Own Robot
Must Have Robot Friday
January 31, 2011
TankBot claims to be the planet's first micro-robotic toy for Apple fiends. It has 3 modes to navigate, roam about and clear obstacles. A dongle hooks into your iPhone/iPad/touch and you control it by tilting. A built-in charger can give 15 minutes of power after a half hour. Desk Pet's toy features accelerometer technology, IR sensors and free roaming mode (with tank sounds) and comes at a price of $20.00. Available in orange, blue, black and green, look for its debut at the NY Toy Fair this month.
Via My Desk Pets
January 28, 2011
It wasn't enough to release a special Holiday Sing-A-Ma-Jig that is dressed as Santa and sings "Jingle Bells." Now Fisher Price has added a Valentine's Day Songster that sings "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." This one can chatter, sing or harmonize with other members of the Sing-A-Ma-Jig family. Aww.
Via FP Sing-A-Ma-Jigs
January 28, 2011
Osaka University's Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Geminoid fame has a new project in the works. Designed as an overgrown fetus of the creepy kind, holding a Telenoid R1 is supposed to help you "feel" anyone you call. This may be the future of cell phones, he claims, and a prototype of a mobile Elfoid may be expected in the next few months. While Ishiguro sees this as a way to make calling more personal, are we the only ones who see it as an interaction with an abortion gone terribly wrong?
January 27, 2011
Japan sent an unmanned cargo ship to the ISS Jan. 22. The Kounotori 2 (the name means 'white stork') was launched atop an expendible H-2B rocket and hooked up Thursday with the space station. This is the second voyage for the Kounotori line as the first went up Sept., 2009. Astronauts used a robotic arm to catch the craft. After about 2 months, they will send it back toward earth filled with trash. It will meet its demise on the return trip by the heat of re-entry.
Virtual avatars are nothing new, but this story made us sit back a bit and go "Whoa." Dr. Michael Genord of Esprit Women's Health in Royal Oak, MI created Lisa and Dave, a virtual couple that are trying to make a baby. The doctor has set up 'The Interactive You: A Virtual Pregnancy' because many of his patients requested social media options that would help them with the same dilemma. The project, sponsored by Beaumont Hospitals, follows the couple as they go through conception, pregnancy, delivery and post-partum.
Anyone who views the webisodes can interact with Lisa (who is Dr. Genard's wife) and Dave (who is just a stock photo) by making comments, asking questions and even helping to name the baby to come. Hit the link to partake of the virtual trek. And if you are still confused by the whole concept, you are not the only one.
Via The Interactive You
January 26, 2011
A team from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization will be sending a gliding robot over part of the Australian coast that was recently flooded. Sensors will measure data such as light, oxygen, organic matter and temperature that will help them to understand the effects that the disaster had on the Moreton Bay. 3D maps will be created from the CSIRO data for further study.
With Heart Day coming up, get your best squeeze a funky Vintage Robot Necklace. The 2" charm is 3D, jointed, has crystal accents and comes on a 32" antique silver finish chain. (It comes gift wrapped.) If the special one is your daughter/little sis/niece, try this 1.25" Pink Bot on a 16" chain, nickel free and made in the good ol' US.
Via Robot Necklaces
January 25, 2011
A University of Washington team of students have been playing with Kinect and robots, but not to play games. Instead, they are adapting the controller to assist in robotic surgery. Physicians usually use joysticks and small cameras to see the inside of a patient, but there is no "feel" to the operation. UW Grad student Fredrik Ryden wrote a code that allows the Kinect to function in 3D and puts an electronic restriction so that the tool will not go too far. It is estimated that using the controller saved the team about $50,000 in funding, but still has a ways to go before being released.
Via Daily UW
When Super Bowl XLV comes to Texas, security will be more than ready to take on the crowds. The FBI is providing 4 mine-resistant armored carriers developed for the Iraqi war. Hundreds of agents will be attending the event as well as bomb-sniffing dog teams and 2 small RC surveillance helicopters. Even the local Arlington bomb robot will be in attendance. The reason for all of the security attendees is because the Super Bowl is considered a Level 1 national security event.
January 24, 2011
A new application has been found for a telepresence robot. A 15 year-old Texas student with polycystic kidney disease could not attend class because last year his body began rejecting a transplant that he had received when he was seven. So a Vgo robot has been provided so that Lyndon Bady can stay in bed. He sends it from class to class and controls the bot from his PC. His shining face appears on the display.
Via Vgo Communications
Once again a bomb squad robot is sent out as hero. Spokane sent their bombot out to a downtown parking lot Friday when a to-go mug was discovered that seemed heavier than normal to a 911 caller. While the device was found not to be a danger, the Bomb Squad was nonetheless wary after a suspicious backpack was discovered last Monday.
January 21, 2011
Lego has entered the realm of Ninjago with its new Ice Dragon Attack Set. With a Krazi skeleton figure, the 11" long Dragon can spit iceballs, move its legs and tail and has bendable/folding wings. A total of 158 pieces includes 2 minifigures, ice shurikens and two weapons.
Via Lego Ninjago
We first wrote about South Korea's ED Corporation in March of last year that designed a
service bot to sell tickets in movie theaters. The recently improved CIROMI also entertains while customers wait in line by playing games, taking photos or sending an email. This guy can do double duty as a security bot after the theater closes. Future plans include having the Cinema Companion recommend movies.
Via Plastic Pals
January 20, 2011
We spotted another Kinect controlled humanoid. Asura Engineering's Wataru Yoshizaki has designed software so that a HPI GR-001 is controlled by its human. This guy works by click and drag control of a 3D model and a camera can be added for a first person perspective. It keeps its balance by finding the bot's center of gravity
Pacman takes on a whole 'nother meaning when it involves living creatures. Scientists from Stanford University have created video games that, instead of software, are based with biological processes. Assistant Professor Ingmar Riedel-Kruse says that there are 3 types of biotic games, one with a single celled paramecium, another on a molecular level and a third involves yeast. He believes that not only is it a way to make everyone more aware of biology, but could involve those who can run experiments at the same time.
January 19, 2011
What do bored MIT students do when a HFCS craving strikes? They create a robot that sprays ketchup. Here's hoping that Bill Fienup and Barry Kudrowitz can teach the Heinz Automato to actually hit the area of the bun that counts.
Valentine's Day will soon be upon us. This year, send out Botty Cards to your buds. Each pack has 20 fold and seal cards, 48 stickers and is made with vegetable based inks on recycled paper. While eating them is probably not a good idea, you will at least now that they can be used by robot admirers of the smallest kind.
Via Robot Valentine Cards
January 18, 2011
Josh Bongard, of the University of Vermont, has determined that if you build a simple robot, it will eventually evolve by itself. Using Legos, he built actual bots and simulated ones that changed over time. Eventually, the simple ones could walk better than those with fixed bodies. Bongard's research is supported by the National Science Foundation and their study on evolutionary robotics.
This is the last week to make a name for yourself and some cash from Willow
Garage. Combine 3D sensor technology and their open source ROS system and make a video to show your stuff. You can send in as many entries as you like and the judging will be based on "taste," originality and documentation. Hit the link for more rules and ideas. Good luck!
January 17, 2011
Murata's Boy and Girl debuted at the recent CES. The talented bots can cycle on balance beams and not fall off. The acrobots have gyro sensors that control a rotating disk that corrects any slant. This is the first time the pair has appeared in the States as a couple. By the way, we were really annoyed by this video as the demonstrater seemed to be catering to the very stupid.
Via Murata Boy
NASA has finally diagnosed the cause of Discovery's cracks and they are now being patched and reinforced. Program manager John Shannon claims that poor materials and faulty assembly were the cause, not a good thing when heading to the final frontier. The space shuttle and its botty cargo, Robonaut 2, may leave the planet Feb. 24 if all goes well.
Because Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' husband, Commander Mark Kelly, is scheduled for that flight, an alternative is being readied as a substitute. By the way, if you would like to leave a message for Kelly or brother Scott Kelly, who is now on the ISS, do so here.
January 14, 2011
In order to draw attention to its Mint, Evolution Robotics staged a dance routine with a dozen of them. On display at the CES, they robotically got down to "Boom Boom Pow" by the Black Eyed Peas during a Las Vegas fashion show. This video clearly shows the swiffer-like cleaners' versatility but you have to wonder who came up with the idea and laboriously choreographed the routine. It may be one reason that it won the Innovations 2011 Design and Engineering Award.
We expected no less. IBM's Watson slaughtered both Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter yesterday on a 'Jeopardy' test run. The real contest will take place at IBM today and air Feb. 14 - 16. In true geekish fashion Rutter commented on the victory, "When Watson's progeny comes back to kill me from the future, I have my escape route planned, just in case."
Via ZD Net
January 13, 2011
Researchers at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have developed a robot that leans on objects to support himself. The idea here is to mimic walking of the elderly. HRP-2 was designed to place both arms on a table to keep his balance when sitting down or use one arm when kicking a ball.
Via Space Daily
Luvable Friends Slip-on faux-leather Baby Booties were designed for boys but we know some girl babies that not only love robots, they also dig the color blue. The shoes have non-skid soles, elastic cuffs and comes in sizes up to 18 months.
Match them up with a Jasper Hearts Wren Robot Onesie to further protect the little nippers.
Via Robot Wearables
January 12, 2011
Okay, we seem to be a bit tardy here, but perhaps if you send a line to Jason Snyder, he can be persuaded to continue to produce more Atomic Elf Robot Calendar pages. The papercraft is free to download and is a follow up to a line of greeting cards he previously made in 2008. Hit the link to download or get in touch with Jason.
Via Toy Shop Greetings
The Sci-Fi Channel released the Emmy nominated mini-series 'Tin Man' in 2007 that featured some very creative CGI. An homage to "The Wizard of Oz," when you get to Milltown, you get a very happening Robomayor as well as some botty admissions from some of the townsfolk. Watch the recently released Blu-ray Two-Disc Collector's Edition for the special effects and the outstanding performances of Alan Cumming as the clever Glitch and Kathleen Robertson as the evil Azkadellia.
And while the adults watch the aforementioned videos, kids will dig
"Meet the Robinsons,"
an animated film with boy-genius Louis visiting the future. Look for a robotic spider, hat and Carl the robot
, who has a small team of minions.
January 11, 2011
Orbitix will eventually release Sphero, a robotic ball that can be controlled by your iPhone or Android based smartphone. Drive it around a series of games included in its app, like going through a maze or competing with other Sphero in a robotic version of chicken that you can play for pink slips (you win, you get your opponent's control.) Look for the ball wa-a-y down the road (the 2011 holiday season) at a price of $99.
Via Go Sphero
iRobot's display at the CES last week included AVA, a robot that is connectable to iPad and Android smartphones. Using sensors that are the same as in the Kinect, the bot builds a map of its area and will go to any location on it by a simple touch. The application can be used for security, telepresence and as a fetch and carry bot.
Via Tech 2
January 10, 2011
South Korean school children are being given a robotic treat at the Daejon Museum this week. The 4 ft. tall Docent tells them about each exhibit as it leads them around. This bot is already a seasoned veteran as it has made the rounds at several museums. Nice tie.
Via Plastic Pals
NASA's Robotics Alliance Project and local technology firms launched the 2011 FIRST Robotics Competition this past Saturday in Washington D.C., with 6 weeks of design and building from 30,000 students that form almost 2,000 teams. Regionals take place in March and April with the championship competition in St. Louis later that month. Check out some video here to keep track of the festivites.
January 7, 2011
If you really wanted to harass your family, work mates, or small pets with a mini RC helicopter but couldn't afford the expense, Syma has one that is definitely affordable. This flyer has a built-in gyroscopes and can go up, down, left, right, forward, and backwards. With a flight range of 30 feet and a size of 7.5 x 7.5 x 7.5", the S107 is designed for inside flight.
Via Syma Mini-Copter
An airborne camera array has made it possible for soldiers on the ground to see live images when searching for enemy movement. The $17 million Gorgon Stare consists of nine cameras that can send up to 65 different shots to separate users. It has the capability seeing an entire city of up to 4 km, but the military admits that it is only as good as the human intelligence who are using it.
Via Washington Post
January 6, 2011
IRobot has a new Roomba designed for that nasty area around your toilet or other tight places. The 3.5 x 6.5" Scooba 230 will be out this spring at a price of $299.99 and has a 3-stage cleaning system that washes, scrubs and squeegees floors. The company will debut the system at the CES 2011 along with its new The Roomba 700 series.
After suffering his own bout of road rage with his GPS unit, Cambridge University Professor Peter Robinson created Charles. The head and shoulders device rides shotgun, reads facial cues and tone of voice andof the driver and sympathetically gives directions. Robinson claims that the robot is about 70% accurate at reading emotions and wants to further his development to be able to lower the radio volume or avoid instructional repetition. We expect they should work on that 30% before Charles gets tossed out the window.
Via Daily Mail
January 5, 2011
Germany's Fraunhofer Institute has developed a pi4-workerbot that can accomplish difficult tasks easily with the use of fingertip sensitivity. Not only is it efficient, it smiles when it is working and lets everyone knows that it wants more work when bored. We expect that the next generation of this service bot will whistle while it toils.
Kikkerland's Electro Man is a 4 plug multi-outlet with arms and legs that have 3-pronged sockets. The plugs are grounded and a circuit breaker is included. At a size of 14 x 12 x ½" and with a 28" cable, the little guy is controlled by an on/off switch and smirks as he powers up your electronics and appliances.
January 4, 2011
We are not exactly sure who the imaginative WeirdForceOne is, but he seems to have built a robot a day during 2010 as a request by a galactic overlord. The army was made from junk and recycled materials, (although some of them looked new,) but we found the video amusing enough to post it. And it has a happy ending, sort of.
Kunihiko Tanaka built his first Kura restaurant in 1995 and used conveyer belts for efficiency. As his profits came raking in, he used more automation to the point that while each business can seat 196 customers, it only takes 6 servers and a minimal kitchen staff.
Soup and side dishes are ordered via touch panel as robots prepare sushi. Diners place used dishes into a tableside dock where the bill is calculated and dishes are cleaned. This has proven to be a lucrative deal for Tanaka as seven additional restaurants have cropped up in the last two months, bringing the total to 262 eateries.
Via Maximizing Progress
January 3, 2011
That didn't take long. Terry Veltrop has already hacked into his Xbox Kinect to create a humanoid robot that will follow his moves. The bot was built from a Kondo KHR-1HV with a Roboard control and software written from ROS and the IO library. Named after his builder, Veltrobot works in master/slave mode, but Terry would like to improve on it to give it better leg and gripper controls. After watching the video, we would like to see that, too, as it looks a bit wobbly.
Via Terry Veltrop
True to their promise, So. Korea recently "hired" 29 teachers for elementary schools in Daegu. These Enkey robots are about 3.3 meters tall with a human face on its display. Remotely controlled by English teachers in the Philippines, they speak, read and dance for students, but can only handle about 8 at a time.
Each costs about $1.39 million, a large chunk of cash to replace humans who would rather not travel to remote areas. We bet that there are plenty of unemployed teachers who would work for a lot less than that amount.
Via Reviews of Electronics