While you await the release of Disney's Cars 2, which will be out June 24, you can at least play with its star, Fisher Price's RC version of Lightning McQueen with Geotrax Radio Control. This special Radiator Springs Edition claims to be 2X faster than wimpier Geotrax cars and includes phrases from Owen Wilson to show your superiority over non-verbal RC vehicles.
The Swiss based company ABB recently introduced a prototype FRIDA (Friendly Robot for Industrial Dual-arm Assembly.) The service bot is meant to be used in small assembly tasks and has a torso and arms much like their live counterparts. The video, undoubtedly meant to be a selling tool for the company, shows it not injuring a human arm and displaying "her unique agility which ensures high productivity."
ABB's site bills FRIDA as a "harmless robotic coworker," undoubtedly to belay fears of the eventual industrial takeover by robots.
University of Pennsylvania engineers prepared a one-armed robot to throw out the first pitch before their game with the Milwaukee Brewers April 20. Philliebot pitched to the Philly Phanatic to draw attention to Science Day. Sadly, the pitch didn't quite make its target, only reaching a speed of about 30 - 40 mph which was responded to by boos. Hmmm. Considering the fact that this project probably cost some bucks, maybe someone should have suggested that instead of sending out the recycled Segue they could have utilized a dressed-up instant pitching machine for much less money and a bit less humiliation.
When we contacted the good folks at QinetiQ last week regarding their sending robots to Japan to help out during their crisis, they quickly answered us in response. They told us that they sent a TALON responder robot for working in radiation, a Dragon Runner for small space work and Bobcat loaders to move heavy debris and aid in reconstruction. If you would like to keep up with their efforts, follow them on Facebook or on Twitter.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that President Obama has approved sending Predator drones to Libya, to help support the rebels there. Since they can provide better targeting, the hope is that they can reduce the amount of civilians and insurgents being killed. While there is not much news about the situation, it is believed that they are already in place.
(Update: It would seem that rebels have overtaken Misrata after a successful drone attack on a multiple rocket launcher that had been used against civilians there. We will try to continue to update and look forward to your comments.)
Throw the ultimate mega-robot bash with this Party Pack for 16, count 'em, 16, revelers. Large enough for any celebration, it comes with 16 invitations, dinner plates, dessert plates, cups, forks, spoons, 32 napkins, solid-color tablecover, foil balloon, 12 balloons (2 colors), curling ribbon (2 colors), crepe paper rolls (2 colors), and candles.
We have to admit that the French Reeti is more face-friendly than most of the humanistic bots around today and probably more utile. He talks, moves his face features, houses a media center PC and reacts to your touch with sensors. The quirky bot was built for teaching and/or amusement and can be run on an iPad/iPod app.
Hiroshi Ishiguro got together with two others who received doppelgangers for a photo op last month and while it is a bit unnerving to see that many of them in the room at once, it begs the question, "How many Geminoids does it take to change a light bulb?"
Check out the video showing the iRobot Packbots opening the door and entering the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan. It found that the radioactivity level is still too high for humans. Enter MA based QinetiQ, whose V.P. says they have sent 6 mobile robots that will help clear some of the wreckage. After that, a human is needed to restore the cooling system. We bet with all the technology out there, there's a bot for that.
The third annual Barbot took place April 1 - 2 in San Francisco, CA. The celebration included iLush2, the weightless Cosmobot 2.0 and the White Russian Hippie Maker. Partially tongue in cheek, it would seem all participants had a good time and doubtless there were some taxi bots to take them home after the festivities.
We finally know that one of the iRobot Packbots was sent into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to measure the amount of radiation and oxygen levels in the building. This is a first time foray into the fray that is also set to check temperature, although the company sent the bots several weeks ago. A rep from Tepco claims that it will find if the conditions are safe for a human to enter.
Rovio's Angry Birds has been downloaded over 100 million times so it was only a question of time before licensed plushies came out. Case in point, both the Bird and Pig are not only fun friends to have around but will make annoying sounds when patted on top. Each is 5.5 x 4.8 x 4.5" and recommended for ages 1 and up. We guess it won't be long before the company makes RC Birds. Ka-ching.
The Boy Scouts of America has about 120 badges in its catalogue and over time removes some that are no longer current (not much need for blacksmithing these days.) One released this week is an award for robotics that requires the scout to design and build a bot and conquer the areas of movement, programming and sensors. The optimistic officials expect about 10,000 Scouts to earn the new badge this year that features NASA's Mars rover.
Emerald has adopted a robot named Carl to hype their Breakfast on the Go granola snacks. This commercial manages to take the bot and a nerdy looking worker and reverse the roles to make Carl the buffoon. Whatever works for ya.
Air France Flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic about 2 years ago and recently aquatic robots found some bodies from that crash. The flight occurred May 31, 2009 and so far 177 are still missing. This is the fourth time that the team of REMUS 6000 robots, which can go down 6,000 feet and stay underwater for 20 hours at a time, has gone down to inspect the plane remains. Officials say that the bodies will be brought to the surface within a month.
Disney World has come a long ways in the art of animatronics since its Country Bear Jamboree and one of their latest "creations" is the addition of Barack Obama in the Hall of Presidents. The program has all of them with new digital audio, video and lighting. When the prez came in to record his speech for the project, he asked if the figures were statues and was told they were animatronics. His response, "That's kinda cool." You betcha.
Just when you thought you were safe from a futuristic horde of creatures in evil robot suits in the Australian desert, The Time Guardian appears. The 1987 film features Dean Stockwell and a very young and fresh Carrie Fisher. "It is not just our fate that lies in peril but that of all humanity."Star Wars" it ain't but if you like your sci-fi with a touch of morality, this is a good rainy day flick.
On the other hand, if you like your movies current and animated, Megamind is finally out on DVD. Lots of evil pet robots running around, robotic suits and a very cutesy Minion. Not the best of its kind over the last few years (with movie references intended for adults) but still, Will Farrel is in his element. (We love the way he pronounces "Metrocity" with an accent on the second syllable.)
To better demonstrate the skills of the Swedish Medical Center's da Vinci robot, surgeon Jim Porter made a video of it making and flying a paper airplane. It was part of an effort from the Swedish Orthopedic Institute to promote the advanced technology that they use and included a knee replacement surgery with a live chat on the Net.
Graham Ryland and Professor Harry Cheng teamed up at UC Davis and came up with iMobot, a robot that has 4 degrees of freedom, 2 joints and 2 wheels. The module can run on its wheels, creep like an inchworm or lift its body and pan as a camera platform. Backed by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the pair formed the company Barobo and hopes to distribute its bot to those who are studying robotics but don't yet have hardware. The end of 2011 is the target date for marketing.
Germany has offered Japan robotic assistance and its nuclear expertise. The Kerntechnische Hilfsdienst specializes in damage control in their nuclear power plants. Although they have not accepted the offer, the KHG can provide robots that can go into radioactive area and be operated from secure locations.
This is now the third country we have found that has promised to help the country and, although they seem to want the assistance, we don't see evidence of a lot of activity, at least in the robotics department.
France's Areva has sent five radiation experts to Japan after a request from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. Apparently they accepted the consultation but not the robots as yet as they are still reportedly on standby at France's at Chateauroux Airport. The pic above shows a peek at some of the country's equipment.
I remember being jealous as a kid that my brother had an Erector set and I didn't because my father decided girls shouldn't play with them. So not only is it kewl to see them still around, it is really fine that there is a kit that does robots. The Erector Robot's included power tool becomes a motor to run each and pre-programmed sounds and movements are included. The company promises that their Speed Play construction makes for a simpler, quicker assembly.