We told you some time ago about the Djedi robots that were sent to the Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza. After reaching a secret polished door, the Egyptologists sensed that it was not openable and that there were hieroglyphics on it. They are now studying those and plan for future attempts to search the inside with the mini-bots.
Humberto Campins, the University of Central Florida professor who discovered ice on asteroids last year, is now working on a new NASA project. The $8 million OSIRIS-REx is unmanned and will be launched in 2016 to map and take pieces of asteroid 1999 RQ36 with its robotic arm. After returning to Earth to turn over the samples, it will then go into orbit around the sun for other experiments. NASA is hoping to gain knowledge about our planet and track asteroids in the future.
Wild and Wolf have a couple of robots for those who want to add to their private collections. Venus is 3.1 x 2.7 x 5.5," nicely pink and comes with its own key. The Lilliput is 3.1 x 3.1 x 6.3," butterfly yellow and also winds up. Both are replicas of 1920 toys designed in Shanghai, comply with Toy Safety Regulations and are not intended for small children.
Ruth, a Robotized Unit for Tactility and Haptics, has been used by Ford in their research center in Germany to help develop better vehicles. Engineers taught her to "feel" what humans like with sensitive fingers and so that she can predict what new components will be desirous to them. Ruth has worked on operation of switches and textures of material. The center claims the recent attempt at developing a better steering wheel ended up with a 92% accuracy of judging what humans would prefer.
Fraunhofer has developed a sensor system that, with its remote, can move a robotic arm. Its technology is so advanced that it can catch a ball or move when the remote does. Algorithms help the technology detect movement and the European group hopes that future applications will include service robots and act as a prosthesis. The arm will be unveiled at a Nuremberg trade fair this June.
The team from the University of Penn.'s GRASP Lab have taken their PR2 and taught it to read the same way a human child learns. Graspy looks at the shapes of words then sounds them out. New ones are matched with known words as his vocabulary becomes more advanced. At this point, the bot has basic reading skills and is still working on different fonts, but we cannot wait to see what he can do in the near future. If you would like to download their ROS platform software you can get it free on their website.
Austin Whitney recently received his degree from UCB. That in itself may not seem a huge deal, but Austin, after being in an accident that left him a paraplegic, managed to pick up his diploma by walking across the stage. He did so with the help of an Exoskeleton developed by a professor and fellow students. Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the device was originally intended for soldiers carrying heavy weights in battle.
Although there still seems to be more April showers than May flowers, keep your tots dry with Stephen Joseph's Robot Umbrella with easy push and pull closure. Don't stop there. They also make a kid-friendly Raincoat to match. Designed for sizes 2 - 7, the coat is made with a waterproof polyurethane outer shell and soft cotton lining.
Students from the California Institute of the Arts in CA took some junkyard salvage and regular instruments and built the KarmetiK Machine Orchestra. They are so proud of their work that they recently put on a concert with the robotic instruments onstage and lighting and animation on the ceiling. The team came up with 3 new instruments, including a dual-head drum called the NotomotoN.
Cornell has set a new record with their Ranger robot. The walker, built and programmed in the Biorobotics and Locomotion lab headed by Andy Ruina, walked 40.5 miles on a single battery charge. The entire trek took 30 hours, 49 minutes and 2 seconds as it managed 307.75 laps at a shuffling 1.3 mph. While Ranger never complained, we bet the team behind him were certainly exhausted after the walk.
The PR2 is back in botty news as a team from Stanford has been working on an "autonomous checkout clerk." The grocerybot has a 3D sensor and can grasp, read and sort a bar code. It will put the selected item in a bag with a 91.6% success rate out of 100 products. It won't set any speed records and won't protect your perishables when bagging, but it certainly is a noteworthy accomplishment.
Get your robot on with Android's new Open Accessory Kit Program. Take a look at Farmbox, an automated system to grow veggies that is controlled via the system and its own cloud. Brilliant Service is the company that created the plant factory that is a self-contained ecosystem. Benefits include organic produce, no product transportation costs and no pollutants. Everyone should have their own Farmbox!
Babies can share the robot love with this Carini Bambini designed Mobile with 4 enchanting bots. It also plays "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" to help the infant get to sleep.
Once awake, take him/her out with Rusty, the stroller and car seat toy. Baby can mix and match his body, experience different textures and strengthen those muscles when pulling and squeezing the cuddly bot. A Lamaze link makes for easy attachment.
A Swiss research team is attempting to prove Hamilton's rule that concerns the evolution of altruism. Each Alice bot has 2 wheels and 33 "genes" for an artificial nervous system. They were assigned a value for each of the genes and then survival of the fittest was demonstrated. The bots that couldn't gather food also could not pass on genes to the next generation.
They then gave the robots the ability to collaborate with others by sharing their food and those became altruistic and did so more often than hoarding. After testing 25 different combinations of the values, it seems that the transition kicked in as predicted by the rule. The study is still going on, although the findings are not definitive.
Today Angry Bird, tomorrow Super Mario. While it may never have the addiction to Angry Birds that humans have, OptoFidelity's robot can beat you at the game. The team pre-programmed the best way to play each level and the bot took it from there. This video certainly makes it official. By the way, these bots also have a day job testing touch panels in mobile devices.
We first told you about the NSF GOVARS ("Glider Observations of Variability in the Ross Sea") study that sent out two Seagliders late last year and seems to have been successful. Gathered data about current, temperature and other info is slow to be analyzed because of the chilly conditions in the Ross Sea but considering this is the first time it has been documented, it seems worth the time and effort.
Carnegie Mellon University developed a robot to keep tech-savvy students constantly interested and came up with Finch, a white, plastic 2-wheeled bot that resembles a bird. At a price of only $99.00 (with discounts for ordering in quantity,) young scientists can program it to speak, dance and even draw pictures. He has a 3-axis accelerometer, temperature, bump and light sensors, LED lights and speakers.
The eventual goal is to allow every student to adopt one and take it home for assignments. The company BirdBrain Technologies produces and sells Finch and has developed lesson plans for teachers as well as giving them the option of uploading their own ideas. Classroom testing has been tried in high school, university and after school programs.
Create your own magnetic action robots with Mudpuppy's Robot Kit. There are three sheets with body parts, clothing, accessories and 2-sided cards for backgrounds that come from the creative Pablo Bernasconi. This kit is not for small children, more for those who like decorating their fridges or water coolers at work.
If you are old enough to remember Peggy Lee's "I'm a woman, W-O-M-A-N" it looks like Rollin' Justin is in competition as he can catch up to 2 random balls in the a.m. and whip up some coffee in the p.m. Controlled with an iPad, his catch rate is about 80% as he notes the ball's direction and trajectory with cameras and software. The Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics has precision grasping that ensures that his hand is in the right place at the right time. Justin can handle a hardball as well as a lightweight paper cup when making coffee with a pre-packaged machine.
Anyone who has ever seen a Black Eyed Peas performance knows that will.i.am. is into robotics and he took on Dean Kamen, creator of the Segway, last week during the F.I.R.S.T. 2011 competition. The organization (which stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology") was founded by Kamen in 1989.
Acting as honorary coaches, Kamen backed team 2859 from McLean, VA, and will.i.am was behind team 3509 from Folsom, Calif. (nicknamed "The Dirty Bots" in his honor.) The singer's team beat the inventor's with a score of 73 - 9.
Sarcos, unlike most humanoid robots, has two legs that can freely move and will remain upright even with interference because of hydraulic actuators. Ben Stephens of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute is in charge of the team that taught the bot to dance by human motion capture programmed into it. Sarcos constantly adjusts his balance even when Stephens gives it a friendly shove.
Robots continue to assist in Japan after the recent tragedy. The latest is a 5 ton rescue robot that was built after the 1995 Kobe earthquake. The Enryu robot has two arms that can lift over 200 lbs. and can be controlled by a nearby cab or portable control panel. Tmsuk President Yoichi Takamoto said he believed it can help remove the rubble from around the crippled plant.
Although nuclear power plant builders Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi believed that robotics should have been developed back then for just such a disaster, the funds were never enough to keep that project going and the prototype ended up only as a display at the Sendai Science Museum. Even now, they are not sure what type of effect radiation will have on the bot's ability and are testing it to see if lead needs to be added as a shield.