Now that the kids are whining about the oppressive heat, find something for them to do if you are fortunate enough to have A/C. The Perler Fun Fusion Kit, recommended for kids over 5, has more than 2,000 beads, a pegboard, ironing paper and instructions to make many robots and rockets.
For kidlets into the world of glitter, Best Creation has a Kit that comes with chipboard, paper and glitter stickers, and 11 pages of happy robot projects. The paper is heavy duty and the stickers are acid and lignin free, but not recommended for tots.
Because the US Government Accountability Office says that most nuclear plants may have experienced leakage from buried pipelines, MIT researchers are working on tiny spherical bots to explore and send back images. d'Arbeloff Lab team leader Harry Asada claims that the billiard ball-sized robot will have a slippery exterior so it will not get trapped or break apart during its journey.
Anirban Mazumda is working on the propulsion system that will fill with water, then spit it out to move forward. The group recently displayed its prototype at the 2011 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.
Joey Daoud, director of the film Bots High, has announced that there will be a free screening day, so although it is not until October 6, mark your calendar now to attend. As we previously mentioned, the story concerns 3 teams of students who are heading to a national robotics competition. There are 22 screenings planned so far and you can suggest a location or hold your own by gathering a group of 25 and then contacting Daoud.
Now that the Shuttle has been retired, new plans for NASA include trips to Mars with Curiosity in November and beyond. During a Cape Canaveral announcement tomorrow, NASA will chat up its Jupiter mission. The unmanned Juno will be launched soon and should hit the planet by July 2016. It will gather data regarding Jupiter's origin and evolution.
There is a lot of news coming out of Comic-Con 2011, not the least of which is the announcement that Atlas Entertainment's plans to create a live action feature film based on Voltron. Not many details beyond who is involved with the project are out yet, although the plot seems to concern 5 "young" pilots who do battle with the anime robot lions.
PR2s continue to make news and the latest is the one in Georgia Tech's Robots for Humanity program. They have adapted him to allow quadriplegic Henry Evans the ability to shave himself and scratch an itch. Henry gives him commands to move or fetch, including the manipulation of objects from a separate room.
GT is hoping that eventually they can design better hard and software for the next gen of caregiver bots. And while most of use robots because we don't want to vacuum, this PR2 reminds us that they can make a real difference in a human's life.
Considering their current problems with robots trying to help in the nuclear cleanup, Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy industries has made an agreement with Energid to develop a power plant inspection robot. The plan is to make one that can inspect the heat exchanger and steam tubing system faster and more reliably. COO Neil Tardella says he believes Energid was chosen because they have worked with NASA in developing the K10 rover. We hope that the new collaboration proves to be successful.
Microsoft released Kinect SDK a while back and now they are giving the free gift of Kinect Service for RDS to developers. They are hoping that robots will make veritable leaps and bounds, so put your skills to work and do some bottin'! Look for updates in the fall and contact them when you have the next best bot.
Korea's latest playmate for kids is a multi-tasking monkey aimed at 3 - 7 year olds. The 8" tall wheeled Kibot can be controlled via cellphone by parents so that kids can video chat with others. Made by KT, he comes in grey or pink, responds to gestures by talking, teaches language with his 3.5" display and avoids obstacles when necessary. The bilingual Kibot is available for 485,000 won (~$447) with wireless packages available, and songs, stories and animation can be downloaded after purchase.
We always like finding stuff from OWI as their kits make it simple for kids of all ages to build their products. This time we found a 3-in-1 ATR that can act as a forklift, rover and gripper. A wired controller allows the All Terrain Robot to go forward, backwards, turn and operate with a maximum lift of 200 gm. The ATR needs 4 AA batteries, not included.
Take a look at this spot made for an Audi A4 campaign in Spain. Created by Big Lazy Robot VFX in Barcelona, it is surely a masterful creation and worth a view. When you have admired this one, head over to their website and revel in their portfolio that includes ad for the Mercedes E300L, a trailer for "The Gift" and we cannot wait to see their cockroach short!
If you happen to be in the NYC area this weekend, tickets are still available to attend the Robot Film Festival at the 3LD Art and Technology Center, 80 Greenwich St. See 70+ videos, films, awards ceremony, workshops and even an evening BBQ. We think it is a fine idea and our kudos go to founder Heather Knight of Marilyn Monrobot, who knows that all robots deserve recognition. Tickets start at $25.00 and if you cannot make it this year, you can make your own or attend what we hope will be an annual event.
Mex-One is entering its final phase of its metamorphosis. It is a humanoid that not only can walk and memorize information, it is considered a social robot and can learn by experience. Head of its team Eduardo Bayro, claiims that they will have "sub-products with practical ends in such fields as medicine and culture." This means that it has open architecture for developing new algorithms, ideas and applications such as intelligent limbs for the disabled. The total cost is about $100,000 with that price halved by ordering a replica that can be used as a hospital assistant or museum guide.
The Army is beginning a 21 day trial run this week with a remote controlled submersible. The Remotely Operated Underwater Munitions Recovery System robotic arm has been specifically designed to remove WW II munitions. It will be recovering grenades, bullets and their casings, and bombs. ROUMRS is similar to those used by offshore oil rigs and can go down 120 ft. to vacuum up small objects.
After the demonstration, the damage to the reef and the collection will be studied and, if considered successful, the military will start the removal next year.
There are plenty of robot books out there, but what really grabbed our attention recently was The Robot Book by Heather Brown. It not only has a delightful story line, it has moving parts to teach kids how he works and what is most important in both humans and non-.
The Lego Pancake Bot is a work in progress, designed to make pancakes in shapes. Two empty ketchup bottles serve as dispensers on an aluminum protected track and a three axis Computer Numerical Control handles the movement with Python NXT, a scripting language for Lego projects. (He needs a Barrett WAM robotic arm to turn it over!) Mexican Viking (Miguel Valenzuela) has kindly provided his instructions for wannabe robot chefs.
Showa University, home to the dental assistant Hanako, has improved on its original in order to make it more realistic and simpler to use. Number 2 has a silicone skin and mouth lining by doll manufacturer Orient Industry, tongue and arms with 2º of freedom and more natural movements.
Hanako 2 can blink, roll her eyes, cough, choke and complain when her mouth is open too long. Showa feels that making Hanako 2 more human friendly makes the dental student more aware of treatment and will make him/her more cautious.
The teaming of the University of Tokyo's Rekimoto Lab and Sony Computer Science Laboratories has produced the appropriately named PossessedHand. After connection, 28 electrodes produce joint actions on your digits without your participation. First created to teach would-be musicians fingering technique, its creators are hoping that it will aid stroke victims. Although the jolts given are supposedly not painful, still we bet that they had to pay the first testees to participate.
You have to love Concept Shed's AutoWed, instant matrimony. Put in your dollar, and it talks you through the ceremony after you input names, music included. The robopreacher gives you a certificate/receipt and a couple of rings that look like they should have come out of a Cracker Jack box. We're not sure how legal it is, but it has at least as much charm as an Elvis impersonator. If you happen to live close to Detroit, you can see one at Marvin's Marvellous Mechanical Museum.
Mater is the latest toy that has spawned from Cars 2 and turned into a toy for the masses. The decrepit, albeit lovable dump truck, voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, is remote control and can race Lightning McQueen . Both vehicles have flashing LED lights, cool sounds and quote phrases from the movie.