Robonaut 2 has joined the list of those who are really into Twitter. His first tweet from the ISS, "Those electrons feel GOOD! One small step for man, one giant leap for tinman kind."
He has been answering questions and sending birthday well wishes to his followers. Unfortunately, he is still restricted to his torso although NASA plans to add either a leg or rover in case they wish to expand his chores on Mars or the Moon. You can keep up with R2's comments on his account (@astrorobonaut) that already has about 40,000 followers.
Cornell teamed up two Chatbots to talk to each other, just to see what they would come up with. In an effort to with this year's Loebner Prize Competition in Artificial Intelligence (and $100,000.00,) the conversation was fairly inane and mentioned God, being a robot and/or a unicorn. Yeah, we just had to share the often biting but hilarious discussion.
ReconRobotics has been awarded $5.8 million to build micro robots for the military. They have requested 385 Recon Scout XT kits. Each weighs about a pound and can be used in areas too dangerous for humans. Both the bot and its controller can be charged from battery systems that the troops already carry and each has a titanium shell and urethane wheels that provide a drop shock resistance of 30 ft. They will be used for vehicle inspection, clearing spaces, evaluating IEDs and remote observation.
Take Jaws to a literally higher level with this IR remote controlled indoor Air Swimmer. Once the 57" long nylon Shark is filled with helium it can go 360º and move up, down, left and right from up to 40 feet away. It can remain aloft for about 2 weeks at a time, long enough to freak out your friends. The air swimmer also comes disguised as a Clownfish. Both will bounce off walls but remember to turn off your ceiling fan before use. Each requires 7 AAA batteries (not included.)
Robert Oschler's Robodance 5 is the latest version of software designed for the Rovio that has been in development for 4 years and is a cut above most. Using it, there is no need for a router, it eliminates DNS service, connects audio without a browser, can be accessed via public WiFi and can be used for Skyping. Although the download will be free when released, help out by contributing to various projects or adopting one of Oschler's domains as your own.
Social media company Tencent thinks little-Q will be your new BFF. When integrated with the Chinese company's QQ software and online services, the penguinbot chats, plays tunes, gives news and weather reports, helps you shop online and captures notes to self. We admit that this is a cutsey pet in a gimmicky kind of way that will probably never take over the planet but, although we don't understand Chinese, clearly these two humans need a life.
Chyi-Yeu Lin and team from the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology in Taipei created an eerie head that photographs a musical score with her camera/eyes, interprets the pitch, rhythm and lyrics from an algorithm, then turns it into her version of music via synthesizer. Designed to someday be a restaurant receptionist, they need to perfect a creepy body to go with that head.
Sandia National Laboratories has developed a bot that can rescue trapped miners or deliver supplies as it is immune to gas, flooding, killing fumes and possible collapsed buildings. Gemini-Scout is four feet long and 2 feet tall and is equipped with gas sensors, and two cameras for locating survivors and scoping out the area. It was designed to go ahead of its user and is steered by an Xbox 360 game controller, making it simpler to learn. NIOSH funded the project that Jon Salton and team believe could be available by the end of 2012.
Football season is finally here so why not go robot while you go team? The 12" Eli Manning has a magnetic hand for holding included football and is fully articulated so that you can play between the action. Push a button and the player becomes a bot. If you prefer Dallas to New York, the 10" Cowboy is for you.
Wait, there's more! How about a 10" bot representing the Green Bay Packers? Perhaps the 12" New England Patriots Robot is more to your personal preference. Each is posable and goes great with chips and dips at halftime.
A Houston, Texas couple created their own computer minister to perform their wedding ceremony. Miguel and Diana Hanson took their vows before a 30" monitor in the backyard of his parents' house. The ceremony was not a legal one and the couple will still have to get an authentic justice of the peace to sign off on it, but think of the kewl stories the couple will be able to tell their grandkids. (And we certainly hope that it brings some attention to the groom's Web development business.)
Keepon has been around for almost 4 years and in that time the bouncing bot has worked its magic into the hearts of autistic children as well as 2,500,000 YouTube users. Toys 'R Us now has exclusive US rights and plans to bring him out to play in late October. And that is proof positive that anyone can build their dreams on dancing rubber balls.
Want to save a cool $115,000 on a great robot? Willow Garage is offering one-armed PR2 SEs for a mere $285,000.00 if you promise to contribute to their ROS community. A Microsoft Kinect motion sensor is included in the deal. Rather than thinking of the bot as half capable, think of 50% as being halfway there. Besides, you can buy another arm later, even if your one armed bandit bot can manage just the way it is.
Will.i.am, using his power of celebrity, backed a star-studded TV special last night that explored the 20th annual FIRST Robotics Championship. ABC aired "i.am.FIRST: Science Is Rock and Roll" and the singer supported it because "Most kids are not dreaming of being programmers, scientists or engineers. The ones that are do not get the spotlight or attention. Instead, they are looked at as geeks or uncool, when in actuality technology is the only thing that is cool today."
We wrote about Syma's Mini-Copters back in January, and were surprised to find that the company has dropped the price so that now everyone can annoy others with one. No assembly is required and each has gyroscope technology that allows it to go up, down, left, right, forward and backwards for up to 12 minutes per charge. Each is 3.5", just large enough to do some damage indoors.
Foxconn has about 10,000 robots "employed" by its plants that assemble Apple products, but with the rash of recent suicides at their Chinese subsidiary, which houses 400,000 workers, CEO Terry Gou plans to up the amount. The company will replace 300,000 next year total with robots and a million within 3 years. While this may be a good for the company, where will all those humans find work?
After the devastating catastrophe in Japan, Daiwa House donated two of its Paros to a previously abandoned retirement home in Suisyoen. Because real animal therapy is not always possible, residents can hold these substitutes and somehow find them comforting. While the sealbots would normally cost about $155 a month to lease, the generous company left Love and Peace for a 2 year stint. Our kudos to Daiwa!
Take a look at the Toy Story 2 Alien Webcam, courtesy of Disney and Pixar. The 15", 1.3 megapixel cam hooks up via USB, has glowing eyes and antenna, and emits strange alienish noises. Unplug him and you get an external speaker with 2 more USB ports. It's fun, it's freaky, it costs a whopping $299.99.
Willa is one of four Fijit Friends that debuted at February's Toy Fair and is ready to be your or someone you love's best friend. Made by Mattel, she can sing, dance, giggle and tell jokes. With soft, tactile skin and LED face, she responds to noise, movements and tummy poking. She reacts to over 30 specific voice commands, has about 150 phrases and can interact with mobile apps, TV commercials and other outside stimuli. When bedtime comes, she can become a nightlight.
The video is a bit juvenile, but then you have to consider the target audience and realize this will be a hot Holiday season for the quartet. Hit the link to see all four of the Fijit Friends.
See the Khepera quadropods. See them and their pod leader form on their own to make a landing pad for a quadrotor. They do this after being programmed with algorithms from Ted Macdonald and a team from Georgia Robotics and Intelligent Systems Lab. You know that the military is going to want a piece of that to build their own robot army.
Watch out sports fans, there's some new competition in town. DARwin-OP (Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot with Intelligence--Open Platform) stands a mere 18" and weighs only 2.9kg, but is truly endearing. He performs a kick the can routine with some Takate beer that shows he may have a future in soccer, even at a cost of $12,000.
Emerald is back with a new spot for their "Breakfast On the Go" munchies video. This time Carl becomes Carlita but the message is the same, why eat the same boring granola bars when you can have a yummy snack? Nice hair!
The Harbin Institute of Technology and the Natural Science Foundation of China have developed a new and improved microbot that mirrors water striders. This one is faster, cheaper and more agile than previous generations and may someday be used for spying or inspections. About the size of a quarter, the diminutive bot has ten water-walking superhydrophobic wire legs and two movable, oval legs that are powered by two tiny DC motors. It can walk, turn and stand motionless on surfaces.