Last week, General Hospital brought back James Franco to reprise his roll as the sinister villain of the same last name. Not only did he ham it up with an obnoxious monkey, he featured an assortment of Kikkerland wind-ups like the MxyKikker shown here that were supposedly embedded with cameras. Yeah, we always knew they were toys to die for!
It looks like 20th Century Fox now has the rights to Isaac Asimov's 1954 novel Caves of Steel. Henry Hobson has been chosen to direct the movie that is set 1,000 years from now when workers known as Spacers are sent to other planets to toil alongside robots. The humans become paranoid of the bots when one of the spacers is found murdered. A detective and robot disguised as a human are sent to investigate. No specific date has been set for production.
If you need someone to nag you to get back into shape, Autom is now available for the masses. A $195.00 down payment gets you the personal coach for 10% off the annual price and 6 free months of subscription service. That may seem pricey but think of it as a replacement for that third daily Big Mac. A companion book with special diet tips is also available to get you started.
Canada's Carleton University is working on Kapvik, a remote controlled micro-rover that can assist the more expensive Spirit Rover. So the next time one gets mired down in Mars' mud, the 6-wheeler can come to the rescue and act as a scout the rest of the time. The demo video is a nice touch to see the 30kg prototype in action on this planet, even with the controller's tacky sandals in the picture.
The U.S. military is sending some armed drones to eastern Africa as they seem concerned that al Qaeda may be moving to the area. A base on the island nation of Seychelles has reopened and MQ-9 Reapers are to be deployed there. They feel that using that location may cut back on the militants' ability to track them. While drones were used there back in 2009 only for surveillance on pirates, this time they have the ability to fire Hellfire missiles and 500 lb. bombs. Let's hope the public knowledge about the mission is enough to scare away the bad guys.
Check out where Evolta's Spokesbot has come from and where he is going in the World Challenge IV 2011. October 23, the little green guy will take place in a week long Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii. The humans only get a day but the trio of competitiors will swim for 2.4 miles, ride a bike 112 miles, then run 26.2 miles. During that time, they will only stop for feeding recharging their nickel-metal-hydride rechargeable batteries.
Every day, more commercials crop up that use robots for costars. As CGI becomes more technically advanced all the time, we can see why that trend is catching on. What better villain to destroy Duane than an evil giant robot in this State Farm spot "State of Chaos?"
Now even water robots are self-sufficient. Liquid Robotics' Wave Glider uses the ocean's wave energy to move along so it needs no batteries and or waste the planet's natural resources. Former astronaut and Google employee Ed Lu, chief of innovative applications, says that onboard sensors monitor salinity, plankton activity, pollution or water-based catastrophes like oil spills. It moves at only one and a half knots but can also run on solar power and theoretically can go for years without a break, unless an evil sea creature wants it for dinner.
iRobot, who has been working on Ava, a robot that runs on Apple and Android devices, is hoping that developers will come up with additional applications for the five foot tall telepresence bot. First unveiled at the CES 2011, the company plans to sell Ava to businesses, hospitals and even consumers next year if all goes according to schedule. So, all you smart roboticists, this is your chance to get in on the ground floor of a budding enterprise.
Back in February, Watson beat out Jeopardy champs and his keepers decided his next move would be Med School. Teaming with the University of Maryland, software developer Nuance and Columbia UMC, the computer "learned' about anatomy, conditions and symptoms to help diagnose patients' illnesses. Dr. Eliot Siegel, the team's head, says they will use Watson as a sort of "safety check" to determine if proper care and medicines have been prescribed. Yeah, he ought to stay in the background as he probably doesn't have much of a bedside manner.
Note: If you are a Watson fan and watched him on Jeopardy, PBS' Nova presented "The Smartest Machine on Earth" this month. It discussed computer learning and how IBM prepared him for his TV debut, including auditions. This is a must see for anyone into A.I. and you can still watch it online.
You have probably seen the Kia's dancing hamsters as they face off against what we would like to think are robots hoping to dispense with the creepy rodents. Just in case you missed the 2012 Soul Commercial, here it is with the targeted age group certainly obvious.
Robot Snob does so appreciate the metallic men but when we know that so many humans are still without work, including in the car assembly field, we somehow cannot fully embrace the "dozens" of robots employed used in the renovated Louisville, Kentucky Assembly Plant that is producing Ford Escapes.
The plant reopens in November. They added 1,800 workers because of the complexity of the vehicles. But almost 17,000 showed up to submit an application and grab a chance at getting into a lottery that was used to help narrow down the amount. Governor Steve Beshear is all for the change as he believes "advanced manufacturing is the wave of the future. We can either get on board and make it work to our advantage or we can be victims."
The IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems takes place in San Francisco from September 25th - 30th. Tickets are still being sold for the 50th anniversary event that will feature robots from all over the planet and includes workshops, tours, and forums. Look for exhibits from Willow Garage, DARPA, iCub and many other robotics companies. Registration for the IROS includes almost everything, from the conference attendance to receptions to the special events.
The India Times interviewed actor Shah Rukh Khan of soon to be released Ra.One, and questioned him as to its resemblance to the 2010 movie Robot after comparing the two promos. He claims the science fiction film is more of a superhero movie. We figure you should make your own assessment although some of the effects do look similar. But, no matter how you slice it, it still looks worth a viewing upon release in October.
Is it too early to think Halloween? If so, then attend the premiere of Real Steel in your Rock'em Sock'em Red Rocker Costume. One size fits most adults and will surely shake up your fellow movie goers. Rasta Imposta also carries a Blue Bomber Costume in case you plan on attending with a friend.
It's that time of year again as robots that are useless compete to find out the one that is the buffoon of the year. The Bacarobo will take place at Budapest's Trafo House of Contemporary Arts October 30th, when the 12 finalists try to prove their unworthiness. That leaves plenty of time for other useless Do It Yourselvers to catch up. The winner, or should we say loser, takes home €2,000 (~$2,897.)
Japan loves their robots and the latest trend there seems to be making them into mascots for local companies like ATR/Vstone's Daichan, a 3'7" bot dressed for dancing and Eager's 5'4" Hansan, made mostly of recycled cardboard. Both are a part of Robot Laboratory, a network designed to encourage the PR practice.
The latest Droid commercial is out for the Bionic, due to be released this Thursday. Note that amidst the bells, flashes, whistles and robots, you never actually get to see the product itself. Both Motorola and carrier Verizon have been keeping pretty quiet as to the details until the carrier came up with a gimmicky idea for the smartphone tied into an app.
Toshiba has joined in the robot vacuum arena with the Smarbo. The VC-BR100 has 38 gyro and infrared sensors, a camera and accelerometers to map out where it has been so it doesn't clean the same space. Cleaning is accomplished in parallel lines and it can handle 1076 sq. ft. in a 90 minute cycle. When finished or stopped, it returns to its starting point. All that technology will cost you. Sales will start in Japan in October with a price of $1,175.
Whoa! Who isn't impressed by the Real Steel, due out October 7 and starring Hugh Jackman and those incredible Rockem' Sockem' Robots? You can bet that any licensed toys that come out of it will be hot for the holidays. (A poster is already available.) More video trailers have been released like the one above and we think it will be too kewl for skewl if viewed it at an IMAX theater.
Here's your chance to make your very own animatronic head. The eyes, eyebrows and mouth are built of motors, cardboard and wire while a microcontroller takes care of servo controls. You can get the full tutorial and some more examples via the link. PyroElectric's Chris states that he is still working on the project that should take about 4 hours to complete, longer if you want to accessorize.