Sweden is the latest country to assist in the clean-up of the failed Fukushima fourth reactor. Husqvarna Construction is supplying a DXR 140 and DXR 310 that will tear down some of the damage and deal with the contaminated debris. The two service bots have been specially adapted and the larger 310 has a video camera and transmitting equipment for remote control. Takenaka Construction has been trained in their usage but they believe it will be years before things get back to even semi-normal.
If you can remember as far back as the 60s, then you will appreciate film director Bryan Barber's acquiring the rights to the cartoon Gigantor. Here's a refresher if you don't. A young lad's father creates a huge robot as a flying weapon but the boy bonds with it and uses it in peaceful ways.
Barber tracked the rights to an aging Fred Ladd, who owned the Japanese language cartoon and adapted it for English speakers. Considering that the run of Transformer movies are never-ending and with the recent big bucks from Real Steel, Barber may have a hit on his hands. He says the live action film will be "Transformers meets Goonies."
Those U of Penn. Researchers have not only created a Poop Scoop, their MODLAB has a robot that can build and repair others or itself with spray-on foam and modular parts. The FoamBot is a wheeled cart with jointed modules that can spray to connect them to each other. The basic plan here is to develop a robot that can handle unknown emergencies quickly and cheaply. It's no surprise that they can be used in military applications, planetary endeavors and disaster relief, not to mention building several versions of itself for the eventual planet takeover.
Plan Toys feels it can help your 3 year old learn about emotions while building tactile skills with its Planpreschool Build A Robot. The 7.9" toy is made with chemical free, recycled rubber and wood in non-toxic coloring. It has 4 interchangeable heads and arms and legs are movable.
Recommended for children over 5, the 11" tall Alex Build and Roll Kit comes with 7 heavy duty cardboard pieces, 8 bolts, 4 wheels, 2 eyes, 6 markers, 30 stickers and plastic screwdrivers.
Again we note that some people have way too much time on their hands, in this case Jason Huggins, who developed a robot that plays Angry Birds. Bitbeambot was made to accompany him in a talk he gave at the first Jenkins User Conference earlier this month in San Francisco.
Bless Willow Garage and their PR2s. The one that belongs to the University of Pennsylvania's GRASP lab will do one of the worst human jobs. He even has the telling name POOP SCOOP (Perception of Offensive Products and Sensorized Control of Object Pickup.) It identifies them based on color against a green field then heads on over there and grabs its prize.
PS is somewhat limited in his endeavors and can only manage high fiber scooping. They will soon be posting their ROS stack and you can assist and make it a super-scooper. With a success rate of about 95%, the $400,000 bot can practice in our backyard anytime.
Kikkerland does more than just cool wind-up critters. We found two robots that you can add to your collection that also have a function. The 4 piece Robo Measuring Cup Set comes in red, is made of food safe ABS plastic and is a mere 3-1/4 X 7-3/4 X 2-1/4-inch" when stacked.
The Robot Tea Infuser is made of rust-proof stainless steel, has arms that will fit any sized cup or mug and includes a tray that can double as a saucer.
It may look like a runaway from a Puffs Tissue commercial, but it is in fact a very coordinated, humanistic Mekabot unveiled at last month's IROS 2011 event in San Francisco. There are hi-res FireWire Cameras for eyes, DSP controllers that are integrated and amazingly lifelike torso and head movements. Founders Aaron Edsinger and Jeff Weber formed Meka after developing Domo at MIT.
If you like your movies overly long and 90% CGI, then Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon is for you. With inside references that range from Al Pacino to Spock's famous line "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," this film has more great character actors (including Leonard Nimoy as the voice of Sentinel) than any high budget movie needs.
Don't try to keep track of the various plots, but watch for the special effects. There is so much of it that Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (who does the film in heels) rarely do anything but run across a set or scream. And if you have a big screen and Blu-ray, so much the better.
This is not the first time that bots played ping pong with each other and humans, but it may be the most impressive. The Vietnamese TOSY introduced Topio, a 1.6 meter tall sports bot that can analyze the ball's path. Their talents, as you can see in the video, include serving fore and back-handed, returning and scoring. With development from Zhejiang University, the project took about 4 years to complete. Their next idea is to develop one to do housework. We'll drink to that.
You would think that there would finally be an end to the ways R2-D2 can be exploited licensed, but at the Christmas Toy Fair 2011 in London, Sega introduced the 3.9 x 8.3 x 3.5" Home Star R2-D2 Planetarium. It will project about 10,000 stars out of his head and onto your wall or ceiling. Four AA batteries are needed to light up the LED (not included) and look for a price of $104.00.
That didn't take long. There is already an authorized Real Steel WRB Built For Battle Set. It includes a 12 x 12" Ring, Atom, Zeus, light up controls and sound effects from the film. Recommended for those over 6 years old. A Rock 'em Sock 'em by any other name...
Panasonic has created a hair-washing robot with 24 fingers. It resembles a regular salon chair and sink, and shampoos, does scalp massages and rinses with a total time of 3 minutes. It takes a mere 5 more minutes to condition and blow dry hair. Designed for the elderly or infirm, it was originally conceived two years ago and the new model should be available to those that have the need next year.
The University of Tokyo has taught their PR2 to fetch a sandwich. If one is not available in the fridge, he goes to the Subway in another building. The bot is using "semantic search," the ability to use common sense when seeking an object. It can also add to the knowledge as it gains more experience. So, although he did have a bit of a bind at the elevator, we still call this a $5 footlong success.
A virus has hit the military's UAV fleet. Wired reports that it has been around for about two weeks, but officials have still managed to keep the program active, including the September 30 strike in Yemen. Details are sketchy as to its purpose, but it seems the key logger payload locks in keystrokes that drone operators perform. They have yet to be able to remove the virus and are not sure if its arrival was intentional or accidental. And while it has not caused any obvious damage as yet, this certainly proves that nothing is totally safe in the Interweb world.
We have been touting it all summer and finally Real Steel has arrived. What most are calling a Rock 'em Sock 'em event is actually a modern day Rocky, complete with sentimental pap. Hugh Jackman is in his element here as he trains a robot that was built for sparring and...well you know the rest. This is an American movie. It already topped the Box Office chart, making $8.6 million its first day and leaving Clooney, Gosling and their political thriller with sloppy seconds.
Some critics panned it because of the premise that humans would want to watch robots fight, but we think they just have not had proper exposure to Mindstorms NXT, Willow Garage or Battlebots.
You know that the holidays will soon be upon us when new toys start to appear, including the latest Let's Rock Elmo. The Sesame St. muppet certainly has evolved and now comes with a microphone, tambourine and drum set, and sings 6 different songs. This will be one of the hot toys this season, so shop early.
Note that Hasbro also wants your kids to play along with separately sold Let's Rock Guitar, Keyboard and Mic , but you can save those for birthdays.
Recently updated, 'Robot Wants Kitty' is a platformer with the user helping the bot collect kitties and enhance its abilities. Made by Raptisoft, the app is good with iPhone/iPod touch and iPad iOS 3.1 or later. The first level is free with other levels at $.99 each.
The University of Maryland has teamed with DARPA and come up with two jumping robots. One is a 4mm bot with power source control system and light sensors that goes up 8 cm, equal to 20 times its height. The other has microfabricated elastomer springs that store up energy and release it when it is ready to take off. This mini-bot can go 80 times its own height. We call that a super spy.
Rezwan Fredaus, a 26 year-old physics graduate, was arrested last week in Ashland, MA for his connection with a plot to damage the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol with the aid of remote control airplanes. He supposedly planned to equip 3 of them with C-4 plastic explosives and guide them by GPS from the East Potomac Park. A model of an F-86 Sabre fighter jet was found in a storage facility there that had been rented under a false name. A Federal Grand Jury indicted Fredaus last week.
Considering how easily these model planes and how to instructions for C4 can be found online, this possible crime was thankfully averted.