'Tis the last day of 2011 and where we live we just hit a new record for the amount of rainfall in one year. The local news team seems to think that this is very important and the local meteorologists are positively gleeful. So out with the old and maybe by the end of 2012 we can celebrate something just as menial.
Kid Galaxy's RC Data Robot is almost too cute and designed for ages 3 and above because we all know that toddlers love robots, too. With blinking lights and moving eyes, he spouts out botty noises and his remote lets him go forward, back or turn around. He also comes in apple green.
Nothing quite represents the holidays better than this T. Rex's skull that sings "Jingle Bells." RWeaving was inspired by his 4 year old son and made a 3D printing of the dino's head. The music is triggered by a servo motor. Ho ho ho y'all.
While we barely tolerate the overly enthusiastic star of Progressive Insurance's commercials, it seems that a bobblehead in one of them wasn't enough. So they came up with Flobot, a bot that the original Flo (portrayed by the comedic Stephanie Courtney) seems to find objectionable. Somehow we think a gecko makes a much better foil.
We seem to have missed this one last week but better late than never. Toronto, Canada's bd594 came up with a duet of a robot snare drummer and HP scanner rockin' to "The Little Drummer Boy." When creating this ditty, he claimed the project was "70% timing and 30% execution." Check out his YouTube page for other robot band concerts.
Poor Michele. You just never know who she will run into in pursuit of her political dreams. On her recent stopover to Iowa City's Hamburg Inn, the presidential candidate had to deal with a couple of dozen hecklers including this "gay robot." The Roboprof chimed in with them saying, "I am a gay robot. I oppose Bachmann's position on gays, whether they are human or robot."
It turns out that the bot in question was Kambrew McLeod, a U of A communications professor who also showed up at a 2007 rally for Bill Clinton. Loud holiday music was blasted over some loudspeakers and local police were called to the fracas, but no arrests were made.
Everyone needs a Super Galactic Space Robot that walks, turns and has eyes and gun that lights up and makes shooting noises. Here comes the best part. The 15" classic toy plays evil empire music and a chest that displays Robot Battles. He needs 4 AA batteries (not included) to do his thing.
Meet Wendell, an open source robot powered by an Arduino board that runs on wheels. Marc Cryan came up with the friendly looking bot and software, and he is looking for a few good contributors on Kickstarter to help develop the licensing and manufacturing of 50 DIY kits. If you would like one, a donation of $198.00 will put you on the list. And if you want to build your own, check out his Instructables page.
Kare Halverson (aka Zenta) has shown his creativity with a robot that literally does what its name implies. The MorpHex started out as a globe that the Norwegian engineer turned into a hexapod. The bot can crawl forward and turn back into itself for now and he plans to get it to roll in the future. Check out his blog to see details of the building of his inspired creature.
We suppose no one really needs a BIG Power Hand but it looks pretty kewl nonetheless. The company says that they were made for kids but they seem large enough for small adults. The form-fitting glove has spring loaded joints, an opposable thumb and "works like a real hand." We suppose one could consider it one small step hand towards bionics.
A team from The Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome, headed by Dr. Giovanni Morone, recently completed a trial study to see if those who have a stroke can benefit from robot-assisted therapy. The study took two years and consisted of 48 nonambulant patients who became involved after 20 days from the time of the strokes. They found that using the robotic assistance helped those that had high motor impairment. If you would like to study their findings, it was published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association and can be found via the link.
If oversaturation can make for a successful product, then mission accomplished for the Fijit, a soft creature that has voice recognition and can sing and dance. You cannot look in any catalogue or toy commercial without noticing Willa or one of the other little buggers that come in various colors and have 100 built-in phrases and jokes.
Toys 'R Us figured the Fijit prominently on this year's catalogue (upper right corner, front page.) We guess that Mattel figured that if the original was hot, then Friends Newbies could extend their bankability. Tika is one of those friends and can sing. Put two together and you get a duet.
Beginning in October, an English-speaking classroom in Los Angeles and French-speaking one in Montreal teamed to create Robot Heart Stories, a learning project from storyteller Lance Weiler and producer Janine Saunders. The 40 students were encouraged to make a "heart pack" and write stories to fuel a robot named Laika who crash landed in Canada and had to make her way back to her ship in CA.
The robot was "fueled " by the students' creativity as they decided where the journey would go. A picture was taken at each of 56 cities for a total of 2010 miles and 397 photographs. Future plans include NASA sending the project to the ISS and to chronicle the experience in a coffee table book.
No kibble or newspaper needed. Hasbro continues to pump out the Furreal Friends and their latest it a King Charles Spaniel Puppy. Place him on the floor and he moves in a circle then comes back to you. Pet him and he barks and makes other puppy noises. For feline lovers, the Black and White Kitten also walks towards you. She can meow, purr and knead her paws in that annoying way that real cats do.
Visitors to France's FRAC Center in Orleans get the privilege of witnessing "Flight Assembled Architecture," a 20 ft. high building being assembled by flying robots. Four quadrocopters are placing 1,500 polystyrene foam blocks into the futuristic city that could house 30,000 humans if it were real and to scale. Although they are autonomous they learn placement according to the blueprints. The exhibit is the brainchild of ETH Zurich, roboticist Raffaello D'Andrea and the architect team of Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler, and will run through February 19.
Shades of Andy Kaufman! Masato Takahashi of Keio University built the Ondz Clapping Robots, hands that he hoped would actually sound like humans. Not only can they can applaud their own performance, if you put enough of them in a room, you wouldn't need an audience, The real question is if there is no one in the room when the hands are clapping, is there a sound? Hit the link for more videos, one of them downright scary.
Look what Santa found. This Toy Story's Buzz Lightyear Dancer can not only talk in his original Tim Allen voice, you can hook up your iPod or MP3 player and he becomes a dancing fool while his external speaker plays the tunes. Looking for a night light to brighten up the darkness and save you from the evil ones? This Atomic Robot has glowing eyes and mouth and each is individually created by Katsu Designs.
We first told you about iRobot's AVA last January appearing at the CES 2011 and it seems that they are finally being released to the world, one bot at a time. For example, one telepresent/iPad bot has been built for Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto to assist Dr. Mirek Otremba and the rest of the staff. iRobot has already teamed up with InTouch Health, a robotics company that specializes in medical conferencing by remote, so we expect that there will soon be an AVA appearing at a health care facility near you.
A team from Harvard has developed Kilobots, swarming bots that are autonomous and controlled by algorithms. Each one is made with inexpensive materials and needs only 5 minutes to assemble. Previously tested in the areas of synchronizing, getting in formation and foraging, while most swarmers can only be used in small groups, their single user approach can control a larger collective.
The team sees their Kilobots being used in disasters to find survivors, remove contaminant objects or to monitor environments where humans can not or should not go.
It's tree trimming time and to make your botty presence known, why not decorate with this set of 10 Domo Tree Ornaments? Each is 2" and comes in lime green, yellow, tear drop, robot, brown, metallic blue, red and purple velvet, glitzy glitter and squiggly striped.
Fans of Dragon Ball Z will appreciate this collection of 10 that features androids, cyborgs and robot characters.
This set of 4 Space Robots are made of blown glass, are about 3" each and are gift boxed.
Brighten up the tree or window with these 10 R2-D2 Lights that span 138".
Want to start your own robot horde? That's exactly the idea behind My Robot Nation, the brainchild of Sarah Stocker and Mark Danks. You visit their site, design your own bot in a size from 2 - 6" and they will 3D print your droid figures in color. Once yours is made, it will be delivered to your address. Prices start at $17.99 per bot and there are holiday parts available this month.
What is the best way to get a couple more hours of sleep during the holidays? Treat the kidlets to a stocking full of things to munch and play with in the early hours. You can get a dozen Frosted Lollypops, each 2 ¼", fat free and individually wrapped. The assortment of suckers comes in various fruit flavors. The 6" Bubble Robot has a motor to chug out those bubbles (included.) This is more than just a toy as kids have to actually build it first.
A team from the South Korean Asian Forum For Corrections built a combination prison guard and snitch that is programmed to monitor cells, keep prisoners in touch with human officers and analyze behavior that could be aggressive or suicidal. Fortunately for the inmates, this is a good robot (note the slight smile) and is not permitted to carry a taser or practice waterboarding. In the future, they are hoping to make the guardbot even more inmate friendly.