This creature belongs under that category of the Uncanny Valley, the school of thought created by Dr. Masahiro Mori in a 1970 paper in the journal Energy. His thesis claims that when we see something lifelike we tend to empathize with it and then look at it with a disquieting sense that it is not, (in this instance its lack of skin.) We then accept it for what it is.
And if the above was not enough to spook you, here's another example. This is just so wrong in so many ways.
Sadly, Dick Tufeld, the voice of the robot (the actor was Bob May) in the TV series "Lost in Space" died Sunday, Jan. 22 at the age of 85. Still, we are fortunate to always have him with us when watching some of the old TV shows or movie. He was even featured in a 1998 documentary with John Larroquette, Will Robinson and Dr. Smith. And he is immortalized in toys as a Remote Control Replica turns, moves forward and back, and will keep on repeating "Danger, Will Robinson" forever (or until his batteries need replacing.)
"Real Steel" has finally come out on Blu-ray for those of you who missed the Rock 'Em Sock 'Em film starring Hugh Jackman. Just think of it as "Rocky" on robotic steroids. Add to that a dysfunctional father/son relationship and you have an instant family viewing night.
If you want something G-rated and on the cheese ball side, "Short Circuit" was released in 1986 and stars Ally Sheedy and Steve Gutenberg. This was pre-CGI animation and consisted of a bot named Johnny 5, who was designed by Syd Mead of "Blade Runner" fame. Because he was voiced by his creator during filming, #5 sounded much more human than previous movie bots.
University of Ottawa roboticist Emil Petriu and team are working on a robot that they hope will be more people-friendly. They plan to replace many of the robotic components, such as facial expressions, with more humanistic ones. The Canadian team will also try to make the hands more tactile and feel that the end result will be useful in the areas of nursing, maintenance and explosive device disposal. The video is partially in French and obviously this project still has a ways to go, but they certainly have a good start.
Scientists from Korea and the University of California, Berkeley foresee a time when a patient can lie inside an MRI machine and a microrobot reports back by video while moving forward and backwards, making turns and corkscrewing when needed. The results of their research will be in a soon to be published Journal of Applied Physics.
A collaboration of Israel's Tel Aviv University and Boston's Brigham & Women's Hospital are working on a robotic endoscope. Admittedly inspired by the movie "Fantastic Voyage", a pill-sized robot, powered by magnetic fields, may soon be able to run through a human's stomach, although so far testing has only taken place in an aquarium. An operative model is still about 3 to 5 years away.
Take your basic rescue dog and pair it with a Snakebot and you get Carnegie Mellon and Ryerson University's answer to finding disaster survivors. The dog sniffs out humans and the snake deploys from a pack around his neck when he barks. The bot can then send back video to the operators. This video demonstrates both finding a human and the robotic snake's perspective.
Divers sent down an Ageotec Perseo ROV to search the wreckage of the Costa Concordia. Hopefully they will help in seeking the still unaccounted for passengers. There is no sound on this video but you can see just how well the robotic camera can get into small places. The five function vehicle is part of the equipment being used by the Italian Fire Department.
Start-up company Romotive took its creation to the CES 2012 last week to introduce it to the greater good. Romo dances or can stream video when the user controls it through an iPod or smartphone. The appearance was successful enough to get the company to hire more workers to fulfill orders for 2,000 of them and regroup for mass production. A clever little bot, you can get yours from their website for $99.99.
Moneual, the company that brought you the Rydis H1004 Vacuum last year, has come out with a new product for those who suffer from allergies or asthma. The H800 purifies the air with HEPA and activated carbon filters and can manage this for 4 hours on a full charge. While it has not yet appeared on Moneual's site, we figure it would be a perfect product if they could just get it to suck up those dust bunnies under the bed.
You have to learn to appreciate fellow bloggers when they relate embarrassing interesting encounters on their journeys. Such is the case of Mashable's Lance Ulanoff meeting Justin Bieber at the CES 2012 while in search of Tosy's mRobo Ultra Bass, a speaker system that can grow limbs and dance. Programmed with pre-recorded dance movements, it can hold up to 500 tunes in its 2 GB memory. Clearly, no one clued the Bieb in on just what he was promoting.
We digress, but after reading Ulanoff's odyssey when meeting the tween throb, from his offering to get him an iPhone mic to not realizing when a mini-idol says now, he means now, we have to admit that this video far surpassed the one designed to sign us all up to buy the $199 mRobo. Lance, remind me to tell you about that lunch I had with Sean Connery.
Remember Hauke Scheer's U.R.I.-NAL 9000? It seems that he is now the star of a new app for iPhone/touch/iPad. The free game has the user pointing, aiming and shooting at the little robotic dude. We hear that the game is so addicting that his creator is now inspired to turn him into an articulated PVC bot later this year.
Capitalizing on their successful Alphie, Playskool has two smaller units designed for those ages 3 and up. The Deci-Bot teaches counting and numbers in both Explore and Find It Modes. Maestro-Bot is for playing tunes and has three song modes and colorful keys to teach its humans one of three songs. They are bright, cheerful and come with AAA batteries.
Build your robot bit by bit with Cubelets that snap together automatically and can move, emit noise and light, and can detect temperature and motion. Each block uses logic to determine what the others will do without any additional programming and is a smaller robot in itself. For example, if you set 2 speaking blocks and battery block together they will communicate. Pre-order a 20 piece KT01 Construction Kit for an April delivery that will set you back $520.00 but give you a whole new meaning to the term DIY.
Beef up your bar with these botty Swizzle Sticks made of acrylic with ceramic heads. The set of four come in different styles and are each 9" long. And for those who prefer wine, the double lever Corkscrew has a standard spiral with cap lifter and is made of stainless steel.
Give my cat a catnip mouse and she's a happy camper. Not so with Taylor Veltrop who took a 21" Nao robot, some Wiimotes, Kinect sensor bar, mini-cam, treadmill and brush to tend to his. We admire him for sticking to his project for over a year and hope his feline forgives him for that slight bonk in the head. We cannot wait for the 2-way audio chat that is to come next.
Robert Full and a team at UC Berkeley studied Agama lizards to see how they utilized their tails for balance when they run and jump. It seems that the reptiles needed to tilt their bodies upward to land properly. They applied this principal to their Tailbot, a wheeled lizard. The idea here is to create a robot that can jump over gaps and land safely and the team figured that the motion involved went as far back as dinosaurs. The results of their study can be found in the January 2012 edition of Nature.
Watch the video and note the subliminal glee that Full gets when he realizes that the velociraptor in the film Jurrasic Park has that same balance of body and tail.
This is no Mindstorms NXT, still the Lego Creator Rescue Robot can be posed, has an armored chrome head protector and comes with a lighted brick, rocket booster and antenna. This kit is recommended for kids ages 7 - 12, has 149 pieces and can also be turned into a laserbot or robocat.
Copora's Q.bo Daniel 123 has certainly been busy and can now identify himself in a mirror via his flashing nose. Because he is equipped with the Festival speech synthesizer and Julius recognition program, he can relate to people. Even more impressive, he recognizes another Q.bo (Jane 234) and the two have a brief, even flirty chat. As robots "approach consciousness" we are wondering if someday they be clever enough to perform experiments with humans.
This isn't the first time that we have explored artbots, like the Aikon ii Project. Japanese artists So Kanno and Takahiro Yamaguchi have built a Senseless Drawing Robot that can use spray paint to create its own version of art. We guess that you really have to be into abstract genre to appreciate his work because after about a minute we were ready to turn the thing off. Still, to each his/her own.
Fans of "Nightline" were surely almost impressed with David Hanson's Phillip, a robot that comes close to looking and sounding humanish. If you missed it, here is your chance to take a look at the segment that also features Zeno, Watson and a few other familiar bots.
Panasonic certainly knows how to take advantage of its Evolta robotic mascot. After attracting plenty of attention at the Iron Man Triathlon last September, they have now turned the little guy into a battery charger. We figured that sooner or later he would become a living, breathing boy robot. So far he is only available at Amazon Japan for 3,910 JPY (~$50.00.)