China's BYD displayed its Qin plug-in (named after the first Empire) at the recent Beijing Motor Show. The hybrid sedan features a lush interior with two TFT LCDs on the dashboard. After the Qin is turned on, an actual small robot appears on its dashboard that, according to China Car Times, appears to be the terminal of its "i" networking system, including wireless internet, cloud computing, GPS, voice control and music downloads. Price should run between $24,000 - $32,000.
Meet Andru, an Android Robot USB Cell Phone Charger. At a size of 1.2 x 1.8 x 2.5", he comes with his own stand and cable. His eyes light up blue when charging and his arms and antennae are moveable.
Once charged, listen with a friend to most smartphones, MP3 Players and tablets with a 3.5mm socket with the Y-Bot Headphone Splitter. While earbuds are not included, the aqua-colored bot comes on a handy keychain.
Carnegie Mellon doctoral candidate Heather Knight is endeavoring to design a robot that can better imitate a human. She created Data, a small humanoid that may ultimately read and respond to social cues. Knight gives live performances with the Nao robot (similar to those used in RoboCup soccer) while helping to develop a touch activated sensor on his head and writing behavioral programs.
Her research goes even farther as she consulted an acting professor about gestures and learned timing from stand-up comedians. She even got a script for a bit from a Carnegie Mellon associate who was into Shakespeare.
Data, "If you prick us in our battery pack, do we not bleed our alkaline fluid?"
Knight does not want to replace people, only computers. We think she is well on the way.
Wilton, Iowa's One More Round bar features lifesize 'Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. Participants connect with a belt and when he/she moves, the bot moves with them. Owner Dave Wilson bought it from another bar owner and holds competitions. What a great way to make a few extra bucks for Dave while customers can let off some pent up hostility.
General Dynamics has developed the Knifefish, a drone submarine that can hunt for mines for the Navy via sonar. At a length of 19 ft. long and a weight of 3,000 lbs., the sub is released by a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS.) It was on display recently at the Navy League's Sea, Air, Space Conference in National Harbor, MD. Due to be in use by 2017, so far the fishbot must return to the LCS to upload any information found.
The audience at the recent Coachella Music Festival were treated to the likes of the deceased Tupac Shakur. A hologram showed up on stage and performed 'Hail Mary.' The audience then saw a duet of '2 of Amerika'z Most Wanted' with Snoop Dogg. Tupac must've been smiling down...
It is never too soon to invest in your own Drone for battling nosy ones or giving you an advantage of spying back. The quad copter can be controlled both indoors and out by a Wifi iPad, iPhone, touch or Android device. The AR.Drone autopilot allows simplified takeoff and landing and the front view camera offers a live video feed. The 22.4 x 22.4 x 5.4" mini-drone is available in orange with blue/green/yellow combinations and comes with battery, charger, four adapters and two hulls.
Like sushi but can't seem to get enough of the fishy treat? One of Suzomo's SVR line of robots can produce 280 - 400 korimako rolls per hour. Another can handle up to 3,300 pieces of shari rice by the hour. The company also produces rice cookers, bento box makers and other sushi bots. We like the speed but would certainly miss the human touch.
While a student at John Hopkins, Thomas Smith took some off-the-shelf parts and created a motorized arm that can quickly grab images and place them on a scanner. Smith's bot literally sucks one up and places it on a photocopier that scans the back and front every 42 seconds, saving both time and a great deal of money. He soon teamed with the newspaper Afro to digitize their images.
Dubbed Project Gado, over 6,000 pictures are available online and can be viewed and/or purchased here. With a grant from the Abell Foundation, Smith built a second open source Gado kit at a cost of about $500.00. He is hoping that other publishers, libraries or other companies with photos to convert will invest.
There is almost nothing scarier than having someone come up to you and you have to literally talk to his/her hand. Japan's Keio University created this robotic ring that try to imitate eye and mouth movements. Electromagnetic motors control them and the team wants them to eventually work autonomously. Señor Wences would be proud.
Great news for roboticists who want to help save the planet. DARPA is sponsoring a massive competition with a prize of $2 million going to the winner. Beginning in October, the Robotic Challenge will be looking for autonomous emergency response robots. Entries will compete in physical challenges that involve perception, decision making, use of tools, endurance and other capabilities.
The winner must be able to drive a vehicle across dense terrain, remove debris, climb a ladder and replace a component. It can be humanoid with two arms and legs, a torso and head but non- can be entered as well. An online workshop is being held today for those who want specifics or check here for more information.
Angry Bird fanatics can take the game one step further with the RC version. After a 30 minute charge, it can fly for 8 - 10 minutes on 3.7V/150mAH Lipo battery and six 1.5V AA batteries (not included.) At a size of 20.0 x 20.0 x 12.5 cm, a USB charging plug and 2 spare blades are included in the package. We expect that if this becomes a major seller, soon we will see angry pigs flying.
We previously told you about brothers Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas who went to Africa two years ago to photograph the wildlife there with their BeetleCam. They recently were visited by ABC Nightline's Jeffrey Kaufman where they once again put their creation to work. You can see other results on their site and if you really like their cam, they will build one for you.
Move over Gundam, there's a new giant robot in town. Zhu Kefeng was so inspired as a boy by Transformers that he and a team of artists created the Mr. Iron Robot theme park in Jiaxing City, China. More than 600 giant sculptures were made out of recycled car and motorcycle parts. The project took over 10 years to complete and here's hoping it will be endorsed by Hasbro.
MIT researchers have created a robotic duplication system that works with "smart sand." These robot pebbles have simple processors and can communicate with others. After determining the original shape they can then replicate it in different sizes. Think of it as self-aware Legos and hope that their communication is limited to only building, not a robotic takeover.
Local police used a robot with sonar to search an Oakland, CA estuary and Friday found the .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun used by One L. Goh at the Oikos University shooting. They borrowed it from the San Francisco Police Department who also supplied a boat with underwater tracking. The tip was given by the expelled former student, who admitted to the crime and had apparently targeted Wonja Kim, a former nursing program assistant director. Goh remains jailed and returns to court April 30 after his initial court appearance.
This 4-Port Hub will keep any PC, Mac or laptop company. Attachable by USB, it supports both 1.1 and 2.0 transfer speeds. Its LED eyes light up when connected. Also available in blue, it comes with a USB cable.
To keep your MP3 Player earbuds, laptop or portable gaming system wires tidy, the Cord Wrapper will keep them out of the way and knotless, as well as keeping an eye out for evil bots.
It's a bit hard to see (and note the cheesy Benny Hill soundtrack,) but the gist of this video is Kurt Grandis making war with squirrels who kept sneaking onto his bird feeder. Using a Super Soaker, he rigged it to shoot at non-birds or "squirrelness." Guess who wins. Check the link for the entire presentation.
Intelligent Automation's Multi-Arm Unmanned Ground Vehicle can multi-task with three arms, three cameras with depth perception and 29º of freedom. The MA-UGV can be programmed for autonomous chores and is being used in tool handling and manipulation, backpack inspection, door breaching, knot tying and other military applications like IED diffusion.
Garabato Bot (DoodleBOT in English) puts both Spirograph and Etch A Sketch to shame. Spanish Aerospace Engineering Miguel Ángel de Fruto used some 3D printed parts, 2 stepper motors attached to a power driver, an Atmega 328 board, batteries and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. The Arduino-powered artist is as good as its user's talent and we are mightily impressed by this early effort. Miguel says with an extra servomotor it could handle more complicated artwork. Would this be a good time to ask if it could sketch a quick pic of Mitt?
Almost every day we seem to find more news about miniature drones being put to use in various scenarios. First there were those used for hotspots in places where there was no internet access, domestic police and fire departments are acquiring them and a couple of weeks ago The Pirate Bay blogged that they planned to use them to redirect traffic to secret servers.
Since an R/C vehicle could be easily tracked and the idea of keeping it secret seems unlikely, we tend to think it might have been a April Fools Day joke. What do you think?