iRobot goes elite with their 790 Roomba. An RF remote control has the power to control its movement at almost any location, a great bonus when trying to avoid small children or pets, or want to send it back to its charging station. The cleaning head has improved to pick up more dirt, pet hair and possibly Rice Krispies. The 790 carries a price of $699 and comes with accessories that include extra filters and brushes, a screwdriver and carrying case.
A tactile sensor has been developed by a team from USC's Viterbi School of Engineering. The researchers came up with a new algorithm that is similar to human touch based on exploratory movements from prior experience. The finger-sized Bio-Tac sensor has soft skin that covers liquid and a small hydrophone that detects vibrations to recognize textures while discerning from different temperatures. After testing, the Fishel-built fingerbot could identify randomly selected material with an incredible 95% accuracy.
The search continues to find the location of Amelia Earhart's plane after finding an old photograph of Nikumaroro Island in the Republic of Kiribati with something "suspicious-looking" in the water. PIH's autonomous Bluefin Robotics 21 will be searching in the area by means of multi-beam sonar. A second dive will involve black and white photography with the team collecting data, replacing batteries and reprogramming when needed.
Finally, a TRV 005 robot with manipulating arms made by Submersible Systems will try for close-up views with a high-def video camera to be controlled by a human on the surface ship. The project is being funded by TIGHAR's (International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) after raising almost $2.2 million from various sources, including the U.S. State Department and private companies. They believe that Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan may have landed on a reef of a coral atoll. FedEx even got into the act by helping deliver bots and equipment to the area.
The expedition will begin July 2 from Honolulu when the Hawaiian research vessel Ka'Imikai-o-Kanaloa departs. The date marks the 75th anniversary of Earhart's disappearance. You can help the project out by donating and/or purchasing collectibles from TIGHAR before it begins.
Robots have been assembling car parts for years, so it seems only logical when designer Gregory Epps began studying robotics to be able to devise one that could create furniture. RoboFold is a multi-ton arm that twists 200 lb. sheets of steel in a way that would probably be impossible by a human. Designers use Rhino CAD to pick their shapes and the bot does his origami thing.
As vending machines become more sophisticated they may go the way of the do-it-yourself Autowed or a library warehouse. So it is only logical that one of the next steps is Let's Pizza. Designed for malls, universities or even rest stops, the machine is already a hit in Italy and the UK. It provides freshly kneaded dough and toppings to create a pizza within 3 minutes. Designed by Claudio Torghele, who originally thought of making a machine with pasta, it may not have the same love as one from your local pizzeria, but it will get the job done.
Does anyone use chalkboards anymore? They have come a long way as evidenced by this vinyl Robot Board that can be applied to most surfaces and in most cases (the exception being wallpaper) can be easily removed. At a size of 28 x 22", it can be cleaned with a damp paper towel and comes with 2 pieces of chalk.
While you are redoing those other walls, why not add one of these Decals to protect and defend? Each is 17 x 22" and can be custom ordered in one of 30 colors. An application tool and tester decal is included with purchase.
Robotics used in home maintenance, education, healthcare, entertainment and transportation has just been given a boost by Dmitry Grishin, the cofounder of Russia's internet company Mail.ru. He believes that the current state of the industry is where computers were in the early 80's and has formed Grishin Robotics to encourage the science with a $25 million fund.
With headquarters in New York but funding available internationally, Grishin is planning to donate $500,000 to 10 - 20 companies per year to those with feasible ideas, so devise a business plan and other information to illustrate your project and maybe you can build your own Rosie Robot!
Researchers from the University of Hertfordshire in the UK believe that a robot can learn language just as infants do. They built DeeChee, a 3 foot tall humanoid that was able to produce any English syllable, but no words. Because he (although considered gender neutral,) was programmed to recognize encouragement, it helped him to learn to form words. Humans were used to teach DeeChee simple words for shapes and colors as they would any infant.
Study leader Catherine Lyon claims that part of the difficulty is that because some connective words like "with" or "of" are spoken in different ways, they are more difficult to recognize, while concrete words, like nouns or colors, almost always come up the same.
Inspecting wind turbines is difficult at best as it involves photographing the problem through a telephoto lens. So GE's Global Research Center teamed with ICM and the result is a R/C wall climbing robot. With an HD cam attached to its back, it can climb up to 300 ft., take photos and send them back. Air is sucked out of the air between the turbinebot and the concrete, brick or metal surface it climbs, allowing the 30 lb. walker to hang on. A microwave device for looking inside blades is the next step.
The U.S. Air Force's X-37B returned to Earth this past Saturday after being in orbit for over 15 months. Originally part of NASA as an experimental project, when funding ran out DARPA got custody. They passed it on to the Air Force in 2006. The robotic plane, aka Orbital Test Vehicle-2, performed "on-orbit experiments" and there is much speculation as to why its purpose is so hush-hush.
Some say it could be a dreaded space weapon while others believe it might be used for spying. The AF contends that it is simply "to put experiments in space and bring them back and check out the technologies,"
We would like to think it had a much more exotic part in the grand scheme of things, such as alien communication or practicing for the time when robotic takeover forces us to leave our mother Earth. Regardless of its usage, the next flight should be later this year when the first X-37B takes the OTV-1 into the final frontier.
While this video clip is a bit eerie, it remains to be seen if the public finds Michael Fassbender's performance in "Prometheus" believable as David. He plays an advanced android that says he understands human emotions although he does not have them.
Both he and costar Noomi Rapace were interviewed recently on Charlie Rose. Fassbender said that he took director Ridley Scott's advice to watch several movies to come up with the character including "Lawrence of Arabia", (hence the hair tribute,) and Dirk Bogart as "The Servant."
Speaking of bot movies, we finally got around to watching The Real Steel. If you can ignore the overly smarmy performance of Dakota Goyo as Max and put up with a plot that is a cross between Rocky, any stereotypical romantic 70's flick (boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back,) and plot number 4 (father and son reunite and make nice) it is still worth catching for the special effects.
Too lazy to make your bed? Then this one should be your next purchase. Spanish furniture makers OHEA has devised the Smart Bed that can make itself in 50 seconds. It will do this after three seconds of being empty when set on automatic mode. A mechanical arm rolls the covers up to the top of the bed while the pillows are straightened and set back down. No price is mentioned but we expect it to be one of those cases that if you have to ask how much it costs...
Dan Chen's latest project combines ethics and robots in the field of service care. You feel a bit uneasy as the Last Moment Robot comments about its purpose, eerily comforts the patient and eventually calls out the time of death.
"I am here to help you and guide you through your last moment on earth."
Displayed at the Last Moment Hospital in Rhode Island, this interactive art installation certainly causes one to think of the need for someone close "at the end" and the possibility of a non-human filling the part. Chen readily admits that the idea partially came as a result of Paro, a MAID (Mechanical Assisted Intimacy Device) used as companions for the elderly and those with Alzheimers.
UC Berkeley scientists have been studying cockroaches' methods of escape. After studying one under a to camera they realized its hind legs grab the surface so that it can swing itself under a ledge, similar to the way that lizards with toenails do it. They then came up with a 6-legged robot named DASH (Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod) with Velcro strips. They also gave it the insect's ability to rapidly run in reverse. The research is being studied for both military applications and rescue operations.
A recent study from the Polytechnic Institute of NYU found that live zebra fish will hang out with robofish, even if they don't look "fishy" enough. Although the robot is five times larger than its real-life counterparts, it attracted both males and females. They also found that they did not like the noise the bot made, but would put up with it if the visual clues were satisfactory. With more research, the team sees future usage as helping to protect endangered species.
VTech has come up with a new line of electronic transformers aptly named Switch & Go Dinos. Each can go from dinosaur to vehicle simply and features an LCD display with animation. Sliver the T-Rex utters 50 phrases and sounds and his eyes can be custom set. Also available are Horns the Triceratops, Tonn the Stegosaurus and T-Don the Pteranodon who perform the same actions and sounds. Two AAA batteries run the dinobots (included) and the toys are sure to be an early entry to the 2012 holiday season in spite of the lame commercial.
Anthromod wants humanoids to fit into the grand scheme of things by making robotics accessible to all. The first step to get there is the Mark2 Hand, a one piece 3D-printed device that is fully articulated and that works via an arduino, ATX PSU, a polymorph base and several servos. You can purchase one for €100 (~$124.00) or both left and right for €190 (~$236.00.) We don't see overall domination here but we applaud Chris C's effort.
A team at RMIT has designed the Joggobot, an autonomous flyer that is meant to encourage activity. It works in companion mode as a friend to hang with or coach mode that pushes you to do more. The device was built out of a drone and reprogrammed to respond to the jogger's shirt then calculate position and distance. A built-in camera can capture the runner's movements. Still being developed, we hope they find a way to turn it into a Marty McFly hoverboard and get back to us.
Have a spare $400,000 to invest in a humanoid? Then you can be the proud owner of HUBO 2, a product of the KAIST Hubo Lab that brought us the FX-1. Dr. Jun Ho Oh and team built the bot by creating the hardware first knowing that the software can be added later. In development during the last ten years, HUBO 2 is fairly advanced but undoubtedly will someday give way to the next generation.
And just so you know that you are getting your money's worth, take a peek at the first video that features the humanoid tossing the opening pitch at a recent Cubs-Phillies game in Philadelphia. We also found this recent demonstration at Drexal University with 7 of them performing The Beatles tune "Come Together."
We wondered what Robonaut 2 had been up to lately and found him busily obeying his masters on the ISS. Last week he practiced working on a task board then was given the task of measuring the airflow from 5 vents to make sure there was no blockage. This test is performed every 90 days and is a perfect chore for the astrobot that can hold the gauge steady and not measure other air flow sources such as exhaling from humans.
Our own Furby is taking up residence in the closet these days, but Tiger Electronics has decided to reinvent it with the Taboo for the upcoming holiday season. Then again, because it is so far just a rumor, maybe it is a post-April Fools Day prank. The creepy endearing facial parts may have been replaced by an LCD screen and we expect that this time around the fuzzy robopet can learn to speak a little quicker, since we never really got the hang of its original language, Furbish.