July 31, 2012

Kissenger - Virtual Bussing

A pair of robots from Lovotics dubbed Kissenger can be used for virtual kissing, their own form of diplomacy. The artificial mouths, according to their makers, are good for human to human, human to robot and human to virtual character. We don't have a whole lot to say for this one other than if you need these, you are spending way too much time on the interweb.

Via Kissenger

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July 30, 2012

HAUV3 Seeks Underwater Mines

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MIT has developed another bot worthy of praise. After teaming with Office of Naval Research and Bluefin Robotics, the autonomous third generation Hovering Autonomous Underwater Vehicle scans underwater for mines. The HAUV3 can seek them out by emitting a signal from a sonar camera under a ship, bridge or underwater tanks. And while it cannot yet distinguish between a hull irregularity and mine, the vehicle can at least assist human divers. The Navy has put in a contract for two of the systems with a half million dollar investment for each one.

Via Bluefin Robotics

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July 27, 2012

Must Have: Robot Miniatures

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Like collecting robot miniature figures and also the element of surprise? Then you will really appreciate not knowing which of these twelve 3" Disney Vinylmation Robots you will get until you open the box.

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We also found a variation of the Nesting Bots we found sometime back. These 6 Bot Matryoshkas , made of toy-safe ABS plastic, range in height from 3 1/4"- 3/4".

Via Robot Miniatures

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July 26, 2012

AndyVision Aids Shoppers

AndyVision is the pet project of Priva Narasimhan and a team from Carnegie Mellon University that may change the way retail business operates. Currently, humans do most of the stocking of shelves and often customers cannot find what they really want because of misplacement. The hoody-clad robot solves this dilemma by traveling down aisles, and combines video camera imaging with algorithms to find items. The data is then sent to a large planogram for customer usage.

AndyVision is still at the prototype stage but is part of Intel Science and Technology Center's Retail 2020 project that is partnered with the CMU Bookstore. Perhaps someday he and other robots can assist shoppers and do many of the mundane tasks like folding clothing and assisting with owners' manuals. And if you have ever had to work an overnighter in retail pre-holiday, you know this is a very good idea that could be made so much better.

Via CMU

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July 25, 2012

Quadcopter Drones Fly In Formation

Chiba University's Nonami Group have been developing mini drones that can fly in formation. The quadcopters do this with cameras that capture certain markers on the ground then sends the images back to the host computer. Position and attitude are calculated fast enough to prevent collision. Future applications could include disaster inspection, volcanic eruptions and power line inspection.

Via Akihabara News

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July 24, 2012

Robot Restaurant Puts On Supershow

We have seen plenty of eateries run by robotic cooks, waiters and other personnel, but this recently built $127 million one probably gets the distinction of either being the glitziest or the most disturbed. Robot Restaurant, located in Shinjuku, Tokyo, serves only basic lunch boxes but for $38.00 you get food, drink and a psychedelic hour-long show that includes fembots, real fems, a marching band and automated tanks, all surrounded by neon. Humans also run the entertainment from behind the scenes but we bet most of its patrons simply enjoy the festivities.

Via RocketNews 24

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July 23, 2012

Robots Assist in Aurora Bomb Disposal

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Last Friday, a robot was sent in to James Holmes' apartment by the bomb squad that placed a "water shot," a device that emits liquid and shock wave, near the main explosive device. When set off, this successfully deactivated it. FBI Lab experts determined that a trip wire would have been used to mix two liquids that would be set off when the door was open.

A robot with camera was used to check out the suspect's car and further study chemicals, aerial shells and other objects that could detonate or burn in the apartment before humans stepped in. More than 100 bomb technicians, chemists, ATF agents, local police and firefighters have been working on the case. Police retrieved personal items for some of the residents as they have not yet been allowed to return.

Via Denver Post

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July 20, 2012

Must Have: Affordable Robot Vacuums

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The P3 P4920 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner is certainly affordable but is best used for picking up dust, animal fur and small crumbs. It has no brush and can get stuck more often than other robotic vacuums. It is probably best used on tile or wood, although the claim is that it can do carpet. The 11.5 x 11.25" P3 comes with 12 rechargeable batteries and AC adapter.

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Interestingly enough, there is a budget-minded Dirt Devil RoomMate as well that is meant for hard floors. At a size of 12.3 x 14.6", it has a 50 minute run time with rechargeable batteries, dual cleaning brushes and step avoidance protection.

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July 19, 2012

Idaho Creates Skippy For Tourists

When Idaho decided it was time to attract tourists to Sun Valley, they created a robot that can skip stones. Skippy may only have one function but we expect that he was inundated with those who wanted to play with him. Unfortunately, he is no longer active. Still, he reminds us of those Mayberry antics of Andy and Opie.

Via Visit Sun Valley

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July 18, 2012

New Furby Gets a Workout

Engadget got a hold of several of Hasbro's new Furbies and tested them out for the rest of us. This one is pretty much the same as the old one, albeit he is somewhat more advanced and has those freaky eyes. He responds to both human voice and music, and the more you play with him the more he morphs into new personality. An iPad app gives you more interaction and a way to feed him.

Although you cannot turn him off, stash him somewhere and he will go into sleep mode. No price announced but he will definitely be a holiday treat or trick, depending on whether you play with him or someone else does and drives you bonkers.

Via Engadget

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July 17, 2012

SAM, Canada's Window Inspector

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There seems to be a lot of highrise building in Toronto of late and sometimes panes of glass come loose and crash into the street. The Sobotka family devised a robot to handle inspections and go where only humans can tread for now, thus saving time and expense. SAM is a prototype at this point but can take photos on a motorized platform via an SLR camera. Control is with a WiFi connection and an iPad. Let's hope that their $200,000 seed money pays off and Canada recognizes SAM's value. If not, perhaps they can teach him to repair the glass.

Via CBC

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July 16, 2012

Take AFRON Ten Dollar Robot Challenge

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During a trip to Ghana, UC Berkeley Professor Ken Goldberg noticed that students were playing with a Mindstorms NXT for a limited time only as the robot kit was sent from school to school. So he and Ayorkor Korsah organized the AFRON 10 Dollar Robot Challenge, hoping that someone could come up with a less expensive kit.

Although they realize that it may not be feasible to build one at that price, designers are encouraged to try in one of three categories, tethered, traditional and all-in-one. The winners will get a monetary prize as well as one of their $35.00 Raspberry Pi Micro-Computers. The contest ends September 15 so head over to the site for more details.

Via AFRON

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July 13, 2012

Must Have: Robot Wearables

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Robot jewelry can even come in nerdish varieties as evidenced by this purple metal Necklace with cubic zirconium eyes. With a claw clasp, it measures about 18" in length with a 1.5 x 1.25" pendant.

Combine robots and mood jewelry and you get this Bracelet that can tell if you are stressed out, calm, passionate, angry, happy or just plain lovable. The bot is metal and its band is stretchable for all sizes.

Via Robot Jewelry

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July 12, 2012

Even Robots Have to Deal With Unemployment

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The Korean Institute of Industrial Technology's Robotics Fusion Research Group is up to the fourth generation of their gynoids. The EveR-4 was originally created in 2005 and is becoming more humanlike with changes such as a head with 30 motors that creates more realistic expressions. This 5' 11" android was designed to interact with people or give out information.

KITECH Team leader Dr. Dong-Wook Lee says that there is not much call for a bot that can speak well but not walk or talk autonomously, but they can be useful in the area of arts and entertainment. Future KITECH generations will hopefully be less expensive, more self-sufficient and will be able to speak in more than a robotic monotone.

Via Plastic Pals

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July 11, 2012

Student in Israel Controls Robot in France

The reality of the movie Avatar may be taking baby steps but it is well on its way. The Virtual Embodiment and Robotic Re-embodiment Project connected student Tirosh Shapira in Israel to a robot in France. This was done with an fMRI machine that scanned his brain for data that was then analyzed and interpreted into commands. Shapira could get the bot to look left and right and move forward while he gets a video feed from the robot's head cam. After performing 3 trials, the human said he felt like he was actually "inside" his metal surrogate.

Via VERE

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July 10, 2012

Fort Benning Hosts Robeo

We try to keep up with the latest in military robotics, so most of the participants of the recent Robeo in Ft. Benning, GA are familiar to us. This is a US Army annual 10-day event that challenges robots against each other in mock battle. Both new and updated bots took on each other with 45 companies, 5 universities and 74 technologies represented.

TARDEC (Detroit's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center) ran 3 vignettes, testing reconnaissance, autonomous supply and foxhole digging. JIEDDO (the Pentagon's Joint IED Defeat Organization) ran four of them that centered on counter-IED missions with reconnaissance, bomb detection, endurance and disruption.

Vendors are represented as well and found out how to improve the efficiency of their tools. Check out some of the other participants via the link.

Via Wired

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July 9, 2012

Mahoro Gets Hazardous Duty

Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have developed a two-armed droid that can work in service areas that may be too dangerous for humans, such as flu testing and biohazard handling. Mahoro's arms have 7 joints that gives it an edge when using tools and better fluidity of motions. It can be programmed with CAD software and easily adapts to many kinds of laboratory work. Displayed at the recent Interphex pharmaceutical trade show in Tokyo, AIST has put many to work in universities and drug companies.

Via DigiInfo

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July 6, 2012

Must Have: Roomba Represents in Breaking Bad

Just as Spielberg showed a shark's eye view in Jaws (because the mechanized one kept breaking,) you can get a view from a Roomba. During "Breaking Bad," season 4, episode 2, the bot makes its way past partygoers in Jesse Pinkman's (Aaron Paul) house. If you get a chance to view the entire episode, you will see a quick odd cameo from actor/producer Bryan Cranston (Walter White) in a full head of hair and beard. We love this show!

Via Breaking Bad

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July 5, 2012

Robot Hand Cheats at Rock, Paper, Scissors

Ishakawa Oku's physics lab at the University of Tokyo built a robot that plays Rock, Paper, Scissors and never loses. It can do this because there is a high-speed camera in the room that captures and analyzes the competitor's wrist angle so it knows the next move. It takes one millisecond to do that, much faster than a human can. The team believes it to be a learning tool that can be used in the area of cooperation between the two species. Before that day comes, maybe it can be taught the much cooler Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock.

Via Ishakawa Oku

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July 4, 2012

Shimi Plays Tunes, Dances, Looks Odd

A team from Georgia Tech's Center for Music Technology formed Tovbot and developed Shimi, a 12" tall robot that can be connected to an iPhone or Android smartphone and act as DJ. After accessing the music library it can suggest tunes, move to the beat and play music based on feedback. The strange-looking bot doubles as a docking station and can alert users to Facebook or Twitter activity. Look for Shimi's formal launch at the 2013 CES.

Via Tovbot

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July 3, 2012

K-MAX Flies Without Pilot

Because delivering supplies can often be dangerous due to terrain or hostile territory, Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace turned its K-MAX into a UAS. The helicopter can be controlled by remote control or used autonomously and can handle up to 6,000 lbs. of cargo at sea level, 4,000 lbs. at 15,000 feet. Since it was employed by the military in 2007, it has flown over 750 hours in autonomous mode and will continue to serve in Afghanistan until September.

Via Lockheed Martin

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July 2, 2012

E.M.I.L.Y. Aids Lifeguard Shortage

We heard recently that there are fewer lifeguards these days because of low pay, high training fees charged to would-be guards and fewer qualifications because of weight. So it is fortunate that E.M.I.L.Y. (Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard) can handle some of the action.

Built by Hydronalix, this RC vehicle can be directed to those who are drowning or stranded. It can reach a speed of up to 25 mph and acts as a portable buoy for up to 4 people. In development for about 2 years, the $10,000 tool has worked its way to Malibu's Zuma Beach after LA County lifeguards helped improve the prototype.

Via Hydronalix

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July 1, 2012

Monthly Roundup - June 2012

bluRobot.jpgWe hope that wherever you reside, that you are safe from Mom Nature's latest gifts. Take a peek at June's Monthly Roundup before we deal with what could turn out to be an even hotter July.

Humanoid Robots

Make Your Own Robot

Military Robots

Miscellaneous Robots

Monthly Roundup

Must Have Robot Friday

Robot Art

Robot Science/Medicine

Robot Toys

Robot Vacuums

Robot Vehicles

Robot Videos

Service Robots

Sports Robots

iRobot

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