When Carnegie Mellon's Robot Hall of Fame selects its honorees, the task generally falls to those in the industry. However, this year mere humans who simply dig robots can determine the final vote. Nominees include Wall-E, Rosie, Jason (used to find the Titanic,) iRobot's Packbot, PR2 and Robonaut.
Internet voting will select the four laureates from a field of 12 nominees and will include both fictional and real bots. So go online before Sept. 30 and decide who you want to receive the prestigious prize. Winners will be inducted Oct. 23.
Honda's latest robotic creation is a robotic lawnmower built for lucky Europeans. Using a random pattern, the Miimo can cut 2 - 3mm lengths. Three bump sensors help it to navigate around large objects and it has auto-speed adjustment for thicker grass patches. The lawnbot has a fan in its blade holder to suck in the loose cuttings. Running on a lithium-ion battery, Miimo will return to its charging station when needed. No price has been released but both the Miimo 300 and 500 will be available in 2013.
A team of Stanford researchers working with Liquid Robotics have developed a fleet of buoys and wave gliding bots off the coast of San Francisco that when combined become a WiFi network for tagged fish and other aquatic creatures. The Wave Glider is not only a fine idea for studying them, but its free Shark Net app for iPad/iPhone can help track northern California white sharks.
When a tagged fish comes within 1,000 feet of a receiver, the signal is recorded with a timestamp and GPS location. While the buoys are placed in spots where the sharks are likely to hang out, the gliders try to cover any other gaps in the system. Professor Barbara Block wants to expand the idea to the entire west coast to include tracking of other fish and whales, but in the mean time, get your app here.
We never like to think that a doctor would freak before an operation, especially during childbirth. But for those practicing ob-gyn docs in the UK who have not yet performed caesarean sections comes Desperate Debra. This pregnancy simulator puts one in that very situation so that when the emergency comes, practice will make perfect. Pretty freaky...
Little by little, robotic chefs are taking over China and one of the latest is Chef Cui who specializes in noodle cutting. Designed by Cui Runquan, the chefbot is being mass produced with a reasonable price tag of $1,500. We call that a bargain since hiring a chef could cost $4,700 yearly. Runquan says that the upcoming generation aren't really into that task so with about 3,000 already sold, we expect that the robotic counterparts will pick up the slack. At least until those menacing yellow eyes turn red and they really start slicing.
Sega's HomeStar planetarium came out several years ago, so we guess it was time to redesign, repackage and reintroduce it into the republic in R2-D2 form. The final frontier can be projected on ceiling or wall and needs 4 AAA batteries (not included) for 3 hours of viewing time with a range of 4.9 - 7.5 ft. The claim is that you will see 10,000 stars including the Death Star. At a size of 3.9 x 8.3 x 3.5", the ad is a bit cheesy and despite what Sega's site claims, we believe that both boys and girls will love it.
Sandia National Laboratories has produced a robotic hand to assist in bomb disposal. Funded by DARPA, the Sandia Hand is remote-controlled. The hand can grip, move like its human counterpart and repair itself. Because it is modular, different types of fingers can easily be attached, yet it can continue to function without one of its fingers. The robohand has 12º of freedom and comes at a price of $10,000, well worth it when you think of the humans it can protect.
RobotAppStore.com has launched a Wikipedia for the botty crowd. Created by RAS's founder Elad Inbar, he claims that 70% of their calls ask for more information about their apps. Robopedia features articles for both beginners and super robotic geeks and everyone is encouraged to add to or edit the site. Both past and present robots are included with details like components and concepts.
By the way, if you have never visited the Robot App Store, there are plenty of free and low cost applications.
Last year, Harvard researchers developed silicone-based robots inspired by sea creatures like squid and octopi. Now, there's a new twist. It seems that they can now either disguise themselves or glow in the dark. Created with 3D printers, colors can be injected into them. Needless to say, the first application can be quite handy for military use, while the second can be used as a visual marker. Fortunately, they are still in experimental stage so we will not get too paranoid. The team is hoping to eventually make them autonomous.
Telepresence robots are cropping up everywhere these days and the latest comes from Double Robotics. The appropriately named Double uses an iPad as the means to control it and a second one as the "face." What's good about this telebot is that while most can cost in the tens of thousands, this one can be pre-ordered for a mere $1,999 (iPads not included.) The simplicity, low cost and basic design of the Double has been accepted so readily that the company will not be able to fill new orders until 2013. We, too wanted one before we got even half way through the video promo.
Randall Munroe has come up with what he believes would happen when the robot apocalypse occurs. His theory, one that we secretly agree with, is that left to their own devices, robots are too clumsy to beat us. Besides, all we need to do if our Roomba tries to corner us is install more shag carpet. Check out his site, xkcd, for this and other answers to obvious questions and revel in his comic genius and stick-figured wit.
Researchers from MIT, Harvard and Seoul National University are working on an autonomous wormbot that moves across a surface by contracting nickel-titanium body segments via running currents. Made of soft materials, you can even step on Meshworm or give it a couple of hammer hits and it just keeps on trucking slithering. The project was funded by DARPA and future applications may include navigating in rough terrain or tight places.
It looks like Hasbro just couldn't wait until the proper holiday season so their new Furby will be out this September and can be pre-ordered now. Available in five different colors, this Furby will respond to tickling, patting and other human manipulations. A free optional app for feeding and Furbish translation is available for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone with iOS 4.2 or later. It remains to be seen if this reincarnation is a hit or a miss.
Brothers Geoffrey and Michael Howe build robots for the military and decided that there was a need for one that fights fires. The Thermite weighs 1,400 pounds, stands about 4 feet tall and moves on a track for now. Running on diesel, it has video and infrared cameras so it can be remotely operated.
Geoffrey calls it the "Swiss Army knife of robotic responses" since it can operate with various attachments, like a hydraulic arm for saving humans. After spending a couple of years testing the firebot, the twins have already sold a couple of them and we hope more adoptions will take place in the future.
In an effort to show that they were a proud sponsor of the Olympics 2012, BMW utilized some oversized RC Mini Coopers to clean the field of wayward discuses, hammers and javelins. Built to scale, they are not exactly a toy that you can bring home, but maybe this 1/14 Mini will suffice as a means of cleaning up discarded socks, empty beer cans and assorted dust bunnies.
Activate the Robotic Laser Ball by clapping and it will spin, move and rotate around the room. It flashes lighets and plays music which can thankfully be turned off after a time if you want to try it on a reticent pet. The Lanard self-bouncing Fusion Ball spins, wiggles and jumps to techno tunes and needs 3 AA batteries (included.)
Those who are lucky enough to attend South Korea's Yeosu Expo 2012 will be treated to about 70 robot buds including Mero, EveR-4 and DARwin-OP. Daewoo created an aquarium with a school of fishbots. The event runs May 12 - August 12 and also features music, live aquariums, a 3D virtual cyber experience, cultural performances, displays and of course plenty to eat. Tickets are still available for $30.00 for adults and $9.00 for kids and seniors,
Ripley, eat your heart out. For a mere $1.35 million, you can get your own Kuratas Mobile Suit. Made by Suidobashi Heavy Industries, it was designed by artist Kogoro Kurata and robotics expert Wataru Yoshizaki. After getting in its "cockpit", the user can move arms, torso and wheels and make phone calls.
Its Lohas Launcher fires off BBs from its twin gatling guns if the pilot smiles. They insist that this will not actually hurt anyone. The Karatas operates under the OS Vi-Sido, runs on diesel fuel and can even be operated without someone being inside. Let's not forget the humongous warrior is customizable so if you add camouflage, no one will ever suspect you are out to get them.
Last Week CBS News put the spotlight on our beloved Willow Garage,\ with a story about Jake, one of their PR2s that they donates as a personal service bot. Henry Evans became a quadriplegic after suffering a stroke at the age of 40.
The report makes an obvious point that the disabled want to do things for themselves as opposed to having a human do it for them. Henry can program Jake to help him shave, scratch and perform other chores.
It's sometimes difficult to imagine good weather in outer space, but it seems that Mom Nature provided just that for the landing of Curiosity. It took eight months and 350 million miles to make it to Mars this morning after "seven minutes of terror." It then sent a signal via NASA's Odyssey orbiter because Earth was beneath Mars' horizon.
For the next two years the rover will climb up Mount Sharp to study clay and sulfate and see if conditions are favorable for supporting microbial life (unless the Martians object.)
Robots go plushie with this 18" Robot Throw Pillow. Stuffed with polyfill, it has embroidered accents and would make a fine addition to any robot-loving human. Pair it up with a Bottle Buddy by Stephen Joseph, a nylon mesh cover with adjustable straps, and you get a pair of botty buds.
Remember AFFETTO, the creepy baby robot head? Let's throw a creepier party as his creators from Osaka University have just given him a torso. He will still be used in behavioral experiments as his 22 pneumatic actuators can provide a certain amount of flexibility. Future generations should include lifelike skin and body movements, a real body temperature and perhaps the ability to smell. Legs would be good, too. The ultimate goal here is to build a "realistic child robot with a muscle-skeletal system" or what we like to call a definite oxymoron.
iRobot teamed with InTouch Health to produce the latest in medical robotics dubbed RP-Vita. The doctorbot is mostly an assistant at this stage and is capable of accessing medical files and making diagnoses. Controlled with an iPad control interface and joystick, it can use its electronic stethoscope to check out the patient. Not much human contact here unless they equip it with a friendlier telepresence on its screen.