Hiroshi Ishiguro got together with two others who received doppelgangers for a photo op last month and while it is a bit unnerving to see that many of them in the room at once, it begs the question, "How many Geminoids does it take to change a light bulb?"
Disney World has come a long ways in the art of animatronics since its Country Bear Jamboree and one of their latest "creations" is the addition of Barack Obama in the Hall of Presidents. The program has all of them with new digital audio, video and lighting. When the prez came in to record his speech for the project, he asked if the figures were statues and was told they were animatronics. His response, "That's kinda cool." You betcha.
You have already seen most of these robots, but you should check out PBS' Nova Science Now for their recent program on that very subject. Included is David Hanson's Phil, named and fashioned after sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick. He is human-looking to the point that he seemed real to the interviewer, a scary thought that makes you think that the robot takeover is coming anytime now.
By the way, the episode also tallied up all the songs they could find written with robot in them. Their count was 44, but we suspect that was a low estimate.
The latest ugly babybot to take the prize is AFFETTO, a robotic head modeled after a toddler's face, from Osaka University. The intent is to produce realistic facial expressions and the team has been working on the project for about a year. Intended to be used for studying interaction with human caregivers, he does have a certain Winston Churchill look about him. You can read the entire story via the link.
Our old bud ASIMO now has the proud distinction of breaking a Guinness world record. He has been awarded the planet's Most Advanced Humanoid. Nice to think that his million dollar price tag finally paid off. Other awards went to Papero as the Earliest Robot Babysitter and a sketch by Leonardo Da Vinci was awarded the Oldest Design for a Humanoid Robot
Osaka University's Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Geminoid fame has a new project in the works. Designed as an overgrown fetus of the creepy kind, holding a Telenoid R1 is supposed to help you "feel" anyone you call. This may be the future of cell phones, he claims, and a prototype of a mobile Elfoid may be expected in the next few months. While Ishiguro sees this as a way to make calling more personal, are we the only ones who see it as an interaction with an abortion gone terribly wrong?
Murata's Boy and Girl debuted at the recent CES. The talented bots can cycle on balance beams and not fall off. The acrobots have gyro sensors that control a rotating disk that corrects any slant. This is the first time the pair has appeared in the States as a couple. By the way, we were really annoyed by this video as the demonstrater seemed to be catering to the very stupid.
Researchers at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have developed a robot that leans on objects to support himself. The idea here is to mimic walking of the elderly. HRP-2 was designed to place both arms on a table to keep his balance when sitting down or use one arm when kicking a ball.
That didn't take long. Terry Veltrop has already hacked into his Xbox Kinect to create a humanoid robot that will follow his moves. The bot was built from a Kondo KHR-1HV with a Roboard control and software written from ROS and the IO library. Named after his builder, Veltrobot works in master/slave mode, but Terry would like to improve on it to give it better leg and gripper controls. After watching the video, we would like to see that, too, as it looks a bit wobbly.
Drexel University's Alyssa Batula and Dr. Youngmoo Kim taught a Robonova several tricks, including dancing, tapping a tambourine and playing the piano with only two digits. They used this particular humanoid because it can mimic human gestures and is both rugged and inexpensive. The two disadvantages, they say, is that motions are not precise enough and that processing must happen on an offboard computer, since the bot itself is underpowered. Still, we are impressed.