Robot Books

May 18, 2012

Must Have: How To Fight Robotic Takeover

Best selling author Daniel H. Wilson is a robotics expert, so who better to let us know how humans can defend themselves against a robotic takeover? The eye-catching video is by Epipheo and the author of Robopocalypse: A Novel adds his expertise on the subject. It is certainly never too soon to plan ahead and keep an eye out for those glowing red eyes.

Via Daniel H. Wilson

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December 15, 2011

Robot Heart Stories Encourages Students

Beginning in October, an English-speaking classroom in Los Angeles and French-speaking one in Montreal teamed to create Robot Heart Stories, a learning project from storyteller Lance Weiler and producer Janine Saunders. The 40 students were encouraged to make a "heart pack" and write stories to fuel a robot named Laika who crash landed in Canada and had to make her way back to her ship in CA.

The robot was "fueled " by the students' creativity as they decided where the journey would go. A picture was taken at each of 56 cities for a total of 2010 miles and 397 photographs. Future plans include NASA sending the project to the ISS and to chronicle the experience in a coffee table book.

Via Robot Heart Stories

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September 29, 2011

Asimov's Caves of Steel Become Movie


It looks like 20th Century Fox now has the rights to Isaac Asimov's 1954 novel Caves of Steel. Henry Hobson has been chosen to direct the movie that is set 1,000 years from now when workers known as Spacers are sent to other planets to toil alongside robots. The humans become paranoid of the bots when one of the spacers is found murdered. A detective and robot disguised as a human are sent to investigate. No specific date has been set for production.

Via MovieWeb

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November 11, 2010

Holiday Robot Reading


In addition to the reading of Moore's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas', this year include 'Santa's Twin' by Dean Koontz (although the cover may be scary for younger ones) and 'The Twelve Bots of Christmas' by Nathan Hale. When the kids tire of the festivities, turn on "Nick Picks - Holiday" with 172 minutes of escapism.

Via Holiday Reading

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October 25, 2010

Spielberg Takes on Robopocalypse


Dreamworks has announced that Steven Spielberg will begin shooting "Robopocalypse" January 2012. Based on an as yet unpublished Daniel H. Wilson novel, it concerns human survival when the robot apocalypse begins. Wilson previously wrote "How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion" also slated for moviedom with director Steve Pink and actor Jack Black.

Via Dreamworks

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April 21, 2010

Punk Wreaks Havoc in Kitchen

Jason Bradbury came up with an idea to promote his children's book "Dot Robot: Atomic Swarm." He built Punk, based on one of the characters, but it seems that the spiked bot had ideas of his own beyond being a simple mascot and taking a tour around Jason's kitchen.

Via Jason Bradbury

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April 15, 2010

Trading Cards Illustrated for Robot Rules


Author Gareth Branwyn convinced Make editor-in-chief Mark Frauenfelder to illustrate a series of roboticist trading cards. They were made to accompany an excerpt he wrote on rules from his book "Absolute Beginner's Guide to Building Robots." You can find the cards and rules on Make and Branwyn's book is available for purchase.

Via Make

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November 21, 2009

Robot Snob 2009 Holiday Gift Guide

clocky.jpgWe know that holiday shopping can be a major hassle, so we went all out to find robotic stuff to fit every budget. The good news is that almost every company has lowered their prices and when you shop online, tax and shipping charges are often non-existent. That being said, we present our 2009 Holiday Guide.

Robot Kits

elencofollow.jpgAfter building the Elenco Follow Me Robot, its 4 built-in microphones detect sounds and it will move towards them. For kids 12 and older, it needs no soldering and needs 4AA batteries (not included.) The Discovery Kids Biped EZ Robot kit has 15 pieces to assemble and a remote for those over 8.

dartharm.jpgWhy get a usual Waldo when you can get a Darth Vader Robotic Arm? The snap together kit grips and holds objects, needs no batteries and includes a stand with built-in control. With the Rockit Robot kit, you can build one that has a touch sensor that learns not to run into walls, a sound sensor for responding to your voice and instructions with more than one project.

phoenix.jpegFor serious robot builders, Trossen has some great deals. Their Phoenix Hexapod Kit is as state of the art as it can get with several walking gaits with omnidirectional translation and body rotation on all axis. The SumoBot Kit provides you with everything you need to become a competitor in the realm of Mini-Sumo tournaments.

Robot Movies

michaelrennie.jpgMovies, including Blu-ray, are completely affordable these days. We can never get enough of the original "The Day the Earth Stood Still" with Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal, even better now that it comes in a 2-disc set. Younger generations will appreciate the 2008 version that stars Keanu Reeves.

terminatorsalvation.jpgKids will also dig the effects in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Terminator fans, we haven't forgotten you. The Director's Cut of "Terminator Salvation", starring Christian Bale, will soon be out. And we never get enough of viewing "Wall-E".

roomba560.jpgOf course, no one can compete with iRobot when it comes to vacuums, and for the holidays they are offering special deals. In fact, this year we are putting one under our tree. Purchase a 400 series and get a free pet upgrade. A 500 series includes a brush pack and a 300 series Scuba will get you either cleaning solution or replenish kit. And, by the way, shipping is free with purchases over $59.00.

Collectors' Items

r2d2collector.jpgThere is no way to compete with Schylling. We recommend the Small Lilliput, the High Wheel and our fave, the Chrome Planet Robot. This R2-D2 is part of the original figures from the first Star Wars and is a limited edition with its interlocking base and electronic beeps.

Robotic Pets

whitetiger.jpgWowWee's Alive White Tiger Cub has realistic fur with sensors in his head and back to respond. He makes baby feline noises and works by remote. The company puts out a whole slew of robotic pets including their Mini Leopard Cub.

ptrex.jpgAlso furry is Playskool's Stomper's Triceratops that we recently reviewed and personally adored. Playskool also puts out Monty T-Rex who not only moves and roars, he sneezes and plays tunes.

mrsquiggles.jpgWe had to include one of this year's hottest toys. Zhu Zhu Hamsters may replace Elmo. They chirp, zip across the floor and each has their own personality. Choose between Mr. Squiggles, Pipsqueek, Num Nums and Chunk. Try to remember at some point that your kid(s) will want the Go Go Funhouse and the Adventure Ball. (Hurry up when ordering these guys as they were featured on "Nightline," so you know they are going to sell out quickly.)

The FurReal Chocolate Lab Puppy can be a fun and worry free pet. And, although he has no fur, we had to include Interactive Wall-E.

Under $50.00

The 10 1/4" Robbie the Robot Talking Alarm Clock says, "Wake Up Wake Up" as his chest moves, strobe lights go off and his antenna spins. Clocky will amuse kids or force your spouse/partner out of bed in the a.m. as he jumps from your nightstand up to 3 feet high.

The first robot designed for girls (and boys who like them,) Tekno's Sakura
tells fortunes, gives compliments and fashion tips, dances and answers "yes" and "no" questions. The macho XPV R.A.D. Robotic Air Defense flies as fast as 30 mph and up to 20 stories. It comes with rechargeable battery and includes repair kit.

buzzlgtyr.jpgNow that Toy Story has been re-released in 3D, you probably know someone who would love this electronic Buzz Lightyear. He talks, makes sound effects, his wings pop out and he can take anyone to infinity and beyond. Don't forget about Tribot, who is about half the price that he was last year.

Under $20.00

The Unofficial Lego Mindstorms NXT Inventor's Guide (Paperback) will give any robotics freak fresh ideas. If history is more to his/her liking, Robot traces back AIs from their roots.

Wind-up Gort will walk even if you forget to say "Klaatu barada nikto." The Hog Wild Robot Calculator displays up to 8 digits and will be your best friend. His arms can hold pens, pencils and included nightlight, while his magnetic back holds paper clips.

handy.jpgWe already told you about Chuck, the talking truck, and it seems that Tonka has an entire series of his pals (a couple of them a bit over $20.00.) Choose from Rowdy, the GarbageTruck, with spinning wheels, Boomer, the Fire Truck, who has lights and makes noise, and Handy, the Tow Truck, that can fetch the other three should they get lost. They may not respond like Chuck, but they are just as cute and colorful.

Under $10.00

minifemi.jpgThe 9" Mini-Femisapien runs on batteries, is posable and trots around the room. We didn't realize that Shrinky Dinks were still around until we found these robotic ones.

Nerds will love the fact that Olive Kids customized their Robot Bookmark. Remember to include a Kikkerland Cranky Desk Toy on your list for any friends who are stuck in cubicles all day.

Stocking Stuffers Under $5.00

voltwindup.jpgDover's Create Your Own Robot Sticker Activity Book would make a great stocking stuffer. Wind-up Volt is about 2" tall and can repair your other robots. The Cool Robot Note Pad measures 5 x 6" and has 50 sheets per pad.

The Mini Robopanda is only 7.5" but is tall enough to have poseable head and legs and blinking LED eyes. Wear your robot on your sleeve jacket or shirt with an Iron On C3PO.

Over $100.00

We cannot imagine any kid (or adult) wouldn't love a LEGO Mindstorm this year, especially since the NXT 2.0 was released. For the princess (or Prince) in your life, think Butterscotch the Pony that moves her head, blinks, wags her tail and responds to humans.

idsobot.jpgDino freaks will prefer the roaring, laughing and movements of the 3 ft. tall
Kota and Pleo has been newly reborn. Tomy's I-SOBOT is half the price that it was last year.

Last but not least, don't forget the batteries! This should be your year to go eneloop. We have been using them for 2 years now in various small electronics and they are still going strong.

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November 18, 2009

"Beyond AI" Sees Robot Takeover as a Good Thing


While many see a robotic takeover as a bad thing, Dr. J. Storrs Hall, head of the Foresight Institute, sees it as a plus. The molecular nanotechnology expert has outlined 4 classes of them in "Beyond AI", here with fake species names.

  • Robo insectis: rote, mechanical gadgets (or thinkers) with hand-coded skills, such as Roomba or industrial robots or automated call-center systems or dictation programs.

  • Robo habilis: Rosie the housemaid robot level intelligence, able to handle service level jobs in the real world but not a rocket scientist.

  • Robo sapiens: up to and including rocket scientists, AI researchers, corporate executives, any human capability.

  • Robo googolis: a collection of top R. sapiens wired together in a box running at accelerated speed, equivalent to, say, Google (the company and the search engine together.)

We are all for his hypohumans, diahumans, epihumans, and hyperhumans, even if the names are difficult to pronounce. You can read more of his thoughts on his site.

Via Foresight Institute

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October 30, 2009

Must Have: Thank You, Death Robot


Never get tired of reading about robots? Then "Thank You, Death Robot" should be your next selection. Edited by Mark R. Brand, the 272 page book contains a collection of speculative fictional stories about death bots. We couldn't have promoted it any better than in its own description:

"If you run, it will catch you. If you hide, it will find you. If you resist, it will destroy you."

(Thanks, Beth)

Via "Thank You, Death Robot"

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October 7, 2009

Tetsujin 28-go Comes to Kobe


Tetsujin 28-go has taken over Kobe's Nagata Ward. Modeled after the comic/TV Series robot, the 15 meter statue weighs 50 tons and stands as either protection against evil bots or a reminder of them. The project was actually meant to help revitalize the area after the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and will be a permanent fixture, unlike the giant Gundam in Odaiba. A completion ceremony was held last week to celebrate his arrival.

Via Kyodo

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August 5, 2009

Dr. Ronald Arkin Interviewed on Robot Warrior Behavior


We told you a while back about Dr. Ronald Arkin's book "Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots" and his rules for engaging them in war, his main premise being that "intelligent robots can behave more ethically in the battlefield than humans currently can."

He was interviewed in h+ magazine recently and more of his ideas, an updating of Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics which includes:

    1. Engage and neutralize targets as combatants according to the ROE.
    2. Return fire with fire proportionately.
    3. Minimize collateral damage -- intentionally minimize harm to noncombatants.
    4. If uncertain, invoke tactical maneuvers to reassess combatant status.
    5. Recognize surrender and hold POW until captured by human forces.

You can read the entire interview at h+.

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July 29, 2009

Build Your Own Paper Robots


Can't afford the real thing in plastic or metal? The book "Build Your Own Paper Robots" by Julius Perdana and Josh Buczynski contains 14 models to design, print and build out of paper. The accompanying CD has ready-to-print templates and enough patterns and colors to make your own horde of at least 250 variants. You can pre-order now for an August 18 delivery.


To keep the kidlets away from your project, there is a "Create Your Own Robot: Sticker Activity Book" for them as well. It comes with 38 pieces to mix and match.

Via DIY Robot Books

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July 2, 2009

Learn to Draw Robots


For those who cannot build, but have talent as an artist, Keith Thompson has created this unique book that will teach you the basics of drawing 50 Robot designs with over 200 illustrations. Once you have your "starter" model, you can add to it to make it your own. Learn to create clockwork bots, insectoids, shock-troopers, bipedal anti-tanks and more.

Via 50 Robot Designs

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