November 18, 2008

Honda Kindly Creates Strap-on Help for Factory Workers

Honda has devised a new strap-on Walking Assist Device for workers. The device supports body weight, reduces stress on the knees and helps when going up and down stairs and crouching. Engineer Jun Ashihara says it will also be useful for standing in long lines and making deliveries. Don't count on it for dancing, moving sideways or climbing uneven surfaces. Honda will begin testing the prototype later this month with its own assembly line workers.

Via <3Yen

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November 14, 2008

Jules Mimics Human Expression

Jules is a copycat robotic head created by robotics engineers at the University of Bristol in the UK. He mimics facial expressions and lip movements of humans. The head has 34 servo motors and a video cam that maps images to his flexible rubber skin's electronic motors. David Hanson, the team's head, sees future applications in health care settings. While some studies show the humans sometimes reject bots that resemble themselves, others say that the closer they get to realism, the easier it will be to accept them.

Via New Scientist

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November 11, 2008

Robotic Chair Cradles Humans

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Oki and Okimura have gotten together to create a concept model seat that "can embrace the sitter through robotic technology." The idea is based on human skeletons and muscles as a child that is sitting on her/his parent's lap. With a carbon frame and cushion shape, we think the prototype certainly sounds promising, but we are just not sure that we want the botty chair to have that much control.

Via Fareast Gizmos

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Bu-Bye Phoenix

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The Phoenix Mars Lander is apparently no more. And so we say goodbye to a robot that we came to think of as almost a pet. Perhaps he will make one more valiant effort to phone home, although with the weather conditions unfavorable, it is doubtful.

Via NASA

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November 10, 2008

Stanley Guest Stars on Grey's Anatomy

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We recently saw an episode of Grey's Anatomy that featured the simulator Stanley, so we decided to research him a bit. Last year, the dean of Des Moines University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kendall Reed, created an entire $1.5 million sim laboratory with 6 of the mannequins, 2 adults, 2 kids, and a birthing center with mom and newborn. Each one breathes, blinks his/her eyes, has a heartbeat and a pulse, and can go into several clinical scenarios. Unfortunately, while the one on teevy seems almost human, the bots only speak through a faculty member using a mic in an adjoining room.

Via The DO

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October 31, 2008

Morgui Too Scary For Kids

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We had to go back a couple of years to find a robot spooky enough for Halloween and this one, from the UK University of Reading, fits the bill. Morgui (Mandarin for Magic Ghost) was deemed so scary that he was banned by the ethics and research committee from being seen by anyone under the age of 18. The disembodied head has five senses and huge eyes that follow you around the room. Those senses include visual, audio, and radar, infrared, and ultrasonic. Mo, as he is called by his creator Kevin Warwick, was designed to keep an eye on the humans who were watching him. Let us know if you find any scary robots tonight. We suspect that there will be lots of them out there.

Via Telegraph

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October 29, 2008

I-SWARM To Colonize Mars?

While some of us envision building colonies on Mars someday, European researchers have been developing small autonomous bots that work together like insects to perform the chore. The I-SWARM Project is composed of 100 tiny robots that can reconfigure themselves as needed for different tasks.

"Small robots that are able to work together could explore the planet. We now know there is water and dust so all they would need is some sort of glue to start building structures, such as homes for human scientists," said Marc Szymanski, a researcher at the University of Karlsruhe in Germany.

We suspect those first humans would include the I-SWARM team, who certainly will have earned the honor.

Via Science Daily

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October 23, 2008

Scarab Practices For Moon Run

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Scarab is a product of the Lunar Rover Initiative backed by NASA. It can handle darkness, extreme temperatures, and intermittent communication. The Carnegie Mellon bot is practicing on a dormant volcano in Hawaii to extract water, hydrogen and oxygen. It is equipped with a drill that can retrieve a 1 meter core sample of the ground. CMU has been working on the project for about 10 years. Do you suppose it can shut itself off like the Mars Lander?

Via CMU

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KIST Creates Mahru and Ahra

The Korean Institute Science and Technology (KIST) has developed Mahru and Ahra that, unlike ASIMO, who runs on network-based intelligence, work on network infrastructures with motion capture systems. Mahru understands voices and commands and can carry them out. As you can see from the video, he is quite supple and deserves the title of humanoid. The robot can also emit 2 aromas depending on his "mood." We wonder, when Mahru gets fully developed in the next 10 years, what that odor would be when he is really teed off.

Via KIST

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October 22, 2008

Rent-A-Walking-Suit

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Those who live in Japan who have mobility issues will soon be able to rent a computerized suit that reads signals from the brain and helps them to walk. The garment is powered by a 10kg battery operated computer system which is attached at the waist. HAL, short for Hybrid Assistive Limb, comes in three sizes and can be leased for ¥220,000 ($2,200.00) a month. A one-legged version will be available for a ¥150,000 ($1,500.00) per month fee.

Via Fareast Gizmos

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