The Chiba Institute Of Technology has introduced a vehicle that moves like a slug that is flexible, waterproof and dust-free. Planned for search and rescue missions, the Slug Crawler Vehicle has a retractable exterior skin, camera to monitor surroundings and internal pulleys to steer and manipulate its motion. The next step is to build a larger SCV with better cameras and more range for the planet's next big disaster.
Boston Dynamics BigDog now has a sidekick. PETMAN is a two-legged 6 ft. tall bot that can walk, perform squats and do pushups should the need arise. Probably available next year, it has been going through tests of chemical warfare agents, maneuvers in a suit, generates heat and sweats like a human. We are just grateful that they haven't taken the next step and added an evil Terminator head to its robotic body.
Japan's Ministry of Defense Research Department has developed a flying robot that works similarly to a helicopter. But it can also go forward at high speed or roll on the ground. And if it hits another object it just keeps moving along since it has gyro sensors. It weighs about 350 g, is 42cm in diameter and because it can be made from already available parts, only costs about $1,400 to build. Future plans for the Spherical Flying Machine are to use for reconnaissance and rescue situations. We may not shop in the same stores but we suspect other robotic experts to soon build their own version of the clever flybot.
Panasonic's Evolta Mini-Bot finally completed his 230k Ironman Triathalon October 30 that it began in September. It took 3 different versions of the little guy to complete the task powered by 3 rechargeable batteries. He needed 166 hours to swim 3.8km, bicycle 180.2km and run 42.2km to the finish line.
Their commercial may talk down to the average human, but it seems that
UNO has almost become high tech with its Roboto Game. Each player's name is recorded and players can include customized "house rules." The bot picks a name to begin. As soon as you think you are getting somewhere, the bot calls out a random rule or comment and changes your play. A deck of 108 cards and 3 AAA batteries are also included.
The Nagoya Institute of Technology's Sano Lab in Japan has developed a pair of robotic legs that are actually propelled by their own weight. The gait is more normal than most and no external control or motors are needed. Made of aluminum, they were adjusted to the same thigh and leg lengths as a human and the same weight. They work in the same manner of "falling" in that they just need a small push and downwards slope.
When tested last year, the legs went non-stop for 13 hours. Their hope is to create a commercial version in a year or two for testing sports equipment or assisting those who have trouble walking but we still want to know, what happens when it needs to go uphill?
"For Those Who Do" is a recent commercial from Lenovo that not only claims they are "for the inspired thinkers who roll up their sleeves and make things happen," but gives examples of how it does just that. Think of this as your mini quiz of the day and see how many robotic devices you recognize.
If you can remember as far back as the 60s, then you will appreciate film director Bryan Barber's acquiring the rights to the cartoon Gigantor. Here's a refresher if you don't. A young lad's father creates a huge robot as a flying weapon but the boy bonds with it and uses it in peaceful ways.
Barber tracked the rights to an aging Fred Ladd, who owned the Japanese language cartoon and adapted it for English speakers. Considering that the run of Transformer movies are never-ending and with the recent big bucks from Real Steel, Barber may have a hit on his hands. He says the live action film will be "Transformers meets Goonies."
Those U of Penn. Researchers have not only created a Poop Scoop, their MODLAB has a robot that can build and repair others or itself with spray-on foam and modular parts. The FoamBot is a wheeled cart with jointed modules that can spray to connect them to each other. The basic plan here is to develop a robot that can handle unknown emergencies quickly and cheaply. It's no surprise that they can be used in military applications, planetary endeavors and disaster relief, not to mention building several versions of itself for the eventual planet takeover.
Again we note that some people have way too much time on their hands, in this case Jason Huggins, who developed a robot that plays Angry Birds. Bitbeambot was made to accompany him in a talk he gave at the first Jenkins User Conference earlier this month in San Francisco.