Cornell has set a new record with their Ranger robot. The walker, built and programmed in the Biorobotics and Locomotion lab headed by Andy Ruina, walked 40.5 miles on a single battery charge. The entire trek took 30 hours, 49 minutes and 2 seconds as it managed 307.75 laps at a shuffling 1.3 mph. While Ranger never complained, we bet the team behind him were certainly exhausted after the walk.
The PR2 is back in botty news as a team from Stanford has been working on an "autonomous checkout clerk." The grocerybot has a 3D sensor and can grasp, read and sort a bar code. It will put the selected item in a bag with a 91.6% success rate out of 100 products. It won't set any speed records and won't protect your perishables when bagging, but it certainly is a noteworthy accomplishment.
Get your robot on with Android's new Open Accessory Kit Program. Take a look at Farmbox, an automated system to grow veggies that is controlled via the system and its own cloud. Brilliant Service is the company that created the plant factory that is a self-contained ecosystem. Benefits include organic produce, no product transportation costs and no pollutants. Everyone should have their own Farmbox!
Today Angry Bird, tomorrow Super Mario. While it may never have the addiction to Angry Birds that humans have, OptoFidelity's robot can beat you at the game. The team pre-programmed the best way to play each level and the bot took it from there. This video certainly makes it official. By the way, these bots also have a day job testing touch panels in mobile devices.
Carnegie Mellon University developed a robot to keep tech-savvy students constantly interested and came up with Finch, a white, plastic 2-wheeled bot that resembles a bird. At a price of only $99.00 (with discounts for ordering in quantity,) young scientists can program it to speak, dance and even draw pictures. He has a 3-axis accelerometer, temperature, bump and light sensors, LED lights and speakers.
The eventual goal is to allow every student to adopt one and take it home for assignments. The company BirdBrain Technologies produces and sells Finch and has developed lesson plans for teachers as well as giving them the option of uploading their own ideas. Classroom testing has been tried in high school, university and after school programs.
Sarcos, unlike most humanoid robots, has two legs that can freely move and will remain upright even with interference because of hydraulic actuators. Ben Stephens of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute is in charge of the team that taught the bot to dance by human motion capture programmed into it. Sarcos constantly adjusts his balance even when Stephens gives it a friendly shove.
University of Pennsylvania engineers prepared a one-armed robot to throw out the first pitch before their game with the Milwaukee Brewers April 20. Philliebot pitched to the Philly Phanatic to draw attention to Science Day. Sadly, the pitch didn't quite make its target, only reaching a speed of about 30 - 40 mph which was responded to by boos. Hmmm. Considering the fact that this project probably cost some bucks, maybe someone should have suggested that instead of sending out the recycled Segue they could have utilized a dressed-up instant pitching machine for much less money and a bit less humiliation.
We have to admit that the French Reeti is more face-friendly than most of the humanistic bots around today and probably more utile. He talks, moves his face features, houses a media center PC and reacts to your touch with sensors. The quirky bot was built for teaching and/or amusement and can be run on an iPad/iPod app.
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?"
Check out the video showing the iRobot Packbots opening the door and entering the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan. It found that the radioactivity level is still too high for humans. Enter MA based QinetiQ, whose V.P. says they have sent 6 mobile robots that will help clear some of the wreckage. After that, a human is needed to restore the cooling system. We bet with all the technology out there, there's a bot for that.