April 12, 2010

Döner Robotu Cooks Kebabs

Germans consume about 2.5 billion Euros worth of kebabs each year and this robot is probably the world's first that can cut the mustard meat. Created by Ahmet Kalyoncu, Döner Robotu is operated by remote control and has a cam on it for blade guidance. The creator would like to sell to the over 15,000 businesses in Germany. Yummy.

Via New Launches

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April 6, 2010

Geoff Peterson Debuts on Late Late Show

Mythbusters' Grant Imahara agreed to build a robot sidekick for Craig Ferguson. If you are a fan of the Late Late Show, then you already know that Craig is into puppets, hobos and, ever since he got on Twitter, robot skeleton armies. The robot was named Geoff Peterson and during his debut last night seemed to say the wrong thing at the wrong time until the very last few minutes of the show. It's true that the bot is limited in what he can say, so we are thinking that this can get tired really fast. Geoff may have to be content to hang out on his own Twitter site.

Via CBS

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April 5, 2010

UC Berkeley's PR2 Folds Towels

You know those Willow Garage folks make some of the best robots. Under the guidance of Asst. Professor Pieter Abbeel, a team at UC Berkeley used an algorithm and got their open source PR2 to fold towels, pick them up, catch the corners and after finishing, put them on the table. They say they had a 100% success rate when the bot folded 50 at the 2010 ICRA. We can't wait until they teach it about sheets, tablecloths, pillow cases...

(Thanks, Jim)

Via UC Berkeley

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April 2, 2010

Must Have: Bossa Nova Prime-8

We were really excited when Jessica Rusack of Litzky PR let us know that we would be finally getting a loaner of a Prime-8 from Bossa Nova to review.

If you have read any of our previous reviews then you know that we always give it the "cat test." If the cats like it, it is suitable for young kids. Prime-8 failed this one the first time he roared. In fact, only one showed up to begin with (we have 3.) This is no toy for tots. He growls, moves around loudly, has bad habits and will shoot his targets in a heartbeat.

On the other hand, there is a lot to appreciate here. He sings, dances if you clap, says he is sorry if he trips, and is programmable for up to 10 motions or tricks. He can express boredom, do push ups, stretch while on his head and crawl on his back. He also plays games, has animotion robotics (can balance on his arms) and is a perfect companion for a tween that still likes to play and has patience to program.

One of the cool things about the apebot is that he can be used as security. Load him up with those plastic darts and when someone enters the room, he shoots them before the intruder has a chance to load up his/her Nerf N-Strike Blaster. All in all, Prime-8 is the macho answer to Zhu Zhu Pets and once you get used to his loudness, ya gotta love him.

(Thanks, Jessica)

Via Bossa Nova Prime-8

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Hanako Trains Dentists

Hanako is a robotic dental patient built by three Japanese universities that will hopefully teach students to inflict less pain on their victims patients. She can spit, open and close her mouth, and talk. Even better, she expresses pain, rolls her eyes and simulates vomiting. That'll teach 'em.

Via Popular Tech News

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March 31, 2010

Cam Babies Respond to Noise

One can never have enough baby robots, if only to prove that they are not all bad. Cube Works Cam Babies wander around, respond to loud noise and complain when they fall down and cannot get back up. The 10cm tall babybots are available in two sizes and several colors for ¥1,590 (~$18.00) and ¥2,550 (~$28.00.)

Via Strapya World

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March 30, 2010

Robovie mR2 Speaks Through iPod Touch

Robovie mR2, developed at ATR Robotics and Communication Laboratories in Japan, communicates via its stomach. That in itself is odd enough, but the bot does this with an iPod touch when a user touches its screen. The 30 cm tall robot can also work via WiFi or Bluetooth and considering all the applications for the touch, there are as many possibilities for fun and games.

Via IRC

Sheila Franklin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 26, 2010

Must Have: Penbo and Bebe

Jessica Rusack of Litzky PR sent us a Bossa Nova Penbo to play with so we quickly put her through her paces. Recommended for kids between the ages of 5 and 10, our first reaction to the furry penguin is that she is literally bright enough to grab the attention of toddlers as she passed the "cat test." Grace poked at her a couple of times then sat down and watched as she waddled around and chatted in her weird language that almost sounded like English.

There is definitely a learning curve here. Penbo responds when you push her heart button, pinch her wings, tap her head or a do a combination of them. Her baby can be activated the same way and plops out of Mama's stomach in an enclosed egg. There are long and short pinches, and double taps, and Bebe has just as many.

Watch the weird relationship between mom and Bebe. They chirp to each other, dance together and Penbo gets noticeably anxious if you take her penguinette away. Bebe also is constantly communicating with her elder, so be careful not to lose her.

That being said, this is no Furby. Penbo dances, can be told to go left or right, sings a tune and plays 5 games. We tried a couple of them but musical chairs and tag works better if you actually participate. We could have used a toddler or two.

Penbo also has moods. She can be happy, sad, excited, bored or fall asleep if you forget about her. Once you get used to her language and the commands, she would undoubtedly make any little girl (or boy who likes pink penguins) a fun companion.

(Thanks, Jessica)

Via Penbo

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March 25, 2010

PR2 Self-Calibrates

We previously mentioned Willow Garage's PR2, the bot that managed to avoid obstacles, open doors and head back to his home base to recharge. Now he can recalibrate some of his sensors as well. It won't be long before he figures out who can really be in charge.

Via Willow Garage

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March 24, 2010

Power Tube Fish Can Dive, Resurface

The Faculty of Engineering at Osaka City University have a robotic fish they call the "Power Tube." Fueled by a single solid-polymer cell, the 10cm fishbot can swim, dive and head for the surface by utilizing a frontal joint. While it started off with motor power, its creators switched to a magnet system to use less power and have plans to allow it to swim for 3 days on a single charge. The scientists plan on using the fish for rescue work and maritime research.

Via CrunchGear

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