May 25, 2009

ACE Needs Humans for Direction

Similar to Kacie Kinzer's Twinbots, Martin Buss and a team from the Technical University of Munich created ACE, aka Autonomous City Explorer. They sent the bot, equipped with sensors, software and cameras, to the Marienplatz without directions, about 1.5km away from the school. ACE had to rely on humans to point him in the right direction. To make a long story short, it took almost five hours and 38 people, 21 of them who were merely curious, to get him to his destination. What we want to know is once ACE found his way, could he be programmed to show the Twinbot the way, or vice versa?

Via New Scientist

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May 21, 2009

Multi-Useful Programmable Hawk

The Canadian R&D firm Dr. Robot has developed Hawk with camera eyes and 2 arms that are each 2 ft. long with six joints and grippers. Controlled by remote, it can be trained as a security bot, bartender, musician or anything else you can devise. As evidenced by the other videos and the hype on their site, Hawk can be used "to serve and protect, for development and entertainment."

Via Dr. Robot

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May 19, 2009

Get to Know Your Fukitorimushi

Fukitorimushi ("wipe-up bug") takes the Roomba to an entirely new level. The autonomous cleaner moves like an inchworm and drags its nonocloth belly around until it finds a dirty spot. Then it emits a red light and uses an extra effort to clean it. What makes this service bot special, at least in its creator's eyes, it that one grows fond of it after a while and that having to change the cover occasionally makes it more of a pet.

Via Pink Tentacle

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May 18, 2009

Self-Taught Robotic Helicopter

Stanford has been working on a helicopter that can actually learn to fly by "watching" other ones. Andrew Ng and his team of graduate students equipped an off-the-shelf RC copter with accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers, with tracking that can be accomplished either on the ground or by GPS. During a demonstration the AI flier performed various maneuvers including rolls, loops, flips and more. Possible future applications might include fire and war area searches, but at this point we are still in awe that it teaches itself.

Via Stanford

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May 15, 2009

Must Have: Virtual Families Review: The Next Best thing to AI

Technically these are not real robots, but they are about as close to AIs as you can get. Our buds from LDW (Last Day of Work) were kind enough to let us play their new game Virtual Families. You pick your main character and teach him/her to work, repair the house, cook, clean up, etc. Then you find a mate, start having kids and teach them the same. The game operates in real time so it is more casual than most games, but the SIM can go on for generations!

The play is similar to the company's other games, the original Virtual Villagers, VV 2 and VV 3 in that it takes time for the characters to learn certain skills. When they do well you, reward them with a green pat on the head and when they do something you disapprove of you are supposed to chastise them with a red one. There are also objects to discover and a shop where you purchase food, pets, room improvements and more.

We figure it will be the only game we will play for decades. At this point, we are still on the first generation, but we noticed that you have to make sure your buds are happy, well fed, and rested as they can catch diseases. Kids will like the special features of buying clothes and treats for their family as well as getting trophies for their efforts. We just dig having the SIMs around as company after a long day of work.

(Thanks, Caitlin)


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Chi-Chi's Robot Commercial

As much as we dig the Denny's Grand Slamwich commercials, we have to hand it to Chi-Chi's for this one. What else can we say but "Robot Snob want chicken and Chi-Chi's."

Via Chi-Chi's

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May 8, 2009

Broken Robot Nozomi Performs

We don't speak Japanese and we really don't know much about the street performer Broken Robot Nozomi. We only know that after watching this video about war, we got chills.

Via Japan Probe

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May 4, 2009

SHOAL To Keep EU Water Clean

SHOAL is an interesting idea. They are robot fish with chemical sensors that sniff out and report pollution in harbors and rivers in Europe. Their creators believe that they will be more efficient and less expensive than humans, who sometimes don't know until after the pollution has wreaked havoc. The first will be released in the Port of Gijon, in northern Spain. The three-year research project will begin next summer, moving near sewage pipes and underneath ships and will communicate via WiFi. We just hope the military doesn't catch wind of it.

Huosheng Hu, the head of the project, says the robotic swimmers are shaped for their ability to avoid danger and move quickly. The video shows a smaller version built for the London Aquarium.

Via Robotics Trends

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April 30, 2009

OLLO Bug Kit

Trossen has a new kit for amateur builders. The OLLO Bug Kit comes with detailed instructions and everything you need to build 4 different versions of the plate and rivet system. When complete, it can trace lines, detect objects in its path or be controlled with wireless remote. The bug kit is available for $99.99.

Via Trossen

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April 24, 2009

AquaPenguins Get Along Swimmingly

Festo's AquaPenguins not only resemble their live counterparts, they can move like them. They can be manuevered in all directions and even swim backwards. Applications include being used as autonomous underwater crafts while communicating with other robot penguins to keep them from colliding. Wanting to do more than just invade the ocean, the German company also came up with AirPenguins, but we suspect that spying capabilities isn't part of their plans.

Via Festo (translated)

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