January 20, 2009

TOFU, the Stretch and Squash Robot

We recently discovered MIT's Media Lab's TOFU, created by Ryan Wistort. Named after the food, this bot can also stretch and squash. The weird looking bot's technology has been previously used by animators to create social expressions in 2D. Its eyes are OLED, giving it an even eerier appearance.

Via MIT Media Lab

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

January 16, 2009

"The Big Bang Theory" Features Killer Bot

We're not much for bad sitcoms that make geeks look bad, but we just had to watch Monday's episode of "The Big Bang Theory" that featured a Killer Bot. The show still sucks, but it was nice to see that writers know the advantages of roboguards who are keeping us safe from the bad guys. If you missed it, you can catch the entire CBS show online.

Via Big Bang Theory

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

January 15, 2009

SAM Telescopes Aid Robotic Spies

We weren't quite sure what this was about at first glance. Sometimes we are not the brightest bulbs in the chandeliers. But when we see "military" and "iRobot" in the same article, our curiosity is peaked. It turns out that the Situational Awareness Mast (also known as Zippermast) telescopes from Geosystems can make a cam on a UGV check out the higher heights. This video is proof enough for us.

Via Defense Tech

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

January 12, 2009

BaR2D2 - Bartender That Never Needs Tipping

This has to be one of the kewlest DIY projects we have ever seen. We dug it so much that we interviewed BaR2D2's creator, Jamie Price. Trust us, you are going to want one of these.

Jamie, thanks for chatting with us. You have your own business. How do you find time to create?

I have a typical office job Monday to Friday. I tend to work obsessively on a project for months, then take a break so I don't get burned out. I work in my garage during the weekends.

What inspired you to build BaR2D2?

My friend, Shaggy, showed up at a robot combat event (my other hobby) with a radio-controlled cooler. We joked about taking it to the next level and the idea grew legs and started really growing.

How long did it take?

The actual construction took about five months (keep in mind that it's not really done yet!). I sort of thought about ideas and designs for a year before starting.

About how much did it cost to assemble?

I had many of the materials on hand in the shop from other projects. I also combed eBay and craigslist for deals on the larger components. I didn't really track the cost of the final product.

BaR does so much! Did you add gradually or have a plan before building?

He was mostly planned out before building. Once I started cutting pieces and saw some of the dimensions, I did have to change one or two things. There was supposed to be one more level that contained a stereo amplifier, mp3 dock, and two 6.5" speakers. I had to eliminate that as it would have made the robot another eight inches taller and way too top heavy.

You control him by remote?

Yes, BaR2D2 is controlled by a six channel Futaba hobby radio. This controls - the drive, beer elevator, drawer, and sound effects.

Does he seem to have any glitches or navigational problems, i.e. if someone bumps into him in a drunken stupor?

BaR2D2 has been lucky so far and everyone has been really careful around him.

What kind of feedback have you gotten when you took him out on the town?

BaR2D2 made his debut at Dragon*con in Atlanta and the response was VERY positive. He attended several parties and robotics forums. You can see from the video the "wow' factor he brings to a party.


Have you entered BaR in any competitions? Are you planning on showing him anywhere that our readers can come see him? Maybe you should trot him down to the MegaCon in Orlando that will be held at the end of February.

BaR2D2 is currently entered into The Craftsman Workshop of the Future Contest hosted at Instructables. The winner will get $20,000 in tools from Craftsman! Make sure to check out my entry and vote for BaR2D2! Note - there is also a video and tons of construction pics there.

As for future appearance, readers can check BaR2D2 out at Dragon*con 2009. A couple other appearances are in the planning stage.

Are you planning on upgrades?

Several upgrades are planned - The commercial shot dispenser is being replaced with a custom bottle rack that will hold six ingredient bottles and a pressurized air/regulator system that will electronically mix drinks from a computerized database.

How about teaching him to be a designated driver?

Maybe we can add a seat and helmet?

You said that you don't have any formal training, but this does not look like a simple project.

My dad was always building furniture in his spare time, so I picked up that from him. When BattleBots was big, I got into combat robots and learned a ton from that.

This is your latest project. What other ones have you come up with?

I built a 60-pound robot and competed in BattleBots season 4.0 and did well. After that I built a handful of others. I also build contest winning Halloween costumes and the occasional prop.

How long have you been building your creations? Do you have plans for others in the works?

I have been building crazy things for the last 10 years. As for future plans, I like to have a solid concept before I build something. I like projects that will keep me interested and that are out of the norm. Maybe I will build a friend for BaR2D2?

Do you have any interest in building one if someone asks?

If the conditions were right and there was enough creative license, I could be persuaded...

Maybe you can create one that would serve sandwiches and coffee. Conventions and large corporations would love that. Come to think of it, they would love BaR, too. Do you plan on taking him past the prototype stage?

I haven't really thought too much about its future as it really isn't complete yet.

Where can others get in touch with you for more information or help if they want to build their own?


Good luck and let us know when you decide to market him. And save us a t-shirt!

I may consider doing a run of shirts.

Via Jamie Price

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

January 1, 2009

The R2-D2 Chorus Line

Perhaps the only thing geekier than a chorus line of R2-D2s are the clothing choices of their handlers. Thanks to Orudo Vansan and team. This was done a couple of years ago but still worth a viewing.

Via R2-D2

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

December 31, 2008

KAR Does Your Dishes

Panasonic and the University of Tokyo have teamed to make KAR, a prototype kitchen bot designed to rinse dishes in the sink and then put them in the dishwasher. It even manages to start the washing process. It has 18 sensors so that it can handle the most delicate China without breakage. The team is hoping to make them affordable, smaller, lighter, and capable of loading a family of four's dishes in minutes. We hope they remember to program KAR to add the detergent.

Via Gadgetlite

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

December 30, 2008

Beware of Robo Dogs Spitting Fire

This is the best way we can think of to scare not only the neighbors, but the entire population of a small town. Larry was created by London's Lyle Rowell of the Mutoid Waste Company in about four weeks. The Robo Dog was made out of a Citroen 2CV engine and a few other parts.

Via Botropolis

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

December 29, 2008

SmartMow Does Lawns

It's a bit early to think about mowing your lawn, but you can start saving now for your own SmartMow, which is expected out in March. At a size of approximately 21 x 27 x 8" (with base station included,) and a weight of about 17 lbs., the mowing bot can cover about 1/6th of an acre on a charge. Its three blades has a cutting width of about 12" and can handle slopes up to 30ยบ. The SmartMow runs on a Lithium 24V 8aH battery with a charging time of about 4 hours. Preorder with a $175.00 deposit and the company will take 25% off to make it a total of $750.00. Like we said, start saving.

Via SmartMow

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

December 25, 2008

"Defective" and the 3 Laws of Robotics

We came across this kewl video called "Defective." Made by Rani Naamani, two robots vie for the same hand, literally. This reminds us of the Three Laws of Robotics as created by Isaac Asimov in his book "I, Robot" and the film of the same name. For those who are unaware that bots have rules, this is our holiday gift to you.

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Have a great day and check out aniBoom for more amazing animation.

Via aniBoom

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

December 24, 2008

KUKA Juke_bot, Strange New DJ

Who needs to hire a DJ when you can take a couple of KUKA waldos like robotlab did to create Juke_bots? We dig their ability and noted that, according to the company, they can "play, delay, accelerate, fragment and distort." They can work both independently and autonomously. Like real jukeboxes, you better have some serious coinage to get them to play. Buying a KUKA robot involves about a $10,000 investment or more, and that's just for a used one.

Via robotlab (translated)

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

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