Sandia National Laboratories has produced a robotic hand to assist in bomb disposal. Funded by DARPA, the Sandia Hand is remote-controlled. The hand can grip, move like its human counterpart and repair itself. Because it is modular, different types of fingers can easily be attached, yet it can continue to function without one of its fingers. The robohand has 12º of freedom and comes at a price of $10,000, well worth it when you think of the humans it can protect.
Last year, Harvard researchers developed silicone-based robots inspired by sea creatures like squid and octopi. Now, there's a new twist. It seems that they can now either disguise themselves or glow in the dark. Created with 3D printers, colors can be injected into them. Needless to say, the first application can be quite handy for military use, while the second can be used as a visual marker. Fortunately, they are still in experimental stage so we will not get too paranoid. The team is hoping to eventually make them autonomous.
Telepresence robots are cropping up everywhere these days and the latest comes from Double Robotics. The appropriately named Double uses an iPad as the means to control it and a second one as the "face." What's good about this telebot is that while most can cost in the tens of thousands, this one can be pre-ordered for a mere $1,999 (iPads not included.) The simplicity, low cost and basic design of the Double has been accepted so readily that the company will not be able to fill new orders until 2013. We, too wanted one before we got even half way through the video promo.
Researchers from MIT, Harvard and Seoul National University are working on an autonomous wormbot that moves across a surface by contracting nickel-titanium body segments via running currents. Made of soft materials, you can even step on Meshworm or give it a couple of hammer hits and it just keeps on trucking slithering. The project was funded by DARPA and future applications may include navigating in rough terrain or tight places.
It looks like Hasbro just couldn't wait until the proper holiday season so their new Furby will be out this September and can be pre-ordered now. Available in five different colors, this Furby will respond to tickling, patting and other human manipulations. A free optional app for feeding and Furbish translation is available for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone with iOS 4.2 or later. It remains to be seen if this reincarnation is a hit or a miss.
In an effort to show that they were a proud sponsor of the Olympics 2012, BMW utilized some oversized RC Mini Coopers to clean the field of wayward discuses, hammers and javelins. Built to scale, they are not exactly a toy that you can bring home, but maybe this 1/14 Mini will suffice as a means of cleaning up discarded socks, empty beer cans and assorted dust bunnies.
Those who are lucky enough to attend South Korea's Yeosu Expo 2012 will be treated to about 70 robot buds including Mero, EveR-4 and DARwin-OP. Daewoo created an aquarium with a school of fishbots. The event runs May 12 - August 12 and also features music, live aquariums, a 3D virtual cyber experience, cultural performances, displays and of course plenty to eat. Tickets are still available for $30.00 for adults and $9.00 for kids and seniors,
Ripley, eat your heart out. For a mere $1.35 million, you can get your own Kuratas Mobile Suit. Made by Suidobashi Heavy Industries, it was designed by artist Kogoro Kurata and robotics expert Wataru Yoshizaki. After getting in its "cockpit", the user can move arms, torso and wheels and make phone calls.
Its Lohas Launcher fires off BBs from its twin gatling guns if the pilot smiles. They insist that this will not actually hurt anyone. The Karatas operates under the OS Vi-Sido, runs on diesel fuel and can even be operated without someone being inside. Let's not forget the humongous warrior is customizable so if you add camouflage, no one will ever suspect you are out to get them.
Remember AFFETTO, the creepy baby robot head? Let's throw a creepier party as his creators from Osaka University have just given him a torso. He will still be used in behavioral experiments as his 22 pneumatic actuators can provide a certain amount of flexibility. Future generations should include lifelike skin and body movements, a real body temperature and perhaps the ability to smell. Legs would be good, too. The ultimate goal here is to build a "realistic child robot with a muscle-skeletal system" or what we like to call a definite oxymoron.
A pair of robots from Lovotics dubbed Kissenger can be used for virtual kissing, their own form of diplomacy. The artificial mouths, according to their makers, are good for human to human, human to robot and human to virtual character. We don't have a whole lot to say for this one other than if you need these, you are spending way too much time on the interweb.