Japan has sent Monirobo, a 5-foot, 1,300-pound rescue bot, into the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to measure radiation levels, humidity and temperature. The bot runs on tank treads to easily maneuver over debris and sends 3D videos to its operator, although it can only travel about 3/4 mile away from it. Even though the country is said to have about 50 robots available for rescue, Moni is the first to get to work.
Shades of "Silent Running." The 5-legged Prospero is a clever bot that is being used as an Autonomous Micro Planter. It joins with others to make a swarm that can plant seeds, tend them and harvest the finished product. Controlled by a Parallax Propeller chip mounted on a Schmart Board, it can walk autonomously while avoiding objects. Prospero can also communicate with other robots and can carry fertilizer and herbicides in its tummy.
If you happen to go through London's Luton Airport, watch out for holographic announcers. The female Holly and male Graham (get it?) are Tensator Virtual Assistants and will work in security as part of a project meant to simplify checking in. Somehow being able to stick an entire hand through the projection wouldn't make us feel more secure but then we understand the greater scheme of things.
Researchers of the German Aerospace Center built a robotic hand that is similar to a human one with five individually moving fingers and 38 tendons connected to a motor located on the forearm. The limb can withstand collisions up to a 66 G impact. It can also determine the amount of hardness in the objects it picks up. Lead designer Markus Grebenstein claims that the cost will come to 70,000 - 100,000 euros. The team will be working on a DLR Hand/Arm System next, a two armed torso.
Bangkok University, Thailand is developing robotic waiters for MK Restaurant. The concept robot Yumbo carries food on trays and maneuvers around by following lines on the floor. He also avoids collisions with IR range detection. Rit Thirakomen, the managing director of the MK Restaurant, says that they will perform the "less glamorous tasks" of the eatery, not to mention they won't ask for tips. Watching the video, it looks like the project has a ways to go.
When Super Bowl XLV comes to Texas, security will be more than ready to take on the crowds. The FBI is providing 4 mine-resistant armored carriers developed for the Iraqi war. Hundreds of agents will be attending the event as well as bomb-sniffing dog teams and 2 small RC surveillance helicopters. Even the local Arlington bomb robot will be in attendance. The reason for all of the security attendees is because the Super Bowl is considered a Level 1 national security event.
Once again a bomb squad robot is sent out as hero. Spokane sent their bombot out to a downtown parking lot Friday when a to-go mug was discovered that seemed heavier than normal to a 911 caller. While the device was found not to be a danger, the Bomb Squad was nonetheless wary after a suspicious backpack was discovered last Monday.
We first wrote about South Korea's ED Corporation in March of last year that designed a
service bot to sell tickets in movie theaters. The recently improved CIROMI also entertains while customers wait in line by playing games, taking photos or sending an email. This guy can do double duty as a security bot after the theater closes. Future plans include having the Cinema Companion recommend movies.
Researchers at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have developed a robot that leans on objects to support himself. The idea here is to mimic walking of the elderly. HRP-2 was designed to place both arms on a table to keep his balance when sitting down or use one arm when kicking a ball.
iRobot's display at the CES last week included AVA, a robot that is connectable to iPad and Android smartphones. Using sensors that are the same as in the Kinect, the bot builds a map of its area and will go to any location on it by a simple touch. The application can be used for security, telepresence and as a fetch and carry bot.