The Shadow Caddy would make any golfer happy as she/he wouldn't have to put up with idle chitchat from a human. It will follow its user around the course without the use of a remote. Instead it follows a transmitter attached to a belt with an object detection system to avoid other golfers or solid objects. The robotic caddy recently won the 2008 People's Choice Award for Australia's Next Big Thing, and we figure this is big bucks as the company is hoping that golf clubs will purchase them and rent them out. Watch for a June debut in Australia and Europe.
Craig Senovich, an engineer by day, opened Half Crown Hill Orchard with the purpose of cleaning out his great-grandfather's land and planting 1,300 trees. He also installed a drip irrigation system, field sensors and a weather station, and connected them to his personal PC.
He then turned half of the area into robotic technology test site for the United States Department of Agriculture. Brad Hamner, of Carnegie Mellon, is now testing an autonomous vehicle that may be able to take over some of Senovich's chores. "It would be nice to be able to have some automated stuff just to mow the lawn," he said.
What to say about a majorly chained restaurant whose main claim to fame is offering up the greasiest, most carb-laden food on the planet? Only that Denny's new Grand Slamwich (1,320 calories, 89 grams of fat) commercials are awesome, dude!
A member of WowWee's Robo Community hacked his Rovio's software and turned it into an automatic fire extinguisher. The bot can identify a blaze and extinguish it with a custom fire suppressant spray. "Colt 45" is hoping that he can get some funding to turn the prototype into one for commercial use or perhaps even equipping it with a gun to turn it into an anti-terrorist bot.
In June 2007, a Swedish industrial worker was attempting to perform some maintenance on a defective robot that usually carried heavy rocks. He believed it was turned off and as he started to work on it, the bot turned on him and grabbed the human's head. The man managed to fight off his aggressor but not before receiving several broken ribs and almost losing his life. Public prosecutor Leif Johansson thought about pressing charges against the firm but compromised with a 25,000 kronor ($3,000) fine. Sure, let this one slip, but what about the next time, bucko?
Bucknell University has been working on the Tbot that not only rolls around on all four wheels, but can stand on its two rear ones. The v1.0 bot has 8º of freedom, two main drive wheels with active suspensions, two steerable front wheels and two shoulder joints. Maybe by v.2, they will give the Tbot a face. Check out video of the robot in action on the ITEE website.
Willow Garage has been working on the PR2 for academic and industrial research and development labs. About the size of an average human, it has integrated arms, mobility, computation, sensors and batteries, eliminating the need for building one from scratch. Running on the ROS software platform, it is still in the prototype stage, but if you want more information, you can get on their mailing list.
Undergrads at MIT were given a project to create a race of gardening bots that can water, harvest and pollinate plants. At a price of $3,000.00, each moves on a Roomba-like base. Using sensors to tell when the cherry tomato plants need water, they will go to the pump. They know when the fruit is ripe, as they were programmed with a growth model, and will pick them with their botty arms. We are not sure we should go into the pollination aspect. Suffice it to say that they are undoubtedly hygenically correct. Future applications include creating a fully autonomous garden with the robots delivering fertilizer and pesticides when needed.
One more chore can now be dismissed. The Petmate LeBistro Portion Control Pet Feeder is a programmable pet feeder that will automatically dispense up to five pounds of kibble. You can schedule it to distribute as much as 2 cups up to three times a day. The gadget works on 3 D batteries (not included.) Petmate also has a smaller version and Waterer available. We hope the next generation includes a pooper scooper because YOU didn't stay home and let your dog/cat out!
Japan's Topy has created a strange race of Anie robots that love to crawl. Compact and lightweight, they are controlled either by wired or wieless LAN remote and have high traction rollers that can climb 1.3 times their radius. Available in 4 sizes, their onboard cams shoots video and still images. Although they are designed for large companies, we bet that they would be happy to custom create one for you so that you don't have to go down into those nasty sewers where you know that baby crocodiles lurk or crawl spaces that may house giant cockroaches.