January 16, 2009

Must Have Robot: Rosie the Robot

rosiewobbler.jpg

We think that one of our first exposures to robotics had to be Rosie from "The Jetsons," the ultimate service bot. We loved her so much that we have made her our Must Have robot this week. This Funko "Wacky Wobbler" is about 7" tall, comes in her own themed window box and is made of PVC plastic. Best of all, you can put her on your desk or dashboard for only $10.90.

Via Jetsons Rosie the Robot


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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.

bar2d2.jpg

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?

jamieaprice@yahoo.com

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 5, 2009

Clear Cut Assists Firefighters

clearcut.jpg

Jordan Guelde and Daniel Shankland II have designed a robot that just may become more popular than Smokey the Bear. The Clear Cut clears large areas around a fire to keep it from spreading. The prototype has hubless motors and an integrated fuel system to make it work. We think that if the pair can develop it even further, they might consider equipping it with a very large hose.

Via Yanko

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January 2, 2009

Should There Be Ethical Rules for Robots?

robot_at_daycare.jpg

Noel Sharkey, a professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, claims in an article he published in Science Magazine that there may be risks and ethical problems related to service bot usage. He says that people who control them must be made accountable when working with children and the eldery.

"The question here is, will this lead to neglect and social exclusion? We do not know what the psychological impact will be for children to be left for long hours in the care of robots."

"I have no concern whatsoever about robots taking control. They are dumb machines with computers and sensors and do not think for themselves despite what science fiction tells us," he said. "It is the application of robots by people that concerns me and not the robots themselves."

Watch out, Professor Sharkey. We know better. ;)

Via Sidney Morning Herald

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January 1, 2009

Basil Bellies Up to the Bar

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Louise and Jim Gunderson have created Basil (rhymes with dazzle,) an autonomous bot that currently has the sole purpose of going up to a bartender, ordering a brew and carry it back to its owners. Through a lengthy process you can read about from the 7 page link, he gets ready after a few problems that the Gundersons work out. Here is an exerpt from what went on during his premiere.

"My name is Basil," he declares. "What do you want me to do?"

"Apologize to people."

"Ask for beer."

"Don't trip."

We hope they at least program him to tip. The couple has also released a book, "Robots, Reasoning and Reification", undoubtedly a must read for those that can and do.

Via Westword at "Robots, Reasoning and Reification"

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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

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December 30, 2008

Eddy Sucks, Literally

EddyExcavator.jpg

Puzon Maciej designed Eddy, a small suction excavator that can clean up dirt and debris without complaining. He has a flexible pipe mounted on his arm and a working range of 1000mm semi-circular radius. He can also be attached to a larger vehicle for more storage. We wonder if we can use Eddy to suck up all the leftover stuff we keep finding in corners from the holidays.

Via Tuvie

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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

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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

December 19, 2008

One Million Service Bots Have Taken Over Human Jobs

industrial robot chart.jpg

And so the takeover begins. IEEE Spectrum has compiled a list of industrial robot density in 67 nations. The data comes from the International Federation of Robotics and the International Labour Organization. There are over 1 million working worldwide, with the top three honors in Asia. Japan has 295 bots for every 10,000 humans working, and for no pay we might add. Considering all the problems going on with the "Big Three," Detroit might want to do likewise.

Via IEEE

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

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