Panasonic has created a hair-washing robot with 24 fingers. It resembles a regular salon chair and sink, and shampoos, does scalp massages and rinses with a total time of 3 minutes. It takes a mere 5 more minutes to condition and blow dry hair. Designed for the elderly or infirm, it was originally conceived two years ago and the new model should be available to those that have the need next year.
Robot Snob does so appreciate the metallic men but when we know that so many humans are still without work, including in the car assembly field, we somehow cannot fully embrace the "dozens" of robots employed used in the renovated Louisville, Kentucky Assembly Plant that is producing Ford Escapes.
The plant reopens in November. They added 1,800 workers because of the complexity of the vehicles. But almost 17,000 showed up to submit an application and grab a chance at getting into a lottery that was used to help narrow down the amount. Governor Steve Beshear is all for the change as he believes "advanced manufacturing is the wave of the future. We can either get on board and make it work to our advantage or we can be victims."
Japan loves their robots and the latest trend there seems to be making them into mascots for local companies like ATR/Vstone's Daichan, a 3'7" bot dressed for dancing and Eager's 5'4" Hansan, made mostly of recycled cardboard. Both are a part of Robot Laboratory, a network designed to encourage the PR practice.
Sandia National Laboratories has developed a bot that can rescue trapped miners or deliver supplies as it is immune to gas, flooding, killing fumes and possible collapsed buildings. Gemini-Scout is four feet long and 2 feet tall and is equipped with gas sensors, and two cameras for locating survivors and scoping out the area. It was designed to go ahead of its user and is steered by an Xbox 360 game controller, making it simpler to learn. NIOSH funded the project that Jon Salton and team believe could be available by the end of 2012.
Foxconn has about 10,000 robots "employed" by its plants that assemble Apple products, but with the rash of recent suicides at their Chinese subsidiary, which houses 400,000 workers, CEO Terry Gou plans to up the amount. The company will replace 300,000 next year total with robots and a million within 3 years. While this may be a good for the company, where will all those humans find work?
Because the US Government Accountability Office says that most nuclear plants may have experienced leakage from buried pipelines, MIT researchers are working on tiny spherical bots to explore and send back images. d'Arbeloff Lab team leader Harry Asada claims that the billiard ball-sized robot will have a slippery exterior so it will not get trapped or break apart during its journey.
Anirban Mazumda is working on the propulsion system that will fill with water, then spit it out to move forward. The group recently displayed its prototype at the 2011 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.
Considering their current problems with robots trying to help in the nuclear cleanup, Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy industries has made an agreement with Energid to develop a power plant inspection robot. The plan is to make one that can inspect the heat exchanger and steam tubing system faster and more reliably. COO Neil Tardella says he believes Energid was chosen because they have worked with NASA in developing the K10 rover. We hope that the new collaboration proves to be successful.
Showa University, home to the dental assistant Hanako, has improved on its original in order to make it more realistic and simpler to use. Number 2 has a silicone skin and mouth lining by doll manufacturer Orient Industry, tongue and arms with 2º of freedom and more natural movements.
Hanako 2 can blink, roll her eyes, cough, choke and complain when her mouth is open too long. Showa feels that making Hanako 2 more human friendly makes the dental student more aware of treatment and will make him/her more cautious.
You have to love Concept Shed's AutoWed, instant matrimony. Put in your dollar, and it talks you through the ceremony after you input names, music included. The robopreacher gives you a certificate/receipt and a couple of rings that look like they should have come out of a Cracker Jack box. We're not sure how legal it is, but it has at least as much charm as an Elvis impersonator. If you happen to live close to Detroit, you can see one at Marvin's Marvellous Mechanical Museum.
The new Yotel in New York has employed a 20 ft. tall robotic arm to pick up luggage and place it in guest lockers. Each "cabin" is a mere 170 square feet with a desk that doubles as a nightstand and a communal kitchen that each floor shares. The Yotel is very affordable at about $200 per night and offers free WiFi, local calls, and morning muffins and coffee. By the way, tipping the Yobot is unnecessary.