When Carnegie Mellon's Robot Hall of Fame selects its honorees, the task generally falls to those in the industry. However, this year mere humans who simply dig robots can determine the final vote. Nominees include Wall-E, Rosie, Jason (used to find the Titanic,) iRobot's Packbot, PR2 and Robonaut.
Internet voting will select the four laureates from a field of 12 nominees and will include both fictional and real bots. So go online before Sept. 30 and decide who you want to receive the prestigious prize. Winners will be inducted Oct. 23.
Honda's latest robotic creation is a robotic lawnmower built for lucky Europeans. Using a random pattern, the Miimo can cut 2 - 3mm lengths. Three bump sensors help it to navigate around large objects and it has auto-speed adjustment for thicker grass patches. The lawnbot has a fan in its blade holder to suck in the loose cuttings. Running on a lithium-ion battery, Miimo will return to its charging station when needed. No price has been released but both the Miimo 300 and 500 will be available in 2013.
A team of Stanford researchers working with Liquid Robotics have developed a fleet of buoys and wave gliding bots off the coast of San Francisco that when combined become a WiFi network for tagged fish and other aquatic creatures. The Wave Glider is not only a fine idea for studying them, but its free Shark Net app for iPad/iPhone can help track northern California white sharks.
When a tagged fish comes within 1,000 feet of a receiver, the signal is recorded with a timestamp and GPS location. While the buoys are placed in spots where the sharks are likely to hang out, the gliders try to cover any other gaps in the system. Professor Barbara Block wants to expand the idea to the entire west coast to include tracking of other fish and whales, but in the mean time, get your app here.
We never like to think that a doctor would freak before an operation, especially during childbirth. But for those practicing ob-gyn docs in the UK who have not yet performed caesarean sections comes Desperate Debra. This pregnancy simulator puts one in that very situation so that when the emergency comes, practice will make perfect. Pretty freaky...
Little by little, robotic chefs are taking over China and one of the latest is Chef Cui who specializes in noodle cutting. Designed by Cui Runquan, the chefbot is being mass produced with a reasonable price tag of $1,500. We call that a bargain since hiring a chef could cost $4,700 yearly. Runquan says that the upcoming generation aren't really into that task so with about 3,000 already sold, we expect that the robotic counterparts will pick up the slack. At least until those menacing yellow eyes turn red and they really start slicing.
Sega's HomeStar planetarium came out several years ago, so we guess it was time to redesign, repackage and reintroduce it into the republic in R2-D2 form. The final frontier can be projected on ceiling or wall and needs 4 AAA batteries (not included) for 3 hours of viewing time with a range of 4.9 - 7.5 ft. The claim is that you will see 10,000 stars including the Death Star. At a size of 3.9 x 8.3 x 3.5", the ad is a bit cheesy and despite what Sega's site claims, we believe that both boys and girls will love it.
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.
RobotAppStore.com has launched a Wikipedia for the botty crowd. Created by RAS's founder Elad Inbar, he claims that 70% of their calls ask for more information about their apps. Robopedia features articles for both beginners and super robotic geeks and everyone is encouraged to add to or edit the site. Both past and present robots are included with details like components and concepts.
By the way, if you have never visited the Robot App Store, there are plenty of free and low cost applications.
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.