Under the leadership of Ron Arkin, Georgia Tech has been borrowing from the habits of squirrels who seem to be masters at stashing food and keeping other ones from finding their caches. They taught deception to a robot that will give false clues to another one so that it will be unsuccessful when it goes hunting for the first. Future application may be in the military for storage of weapons or in health care with a bot having a calming effect in the face of disaster.
Klarstein's silver Cleanfriend is the UK's entry into the world of domestic vacuums. With a 34cm diameter and a weight of 3kgs, it has five cleaning modes and Intelligent space recognition (that translates into it not falling down stairs or running into walls.) It comes with its own charging base and remote control. It will not do shag carpeting but it will clean your regular carpet, hard wood, and tile. The vacuum is available for £149.90 (~$240.372.)
Last November, Liquid Robotics launched 4 Wave Gliders from San Francisco, CA. After a 9,000 mile trek, two arrived in Japan and two in Australia. One of them, Papa Mua, broke a Guinness World Record for the longest distance traveled by a robot. The project was designed to show how these water bots can gather data and travel at the same time.
A second purpose for the trek is to draw attention to a $50,000 research grant for the roboticist that can come up with the best way to utilize that knowledge. Head over to their site to see what the five finalists have to offer.
A team from the Australian National University is studying the courtship of fiddler crabs and found that a female will select her mate by the movement of the male's enlarged claw. So they set up a series Roboclaws attached to motors of differing sizes and movement speed to study the female crustacean. Because the crabs have very poor eyesight, the claws fooled the females.
The end result? Not only does size matter to the female, she also prefers the claws that move the fastest. Their experiments also give superlative insight into other aspects of the fiddler crabs' life, such as why a larger home makes for a happy bride and why larger crabs will often protect their smaller neighbors.
Provide your kidlet with a Robot Flashlight that is not only safe for those aged 3 years and up, it has bendable limbs to encourage interaction. Made by the good folks at Little Tikes who are famous for their safe and child-friendly products, it has both straight light and blinking mode. An auto shut-off sensor helps conserve the 2 AAA batteries (included.)
If you want a slightly more macho flashlight that saves even more energy, the Lego Dynamo Flashlight is 7.5" tall and has a hand crank that should give you about 5 hours of light. Also poseable, it features 2 white LED lights and rechargeable NiMH batteries.
Germany based ETH Zurich is currently working on its second generations naro-tartaruga, a robotic sea turtle. They have chosen to use this as a model because its rigidity is simpler than a fish. The largeness of the body houses sensors and batteries used to make it autonomous. Its fin actuators work independently of each other and of course the turtle is waterproof. We don't know much about the science but we do know this robotic creature can certainly swim in a very kewl way.
Want to know what Tomotaka Takahashi has been up to for the past year? He has designed a humanoid bot that will be sent to the Kibo Experiment Module in the International Space Station this summer. He stands 13.4" tall and weighs about 2.2 lbs., and comes equipped with a camera and software. While hanging around with human astronauts, he will send back images and deliver Twitter and voice messages to Earth to astronaut Koichi Wakata.
Still awaiting a clever nickname (not to mention something more than a sketch,) the astrobot is also meant to relieve stress and combat the isolation that the those in space sometimes feel. A second model will be kept on our planet for demonstartion purposes.
The Ishikawa Oku Lab at the University of Tokyo has created the BFS-Auto book scanner. The bot is so fast that it can digitize 250 pages/minute by combining page flipping, 3D recognition of those already flipped with the usage of three cameras and high-accuracy restoration. Book Flipping Scanning can be used by libraries to preserve old tomes as well as saving those that have been damaged.