We gave up eating tuna decades ago because dolphins were also getting caught in the nets. The Department of Home Security came up with their own fish that you cannot eat and should be smart enough to avoid getting trapped. The BIOSwimmer can be used to inspect interiors of ships and exteriors of harbors. Check out the first few seconds of the video to catch the tunabot in action. This was made a couple of years ago so it must be really impressive by now.
This is not yet more than a working prototype, and its creators are keeping pretty vague about details, however we always admire a good DIY bartender. The Arduino-powered Inebriator can mix one of 15 drinks autonomously. After the alcohol is dispensed, the glass moves to add mixers which are stored in bottles in a cooler beneath the table. The clever inventors are working on the next generation and would like to add an ice hopper and stirring mechanism.
Because Rodney A. Brooks believes that robots should be friendly to the max, he created Baxter. Meant for assembly line work, this Rethink Robotics adaptive bot will face its human coworker when his hand is touched. Baxter needs no special training and can compensate for error if a part is dropped or missing. He is definitely friendlier than other manufacturing bots but at a price of about $25,000, maybe the next generation could include some friendly chatter.
Popcorn Indiana mostly sells flavored popcorn and seems to have been fairly successful at this endeavor. Now they have teamed with an engineer simply named Ted who supposedly invented the Popinator. This automatic marvel of discovery will apparently shoot a piece to your mouth when you say the word "pop" from up to 15 feet away. We are not sure if this is actually real, remotely controlled or a clever PR tool. It certainly took a lot of practice to get the catching down. Still, we figured any video that gets over a million hits in less than a week deserves mention.
There are plenty of Kickstarter projects that we never report on, but this one has apparently been embraced by the public and will become a reality. Stompy is a humongous 6-legged bot suitable of the nearest disaster or amusement park. Project Hexapod is a group based in Somerville, MA. The arachnibot will have two drivers, an engine size of 135 horsepower, a weight of 4,000 lbs., a speed of 2 - 3 mph and can even walk through water.
One leg and 80% of the chassis has been built. Hmm, Stompy reminds us of another New England giant robot that rose to fame, eh Jaimie?
We thought this was going to be the Roomba of the farming community, but Blue River Technology is still working on a weeding bot. Instead of using pesticides, Lettuce Bot uses cameras, computer vision and algorithms to discern the vegetable from weeds and the claim is that they have 98 - 99% accuracy. It then spreads fertilizer down to kill the weeds.
The company has made two prototypes and the ultimate goal is to make an organic weeder which, now that they have funding from the National Science Foundation, will undoubtedly happen in the near future.
Tokyo University's entrance exam has the reputation as being one of the most difficult around and Fujitsu has taken on the task of creating a bot hat can pass it. The company teamed up last year with Japan's National Institute of Informatics with plans to complete a Todai exam-taking AI by 2021. The researchers will have to translate human math problems in a way that robots can process. History, social studies, science and foreign language will also need to be mastered.
Fujitsu says it can now do about 60% of the math problems so it still has a ways to go. We think that maybe it should take on Watson when it starts feeling its oats.
The time of the robot as a major police partner is certainly upon us. As an example, in West Bloomfield, MI, state police recently sent in six of them after a 20-hour standoff with Ricky Nelson Coley who had shot and killed Officer Patrick O'Rourke. Coley had barricaded himself inside his house with multiple firearms and knives. He shot at anything that tried to reach him on the second floor, including the robots.
A crane was sent in to tear into the room and it was discovered that the shooter had taken his own life. Still, it's a comfort to know that there are robot helpers during natural disasters, bomb threats and altercations involving standoffs where humans are in danger.
Velveeta's latest hero for their Shells & Cheese commercial is "that guy at the mall that sells the remote-control helicopter" They dig the dude so much that they set up an interactive site. We don't know if we share his taste in cheese food products, but we do admire his toys. Get yours!