For the last eleven years, kids from the Philippines have competed in the World Robot Olympiad, with this year's occurring November 9 - 11 in Kuala Lumpur, Malasia. One of the stars of the show will undoubtedly be one of their finalists in the Open Category. Hero, based on CNN 2009's Hero of the year Efren Peñaflorida, was built of aluminum and peanut butter jar caps. Over 400 public and private elementary and high schools participate in the yearly event which encourages creativity, critical thinking and ingenuity.
The Vietnamese toymaker Tosy Robotics, maker of the eerie mRobo, recently debuted two entertainment bots at the IFA in Berlin, Germany. The $100.00 SketRobo can not only draw 200 pre-programmed images, but can also produce custom portraits. The next generation will have a built-in camera to take a picture of a human subject then reproduce it.
DiscoRobo dances to tunes, features coordinated facial expressions, and will carry a MSRP of $60.00. Both will be available to humans in 2013.
Ally Bank has been trying to use humor to bring in a few more bucks. Its last campaign featured a blender for a teller and the latest has a bot for its star. We admit it is a bit cheesy, but we had to share nonetheless.
DARPA and Boston Dynamics have been paired to create Big Dog and Cheeta robots for years now, the latter of which broke its own speed record of 18 mph by going 28.3 mph in a 20 meter split. As a reference, Usain Bolt set a human record in 27.78 mph in 2009. This is all very well and good, but we want to know, what's the rush?
Little Acorn's Decorative Pillow features 4 friendly robots with embroidered details. The 12 x 16" cushion is made of hypoallergenic polyester and its linen cotton cover is washable
The same company also puts out a set of Placemats. Who could describe the set of four any better than the company itself?
"Make mealtime fun, and be good to the environment at the same time with our patented placemats. Cleverly designed to hold utensils and napkins in a fun and silly way that nurtures children's imaginations, while mealtime nurtures their tummies."
Software developed by Roke Manor Research in the UK is patterned after the human amygdala, a part of the brain that processes memory and emotional reactions. Installed in a vehicle, STARTLE detects threats, such as potholes, and responds by avoiding them.
The technology is also being tested in robot health monitoring and reacts to temperature or battery power changes. While still in the early stages, this is surely one step closer to making robots more human-like.
We have seen robotic gardeners before but this takes it to the point of almost complete automation in a 200,000 sq. ft. building in San Marcos, CA. Katsumi Shigeta, president and CEO of Hokto-Kinoko Co., purchased Kinoko, a mushroom exporting company that went out of business. Four kinds of shrooms are produced with the aid of robot arms and a climate controlled environment. There are over 120 humans to assist in minor roles.
After maturation, the organic crop is sold locally since exporting would mean spraying them with pesticides. Kudos to Shigeta for choosing a local distribution process instead. If you are not quite sure what to do with a king trumpet or brown beech mushroom, Hokto-Kinoko gladly provides recipes. And you have to dig the commercial, even if it's not in English.
You can be part of a new robot project created by Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology if you own a Kinect. Alper Ayedemir and team are using them to create 3D models that will help teach robots knowledge of their surroundings. Kinect@Home utilizes the WebGL plug in to make recordings and add to the data base. Think of it as less playing with your Xbox and more of a contribution to the eventual robot takeover.
After spending a mere $200.00 on parts, a team of students from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Spain came up with a prototype robot that can create 3D shapes from sand or dirt. Powered by the sun and controlled with CAD software, it uses a nontoxic binding agent to make the sand sculptures permanent.
The team is hoping that the Stone Spray Robot can be used for building bridges or as a green way of creating housing after natural disasters. For now they are working on the nozzle to make it more precise and adding the solar panel on the robot itself.