Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Robots Candy-05 Wants To Be The Next Tiger Woods

One of the prototypes from the last round of NEDO (New Energy & Industrial Technology Development Organization) funding is Candy-05, who seems to like Golf a whole lot. Looks like he has no problem getting the ball in the hole.

Candy-05 is developed by Nirvana Technology (now the Hajime Research Institute) and stands about 120cm tall. He rolls around on wheels and has stereoscopic cameras which help it locate a golf ball, eye the hole, and putt. His goal in life is to be an entertainment robot for park areas, where golf is popular. Video after the break.

Asimo Brandishes Firearms

A tipster sends us word of this image of impending doom. The translation on the page doesn’t help much, but it may just be an action figure. Dear god let it be just an action figure and not a full sized Asimo with guns! Anyway, apparently Asimo and and a female robot were putting on shows at the National Science Museum in Japan. And judging by that image it couldn’t have ended well.

PALRO Robot From Fuji Soft

The PALRO robot from Fuji Soft merges Fuji Soft’s software capabilities with an open architecture that offers developers a whole lot of room to experiment. PALRO is just 15″ tall and lightweight at just 1.9kg. He’s expensive, but not as expensive as you might think at $3.300.

PALRO has a built-in camera, microphones, speakers, an LED array with an Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor running the show. Not bad. Vstone’s Robovie-PC costs $1,100 more, so PALRO seems like a good deal.

Evolving Robots Navigate A Maze, Prey On Each Other

It isn’t just us humans who have to worry about getting killed by robots. Other robots should worry too. We told you about this project last year, but it’s worth revisiting. Especially since several blogs think this is new news. Some boffins at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems in the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale of Lausanne have been working on “evolving robots” for awhile now. Their latest breakthrough is the most astounding yet. And sort of terrifying.

A group of robots programmed to use Darwinian selection in order to learn, evolve and mutate have successfully moved through a maze and helped each other in tasks like pushing tokens around in order to achieve a common goal.

Thing is, some of the creatures displayed early signs of a predator-prey relationship. In short they are learning to deceive, lie and probably warming up to a kill. Video below.

Pneumatically Powered Robot Walks On 24 Oxygen-Tubing Legs

What has 24 legs and walks with the power of oxygen? This robot here. It’s a pneumatically powered walking robot with legs made of hospital oxygen tubing. It was built in 2005 and was controlled by a Mac Mini. The project took about 5 weekends and nabbed two first prizes (for best demo and best presentation) at Hackers’ Conference the same year. We just love to watch it walk, with the accompanying whirring sounds.

RP-7 Wi-Fi-Enabled Virtual Doctor

The RP-7 robot admittedly looks pretty goofy with a doctor’s face that you just want to punch. Smug bastard. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. In theory anyway. It has been functioning as an around-the-clock physician at the Ryder Trauma Center at the University of Miami/Jackson Medical Center in Florida.

The bot stands about 5 feet tall and is Wi-Fi-enabled. It comes from InTouch Health and just likes to roam around the wards in the trauma center, letting the patients and staff communicate with the off-duty doctors wirelessly via the monitor. That’s where the goofy face comes in.

The idea is that the robot will connect doctors to patients, allowing the two to converse even when the doctor is not on duty. It’s a great idea, but come on. Doctors never want to do squat on their off hours. Might as well paint a happy face on the monitor for all the good it will do.

Shinpo Can Play Rock-Paper-Scissors

TMSUK teamed up with Waseda University to create a robot capable of walking without the bent knee approach. Shinpo is the result of this experiment. Basically it takes a step by lifting up its whole leg, while putting all its weight on the other foot, like humans do. In result, the pelvis is rotated. Obviously modeled after the design of the human body, the robot is 5″, 158lbs, 39 DOF, and the speed capacity of 1.8kph. That is one dense robot.

Now displayed in Niigata Hall of Natural Science, Shinpo can take a rest. The exhibit also includes interactive touch screens, movies, and information stands to help the visitors understand Shinpo. If you want to know more about Shinpo, I’d advise you to take a trip to Japan.

Robots BigDog Is Off To War

If you don’t freak out at the sight of BigDog, you are made of sterner stuff than I. Imagine how enemy soldiers will feel, seeing it walk toward them. And soon they will meet.

Darpa has finally approved the contract for Boston Dynamics’ LS3 (Legged Squad Support System) for the US Marines. Like BigDog, it will travel autonomously for 20 miles without needing to refuel, carrying 400 pounds of equipment for the soldiers in its squad.

AIMEC Bot Now Has Legs

When last we checked in with AIMEC he was learning Karaoke and was just an upper torso. But now he’s gone and got himself a pair of legs. We already really liked the robot’s look, but with legs it becomes so much more, capable of delivering your Coke with a song and maybe one day using those legs to dance himself back to the kitchen.

Follow AIMEC on Twitter here.

Dyzplastic’s Android figures

Android is a great OS and it’s just a bonus that it has a cute robot mascot. We’ve been waiting for someone, anyone to come out with some cool Android figures and finally they are coming. Artist Andrew Bell has partnered with Google to release a series of authorized Android robot figurines.

They are starting with an initial run of 12 designs in blind boxes. Of course you want to collect them. Look at these guys. The figures stand 3 inches tall and have articulating heads and arms. Look for them to be available starting the 10th of this month.

FuRo Breaks Wind, Makes Controlling Bots Easier

A division of the Chiba Institute of Technology by the name of FuRo (Future Robotics Technology Center) has created a controller dubbed WIND (Wireless Intelligent Networked Device.) No, it is not controlled by your farts, but rather by your movements. Move your arm left, the robot will do so. Nod your head up and down, the robot will do so. Many different movements are possible with the 3-dimensional sensors mounted on the mid to upper back and on the biceps and forearm. This kind of technology is good for a profession that handles dangerous materials, but also requires the unique, careful perception of a human.

The white boxs are key to this secret. The white boxs are “System On Chip” processors, meaning they contain as much “intelligence” as personal computers. That’s about the power of 250 GB HDD! Though the mini processors are abundant with memory, the Bluetooth wireless transmitter slows down the robot’s reaction speed. There is still much potential for WIND technology. Here is a demonstration video.

Earthquake Detecting Robot Breaks Ground

Hiren Patel’s home village of Gujarat, India was hit by a devasting earthquake back in 2001. After his town was rebuilt, Hiren enrolled in J T Engineering College to study robotics. He set a goal for himself: Create something that detects earthquakes so people can better prepare for them. So Hiren and a hand full of other engineers set out to meet his goal, and the product was the Earthquake Detector Robot. EDR supposedly can detect earthquakes that are 3 hours away from hitting the surface. It senses change in the temperature of the ground and water with one of its sensors, and detects change in water level with the other. It also holds a transmitter that sends any new information to the authorities. Watch a news report with the interview below.

Robonaut2: NASA’s Robot Astronaut

What the hell, we’ve sent monkeys into space and probably other animals that they are all hush hush about. It’s time we got a real robot up in space so astronauts can get creeped out. This guy was developed by NASA and GM. It’s a trainable, expendable crew member who just happens to be a robot.

Robonaut2 is ambidextrous and designed to use the same tools as human astronauts. He can lift up to 20lbs and operate in environments too dangerous for humans. Basically he’s our red shirt. If it looks like someone might die, they’ll send Robonaut2. Video below.

Lego Spider Robot

MkMan’s Lego spider robot was created using pieces from a Mindstorm kit along with milled plastic parts. The legs are a locomotive concept known as Klann Linkage, meaning that they will operate in pairs, converting the rotational force from one motor into movement for both legs. There are four rotating gears that keep the eight legs moving. Looks like it gets around pretty good.

Robocop Competes In The Tough Guy Challenge

The Tough Guy Challenge is an annual competition in England where participants struggle against mud, ice, and fire. And who’s tougher than Robocop? He’s part man, part machine. Sadly he didn’t win though. At least he didn’t have to go up against Ed-209.

Amoeba-Inspired ChIMERA Robot On Video

In a recent TED talk, Dr. Dennis Hong talks about some of the creepier candidates in the world of robots, including the spider-like STRiDER and the amoeboid ChIMERA (Chemically Induced Motion Everting Robotic Amoeba).

ChiMERA achieves locomotion by moving its silicone skin and can squeeze through spaces half its diameter, and travels up to half a meter per second. It could be powered by chemical actuation, electroactive polymers, and air-driven tubes. Video below.

Awesome Nekosaur Crystal Robot Toy With Robot Guts

Check out this awesome robot toy. Not every toy will give you robot guts. The Crystal Nekosaur is 6 inches tall, and comes with a paper insert that creates the illusion. He’ll cost you $79 and was designed by Alen Yen. It looks badass.

ARM-Powered Lego Robot Solves Rubik’s Cubes

We’ve seen several bots adept at the twists and turns of Rubick’s Cube and this guy is the latest. It uses Lego Mindstorms parts, a Lego programmable robotics kit and even a Nokia N95 mobile phone.

The ARM armed Nokia N95 sits above the cube, scanning it with its camera as it solves the puzzle. Interesting take on a cube solving bot.

DARPA Wants An Autonomous, Grenade Throwing Robot

DARPA has put up an interesting job posting. It involves a new research and development program called ARM. DARPA wants to build a robot that can use its arms to autonomously grasp objects.

The robot should be able to “hold an inert grenade with one hand, and pull the pin with the other hand” without any help from humans. The human who is the target should be able to leap up in the air, paddle his feet furiously and then zip away like Bug Bunny.

Thanks DARPA. You sure don’t make it easy to sleep at night.

Robonica Roboni-i Robot Toy Review

The folks over at Engadget got some hands on time with the Robonica Roboni-i. Since becoming available, the price has gone from $299.95 to $159.95 at Hammacher Schlemmer. So what did they think?

In general they like it. Control is easy, but the turning could be better. At the current price, many people can only buy one unit, which is obviously not as entertaining as two. All in all they seemed to have a good time with the little bugger. Hit the link for the full review.

Vstone’s Tichno Sucks In Customers For You

Tichno is a robot built by Vstone, that is meant to advertise for window stores. Usually Vstone develops robots that are meant for hobbyist to robots that are champions of the Robocup, but now they are reaching out to the advertising field. Tichno advertises by dancing, singing, talking, and doing other gestures such as hand waves.

Tichno is designed with an outer shell that is androgynous, so it can be determined to be a male or a female, depending on the customizable suit. The control board is identical to the ones of the DIY kits, but Tichno is 130cm and weighs 26kg, including 22 DOF. It is equipped with built-in speakers and a voice recorder, allowing it to play pre-recorded messages and songs, which it can dance to. The price is unknown, but there’s expected to be a cheaper version along with this one. Watch Tichno demonstrate its skills.

Robots Now Smoke Incense

A small German shop by the name of General Robots has designed some pretty intense, wooden robots that will smoke up your place. What looks to be hand-carved, the wooden robot is rigged with an incense burner, in the place of its spine. I’m not sure how it works, but the top half of the body is removable from the bottom half, so the incense stick can be placed. Where it gets the oxygen when the top half is placed back on, is what i don’t know. Standing at only 6 inches tall, it costs €39.90.

Heineken Bot Serves Up The Brew

This Heineken Bot” was made by the folks at Middlesex University and he recently showed up at the Kinetica Art Fair in London. If humans move their hands above its sonar-sensing head, and then place a cup in its holder they will be rewarded with some beer.

After he serves up the good stuff, he continues to wander along a pre-programmed path, waiting on others.

Robot Toys Seized At Customs

Robots are pretty powerful, but they can’t defend themselves against customs in Seattle. 17,600 NFL toy robot figures similar to the one shown here were seized at customs recently.

The toys were made in China Where else?) and found to have 6 times the acceptable level of lead in them. So they won’t be invading American homes anytime soon. The toys are valued at about $96,000 and will be completely destroyed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mindstorms Bot Controlled By HTC Hero

Using a cellphone to control a robot isn’t new, but Swedish tech company Enea Linköping is one of the first to link an Android app to a Mindstorms brain over Bluetooth. An HTC Hero is controlling two simple robots.

Of course, Android 1.5 doesn’t support the Bluetooth serial profile, so a hack is used: the phone sends out commands over WiFi,which are passed through a WiFi-Bluetooth tunneling app on a laptop before getting to the robots. So basically there’s a bit of lag. But hey, Android 2.1 has serial Bluetooth support. Android and Mindstorms seems like a match made in heaven.

Swisslog RoboCourier Opens Doors

Swisslog and CCS Robotics have two new robots. SpeciMinder is available now and is able to automatically navigate through doorways as small as 27 inches. RoboCourier will be available later this year and can interface with both doors and elevators. Pretty neat.

Swisslog SpeciMinder is available now and is designed exclusively for INTRA-departmental materials transport. For example, a large one-floor laboratory or pharmacy in which several workers frequently move goods among multiple workstations is an ideal environment for SpeciMinder. The primary benefit of SpeciMinder is a tremendous increase in operational efficiency.

Swisslog RoboCourier will be available later this year and is designed for INTER-departmental materials transport. Like SpeciMinder, RoboCourier will be able to interface with doors, but it will have the added capability of interfacing with elevators and navigating hallways. This capability will allow RoboCourier to navigate multiple floors within a hospital, meaning it can transport materials from one department to another

After navigating a few million doors, maybe these guys will get sick of it and tackle the ultimate doors, those of perception. Break on through to the other side little bots.

Texas Robot Allows You To Work In The Office From Home

If you own your own business and you run it from home, this robot may not apply, but if you work for someone in an office, it’s likely this robot is for you. The robot, named Texas, was created by Dallas Goecker. I suppose Dallas was inspired by his name to make the robot’s name Texas. The Texas Robot was created at Willow Garage, California, by Dallas. He mentions in his video that Willow Garage had a few PR2 robots just laying around and PR2 robots are the perfect, basic base for building a multifunctional robot. The caster of the PR2 robot was used in creating Texas. He connected a computer, a battery, and a display; the rest was already with the PR2 robot. Within the computer, there is a Wi-Fi router which will obviously connect to the internet, making the office-travel experience wireless.

Dallas describes to us through the video how it is to be in the comfort of your own home, while getting your work down and most importantly, getting a one-on-one interaction with co-workers. This robot could work very well in many office enviroments, but you might want to ask your boss if you can be represented by an autonomous robot. Watch his explanation of this robot below.

Ibn Sina Arabic Speaking Humanoid Robot Travels First Class On Emirates

Ibn Sina recently made his journey from Dubai, to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia on an Emirates Airlines flight. Not a big deal except that he did so as a passenger and not in the cargo hold. Ibn Sina (named after an 11th century philosopher), made his way into the Emrites First Class passenger lounge along with Dr Nikolaos Mavridis.

The robot checked in at the first class counter and handled himself like any other passenger. He even made small talk with other passengers, who I’m sure feared for their life.

Student Builds Spider Bot From Spare Parts

This spider-like hexapod robot from electrical engineer Matt Bunting was made from spare parts and based on an Intel 160GHz Atom processor. It even has a webcam and is made for all terrain. Even if it loses a leg somehow, it can balance and move easily.

The webcam takes successive images, which are used to help it determine if it is moving forward, sideways, backward or tilting. By analyzing that visual feedback, the 14×17x8-inch robot “learns” how to most effectively achieve its forward-moving goal. Intel has ordered two of Matt’s spider robots, one of which they plan to take on the road, showing off potential applications etc. Video below.

Our First Glimpse Of Robot Land

Things are moving. All of the players are nearly in place. Very soon Robot Land will be a real place. In fact, $230 million of Robot Land’s $600 million budget has been secured and we now have some renders that show off what it will look like, assuming it really happens. It’s still not a certainty.

You can expect attractions like a Robot Water Park, Robot Battle Stadium, Robot Flower Island, Robot Museum and a whole lot more. I’m fairly certain it will start with humans visiting the park, until one day when only robots visit while on vacation.

Check out the link for more great details and renders.

ROBOBASE Sponsors Event Featuring Samurai Robot

In Nagoya, A store by the name of ROBOBASE, was featuring an event, just for robots. As background information, the owner of the store, Daisuke Goto, has built many robots from hobby kits. He also spent much of his time at local robot events. For example, he participated in robot dance performances and even bot fights. So this time he decided to host his own robot event, as publication of his store and robots. He explained and presented many of his robots from the event, but the one I liked the most was the samurai robot. It may not be as complicated as some robots, but for a hobby kit robot, it looks pretty dang cool. Dust collector or not, Asahi Shimbun, the second largest newspaper industry in Japan, featured this event in their newspaper. So don’t worry, you’re not the only one who thinks this is cool.

Finally A Robot To Do My Chores

Many robots have done chores for us, but AR (Assistant Robot) is like no other. For now, it is assigned to doing simple jobs such as dragging a mop around and picking up clothes. Just to do that, it takes a good amount of DOF to bend down all the way to the floor. AR has 32 DOF, pretty good if I may say. Additionally, the Assistant Robot is 155cm tall and weighs 130kg. Another thing that is impressive about the robot is its cameras and sensors. It has a total of five cameras on its head, two wide-angle stereo cameras, two telescopic cameras, and one omnidirectional camera. Its sensors include a laser range finder and ultrasound that are located at the base; used as detectors of objects such as furniture, people, movable objects, ect. Even further, AR has a SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping.) In other words, it uses its sensors to map a 3-D area around it, where it will remember the location of specific items. For example, if you taught it where the broom was, you could command it to pick up the broom and start sweeping.

Now, the biggest problem facing all of home-robot manufacturers is the disconnection between the home appliances and the robots themselves. If AR was doing the laundry, it would get it done, as seen in the video below, but much time would have passed by. If appliance manufacturers set up a partnership with home-robot manufacturers, they could incorporate a plug-in device where the robot would tell the machine to turn on, open door, put to heavy wash, ect. At the moment, Tokyo University IRT is controlling this project, but they are funded by many companies such as Toyota, Olympus, SEGA, Toppan, Fujitsu, Panasonic and Mitsubishi. Many of those companies go beyond the call of duty and create the components used in building these robots. Watch AR trot it’s stuff here.

Gunze’s New Commercial Puts Bipedal Robots In Underwear

Kaela Kimura, the only human in the commercial, stars in the Japanese commercial presented by Gunze. Gunze’s new line of underwear, Body Wild, is demonstrated by the bipedal robots mentioned in the title. On the bright side, robots are again being introduced into human society. And on the contrary,the robots are only computer generated. It is obvious because our robots cannot do kick flips, or even accurately hit a ball into the air. These half body robots sure do look good in that underwear though. As if the Super Bowl commercials weren’t enough, watch the video below.

Zibits Mini RC Robots

Here’s a cute little robot toy that won’t break the bank at less than $10 bucks. Zibits are miniature robots that look like a lot of fun to play with on your desktop. In all, there will be 12 different robot designs for to collect. These guys stand about 2.5″ tall and have light-up LED eyes.

Aikon 2 Sketches Human Faces

Sketch artists won’t be happy about this one. This robot can look at a human face and make a decent sketch of it. Aikon 2 was featured at London’s Kinetica art fair last week and sports an “inexpensive” robot arm and software developed by a research team at Goldsmiths University of London.

Building a device with artistic ability is no easy task, so developers tried to understand and simulate the processes that artists use to sketch the human face. Those processes include: visual perception of the subject and the sketch, drawing gestures, cognitive activity, reasoning, and training. It does a much better job than I could do. Video below.

Marv, The Robotic Vibraphone

Marv was created by three San Francisco Bay Area musicians and engineers. It’s a “MIDI Actuated Robotic Vibraphone” capable of both playing itself, or playing along with a human performer. And it is capable of playing super-duper-crazy-fast.

Marv can play music far more complex than a human player is capable of too, since it can strike any and all keys at once, and damp each key individually. I’ve never seen or heard a robot play so fast in my life.

Quasi Robot Stars At The Toy Fair

Is this $80,000 robot really going to be sold on the market as a toy? Nope, It won’t be, but there will be a toy version coming out soon, promised by the creators from Interbots. The creators say that the toy version will be able to do basically the same thing that this robot, Quasi, can do. Quasi, or Q, can be controlled by a wireless tablet PC with touch screen. Just drag the stylus to the specific facial expression you want and it does it. You can also enter words into a dialogue for the robot to speak. It moves its mouth according to the vowel sounds processed through the dialogue. In other words, it looks like it’s speaking. Depending on the mood, the user can also change the eye color and wiggle the ears. This could be a pretty cool, hot toy, but it also seems like another way for kids to torture their parents; in the wallet, and at home. Watch the short demonstration video below.

TUBO Helps University To Research HRI

TUBO (Tungmyong University roBOt) is being developed and studied at Tongmyong University’s Department of Robot System Engineering. They’re studying TUBO so they can learn about Human to Robot Interaction (HRI). The researchers promise for TUBO to become a fully developed household assistant robot. Very similar to AR, it has stereo cameras for face recognition, reading capability, Listening comprehension (limited to Korean), and SLAM. All of these components are in AR, except for the reading comprehension. With the Assistant Robot and TUBO being worked on at the same time, I think we can have a great product, if they work together.

A DIY Lego Segway

This Segway was built entirely from Legos in a standard NXT 2.0 set and even features a cute Wall-E type rider. It balances itself by leaning on the NXT Color Sensor in light sensor mode to detect its angle relative to the ground.

If you want to build one yourself, there are complete instructions at the link below.

CubeStormer Solves Rubik’s Cube Fast

We’ve seen our share of Cube solving bots. In fact we haven’t solved one around here without robot help in like three years. But, of all the Rubik’s Cube solving bots we’ve encountered, none of them completely surround the cube like this guy.

It goes by the name CubeStormer and is amazingly fast at what it does. That cube never had a chance.

Black Eyed Peas Feature Robots In New Music Video

This hit by The Black Eyed Peas is something you should just listen to for the music and then watch the video. The song only starts to really pick up well towards the second half of the song. Other than the rap in the beginning and the strange chipmunk noises coming out of Fergie, the music is pretty dang awesome. Cool beat, up-beat tempo, and it’s just a very danceable song.

Now for the video. In the preface, before the music video even starts, Will.I.Am is looking at pictures of a robot that shows up later in the video. He was explaining to Apl.De.Ap what it was, basically an advanced auto-tune. Fergie doesn’t agree with it and finds it to not be right. The fact that a machine is doing the creative work for you and the fact that it is a machine. I personally agree with Fergie, but I still think that auto-tune can have a cool effect if used correctly.

When the actual music video starts, it shows Fergie crash landed on the pavement. She gets up and starts shaking her booty and rapping. She then finds Will and they try to escape the giant robot that seems to be looking for them. Once they get to their music junkyard/home, they activate their own robot and start the real dancing. Again, musically, this is where it’s at. Once they’re geared up, they set out to where the evil giant robot has done its dirty work. Fergie, Will, Apl, and Taboo all set out to “heal” the people with some sort of speaker that makes them want to break dance. At the end, the enemy robot gets hit by a sound wave and the giant robots have a dance off, leading to Fergie waking up in real life. It truly is an epic story, even better than transformers 2 and terminator put together, but the break dancing by the robots was sort of disappointing. I was expecting a nice flip or hand stand or something, but the tricks were pretty elementary. I guess The Peas really ran into a budget issue with this run. Watch the video here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Body Robot Designed To Investigate Gas Pipes

Osaka Gas Co. and Osaka University have teamed up to develop a robot that can inspect the inside of gas pipes, eliminating the need and expense of tearing up roads. It’s the first time a gas company in Japan has developed an inspection robot that can freely travel through gas pipes.

With the development of a robot that moves through pipes and sends images from inside the pipes, it will be possible to pinpoint worn-out sections and quickly fix them. The robot is being jointly developed by Osaka Gas and Koichi Osuka, a professor at Osaka University’s Graduate School of Engineering. The robot has a spring body formed by a spiral of stainless steel with a small motor and tires. It will measure just 17 centimeters across and 1 meter long. The spring will push against the inside of the pipe as the robot moves forward, and it can smoothly pass pipe joints and turns too.

Robot Scans Onion, Sculpts It, No Tears

There’s something disturbing about a robot that silently stalks an onion, while welding a laser and just biding it’s time. It watches and waits patiently to sculpt it in 3D.

David Bowen’s “Growth Modeling Device” scans an onion every 24 hours with a laser, then uses a “fuse deposition modeler” to generate a plastic sculpture of that scan. When the model is done, a conveyor belt moves the recreated onion out of the way. The end result is a visual record of the onion’s growth. Pretty neat and somewhat surreal.

Green Max 4.8 GMAX Robot Toilet Transformer

Did you know that there’s a toilet maker called TOTO in Japan? They make “Greenmax” toilets (4.8 liters a flush). So what better way to market these porcelain thrones than with a robot action figure. Apparently TOTOROBO’s signature catchphrase, is “Protect the Earth, GMAX! Ready – Switch, on!”.

You learn something new everyday. Sadly, with all the good that the company does the environment with their toilets, the creation of this plastic toy with such huge packaging sort of undoes that.

Wiimote-Controlled Jazari Robot

Patrick Flanagan’s ‘Jazari’ project features a ton of robotic instruments, all controlled from a pair of Wiimotes and some intelligent software. Surely it can’t be all live-controlled, as there is so much going on, but Patrick says that there’s a button or twist or tilt behind all of it.

If you like strange robot bands that deliver stranger music, this should be a real treat. Videos below.

Robot Sex Shirt

You’ll never look at the plug and socket in the same way again. This shirt shows what robots watch after the kids go to bed. It’s named “While the Kids Are in Standby Mode” and it will cost you $18. Thank god we don’t see what comes next.

Robots Dominate South Korean Education

School administrators in South Korea have decided to bring about a new way of teaching kids. That is, at the hands of robots. They are only forced to do this because of the lack of English teachers in South Korea. Currently only replacing preschool teachers, the South Korean School District has spent a good amount of money. By 2011, they approximate about 45 million USD to have been spent on upgrading only 500 preschools. In debate, they are thinking about replacing teachers in the elementary school level too.

Students seem to have fun with the robots and they really do learn from them. They don’t seem to be displaced by the idea of being taught by a robot either. Their only problem with the robot is the speech recognition. They’ll say the correct sentence, but the robot won’t pick it up completely, causing the student to have to repeat them-self.

They think they are solving the problem but they are only creating a bigger one in the future. For one, these teacher robots aren’t all that proficient. The kids may understand it, but the one-on-one teaching style is nearly destroyed. When there aren’t a bunch of adults standing around the robots, I think the kids would beat the motherboard out of this one. Secondly, They are using it as a job replacement. Consequentially, less jobs equal less gdp per capita and a higher unemployment rate. Over all, I think these robots wouldn’t be best for a full time job, but rather an assistant or substitute teacher. Watch the demonstration below.

Robo-Rex: Legos, Robots And Dinosaurs

What could be better than robots, dinosaurs and LEGO all in one? Nothing. Robo-Rex has everything we love. It’s the brainchild of Alyse and Remi. A LEGO Technics build that they designed themselves. Some of the gears and parts are decorative, but some are used for articulation. The mashup was inspired by this German commercial.

Bandai Unveils Dorosseru Robot Figure

Awhile back we saw Asimo hanging out with a female robot and we didn’t know anything about her, but now we have more details. Dorosseru is a character from Japan’s first Disney produced CG animation called Fireball.

It has Blue-LED lights in the eyes, movable joints and the legs and arms are made from some “super alloy material”. The figure stands about 180mm tall and weighs close to 270 grams. It can be yours for 8400 Yen (or $90). She’s cute.

You Could Design A Life-Saving Robot For The Pentagon

Time for you inventors to do your patriotic duty and help the U.S. military design an autonomous robot that can carry injured troops from the front lines to safety. Autonomous as in with little or no help from a human of course. Hint: This is going to take more than a huge-ass Roomba with a gurney attached.

The Army wants inventors to develop a robot that will be able to adapt to “the large number of body positions and types of locations in which casualties can be found.” The robot also needs to be able to enter, navigate and escape terrain “without prior knowledge” of the geography. They also wouldn’t mind if your robot were able to perform as part of a hive mind, and cooperate with a swarm of other robot rescuers. You can submit your ideas until March 24.

Robot Skin Coming Soon

British material-design company Peratech recently teamed up with MIT to create pressure-sensitive, electronically responsive “skin” for robots. Peratech’s signature product is a kind of sensitive metal-and-silicone material called quantum tunneling composite, or QTC.

This technology responds to pressure, converting physical force into an electric signal. It’s already been used to create touchscreens and even an “off button” on electronic passports to stop them from broadcasting RFID tags.

MIT’s Media Lab department hopes to dress up their robots in QTC very soon.

QTC robot skin could perhaps let a robot know precisely where it has been touched, and with how much pressure. It could also be helpful in designing machines that have better grasping capabilities, and for developing more natural ways for machines to interact with humans.

Crowbot Lets You Talk To Crows

""This Crowbot can attract and repel crows by playing different recordings. That's weird enough right? What's even weirder is Crowbot Jenny, a superhero babe who uses it to command her crow army. Crowbot Jenny and her Crowbot, a character and project conceived by Hiromi Ozaki is all about researching animals and our interactions with them. Ozaki consulted two leading crow experts at the University of Cambridge and he then came up with the Crowbot, which can communicate with the birds using a variety of crow calls. Ozaki wasn't satisfied and thought the Crowbot needed something more. That's where Crowbot Jenny comes in. She is "a reclusive girl who prefers to spend time surrounded by technology and animals rather than with humans." [Gizmodo]" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-8611" width="500" height="375">

This Crowbot can attract and repel crows by playing different recordings. That’s weird enough right? What’s even weirder is Crowbot Jenny, a superhero babe. Crowbot Jenny and her Crowbot, a character and project conceived by Hiromi Ozaki is all about researching animals and our interactions with them.

Ozaki consulted two leading crow experts at the University of Cambridge and he then came up with the Crowbot, which can communicate with the birds using a variety of crow calls. Ozaki wasn’t satisfied and thought the Crowbot needed something more. That’s where Crowbot Jenny comes in. She is “a reclusive girl who prefers to spend time surrounded by technology and animals rather than with humans.”

Saturday, March 20, 2010

MeBot, MIT’s Expressive Telepresence Robot

It’s described as a “semi-autonomous robotic avatar” by its creators at MIT, which sums it up nicely. The MeBot is all about giving people a face and an expressive presence even when they are far away. The MeBot show’s the operator’s face on the screen and goes the extra distance by using software that will analyze the controller’s face and cause the MeBot to respond appropriately with its arms and articulated neck.

Apparently MeBot can also be operated using a control that resembles the it’s arms. The end result is an amazingly expressive telepresence bot.

We conducted an experiment that evaluated how people perceived a robot-mediated operator differently when they used a static telerobot versus a physically embodied and expressive telerobot. Results showed that people felt more psychologically involved and more engaged in the interaction with their remote partners when they were embodied in a socially expressive way. People also reported much higher levels of cooperation both on their own part and their partners as well as a higher score for enjoyment in the interaction.

Check out a video below

Amazing Modified Fire Chief Robot

There aren’t too many people out there doing great vintage robot mods, but YouTube poster robothut has created this awesome robot named Fire Chief from a Chief Smoky robot. It actually sends smoke out of the fire hose nozzle. Here’s what he has to say about it:

So here is my version of the Fire Chief robot. The firs effect in the chest turned out very well, I used a rotating wrinkle foil drum that colored lights reflect off of just like the fake fire units do, but again the digital camera does not like to shoot in to the lit effect. The smoker hose effect turned out great! The tip of the hose is the smoke fluid cartridge so if need be it can be replaced , the hearter is on the end of the hose and the power to the heater runs inside the hose. The hose is fed air buy a small air pump that came from a junked out blood pressure machine.

The video below is worth checking out.

Kojiro Musculoskeletal Humanoid Robot

Kojiro, a humanoid built by the fine folks at the University of Tokyo’s JSK Robotics Laboratory, has a detailed musculoskeletal system that mimics the human body. It uses a system of artificial bones, muscles and tendons. The idea is to create a robot that is lighter and more agile than the average bot.

It should also move in a more natural way. Motors pull cables that simulate how muscles and tendons interact. In fact it has about 100 tendon-muscle structures, which give it 60 degrees of freedom. In comparison Asimo has about 34 degrees.

Android Phone Becomes Robot Brain

We’ve seen our share of robots that are controlled by phones, but usually those phones are controlled from a human’s hand. Thanks to some hackers, there are now some bots that use Android for their robot’s brain.

The TruckBot uses an HTC G1 as a brain with a chassis made from $30 in parts. The bot can use the phone’s compass to move in a particular direction, but they’re working on incorporating the bot more fully with the phone and the Android software. Some ideas they’re thinking about include face and voice recognition and location awareness.