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Breakdancing Robot

May 22nd, 2009

We’ve seen some pretty impressive physical feats from robots here over the years but this one might take the cake. This is what I assume to be a modified Manoi AT01 actually breakdancing.

Be sure and check out the end of the video for the big finale. Thanks to everyone who sent this in. Via GetRobo.

The Wandering Robot

May 18th, 2009

If you happen to live near Munich Germany you may have noticed a curious sight recently, no I’m not talking about pub goers clad in lederhosen, this was something much stranger than that. A robot from the Technical University of Munich began asking for directions to the Marienplatz in the center of town, roughly a mile away.

This wasn’t some collage prank, the researchers wanted to test their design in a real-world environment. After asking 38 people ACE (Autonomous City Explorer) managed to find his destination. The ability to find a destination with the help of humans will prove to be a very valuable ability once robots are fully integrated into society.

Not only was this a great opportunity for the researchers with regard to programming the robot to ask the right questions and process the data, it was a great social experiment as well. Imagine if they had made the robot less approachable, slightly more intimidating, they might not have had the same results. I wonder what the ratio of people who took the time to interact with the robot were versus those who just ignored it. Either way experiments like this are fascinating and put us that much closer to a world full of robot helpers.


Rare Mechanized Robby the Robot Unearthed

April 30th, 2009

mechanized-robby-robotWe ran across an original mechanized Robby the Robot circa 1959 on eBay, the mechanized Robby was manufactured by the T.N. toy company of Japan and has been a long sought item among vintage toy robot collectors.

The seller describes the item as the most popular toy robot ever produced and it comes in its original box. The price you ask? A measly $3500… this just goes to show you how serious some collectors are about their toy robots.

Readybot

May 1st, 2008

The idea behind this robot is simple enough, to clean a kitchen. So simple, and useful, in fact that I’m somewhat surprised that this is the first concept I’ve seen so far.

The engineers that have come up with this clever, albeit, practical robot, did so by developing techniques with use of artificial intelligence, optimization algorithms and applying them to everyday business operations.  While doing this, they recognized that these same techniques could be used in the robotics field. Thus the Readybot idea was born.

While this is not the most advanced robot and it does not try to mimic human motion, it gets the job done. The designers are quite honest about what it can and can’t do. “After activation, it rolls out (from under the counter), deploys several antenna-like cameras, and raises itself up to human height to begin work.  Slowly but steadily, it picks up cups, bowls, and plates, dumps food, loads the dishwasher, scrapes and scrubs the countertop.  When needed, it grabs one of several custom tools to scrub, sponge, or maneuver.”

At the moment, the prototype can do about 30-40% cleaning tasks, with 80% being the ultimate goal. They hope to get a purchasable model within the next 2 yrs.


Toshiba’s ApriPoco

March 31st, 2008

Toshiba has developed a prototype robot that is essentially a universal remote for your home. The ApriPoco, loose translation means little by little, is approx. 8.4 inches tall with big round eyes and torso, giving it a child like demeanor. This is intentional due to the pace at which it learns commands.

The idea behind this robot, which is equipped with sensors that detect infrared signals, is you use a remote to turn on something, your TV for example, and the ApriPoco simply asks with its child like voice, “What did you do now?” You would then tell the robot, “Turned on the TV”. With it’s soon to be built in voice-recognition system, the robot would remember the user’s answer and the infrared signal and link the two together.

Turning on the TV is not the only thing it will be able to do for you either. It will be able to do anything an infrared remote can, but in a more personal way, since you are its teacher. Giving the robot a child like appearance has proved to work well in trials, especially with older users. “The ApriPoco is believed to be useful for elderly people who tend to shun the complicated functions of household electronics,” said Toshiba.

Toshiba hopes to develop the robot for a commercial launch but does not have a release date yet.

Robots That Can Taste

March 6th, 2008

tasting-robot.jpgAccording to a tasting robot created by NEC, we humans taste like prosciutto and bacon.  Originally built for wine tasting, this robot has an infrared spectrometer at the end of its left arm which fires off a beam of light when objects are placed in front of it. The light is then analyzed to determine the chemical composition of the object.  

When it is identifying a wine, it will tell you the type, brand, and what flavor it may have. At the moment it can only identify a few dozen wines though. It can also tell you if a food is too salty or fatty and if a fruit is ripe or not.

The discovery this robot made about how we taste was found during a media event when a reporter and cameraman placed their hands in front of the robot’s infrared light. The analysis came back that we taste like pork. Hopefully robots are vegetarian.

Hexbug

February 28th, 2008

hexbug.jpg

Most people wouldn’t like the idea of collecting arachnids but if they were robotic, colorful, and a great way for schools to raise money, you might change your mind. The HEXBUG is a robotic bug, which almost looks like a radioactive cockroach that is available in five different shapes and colors, is small enough to fit in your hand, and only cost about $10 each. It senses objects in its path with touch sensors and can hear as well. When you clap your hands or place something in its path it will turn the other way

One of the unique features of this micro-robotic insect is the school fundraising angle. The creator, Innovation First, has put in place an affordable, easy, and profitable way for schools to make money during the holiday season. Although most schools adhere to tried and true methods of fundraising, i.e. special wrapping paper or candy, the HEXBUG is a new way to get people interested in helping schools raise money.  The HEXBUG is also available here.

BIOLOID Robotic Kit

February 19th, 2008

bioloid.jpg

The BIOLOID from ROBOTIS are kits geared towards students at any level in robotic education, whether you want to learn the basics or you are taking a college course in robotic engineering. These kits are made up of cleverly designed interchangeable block-shaped parts and with these parts you can build robots in a variety of ways, such as humanoids, spiders, puppies, probes, turtles, dino, etc. All the kits come with BIOLOID Software which have behavioral and motion editor programming.

The different kits available are beginner where a 4 DOF (Degree of Freedom) robot can be built into a few basic shapes. This robot has simple motion and can avoid objects with its optical sensors. It can also be easily upgraded once you get the hang of robot building.

With the comprehensive kit, which is the next step up, you can build an 18 DOF robot. This kit contains the basics like the beginner kit but also has 12 additional robot examples. In the expert kit, you can build up to 26 different robots and it also includes a wireless camera, wireless communication module, and C level language example. In recent months we’ve seen life size androids, animal robots, fighting robots and everything in-between, it’s nice to see education as the main theme again.

Robot Built Homes

March 7th, 2007

Since we already have robots that can create common, every day things in a factory, it isn’t too hard to believe that robots could construct buildings. An engineering professor and inventor Behrokh Khoshnevis thinks he has created the robot that can build a home in about a day. Sounds too futuristic right?

Well Khoshnevis, who is also the director of the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies at the University of Southern California, has been working on the idea for about 10 years. He thinks the idea of robotic home building is simple, just a matter of having “the large-scale technology”, which is what he has been trying to fine tune. His idea is called Contour Crafting and the process is as simple as the name. A robot with one arm deposits a concrete mixture in a row, and then goes back over that first layer with another layer, rinse and repeat. Of course there is a computer giving the robot the blueprint.

Khoshnevis hopes to have a full scale building done by the fall of this year at the University of California, but only if he can create a large enough machine to support the weight and be exact enough to construct a stable structure.

The main purpose that the inventor sees for this type of robot is for affordable housing and maybe even for rebuilding after an earthquake or hurricane. “It is very early, but I think we see that it could change how at least some buildings are done in developing parts of the world and in remote sites where you don’t want to bring in a lot of outside material”.

Pleo the Robotic Dinosaur

February 27th, 2007

 

About a week ago I received word that Ugobe’s Pleo is available for pre-order from Trossen Robotics. The robotic dinosaur was available for a $345.95 and scheduled to ship in July of this year, a little later than originally thought. I say was because if you go to Trossen’s pre-order page you will come across a PR apology from Trossen and Ugobe. Apparently, Trossen Robotics “move too fast for their own good” and that there was a “hiccup in communication”. I guess Trossen Robotics is just as excited as the rest of us to get this little green guy out to the public.

For those of you that have missed the hype surrounding this dinosaur, the Pleo is a robotic dinosaur standing at only 6.82 inches that has soft rubbery skin (unlike the hard outer shell of current robotic pets) with about 35 sensors to make the pet adapt to changes in its environment. Created by the toymaker Caleb Chung, whose notoriety came from co-inventing the Furby back in the 90’s, the Pleo is geared to attract to those looking for a maintenance-free pet or just a fun toy.

Here are some of the specs:
- 32 bit Atmel ARM 7 microprocessor – The main processor for Pleo
- 16 bit sub processor – The processor dedicated to the camera system
- (4) 8 bit processors that provide the low-level motor control for the servos
- (35) Sensors including a camera custom designed to fit into Pleo’s very compact body.
- (4) foot-switches to detect footfalls and being picked up – assists with spatial orientation.
- (12) capacitive touch sensors (4) legs, (4) feet, back, shoulder, head, chin
- (2) microphones for directional sound detection
- (14) “Force” sensors, one per servo, to recognize abuse through force feedback joints.
- Orientation/tilt sensor
- IR transceiver for bidirectional data communication with other Pleos.
- IR interrupter for detection of objects in Pleo’s mouth
- (14) motors. Standard low voltage DC motors
- (150) gears and clutches
- Rechargeable NiMH battery pack
- USB port with mini USB connector
- SD/MMC memory card slot

Don’t worry about the pre-order mishap; Julie Crabill of Ugobe reassures us that the Pleo will still be on its way this summer

  • Robots