A robot made out of Lego bricks that solves a Rubik's cube. Video of the robot in action. Includes full blueprints for building and source code.
The Waseda Talker has been turning heads (har har) lately. It's a mechanical simulation of the human vocal tract, from the motion of its synthetic lips down to the hypnotic undulation of its rubbery vocal folds (compare the genuine article here). Think this is new? Well, these days we do most of this stuff electronically — but talking simulacra have a long and weird history, starting back when electronic synthesizers were just a pipe dream. Here's a talking pair of bellows from 1791, and a head you can play like a trumpet as recently as 1937. The granddaddy of 'em all are the Kratzenstein resonators (not Frankenstein, Kratzenstein!) from 1779. Make your own with pipe insulation and a duck call.
Military equipment drawn as anime girls. Probably SFW, but good luck explaining it to the boss. Wikipedia explains.
"The common point of all my characters is that they aren’t nice, [they’re] either nasty or mean. They all have a personality with good and bad sides." Olivier Bucheron creates striking alien and robot meanies. Zamak.... (some images mildly nsfw)
Self-assembling robot. A self-assembling chair. A swarm of robots attempting to assemble. (All you-tube links.)
"Double-Taker (Snout)" by Golan Levin with Lawrence Hayhurst, Steven Benders and Fannie White "...deals in a whimsical manner with the themes of trans-species eye contact, gestural choreography, subjecthood, and autonomous surveillance. The project consists of an eight-foot (2.5m) long industrial robot arm, costumed to resemble an enormous inchworm or elephant's trunk, which responds in unexpected ways to the presence and movements of people in its vicinity...." Googly Eyebot. (via) [more inside]
David Byrne writes three thoughtful essays on robots, song, and the uncanny valley on the occasion of the creation of a robot which sings in his voice at a Madrid museum: Visiting the robot factory in Texas, regarding the uncanny valley, on machines and souls.
The iC hexapod is a robot built by Matt Denton which tracks and photographs human faces then uploads the images to a website. It was one of the featured pieces at the recent Monster Mash FX exhibit in London.
Continuing the miniaturization of earlier designs, researchers at the Technical University of Delft have created a very tiny ornithopter which carries a one half gram video camera. The DelFly micro. [more inside]
"What we've invented is a way to induce charges on the wall using a power supply located on the robot....The robot carries with it positive and negative charges, and when the walls sees these charges it automatically generates the opposite charge. The robot can then clamp onto those charges." Scientists have robots climbing the walls.
Philips brings us the future of shaving.
Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon have demonstrated that a monkey can control a robotic arm with its brain when food is used as a reward.
The uncanny valley just got deeper. "Treat yourself to the perfect woman."
Meet Joules the climate change-sceptic robot. Joules is employed to teach 8-14 year-old school children in the UK about energy use. Joules says: "oil and gas could be in short supply in about 50 years time. The earth is believed to be getting warmer and sea levels apper to be rising. Energy Chest is funded in part by the world's biggest oil company: ExxonMobil. [more inside]
If you are reading this post on a computer attached to the Internet, you can thank Claude Shannon (1916-2001). It was his work, starting with A Mathematical Theory of Communication, that first enabled humans to extract digital perfection from the analog world by creating the field of Information Theory. Like most computer nerds of his day, who often had to program their computers by moving wires around or even mechanical linkages, he was also an electronics and mechanical whiz who could create a juggling robot and The Ultimate Machine.
In Vestimentis Ursum. Designer Matt Kirkland peels off the fur of mechanized stuffed animals to take a look at the robots lurking within.
Putting up a sentry! Commercially available paintball sentry guns. Optional extras include a VR heads up display. If $1399 is too much you could build your own. Watch out for spies! Previously (and slightly more lethally)
Welcome to the decade of space robotics. Jules Verne, Europe's shiny new automated transport vehicle, docked with the International Space Station today, where Canada's Dextre is flexing her circuits after moving in last month. Meanwhile, the Cadillac of Mars rovers, JPL's humbly named Mars Science Laboratory, is prepping for a fall 2009 journey to the red planet. Are we witnessing the beginning of the symbiotic relationship between robots and humans in space?
Inspired by this earlier post, I thought it was time to formally introduce people to Rocky's Boots. [more inside]
Amazing video of BigDog. Described by its developer, Boston Dynamics, as "The Most Advanced Quadruped Robot on Earth."
Phoenix is sort of a robotic spider, except for the minor detail of only having six legs. It's self-contained, and remotely controlled using Bluetooth. The movements are calculated using an Excel spreadsheet, and it moves beautifully. (via)
Many business owners have struggled with crime in their communities and the impact that can have on their business- but when the police have their hands full, sometimes your complaints just fall through the cracks. One Atlanta bar owner has taken matters into his own hands by building a crime-fighting vigilante robot.
"So, at our meeting earlier, you suggested building a robot. Is that something we can really do?" [more inside]
Real robot drama is happening on Mars today. Spirit, racing for her life to find shelter before winter, injured and underpowered after four years of hard labor, may have made her most significant find yet. The broken foot she's dragged behind her for the past two years unexpectedly uncovered evidence of a once-wet Mars with conditions theoretically hospitable for primitive life.
Remember that X-files episode? The one with the robot cockroaches from outer space? Well, scientists in Belgium have created robots that act like cockroaches, and are accepted by the real cockroaches because they smell sexy to them. Better yet, the scientists were able to use the robots to change how the cockroaches behaved. [more inside]
Perhaps you'll recall DARPA's Grand Challenge where autonomous vehicles competed in a off-road race but most barely made it off the starting blocks? And Grand Challenge 2 where they did the same thing more successfully and also filmed a NOVA special?. Well, they are doing it again, on city streets this time. [more inside]
You've never heard a box of Stoned Wheat Thins, a big tub of Necco, a little wooden frog, a Tupperware bucket, an empty jar and a theremin sound this good. It's Crazy. No, really, it's Crazy. [more inside]
The Waseda-Docomo face robot No. 2 is a 3D robotic model of a human face with 56 degrees of freedom. It can mimic any human face with an average accuracy of 3.5mm. Watching it in action is kind of creepy. [via Make]
Hatsune Miku is the latest singing sensation to sweep Japan. No, she's not a new idol singer, she's Yamaha's Vocaloid2 software simulating the voice of vocalist Saki Fujita. Currently a #2 seller on Amazon, even at the cost of 15750 yen (about $137). But you don't need to buy the software to appreciate it. Check out Ievan Polka, Fly Me to the Moon, the theme from Princess Mononoke, and more!
Keepon, the bot that bounces to the rhythm! "[It] is a small creature-like robot with a soft rubber skin, two cameras in its eyes, and a microphone in its nose. Keepon is designed to interact with children by communicating attention and emotion. It has four degrees of freedom: attention is directed by turning +/-180° and nodding +/-40°, while emotion is expressed by rocking side-to-side +/-25° and bobbing up to 15mm:"
The first armed robots have hit the streets of Iraq and are now hunting evil-doers with high-powered M249 machine guns. The robots are called SWORDS, which stands for "Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System". Army focus groups apparently preferred this acronym over the more obvious PUBE (Predatory Unmanned Battle Engine). The robots are currently being piloted through the streets of Bagdad using remote control. According to an interview on CNET with Chief Army Scientist Thomas Killion however, the army soon plans to make the killing machines fully automatic.
It seems that this gentleman bought a set of musical robots from the defunct Showbiz Pizza restaurant chain. This gent has been reprogramming the robots to sing recent hit songs, rather than the '60s Motown hits they sang originally. He then takes video of these performances, and posts it on YouTube. I guarantee this version of Evanescence's "Lithium" will haunt your dreams (or, perhaps, make you hurl).
Miniature Robotic Insect Takes Off Researchers have created a miniature robotic fly that weighs just 60 milligrams and has a wingspan of three centimeters for covert surveillance. Thats progress!
Clones, Robots and Second-Life... Having solved all other crimes, the Australian Federal Police Commissioner gave us a trifecta of the scary earlier this week. I'd have posted it before but I was waiting for some statement that it was all a fake. Boingboing has it so it must be true! (Caution: lolcats).
New surgical robots are not only capable of working more precisely than human hands, but they have no metal or electrical parts, so will work under MRI machines on tumors that would otherwise be invisible. The NeuroArm will set you back $27 million, but may confer more karma than that trip to space.
More companion robots! Another in a series (see PARO, previously) of healing toys for Japan's rapidly greying population, Yumel the Healing Partner from Tomy. Like some kind of unholy cross between a Cabbage Patch Kid and Teddy Ruxpin, you can see a promotional clip of the doll here, or read a list of translated stock phrases (thank you Harper's). Also, an interesting article from the Economist about WHY the Japanese love robots so. (Hint: it's Shinto)
Can a Bunny be your friend? Move over Tamagotchi, Move over Elmo. He can talk, smell and has a bellybutton. Strange, but kind of cool...unless they turn into this.