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.
Wiimote Controlled Murder Robot At first, I was sure this was fake, and one of these guys was going to die horribly. But now I'm not sure. If this isn't fake, it's coooooool. (via Gizmodo)
Karakuri automata are representative of the highest technology in the Edo period (1603 to 1867). Automata were also crafted hundreds of years ago in Europe: The Dulcimer Player by Pierre Kintzing , made in 1772; The Singing Lesson, created by Robert-Houdin; three androids by Jaquet-Droz; the Pooping Duck by Vaucanson (the first link at the top). Ancient robots. The first automaton was created by Al-Jazari: video of his clock. The history of automata [pdf]. Contemporary toy automata. [more inside]
An' all the hot cats on the block have been doing it too - c'mon now, honey, I wanna do it with you. Anyone hoping to build their own Death Probe without dismantling the vaccum cleaner or floor waxer can rejoice. The creators of Roomba and Scooba have released a barebones version. Add-on software from Microsoft is available, should more ambitious types decide to pair iRobot's tech with LEGO MindStorms pieces.
PARO: Seal Type Mental Commit Robot for Psychological Enrichment.
Dr. Rajesh Rao of the University of Washington has created a brain-computer interface that allows a human to control a small humanoid robot (video link) through brain activity alone.
Triton Sawfish - underwater forest logging with robots.
Bows and Arrows is an innovatively styled but bleak short movie. Don't make the same mistakes the Caretaker did! [via]
So, what is an "actroid"? It's an android actor, and you can rent one for $3500 for 5 days, to do presentations at shows or whatever else you want. They come in a number of configurations and wear a variety of costumes. The latest one, Actroid DER2, is shown on this page in several high quality stills and 3 WMVs (in Japanese; click thumbnails and links immediately below thumbnails). Why is she wearing a "Hello Kitty" T-shirt? Because she was created by Kokoro, a member company of the Sanrio Group, which also does the majority of "Hello Kitty" merchandising. So are they working on a robotic Hello Kitty? If you need me, I'll be hiding under my bed.
The small-sized fondling robot which is developed at the world-wide beginning. Its name is Azzang. I think it's a game of some kind, but it's hard to be sure. Brought to you by IZI Robotics. Via.
Sakupen is the online name of a musician/artist who made two of my favorite flash music animations (warning: first link goes to artist's myspace page w/audio). The first one, "Dad's Home" is a mayhem filled coffee buzz set to Cab Calloway's Reefer Man, and the second, "Walk, Smash, Walk" is about a robot whose job is to Walk and then Smash and then Walk some more. Wildly different styles, but both are captivating; large versions of both cartoons can be viewed here.
Cheap 1.7 million yen toy. When Keiko Nakamoto of the Ishikawa prefecture came across an old vinyl robot covered in a thick layer of dust, she had no idea that she had unearthed only the third known specimen of an item described by Tokyo toy dealers as "the most sought-after item in Japan." From ToyboxDX [toy robot goodness].
Cockroach Controlled Mobile Robots — Overview: an experimental mechanism that uses a living Madagascan hissing cockroach atop a modified trackball to control a three-wheeled robot. If the cockroach moves left, the robot moves left. Infrared sensors also provide navigation feedback to the cockroach, striving to create a pseudo-intelligent system with the cockroach as the CPU. Garnet Hertz, creator of Fly with Implanted Webserver and Cockroach with Wireless Video, has used Gromphadorhina portentosa on three generations of autonomous roachbots (YouTube video and Ars Electronica 2005 gallery).
RobotFilter: Korea Unveils World's Second Android (YouTube), China manufactures personal robot, Japan's domestic robot, Why the Japanese want their robots to act more like humans. Robot runs over water, robotic tentacle (mpeg), 'baby' robot learns like a human (avi 1,2), Pill-sized intenstinal robot, speedy robot, spider robots. Lego Unveils NXT Robotics Toolset, Lego robot plays Super Mario Bros, Connect Four, solves Rubik's Cube. Building an army of robots, Big Dog, (wmv), Robots break Asimov’s first law. [more inside]
Fomites, fomites everywhere. We all know that handwashing (or Purelling) is a great way to prevent the spread of nosocomial infections in hospital. But now that we know that stethoscopes, white coats, neckties, medical charts, and computer keyboards can all harbor harmful bacteria, what's a doctor to do? Two words: robot doctors.
RoombaFrogger. At SXSW, DIY hackers took an innocent Roomba, modded it and used it to play real-life Frogger on the streets of Austin.
Typing with your brain. A new device, picture d here, allows people to type with only their thoughts, though only slowly. Add this to the monkey-brain controlled robot arm (avi), and the soon-to-be commercially available BrainGate implant, [previously], and you've got, well, an interesting future...
A few years ago, Sam Brown of explodingdog.com started drawing red robots (including my personal favorite). Other people started drawing similar red robots, and Sam collected links to them. Back in 2001, I posted to MeFi about the phenomenon. Then I forgot about it. But the meme continued to expand. Now, if you do an images.google.com search for "red robot," you get dozens and dozens of Sam Brown bots. The bot also shows up on Flickr. He also comes in blue, green and pink. And perhaps some other flavors.