Ok, this is super cool AND fun. This guy, from the RoboSavvy forums, has rigged up a master-slave system, using potentiometers, to control a Kondo robot with his movements. It's amazing how smooth and effective it is.
That was the first thing when we saw this news - that researchers in the UK have received a grant to develop an "amorphous non-silicon biological robot" called a "plasmobot." The idea is that a specific type of slime mold could be used to create a completely biological robot (as in no components made of silicon.)
This has some far-reaching implications. Apparently, the mold can perform advanced "computing" functions like calculating routes and distance as well as the ability to move objects.
As someone interested in robotics, how do you feel about this technology? Are biological robots exciting or frightening?
The BEAR robot, which is being backed by the U.S. Army, is an impressively capable robot that is being developed to conduct search and rescue missions. Of course, the main benefit is that no more human lives are put at stake when a robot is doing the dirty work.
Especially amazing is its ability to traverse tricky terrain and lift heavy objects; of course, it need to be capable of lifting a human body. We're not sure if we'd be relieved or scared witless upon seeing this 'bot roving towards us with its hook-hands and alien-like face, though. What do you think? How do you think this robot could be changed to make it more welcome and friendly looking, perhaps to calm those in a traumatic situation when being rescued?
We at RoboCommunity find this hovering robotic flying spy to be simply amazing. This little marvel was designed by a U.S./German robotics team to win an automation contest. It can fly unmanned, and map its locale as well as take images of designated objects.
Using four rotors, it's amazingly stable, maneuverable, and nimble - and the mapping software is pretty slick, too. Check out the video and click the link below for the full article, but before you do, please comment - would you like to see an aerial telepresence robot for the home, i.e., a consumer grade model?
Personally, we'd love to see an aerial Rovio! The challenges of making such a product priced appropriately for the consumer market might be difficult now, but what about in a few years?
Yeah, we're all too lazy to cook sometimes. It seems like everything is being done for us these days, why not let robots cook for us, too? I don't mean just pop stuff in the microwave, but actually zip around the kitchen, using highly articulated arms to operate all appliances and gadgets?
Well, this proposed design for a "Butl-R-Bot" would do just that. Ok, so it doesn't look anything like your favorite female chef, but it sure can whip up a mean souffle. Sadly, these aren't a reality (just a design concept) but we could see it in a future life. What kind of features would you like to see out of a robotic chef, other than not burning your toast?
The Cybraphon is a whole lot more than just a music box... it's a robot with a need to be loved on the Internet. This crazy cabinet was crafted by a trio of artists based in the United Kingdom, and contains not only antique instruments but the retro-fitted servos and solenoids used to play or strike them, as well as the "brains" of the operation, a MacBook Pro and some Arduino boards.
It's hard to ignore the creative juice and extensive knowledge of robots and programming that must have gone into this wondrous auditory experiment. Check it out for yourself!
Ok, so we'll admit that we fell in love with this little guy right away. It seems like he's designed to roam around until he detects an object in front of him, then he bangs out his own drum solo on said object.
We're more than just a little guilty of getting hooked on his catchy solos, and we think you will too. Check out the video!
Is anyone else just a little creeped out by Carnegie Mellon's robotic snakes? These nasty buggers look like they can get into just about anything, anywhere.
We're seriously wondering how loud the servos are on these bots. It would be scary if they were silent, enabling these bots to crawl around unnoticed.
What? A real life Wall-E picking up trash on our streets? Yep, that's exactly what the "DustBot" research program in Italy is all about. Wired reports that this $3.9 million dollar project is desiged to "improve urban hygiene."
The robot can pick up unwanted garbage right from citizen's doorsteps and even monitor the atmosphere for pollution. It comes equipped with maps of the locales it will be operating in and even has sensors to detect obstacles to avoid. It's still in a "prototype" state, but might be coming soon.
What do you think? Would you be cool with a robotic butler patrolling the streets? Do you think it's a magnet for graffiti artists and vandals? A good spend of your tax dollars or a complete waste?
Robot craftsmen James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau, of the Royal College of Art in London, believe that robots should be as seamlessly integrated into your living space as any other piece of furniture or adornment. Thus, they have created "robot furniture," that go a step beyond merely having simple functions, and power themselves on trapped vermin, such as houseflies.
There are five different models, ranging from a fly-gobbling lamp, a mouse-nibbling table, and a flypaper-enabled wall clock. The robots "digest" the pesky vermin, and the resulting chemical reaction enables the robots to power themselves. The lamp, pictured below, mimics nature's meat-eating plants by activating only at night.
Rather than consuming extra power to put out a bug zapper or an energy gobbling porch light, why not save energy and control pests with one of these lamps? What do you think of these revolutionary robots? Innovative and green, or cruel to flies?
Truthfully, though, wouldn't it be cool if robots could actually transform and adapt to their environments? Of course, scientists have already pondered this concept and built some Transformers of their own. Given, they don't talk like surfer dudes or transform into Ferraris, but they're still pretty cool and a great start.
USC's Superbot is comprised of a number of smallish modules that fit together to form the whole robot. Right now, the Superbot can create 3 different shapes, either with 2, 4, or 6 legs. The eventual hope is that robots such as this will be able to decide autonomously which shape works best for each given situation, and morph accordingly.
We always love to hear about how robotics are helping people improve the quality of their lives - right now, the roboticists at the University of Zaragoza in Spain are doing just that.
They're currently developing an amazing robotic wheelchair that can be controlled with your thought alone - no joystick, no keyboard, just your brain! The chair employs a system of lasers to scan its surroundings and create a 3D map from which the chair's operator can select a destination.
All the operator has to do is focus on a given destination, and the chair, through an electrode-monitoring system, will detect this and move to that destination. A study was showed off at the International Robotics and Automation Conference in May - where volunteers were able to get the feel for the chair in about 45 minutes - showing how incredibly usable it was.
This may not seem like a big deal - but just because this robot isn't firing rockets, transforming into a Ferrari, or climbing up walls doesn't mean that it isn't a significant step forward in the world of robotics.
There's a company based in Silicon Valley called Willow Garage, which was started by one of the original designers of the Google search engine, Scott Hassan. Willow Garage has been developing the robot you see above, called PR2. PR2 runs off of a series of Intel processors and employs a system of sensors and lasers to detect where it is going.
What is truly impressive about PR2 is its ability to consistently navigate its way through multiple rooms and plug itself in to a wall socket to refuel. It's smart enough to realize when it cannot plug in and will move to the next room in an effort to sustain itself.
The RoboReporter just caught wind of Mr. Asahi... a fabulous libation-dispensing robotic servant. He recently stopped by Cardiff in Wales in the UK as part of his ongoing tour, pouring sample drinks for customers and schmoozing the crowd.
There's some debate over whether Mr. Asahi is the FIRST robotic bartender ever made, of course Perhaps the ancient "Robotender" holds that honor... but it looks more like a construction crane to me. And besides, it doesn't look like Robotender can even crack a beer, knocking it down a few notches in my book!
So, what do you think? Would you be OK with a robot bartender, or would it creep you out a little?
You heard me correctly... the robot bagpiper! We've heard of robots doing lots of crazy, innovative, and dare we say even useful things... but McBlare takes the cake.
Students at Carnegie Mellon University programmed this tooting treasure back in 2006, and ti can be programmed to play a variety of tunes... including many that are virtually impossible for a human to play.
For more details and to hear what McBlare sounds like... click here!
We never cease to be amazed by robots as advanced as the ones built from the Kondo kits, available in Japan. Recently, Akihabara was abuzz with news of the Kondo bot battles; competitions designed to weed out the best of the best.
Each robot entered was built with its own unique style. Particularly impressive are the array of fighting methodsdisplayed in the various fights - some robots punched or kicked, others pushed - there was even a model that was completely autonomous.
If you'd like to host your own manga-inspired battle, the price of entry is a bit steep - prices for these robots are well over $1,000 USD, not including the time needed to develop and build your own unique creation!
Yup, you heard that right... Israeli scientists are developing just that. See, rather than dumping a heavy, metal robot into the great blue and making an inelegant splash, a robotic octopus could squiggle through tight areas and move much more stealthily.
They are attempting to replicate the smooth, flowing muscle structure of an octopus using advanced robotics, and plan on having a life-like, fully operating model once completed.
Read more about this amazing project at Israel21.
How cool is this? The Readybot research group has created a "semi" autonomous cleaning robot, using cloud-based software it calls CRCC, or "Cloud Robotics Collaborative Control." Below, you see one of the diligent taskmasters watering a plant.
When the robot is asked to do something it perceives as too difficult for it to handle, it will signal a human operator to take over... and use a "video-game" like interface to control the bot.
Is the future of mobile robotics, folks? What do you think?
For the full details on this technology, head on over to Technology Review.
I finally acquired a pair of iSOBOTs, the little humanoid robot from Tomy. iSOBOT is driven by 17 servos and is able to do a number of fairly sophisticated moves including kicks and punches, hand stands, and more. These guys are fun to play with, and don't require a whole lot of floor space (they can walk, but kind of slowly, so moving more than about 2 feet is an excercise in patience).
There are a few resources for iSOBOTs on the web; the official site is www.isobotrobot.com but seems to be a work in progress. More info and links can also be found at RobotsDreams.com. I'll be sure to document the innards when I get to the point of dissecting one; so far I have only taken apart one of the hands (which is posable but not powered, and kind of weirdly designed so as not to be able to hold anything.)