Saturday, April 30, 2005

Qrio - Nursery School Retard?

Robot attends nursery school in California - World -

A humanoid robot developed by a Sony Corp subsidiary has been attending a nursery school in California since March to play with children up to 2 years of age.

The experiment is hoped to help develop a robot that can "live in harmony with humans in the future".

Sony Intelligence Dynamics Laboratories Inc's Qrio robot spends time each day with more than 10 toddlers at the nursery school located in San Diego.

While the children were at first apprehensive about the automatically moving Qrio, they became fully used to it in about a month, according to Sony Intelligence.
They now dance with Qrio and help it get up when it falls.

"It seems (the children) think of (Qrio) as a feeble younger brother," Tanaka said.

Disturbing the class?

Based on observations over the past month, Tanaka said he believes a robot needs to have two contradictory functions to be able to live in harmony with humans - one for making "timely responses to human approaches" and the other for showing "unexpected, accidental moves".

He said a robot should have the two functions in a well-balanced manner.

- Kyodo

Robot attends nursery school in California - World -

Robots To Survey Moon Before Colonists

Prospecting for Lunar Water

Whether a moonbase will turn out to be feasible hinges largely on the question of water. Colonists need water to drink. They need water to grow plants. They can also break water apart to make air (oxygen) and rocket fuel (oxygen+hydrogen). Furthermore, water is surprisingly effective at blocking space radiation. Surrounding the 'base with a few feet of water would help protect explorers from solar flares and cosmic rays.

Colonists arriving on moon

To find out if lunar ice is truly there, NASA plans to send a robotic scout. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or "LRO" for short, is scheduled to launch in 2008 and to orbit the Moon for a year or more. Carrying six different scientific instruments, LRO will map the lunar environment in greater detail than ever before.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

"This is the first in a string of missions," says Gordon Chin, project scientist for LRO at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "More robots will follow, about one per year, leading up to manned flight" no later than 2020.

Prospecting for Lunar Water


Thursday, April 28, 2005


verbatim from

Rome-based Alenia Aeronautica is aiming "to fly its new Sky-X unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) technology demonstrator by the end of May," according to C4ISR Journal. "The 7-meter-long demonstrator — which has a wingspan of 6 meters, takeoff weight of 1,100 kilograms and maximum speed of 800 kilometers per hour — will undergo flight trials at Sweden’s Vidsel military test range."

The $43 million + drone is a technology demonstrator, mostly -- a test-bed to see how many decisions the plane can make on its own in midair.

Presumably, Sky-X's new-found smarts will be used to educate the larger, $360 million, pan-European UCAV that's in the works. France's Dassault Aviation is teaming up with Alenia, Saab, and a whole mess of other Continental defense contractors to build the Neuron killer drone.

In early sketches, the Neuron looks a whole lot like the X-47 UCAV that Northrop is developing for the U.S. Navy. But the Neuron might wind up being way meaner than its American counterpart. According this website -- and take this unconfirmed report with a giant rucksack full of salt -- "the aircraft may have... the eventual ability to launch nuclear warheads."

Robots with nukes? Tres mal, if you ask me. A prototype Neuron is supposed to take off from European runways starting in 2009.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Asimo Silent About Rumors

Superstar Asimo remained suspiciously silent over rumors that he has been seen traveling in Europe with German sex-doll Andy.

The robot sex doll Andy has also been curiously out of pocket while the rumors build.
Andy’s developer, Micheal Harriman, in Nuremburg was quoted in Ananova as saying Andy is “just like in real life.” But he did not say whether that life includes midnight rendezvous’ with Asimo.

Asimo seen downloading digits for adoring groupie

So far, none of the lurid pictures of Andy peppered around the web show her paired up with anyone.

It has not been confirmed, but reported, that up-and-coming star Toyota Partner was overheard casting doubt over Asimo’s reported trysts with Andy.
Partner reportedly commented that Andy might not be interested in a unit of Asimo’s age and lack of skills.

Toyota Partner. Better skills?

Others have reported that, after recent upgrades, Andy would not be disappointed at all with Asimo’s skill set.

Check back here for more juicy details as they develop.

Robotic Augmentation Helps Stroke Survivors

Robotic Arm Could Help Stroke Survivors Regain Range of Motion

RLINGTON, Va., April 25, 2005 -- A robotic arm that can be worn at home is being developed to help stroke survivors regain the ability to reach and grasp objects and perform basic tasks such as feed themselves.

The device, built by a research team, led by biomedical engineer Jiping He, Ph.D., and his colleagues at Arizona State University and Kinetic Muscles, Inc., a start up biotech company, can also assess the effectiveness of the physical therapy so adjustments can be made to the regimen if necessary. He will present a paper on the robotic arm this summer at the 9th International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics in Chicago.


"This device is intended to provide cost-effective therapy to a wider population for a longer period of time for maximum recovery of motor function," He said of the device, dubbed RUPERT I, for Robotic Upper Extremity Repetitive Therapy.

RUPERT I is powered by four pneumatic muscles and is movable at the shoulder, elbow and wrist. The design was based on a kinematics model of the arm, which showed where to locate the pneumatic muscles and how much force was needed for normal reaching and feeding movements. The mechanical arm is adjustable to accommodate different arm lengths and body sizes.

The Whitaker Foundation: Robotic Therapy Device for Stroke Recovery

Robot clash reveals cultural divide

This is an interesting observation by BBC news:

It takes a lot of human sweat and toil to get robot athletes ready for Olympic-class competition, as Clark Boyd found out at the first international Robolympics in San Francisco at the weekend.

The robo-athletes in San Francisco came in all shapes and sizes. And they came from 11 different nations, including Japan, Germany and Canada.

The competitions seemed to break down along cultural lines. The Japanese robots reigned supreme when it came to sumo-wrestling, while the European teams showed off their skills on the football pitch.

As for the American machines, they specialised in demolishing the living hell out of each other in one-on-one robot combat.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Robot clash reveals cultural divide

Monday, April 25, 2005

ORPP - The Open Robotics Peripheral Platform

Project Objective

The Open Robotics Peripheral Platform's goal is to provide a versatile platform for many different robotic applications. Until now the basic platforms for robots have been either toys with little practical application or expensive, overly customized components. The goal of this project is to provide modular components that are easily outfitted with various hardware and software features in the same manner as the modern-day personal computer. Any novice computer technician could control, outfit, and maintain a O.R.P.P.

All the software is open-source, covered under the GPL. This means customizing a robot to your exact needs need not be done by any one particular consultant or technician. Diagrams and schematics for components are provided so that you can create and design features that may not currently be available.

This is just a start.
Click here for more...

ORPP - The Open Robotics
Peripheral Platform

Japanese Robots to Mine Moon?

Robots in space the next frontier

By ISAO ISHIDA, The Asahi Shimbun

JAXA envisages robots digging for resources on the moon.

Within two decades, a Japanese space shuttle will blast off with astronauts working alongside robots to make Japan a brand name in space.

The JAXA long-range vision includes astronauts using robots to probe for resources, conduct research and beam lectures back to Earth-bound students. They would travel in a reusable space vehicle.

irst, JAXA must convince the government bean counters that the blueprint space project will be worth the estimated 250 billion yen to 280 billion yen [US $ 2.5 Billion] annually over the next decade.

Today, the agency operates on an annual budget of 180 billion yen [US $ 1.5 billion]. The number of space industry workers has also fallen in recent years, from about 10,000 in fiscal 1995, to around 6,000 in fiscal 2003.

An unmanned orbital transfer vehicle called the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), now in development, is set to launch in fiscal 2008. It will deliver materials to the International Space Station
JAXA hopes to make the most of Japan's advanced robotic and artificial intelligence technology already developed.

In space, man and robot will work together, giving the programs a ``distinctively Japanese trademark,'' says a JAXA official. Deep probes for natural resources on the moon or space-beamed science lectures are part of the vision.

JAXA's vision comes as an embodiment of a basic space development and utilization strategy that the Cabinet Office's Council for Science and Technology Policy released in September. The strategy said Japan should ``prepare for independent human space exploration in 20 to 30 years.'' in space the next frontier�-�ENGLISH

Robots Cooperate for Social Good

Robotic leader makes for good teamwork
Philip Ball
When two robots arrive at a doorway, who should go first?

Robots are terribly polite these days. When two vehicles developed by a Canadian robotics firm arrive at a narrow door at the same time, they have a friendly way to decide who should pass through first.

The key is to use a team of robots with an elected leader who makes decisions that are best for the group as a whole. Representatives from the Ottawa-based company Frontline Robotics, who will present their polite robots at the RoboBusiness robotics conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, this May, say their software should be ideal for a variety of military and civilian applications.

Many researchers are seeking to develop robots that work in packs, coordinating their actions in response to one another. This way of working, called distributed intelligence, resembles the way that social insects such as ants or bees collaborate in foraging or nest building.

It has been shown that such groups can evolve problem-solving strategies that are more efficient than those in which each robot acts independently.

But the robots in such groups usually don't make decisions; they simply respond in a programmed way to a set of input signals. The collaboration between Frontline's robots is different: two robots facing a doorway have to be slightly more flexible.

Who goes first

Frontline's software, called Robotic Open Control (ROC), operates by first allowing the robots to elect a leader. At potential 'choke' points such as a narrow door, the leader is called upon to make decisions.

Each robot applies to the leader for permission to pass through the door, and, by sifting through a prescribed set of rules, the leader decides to award a pass token to one robot by radio signal, allowing it to move forwards. If the leader is somehow put out of action, the team elects another.

The tricky bit is ensuring that the rules about who should go first actually narrow down one winner in each case. The software has been designed to ensure that "progress toward objectives is guaranteed" and that the robots don't get stuck in conflicting reasoning cycles.

Wheelie smart

For the moment, Frontline has put their software into commercially available, four-wheeled rover vehicles, making what they call unmanned ground units or GRUNTs.

Grunts on patrol

At just over a 2 metres long and weighing 450 kilograms, GRUNTs can reach speeds of 30 kilometres per hour and can spin on the spot twice in one second. They are fitted with radio communication systems, all-around imaging cameras, night-vision sensors, radar, and navigation that uses the Global Positioning System (GPS).

news @�-�Robotic leader makes for good teamwork �-�When two robots arrive at a doorway, who should go first?

Minsky Doubts Robots Will Be Miners Soon

MIT Media Lab artificial intelligence guru Marvin Minsky thinks it will be decades before robots are ready to take on mining tasks....

Automated mining still a dream
By Denis St. Pierre - Sudbury Star

SUDBURY, Ont. (CP) -- The use of artificial intelligence to create truly-automated machines remains decades away, an expert on the subject told a mining conference Monday.

"Why can't we make a machine that's a miner?" Marvin Minsky said in his address to the International Symposium on Mine Mechanization and Automation and Telemin 1 Conference at Laurentian University.

"We can make these big, powerful machines...but we cannot get the complete automation we'd like to get," said Minsky.

New approaches and greater resources are needed to develop computerized machines that can mimic the human capacity for common sense reasoning, he said.

"It's certainly possible," Minsky said. But in terms of when that will happen, he added, "my forecast is gloomy. There isn't anything in the laboratory right now that is very promising."

Governments must play a larger role in research and development if a breakthrough is to be made in artificial intelligence, he said.

"Stockholders won't allow their companies to invest in something that doesn't pay off in 10 years. Companies are financially incapable of doing basic research, so it's governments' job."

While artificial intelligence remains out of the question, research into remote controlled mining machines, or telemining, has paid dividends at Inco, a company executive told conference delegates.

"Work we have done on our research mine shows that return on investment improvements of up to 50 percentage points are achievable using telemining mining techniques," said Peter Jones, Inco's executive vice-president, operations.

With automated, tele-operated machines such as drilling and mucking units, "we are generally seeing lower labour costs, higher productivity and better maintenance," Jones said.

Automated equipment costs more and requires "considerable infrastructure cost," Jones noted.

"On a unit basis, this is likely to be some 25 to 30 per cent more expensive than a conventional machine," he said. "But there is every indication that this is more than compensated by higher productivity, lower unit production costs and, significantly, fewer total pieces of equipment."

Increased automation will allow Inco to develop deeper ore bodies and possibly lower-grade ore that currently cannot be mined economically, Jones said.

It also will mean a continued downsizing of Inco's workforce, he said, although he would not predict at what rate the workforce will be cut in coming years.

"You will see a change in the workforce, to where it becomes more technology-oriented."

A greater focus on automation is imperative to the survival of resource companies like Inco, said Fraser Mustard of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

While that means fewer mining jobs in Sudbury, "the question is, how does Sudbury capture new opportunities," Mustard said.

CANOE -- CNEWS - Tech News: Automated mining still a dream

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Asimo Promotes Robot Agenda

Honda's Asimo (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) travels to schools to encourage human students to study science and engineering.
After seeing Asimo's presentation, students show a marked increase in interest in robot science.

Asimo visits schools

We met ASIMO the robot!

Robot plays golf

This golf playing robot is from Nirvana Technology, Inc of Japan who last year began selling a Robot that does TaiChi. Their Japanese language website does not have any pictures of the golf robot yet so here are a few TaiChi moves.

TaiChi Robot

A JAPANESE COMPANY has developed a robot which can play golf.

While we thought it was only robots who played golf anyway, it seems, according to today's Nihon Keizai Shimbun that Nirvana Technology is making another kind of automaton that can shuttle around the environmental deserts that are golf courses.

What's the handicap? Golfers are likely to be teed off that the robot - intended to be a caddy substitute - moves around on wheels, and so will be a tad hampered by bunkers.

But, on the bright side, it has a camera which compares the position of a ball on a green, and can also find the hole. The robot can also hit the ball towards the hole.

The tee caddy, said the report, will be improved so it can help humanoids with their famous "games". µ

Robot plays golf

Robot Chair to Assist Elderly

From Discovery Channel News:
Robot Technology Creates Easy Chair
By Tracy Staedter, Discovery News

pril 21, 2005 — A new chair may help keep elderly people happy, healthy and active.

The SenseChair prototype, developed by a team of researchers and designers at Carnegie Mellon University, uses robotic technology to monitor the sitter's behavior and respond accordingly.

Research on the SenseChair started with a two-year study that identified 55 opportunities for using technology in the home.

The team was comprised of people from a range of disciplines, including social scientists, production and interactive designers, and mechanical and software engineers.

Using expertise from their own fields, in addition to feedback collected from focus groups, the team created a high-tech product that didn't intimidate seniors.


"We feel that for elders, who are our first audience, the metal man is probably not the right model," said assistant professor of design and human-computer interaction Jodi Forlizzi, who heads the SenseChair team.

The result is a therapeutic chair that looks like something out of a design catalog.

The shape is contemporary and the fabric is cheery and modern. But imbedded within are sensors, motors, sounds, lights and computer and wireless technology that keep track of the senior's habits and react when something happens out of the ordinary.

For example, 12 sensors in the chair identify vital signs, sleep patterns and the person's normal level of activity.

If the senior stays in one position too long, any of the 14 motors located throughout the chair will gently rouse the elder to shift positions.

Sounds such as voice or music can be programmed to wake the person from a nap. And if the senior awakes during the evening, eight lights beneath the chair help illuminate the way.

Ideally, the chair would be part of an electronic network in an elder care community, and could alert caregivers or even medical personnel if a vital sign or normal activity pattern fell below normal.

This summer, the team will be conducting in-home trials to put the chair and their collaborative approach to test.

The chair not only represents a new way of assisting an aging population, but is one example of the university's effort to integrate style and technology into a product that also connects with values.

"If engineers would have designed it, it probably would have looked like an electric chair," said Craig Vogel, director of the center for Design Research and Innovation at the University of Cincinnati.

According to Vogel, robotics research at many universities still tends to be rooted in technology and not design. Engineers first develop a technological solution to some problem and then the designers come in later to retrofit it as a product.

Discovery Channel :: News :: Robot Technology Creates Easy Chair

Make your own Android Head

This website from hackaday

Make an human android head with eyes that see and follow.


Looks like a fun rainy afternoon project... well maybe a fun rainy season project.

moving eyes

How to Build a Computerized Android Robot Head for $600.00.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Fashion Model Spy Robot

This from wired head weblog

robot model

A Japanese firm, Flower Robotics, has developed a mannequin robot that can strike a pose for customers - and spy on who they are and what they're buying.

"Mannequins have been static but this will pose for the nearest person by sensing his or her position," robot designer Tatsuya Matsui told a news conference. The robot would be able to judge the age and sex of shoppers and even identify the bags they are carrying and pass along the information to stores for marketing purposes.

Fuzzy Pet Robot Companions

Purr. Whirr. (
By Linton Weeks
Washington Post Staff Writer

Alexander Libin softly strokes the orange-cream fur of NeCoRo -- a semi-realistic cat-robot packed with visual, auditory and movement-sensitive sensors and weighing 3.5 pounds -- while his wife, Elena, serves tea and cookies.

"She's like a real pet," Alex says. He's petting a tabby nicknamed Cleo and, by gosh, it does look like a cat, or some come-alive stuffed animal from a high-end horror movie. It is much more lifelike than Sony's Erector-Set-like robo-dog, Aibo.


Cleo lounges on the dining table, stretches its paws, arches its back, twitches its tail, opens and shuts its eyes. When it turns its neck you can hear a creepy mechanical whirring sound: reh-uh-reh, reh-uh-reh.

elf-described robo-therapists and affiliated faculty members at Georgetown University, the Libins believe in the restorative value of animal companions. The catbot, they explain, is easier for many people -- the elderly, the allergy-stricken, the autistic and disabled children and adults -- to relate to than a real cat. Developed by Omron Corp. of Japan, the mecho-pets are not yet available in the United States, Libin says.

They do not have to be fed or cleaned up after. Other variations -- a teddy bear and a baby seal -- are in development at other labs, and some people believe robotic pets of all kind will be omnipresent in the near future.

Cleo meows obnoxiously and occasionally hisses unless you touch it a certain way, tripping special sensors, and then it closes its eyes, relaxes and purrs or mews contentedly. "She just got back from a conference where she met 50 people," Elena says, talking about the catbot.

"That makes Cleo a little nervous," Alex says.

"I'm not scared of the robots," says Alex as he pets Cleo. "I'm scared of the people."

[see Washington post for complete story. Try if registration is required]

Purr. Whirr. (

Snakebot Roundup!

Gallery of snake robots at

R7[1] - early robotic snake
Ames Gen 2 Snakebot heads for Mars?
British 'Serpentine Spy' wriggles with shape-memory alloy
Polybot-Based Snakebot Locomotion Study
OmniTread: snakebot with treads
(Also here)

Snakebot Roundup!: Science Fiction in the News

filmaking robot dreams in 20 dimensions

A filmmaking robot

This robot makes short films based on its visual experience. Its eyes travel about the city on buses while the body sits in a gallery. The eyes collect snippets of video, and transmit them to the body when their buses come within range of a Cafenet wireless internet node. The robot body splits the video into individual frames and analyses each one, obtaining twenty numbers reflecting the arrangement of colour, shape and detail within the frame. These numbers are treated as coordinates in a twenty dimensional space, in which distance is somewhat related to visual difference. For twelve hours a day the robot traces a zigzagging path through this space. This path passes through a series of images, which become a video sequence.

Visitors to the gallery can see this video, called variously the robot's "dream" or "stream of consciousness". At the end of the day the robot looks over its days work and joins the best parts together as a finished film.
In addition to getting images from the eyes, the robot creates false memories by combining and manipulating well-liked and overused images.

The robot develops false memories of things it has not seen. It dwells upon the images it thinks are good or unique, and combines and distorts these to create new images. It reproduces the good images to improve the overall quality of its memory, and the unique ones to fill up sparsely populated patches in its memory space. Images in these holes tend to be chosen whenever the robot's mind wanders that way, resulting in overused motifs. By making imperfect copies of these images, the robot tries to fill holes in its memory space, allowing freer drift of attention.

A filmmaking robot

Smaller smallest nanobats walking

New Scientist Breaking News - DNA robot takes its first steps
Jenny Hogan, Boston

A microscopic biped with legs just 10 nanometres long and fashioned from fragments of DNA has taken its first steps.

The nanowalker is being hailed as a major breakthrough by nanotechnologists. The biped's inventors, chemists Nadrian Seeman and William Sherman of New York University, say that while many scientists have been trying to build nanoscale devices capable of bipedal motion, theirs is the first to succeed.

"It's an advance on everything that has gone before," says Bernard Yurke of Bell Labs in New Jersey, part of the team that made one of the best-known molecular machines to date: a pair of "tweezers" also constructed from DNA strands (New Scientist print edition, 12 August 2000). Like similar molecular-scale efforts, the tweezers' arms merely open and close: they can not move around.

But for nanoscale manufacturing to become a realistic prospect, mobile microscopic robots will be needed to assemble other nanomachines and move useful molecules and atoms around.

Pairing up

The New York team's biped can "walk" because its DNA-based legs are able to detach themselves from a DNA-based track, move along a bit, then reattach themselves.

Why DNA? Two reasons. First, unlike other polymers, DNA chains like to pair up. However, two DNA strands will only "zip" together if the sequences of bases in each strand complement each other in the right way - so by tweaking the sequences chemists get a high degree of control over where each strand attaches. Second, researchers hope that cells can one day be engineered to manufacture these DNA-based machines.

walking DNA nanobot

The walker takes its nanostroll in a bath of a liquid called a "nondenaturing buffer", which stops the DNA falling apart. To start with, millions of walkers and tracks are floating around freely in this liquid. Only when the researchers add the DNA anchors do the bipeds' feet fix onto the footpaths. Then the unset strands can be added to begin the walking process.

The researchers were able to confirm that the nanowalkers had taken their first steps by taking small samples of the solution after each DNA addition. By feeding the material through a gel which separates DNA molecules by size and shape, they confirmed where the feet were attached - it is the same technique that gives "DNA fingerprints" in forensics.

Persuading the walker to ferry a load, such as a metal atom, is the team's next challenge.

Journal reference: Nano Letters (DOI: 10.1021/n1049527q)

New Scientist Breaking News - DNA robot takes its first steps

Robot Soccer

Smallest Robot

Robot Misquito

A robot helicopter weighing less than nine grams has been unveiled in Japan.
Japan's electronics giant Seiko Epson believes its Micro Flying Robot is the world's lightest and smallest robot helicopter.

Weighing only 8.9 grams, the four-legged mini-copter is equipped with four micro actuators to drive two rotors and stabilising units that make it fly and balance in the air.

The prototype version unveiled at the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo relies on an external power source but flies by remote control.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Bizarre troll-like robot for "character cultivation"

This robot for indoctrinationg pre-schoolers in China looks to me like some stange hybrid of Micheal Jackson and a troll doll.

Face-making robot debuts in Shenzhen

BEIJING, April 22 -- After two years' work, scientists have developed the first Chinese human-shaped robot able to make facial expressions, it was announced on April 18.
The robot, named "Baizhixing" (meaning "smart star"), debuted in Shenzhen, in the southern province of Guangdong, following an announcement by Harbin Institute of Technology's Robot Engineering Technology Center.

Dr Bao Qingshan, principal of the program, said "Baizhixing" would mainly be used in preschool education.

The 35 centimeter-high robot has been given a friendly, cartoon-style design with a unique nose, wrinkles, big ears and golden hair.


Its mouth moves while speaking, and it makes appropriate facial expressions and head, neck, arm and leg movements.

The invention is aimed at helping rudimentary knowledge development and character cultivation in preschool children, supported by a dedicated website.

"It combines animal imitation technology and modern preschool education theory," said Bao, integrating control systems, complicated mechanical structures, speech synthesis and expandable networking technology.

"All the core technologies have been developed independently, and are equal to the advanced techniques utilized abroad," Bao added. "We have complete intellectual patent rights."

Robots have been used in education before but many are not able to make facial expressions, said Zhang Fenghong, a researcher in education theory, and are less accepted by children.


Xinhua - English

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Android World - anthropomorphic robots & animatronics

Dedicated to the world of android and humanoid robots.
Everything you ever needed.

Android World - anthropomorphic robots & animatronics

Vote for Favorite Robot

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Robots' jobs filled by Monkeys?

Swat team plans monkey business

An elite American Swat team wants to train a small monkey as the ultimate reconnaissance tool.

Wearing a bullet-proof vest, video camera and two-way radio, the capuchin monkey would be able to get into places no officer or robot could go.

"Everybody laughs about it until they really start thinking about it. It would change the way we do business," Said Mesa Officer Sean Truelove.

Truelove, who builds and operates tactical robots for the suburban Phoenix, Arizona, Swat team, wants to train the monkey for special ops intelligence work.

The tiny primate with puzzle-solving skills, could unlock doors, search buildings and find suicide victims on command, he said.

Monkey vs Robot

A grant proposal with the Department of Defence under the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency has been filed.

The Swat team is looking for about £60,000 to purchase, train and care for the monkey over a three year period.

Ananova - Swat team plans monkey business

Robots Blamed for Low Earnings

IWKA warns 2005 profit will weaken, blames auto, robot units

KARLSRUHE, Germany (AFX) - IWKA AG (Xetra: 620440.DE - news) warned that its 2005 operating profit will weaken because of poor performances at its Automotive Technology and Robot Technology Divisions.
It said these divisions' 2005 results will be lower than last year's figures.
Originally, IWKA said there was 'a trend to higher operating profit quality' for the firm this year.
IWKA said first-quarter results indicate this no longer applies.
IWKA also said it has launched a 'comprehensive programme of measures to actively counter the drop in operating profit.'
It did not specify the details of this programme.
In addition, IWKA said that proceeds from the sale of its Process Technology Division exceeded expectations without specifying further.
Copyright AFX News Limited 2005. All rights reserved.
The copying, republication or redistribution of AFX News content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of AFX News.
AFX News and the AFX Financial News logo are registered trademarks of AFX News Limited

IWKA warns 2005 profit will weaken, blames auto, robot units Messenger | Yahoo! Finance-

China works out robot series for lunar exploration

Sounds like a sort of mobile robot tribe. I wish I could find a picture, the description is very confusing. "a triangular wheel for independent walking and skipping obstacles"??

Complete article:
China works out robot series for lunar exploration

Chinese scientists say they have worked out a group of secondary robots which resemble wheels of a vehicle to carry out exploration missions on the moon.

The robot series are an array of independently-controlled, concurrent and reconfigurable secondary robots, each consisting of an arm for carrying objects, collecting samples, surveying and mapping, and a triangular wheel for independent walking and skipping obstacles, said a spokesman for the Automation Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

The institute, based in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, is the independent developer of the robots which have passed the appraisal test by the Chinese government.

These secondary robots are like wheels of the moon rover, which is also made up of a primary robot, the bodywork of the vehicle, said the CAS spokesman who declined to be named.

"The system will begin working when all the secondary robots' arms are linked to the primary robot, and a precise positioning system will help the whole system achieve concurrent and automatic operation," he said. "The secondary robots can be sent to different missions collecting data or removing any obstacle and automatically return to the main system."

The reconfigurable system will play a leading role in China's future explorations to the moon or other planets, he said.

The Chinese government has also announced its plan to launch a satellite to orbit the moon by 2007 as part of China's three-stage lunar project. Moreover, the country plans to land an unmanned rover on the Moon for collecting Lunar soil samples around 2020.

People's Daily Online -- China works out robot series for lunar exploration


S Korea Tax on Japanese Auto-worker Immigration

S Korea imposes anti-dumping duties on ind. robots from Japan
Wednesday April 20, 2005, 12:44 pm

SEOUL, April 20 Asia in Focus - South Korea has imposed preliminary antidumping tariffs on Japanese industrial robots mostly used on automobile assembly lines, the Finance Ministry announced. The move followed a ruling by the country's trade commission that robots from Japanese industrial robot manufacturers were being dumped at unfair prices.

* A final decision is expected in four to five months when the commission's investigation is likely to be completed.

* South Korea's industrial robot market was worth 56.7 billion won (US$56 million) in 2003, with imports accounting for 65.1 per cent of the total, the ministry said.


S Korea imposes preliminary antidumping tariffs on Japanese industrial robots, mostly for auto assembly lines

S Korea imposes anti-dumping duties on ind. robots from Japan

Thailand Robot Pageant Announced

MCOT to organize nationwide robot contest

BANGKOK, Apr 20 (TNA) – MCOT Public Company Limited (MCOT) is to organize a ‘Technology Street’ in June, the highlight of which will be a nationwide robot contest based on the theme of climbing the Great Wall of China.

Announcing the event today, MCOT President Mingkwan Sangsuwan said that the ‘Technology Street’ would run from 25-26 June at the IMPACT Arena in Muang Thong Thani of Nonthaburi Province on the outskirts of Bangkok, and would include exhibitions of robot technology and technological innovations from educational institutions across the Thailand.

The ABU robot contest will, meanwhile, see teams from colleges and universities competing for a trophy from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and a cash prize of Bt150,000.

The winning team will go on to compete in the 4th ABU Asia-Pacific Robot Contest, to be held in the Chinese capital of Beijing.

Describing the ‘Technology Street’ as an opportunity for young people to learn more about science and technology, Mr. Mingkwan said that it would also encourage Thai youths to make new technological innovations, and thus help support the development of Thailand’s industrial sector in the future.

MCOT : TNA English News :


RoboJockey Pictures

Here are some pictures from cnet of the robot camel jockey posted earlier.






OSHKOSH, WIS. (April 12, 2005) – Oshkosh Truck Corporation [NYSE: OSK] announced today that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has chosen the company’s TerraMaxTM robotic vehicle for evaluation for the DARPA Grand Challenge 2005 -- a 175-mile, off-road race in the Mojave Desert for completely autonomous vehicles. Of 195 teams originally submitting race entries, DARPA, a part of the Department of Defense, chose 118 for further review based on vehicle designs and capabilities.


DARPA Grand Challenge 2005 is a field test of autonomous (driverless) ground vehicles to promote the advance of autonomous vehicle technology. Teams vying to compete in the Grand Challenge develop their vehicles without government funding. By 2015, the Pentagon hopes that using autonomous military vehicles such as TerraMax will help save the lives of military personnel.

In May, DARPA personnel will evaluate the autonomous capabilities of each of the 118 qualifying vehicles on-site, including their ability to follow GPS navigation and avoid obstacles. Only 40 teams will advance to DARPA’s National Qualifying Event (NQE) in Fontana, Calif., in September. Of these, the top 20 teams will advance to the Grand Challenge on Oct. 8, 2005. The team whose autonomous vehicle completes the Grand Challenge route the fastest within 10 hours will win $2 million.


In 2004, TerraMax was one of only seven entries to complete the 1.3-mile qualifying course for the Grand Challenge. The platform for TerraMax is Oshkosh’s combat-proven Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR), which was originally built for the U.S. Marine Corps and has been used extensively in Afghanistan and Iraq. For the 2005 Grand Challenge, TerraMax has been given rear-wheel steering for improved manueverability.

TerraMax – In The news

Welsh university spawned the robot that could think for itself and solve real-world problems

Apr 18 2005

Madeleine Brindley, Western Mail

WALES was the birthplace for the world's first robot scientist.

Instead of creating a programmable robot capable of performing repetitive tasks, scientists at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, last year created a robot which can think for itself.

Professor Ross King, who led the team of British scientists, said the robot was the first system that can both reason scientifically and carry out experiments.

It is hoped that it will be the first in a new generation of robots which will banish tedium from the laboratory and give human scientists the freedom to pursue bold new ideas.

It consists of a computer linked to machinery for handling liquids on a laboratory desk.

And, in tests, it was able to successfully identify the function of different genes in baker's yeast - the organism has 6,000 genes, 30% of which have functions that are still unknown.

Prof King said, "This research is exciting as we have handed control of the experiment over to the robot - so there is no human intellectual input in the design of experiments, or interpretation of data.

"There is increasing need for automation in the biological sciences and although problems we set for the robot were simple, we have shown that it could be used to help solve real-world problems."

icWales - Welsh university spawned the robot that could think for itself and solve real-world problems

Emergency Surgeon "trauma pod" Robot

By Margaret Steen
Mercury News

Imagine having surgery inside a small moving vehicle, with robotic arms cutting you open and sewing you up -- and no people in sight.

As the military looks for ways to cut labor costs and put fewer lives at risk, it is envisioning a mobile ``trauma pod'' in which injured soldiers are operated on by robotic arms under the control of surgeons who are far from the battlefield.

Enter SRI International, a non-profit research institution in Menlo Park. SRI leads a group that has won a $12 million contract to begin research on the trauma pod. The contract for a two-year preliminary project is from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Defense Department's research and development group. Experts estimate that a working trauma pod is at least 10 or 15 years away.

`Think of a super-sized ambulance'' with robotic arms instead of emergency medical personnel, said John Bashkin, director of business development for SRI.

The team doesn't have to start from scratch. It's using a commercially available computer-aided surgical system from Sunnyvale-based Intuitive Surgical, a company that was founded with SRI technology. The goal for the first phase, Bashkin said, is to automate everything else about the surgery: handing the proper tools to the surgeon's robotic arm, for example, or disposing of used gauze.

If the SRI-led demonstration of the trauma pod is successful, Bashkin said, the group will discuss with DARPA funding for the next phase of the project, which could include trying to scale down the system to make it more portable.

Bigger challenges would be addressed in later phases of the work: getting a robot to insert an intravenous tube or administer anesthesia.

The research on these and other issues could have an impact on medicine even before a working trauma pod enters battle, Bashkin said. For example, in trying to automate the anesthesia process, researchers could learn more about how to make current anesthesia practices safer. | 04/09/2005 | I, ROBOT -- AND SURGEON

Tiny Needle-Driving Robot

Israelis Develop Tiny Needle-Driving Robot
16:57 Apr 19, '05 / 10 Nisan 5765

The new needle will allow a surgeon to bypass obstacles in the needle's path and safely reach its objective within the body.

"We are talking about driving a flexible needle," says doctoral student Daniel Glozman. He developed the steering algorithm under the guidance of Prof. Moshe Shoham of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Technion.

"For example, when a physician wants to take a biopsy, he sticks the needle into the body and extracts the biopsy,” Glozman said. “But the skin, the muscle and the patient himself move during the process and therefore it is difficult to get the needle exactly to the target. There may also be blood vessels in the way that have to be maneuvered around. Our development will solve these problems."

Technical details...
Flexible needle insertion into viscoelastic tissue is formulated by a linear beam supported by virtual springs. Using this simplified model, the forward and inverse kinematics of the needle is solved analytically, providing a way for simulation and path planning in real-time. Using the inverse kinematics, the required needle basis trajectory can be computed for any desired needle tip path.

Arutz Sheva - Israel National News

Robo Picasso

Robo Picasso
Do androids dream of electric canvases? Hartford artist Eric Rautio aims to find out.
by Adam Bulger - April 14, 2005

A laptop computer played techno in the paint-splattered studio at the Hartford School of Art on the University of Hartford campus. I was watching an artist paint. It was the artist's first project, a self-portrait, drawn in straight, deliberate lines. It was slow and noisy work. I wondered after a while if the painter was getting frustrated, then remembered that it lacked the capacity for frustration.

The artist was a machine named ART Painter. ART Painter is a robot, perhaps the first artificial being imbued with a creative impulse. ART stands for Adaptive Resonance Theory, the synthetic neural system that it runs on

"I bought a lot of stuff at Home Depot and hacked it all together," ART Painter inventor Eric Rautio explained. Rautio, 25, is a technology-obsessed artist currently in his second year of an MFA in painting. He's a smart, intense guy who slips into incomprehensible technical jargon in the middle of a conversation.

"When people see a painting, they think 'this is something a machine can't do,'" Rautio said. People probably rarely think that consciously, but it is an underlying assumption of the difference between man and machine. Art is commonly understood as the expression of the soul; machines are obviously soulless.

To mimic this creative process through ART Painter, Rautio feeds data into the computer that is, for lack of a better term, ART's brain. The data comes from many different sources -- there's a function on ART Painter's website that allows anyone to input sketches that ART Painter can incorporate into future works. It can also accept photos, get data from a webcam, and Rautio excitedly said, hopefully ART would someday be able to translate music into code it could use in its paintings. The input becomes for ART like the memories that artists use to create their art.

Hartford Advocate: Robo Picasso

Robo-masseur hits the spot


Rich Greco's office looks like that of any other physical therapist but for two machines hovering over the training tables.

Most noticeable are the long mechanical devices above the two training tables, the Meilus Therbo Robot. Greco, who worked with 2002 Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes, does not service golfers exclusively. He has, however, noticed the machines he purchased last December have been particularly valuable to his clients who play golf.

The machine can work on any muscle group. Greco asks clients which muscles need work and sets up the computer accordingly. The arm - about 2 feet long - has an end fitted with two rounded-off metallic knobs. They are equipped with sensors that detect resistance in the muscle and adjust during the typical session, which usually lasts 8-12 minutes per muscle. The arm applies steady pressure to a muscle, increasing blood flow and, ultimately, movement.
"It's like a massage, but it's not," Greco said. "Its effect is much quicker and the result is going to last longer."
Greco is one of two physical therapists on Long Island who have the robot, which was developed in 1997 by Tampa Bay-area automation engineer Al Meilus. Robo-masseur hits the spot

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Robot balances walk like human

Robot walks, balances like a human

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—If you nudge this robot, it steps forward and catches its balance— much like a human.

The machine called RABBIT was developed by U-M and French scientists over six years. It’s the first known robot to walk and balance like a human, and late last year, researchers succeeded in making RABBIT run for six steps. It has been able to walk gracefully for the past 18 months.

Current walking machines use large feet to avoid tipping over and do not require the robot’s control system to be endowed with a real understanding of the mechanics of walking or balance, said Grizzle. If you provided these robots with a pair of stilts or asked them to tip-toe across the room, they would just fall over.

Walking Robot Legs

RABBIT was built without feet. Its legs end like stilts so that it pivots on a point when it moves forward. “If you build a robot that pivots on a point you must understand how the different parts interact dynamically, or else it will fall over,” Grizzle said. If a robot has no feet, it’s impossible to “cheat.”

RABBIT is part of France’s ROBEA project (Robotics and Artificial Entity), which involves seven laboratories and researchers in mechanics, robots and control theory. The machine is housed in France’s Laboratoire Automatique de Grenoble,

U of M News Service

CNN - Robot Walks like Human

Other Recent Robot Rumors

Robot sex dolls

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Robot sex dolls

A German inventor claims to have created the world's most sophisticated robot sex doll.

The sex androids developed by aircraft mechanic Michael Harriman from Nuremberg have 'hearts' that beat harder during sex.

They also breathe harder and have internal heaters to raise the body temperature - but their feet stay cold "just like in real life", according to Harriman.

He said: "They are almost impossible to distinguish from the real thing, but I am still developing improvements and I will only be happy when what I have is better than the real thing."

The dolls sold under the Andy brand name are on offer for £4,000 each for the basic model, with extra charges for adaptations like extra large breasts.

[Link to Andy website]

Underneath the silicon skin, developed for use in medical surgery, is an electronic heart that beats faster during sex.

The model can also be made to move by remote control, wiggling her hips under the bedclothes and making other suggestive movements - all at the touch of a button.

Harriman said his design was an improvement on the popular 'real dolls' sold in the USA.


Updated LINKS (again) Sept 2006

Ananova - Robot sex dolls

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ha ha

Monday, April 18, 2005

Security Guard for Elementary School

Japanese company Secom has released the "SECOM School Security," a system which monitors kids using RFID tags while they are commuting to and from school but also uses robots (the good old "smoking robots") that move around and monitor school properties. The robots can also "scare" suspicious people by fast movements, light and smoke.

Link to a video. It looks like a small bumper car or out of control floor polisher.

we make money not art: Security guard robots for school kids


Bullfighting Robots

Madrid's Polytechnic University has designed and built miniature robot bullfighters, programmed to tackle robot bulls, just like in corridas.

The robots are to be entered into a cyber-technology competition in the Spanish capital. [Last week]

The contest is a robotic version of a corrida. The bullfighter-robot wears a red balloon. The mechanical matador must dodge the "bull", which is armed with head-mounted cameras capable of detecting the red colour, and which attempts to pierce the balloon with its horns. The longer the bullfighter-robot resists in the arena with the balloon intact, the more points it wins.

The bullfighter-robot can also have a red cape for fooling the Robotaurus. For each banderilla correctly placed into the back of the bull-robot, the bullfighter-robot scores 15 points more.

At the end of the fight, the public can request the ears and the tail of the bull-robot. A panel decides if the behavior of the bullfighter deserves these trophies: the first ear counts 5 points, the second ear 10 points and the tail 20 points.

we make money not art: The Robotaurus

Robot for teeth surgery

Israeli start-up Tactile Technologies wants to put a robot in your mouth.

The company recently obtained US Food and Drug Administration marketing approval for its novel dental implant location software, a 3D surgery planning solution.

The Implant Location System (ILS) uses a disposable micro-robot for carrying out dental implant procedures.

The bone-sensing technology enables precision measurement of bone tissue covered by soft tissue, without the need for invasive surgical procedures. ILS applies tactile sensing technology to offer intra-oral image-guided navigation specifically for dentists.

we make money not art: Israeli dental robot makes implants less painful

Waseda Talker - Talking Robot

We developed a new anthropomorphic talking robot WT-4 (Waseda Talker No.4) that improved on WT-3. WT-4 had a human-like body to make the communication with a human more easily, and consisted of 1-DOF [Degrees of Freedom] lungs, 4-DOF vocal cords and articulators (the 7-DOF tongue, 5-DOF lips, 1-DOF teeth, nasal cavity and 1-DOF soft palate), and could reproduce human-like articulatory motion; the total DOF was 19.


As a result, WT-4 could produce Japanese vowels that were more similar to human vowels than the previous robots and could produce stops, fricatives and nasal sounds of 50 Japanese sounds for human-like speech production.


Waseda Talker - Talking Robot

Qatar To Use Robots As Camel Jockeys

DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar plans to start using robots as riders in popular camel races after international criticism of the use of child jockeys, the Gulf Arab state's official QNA news agency reported on Wednesday. It said the robot, developed by an unnamed Swiss company, had been tested successfully and that the energy-rich country was considering setting up a factory to build them.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al-Thani, the official in charge of the project, referred to United Nations concern over child jockeys and said Qatar was determined to save camel racing, which is popular among Arabs of Bedouin origin.

Nearby United Arab Emirates has also announced plans to introduce remote-controlled robots, which can be light enough to use as jockeys in the lucrative sport.

Qatar To Use Robots As Camel Jockeys

DART Mission Ends Prematurely

Summary - (Apr 18, 2005) NASA's DART mission, which launched on Friday to test automated docking techniques, was prematurely shut down on Saturday when the spacecraft ran out of fuel. DART launched perfectly on board a Pegasus XL rocket and reached within 90 meters of its target, an inactive satellite already in orbit. It was supposed to make several close approaches to the satellite, but it didn't even have enough propellant for one pass. Mission controllers aborted the mission and fired its deorbit rockets to put it into a decaying orbit where it will burn up. An investigation team has been assigned to figure out what went wrong.

Universe Today - DART Mission Ends Prematurely

Next Up, Mars Science Laboratory

Summary - (Apr 14, 2005) While Spirit and Opportunity could still be scouring the Red Planet in a few years, they'll be joined by a new partner: the Mars Science Laboratory. Schedule for launch in 2009, this mission will deliver a rover three times as large as the current rovers to the surface of Mars. It will have a suite of scientific instruments including the ChemCam: a powerful laser that will allow it to vapourize and analyze rock from 10 metres (33 feet away). And since it'll be powered by a radioactive powerplant, it won't need to rely on feeble solar power for energy.

Universe Today - Next Up, Mars Science Laboratory

A Robot For Building Planes

Fatronik Technological Centre has put the finishing touches to the development of a portable climbing robot capable of carrying out precision operations and originally designed for the aeronautics sector.
This involves a light, portable, climbing robot, capable of working autonomously on the plane's structure itself. The robot has been designed to carry out precision drilling tasks for subsequent riveting and assembly. It can operate with any material as it can support its own weight by means of suction pads, and it moves over the superstructure of the craft, adapting itself to the curvature of the fuselage and carrying out drilling tasks at a rate of 8 holes a minute.
The design incorporates a vision system that enables self-orientation in the working zone and the modification in real time of the work programme, thanks to a numerical control aid system. The robot offers great advantages as it is much cheaper, smaller and more flexible than the conventional fixed production systems, and achieves similar levels of productivity and stability against vibration due to drilling

A Robot For Building Planes

Helping human and robot firefighters work as a team

Helping human and robot firefighters work as a team

April 13, 2005

Imagine a firefighter scrambling through a burning building, searching for survivors of a devastating explosion. Injured people on the far side of a brick wall, but out of reach. However, the partner on the other side promptly smashes through the wall, clears a path so both can help the survivors. Science fiction perhaps? No, this is exactly the scenario that partners in the PELOTE project have been working on.

PhysOrg: Helping human and robot firefighters work as a team