Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Lawn Robot Chases Bugs

Tick, tick, tick, tick...

No it's not another bomb robot,that's the sound of engineers from Virginia Military Institute counting the results of their latest robot project.

This 4-wheeled lawn robot circles your yard and kills ticks.

The robot attracts the ticks with CO2 and lets them leap grab onto a denim cloth dragging behind.

The ticks are dispatched with a dose of promethren.

The robot navigates around the perimeter of your property to collect the ticks before they get to you.
It has the advantage of delivering just a small amount of insecticide directly to the ticks instead of drowning the whole area in insecticide all year long.

Has anyone added this feature to a robot lawnmower yet?

More information at GoRobotics

Wired News:

More Hugs for Robots

Here's another huggy robot for children in hospitals.
The RI-MAN robot from Japan's RIKEN research institute.

Their Bio-Mimetic Control Research Center figured out that robots needed a much softer touch to work with people. So they covered their robot nurse with a layer of soft silicone. They put 320 pressure sensors under the pliable skin so that the robot could adjust for more pressure.

The robot is 5 feet tall and rolls in at 200 pounds.
Now patients can hug their robot attendant as it helps them in and out of bed.

NEW - RI-MAM webpage in English

Pink Tentacle

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Friday, February 24, 2006

Anty, Autonomous Huggy Robot

From Vrije Universiteit Brussel Robotics & MultiBody Mechanics Research Group, comes an intelligent huggy robot for hospitalized children.

From the Anty website:
"Anty is more than just a toy, it is a intelligent and living huggy, having a personality of its own. Anty uses sensors for vision, audio and touch to interact with the children. By means of artificial intelligence, Anty is capable of understanding and expressing emotions."

Sounds like the rubber dinosaur from Ugobe?

But this is no dinosaur! It's a ... well, it's a... huggy robot!

It is more like Dr. Takanori Shibata's huggy baby seal, Paro.

via we make money not art: Huggy robot for hospitalised children


Mini Robots for Lab Teamwork

Funded under the European Commission’s FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) initiative of the IST programme, MICRON set out to build a total of five to ten micro robots, just cubic centimetres in size.

“Each one would measure about 1.5cm by 3 cm,” says Joerg Seyfried of Institute for Process Control and Robotics (IPR). “They were designed to be complete robots, with different kinds of actuators for gripping, cell manipulation, and so on. Each one would be wireless, with lots of electronics on board, and an infrared control system. They would be able to cooperate together on a range of tasks.”

“...our goal was to have five robots operational, but this couldn’t be done in our three-year timeframe owing to the extreme complexity of the task,” he says.

The one fully functional robot that the project did achieve could be tested in three different scenarios. “The first was a medical or biological application, in which the robot was handling biological cells, injecting liquid into them,” Seyfried explains. “The second scenario was micro-assembly, in which the robot soldered tiny parts. The final scenario looked at atomic force, with the robot mounting atomic force and doing experiments on it.”

“Our experiments showed that the cell injection is entirely feasible, as is the micro soldering,” says Seyfried.
“Robots with this sort of capability, and mobility, would be perfectly suited to lab work, such as the micro assembly of prototypes. Tasks such as cell injection could be performed on a mass scale.”

IST Results - Mini robots to undertake major tasks?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Underwater Robots Eavesdrop on Whales

Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have reported the first use of passive acoustic recorders in an ocean glider, a type of AUV that looks like a large model airplane and can work in water depths to 1,000 meters (about 3,300 feet) or more.

Gliders move both horizontally and vertically in the ocean and work around the clock in all weather conditions, typically up to a month or longer depending on the project.
The vehicle carries a variety of high-resolution sensors to collect oceanographic measurements such as temperature, salinity, and fluorescence (a measure of phytoplankton abundance).
Gliders also operate silently, which make them ideal for passive acoustics studies. Researchers say the gliders are a promising, cost-effective, and efficient alternative to long-term ship-based studies given ship costs in the thousands of dollars a day.

Mark Baumgartner, an assistant scientist in the WHOI Biology Department, reported findings from a pilot study involving the deployment of recorder-equipped gliders.
They are finding that the capabilities of this new observing platform allow ecological research that has not been previously possible.

Future work will focus on extending the duration of the recordings, developing a capability to report detections of whale vocalizations to land-based researchers in real time, and monitoring the high-frequency vocalizations of other marine mammals, such as dolphins, sperm whales, and beaked whales.

WHOI : Media Relations : News Release : Monitoring Baleen Whales with Autonomous Underwater Vehicles


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Robot Convoy Delivers

By Larry Edmond

FORT GORDON, Ga. (Army News Service) -- Engineers conducting show-and-tell with a 20-ton robot on the last day of two weeks of trials on Fort Gordon were cautiously optimistic.

The system in testing at Fort Gordon is the robotic follower program. This program seeks to develop robots that can conduct convoy operations. One of the vehicles is called the CAT - short for crew integration and automation test bed. It serves as the manned leader vehicle.

The other vehicle serves as an unmanned follower in a convoy.

"Yesterday we ran a 100-mile test where the lead vehicle was being driven manually and the robot was following,” Jeff Jaczkowski, TARDEC electrical engineer and manager, said. “We did this successfully where the average speed was about 22 miles per hour. You may think that 22 miles per hour is not that fast when operational convoys are going 60 to 70 miles per hour. But you have to take into account that we did 68 right turns.

“You don't take right turns at 50 miles per hour, especially with a 20-ton robot."

Pointing to the bristling array of sensors on the vehicles, Jaczkowski said these vehicles incorporate second-generation ladar-laser radar, forward-looking infrared sensors, and advanced computers to handle autonomous navigation.

For the autonomous follower, engineers are going beyond Global Positioning Systems to link terrain data from the lead vehicle back to the follower vehicle to augment data the follower vehicle gathers from on-board sensors.

"The idea is to pass electronic bread crumbs from the manned lead vehicle back to the autonomous follower vehicle, and provide high-level proofing of the follower's path so the follower avoids areas that might impede or confuse its autonomous navigation system, while requiring only a minimum of human intervention and control from the lead vehicle," Jaczkowski said.

Soldiers will remain in the vehicles for now, but by placing a vehicle on auto-pilot, the driver will be able to perform other duties or rest.

The long-term objective is to create dedicated unmanned ground vehicles.

In the tests being conducted on Fort Gordon, the lead vehicle develops a path along a route that it transmits to the follower vehicle that can follow the path immediately or weeks later.

The group will continue testing Feb. 24 to March 10, Jaczowski said.

The United States Army News Service

Korean Towns Compete for Robot Business

By Kim Yong-seok

Having heavily invested in the bio industry for some time, local autonomous governments are now eager to lure businesses specializing in intelligent robots.

They are rushing to inject billions or tens of billions of won into building clusters for industrial, household and education robots.

Ansan City is betting big on the household service robot, and Daejeon is more committed to robots used for education service.

Pohang plans to heavily invest in robots for industrial applications, with Gwangju and Song-do making similar moves.
Gwangju plans to devote resources to consumer electronics robots, and Song-do aims to build robot sports facilities and develop the robot parts industry.

Competition to lure robot businesses among local governments will likely result in hurting the industry’s overall competitiveness, given that the market is only in a burgeoning stage.

"At this stage, regional differentiation of robot business is seen as a very challenging task," said a professor of robot applications at South Cheolla University. "The country need to concentrate resources on the overall robot industry, waiting to see results in 2 to 3 years."

The Electronic Times Internet

Robot Gossip Contest 1

A few days ago I read an article about a presentation by General Lance W. Lord the commander of the US Air Force Space Command. The General said that his mission to protect satellites is critical to the very existence of the world economy. Our economy has grown dependent on satellites for weather, GPS and communications. Without them, everything would collapse. When did this happen? Probably sometime back in the 1980’s.

Satellites first faded into the background after their initial novelty wore off and then silently integrated themselves deep into the very fabric of our economy.

Of course, many other technologies have done the same. Automobiles, electricity, and various processed foods – the list goes on.

The Robot Gossip contest is this:

The first person to point out where robots have become essential to the functioning of our society wins a fabulous prize. The prize to be determined later - I think we have some time.

Let me make clear that I am not asking anyone to create a dependence on robots. The contest is to be the first to identify it.

Also, I am not so much interested in cases of where it might happen. The winner will be the first to identify where it has already happened.

The use of robots in the auto industry is not yet a winning entry for two reasons. First, I think there are still many more people than robots building cars. Take away the robots and we will be able to recover fine. Secondly, the auto industry, especially in the US, is barely surviving as it is. One could not claim that robots are saving an industry that is suffering so much. However, the car companies may work their way through this current down-cycle by replacing thousands of human workers with robot workers and create the dependence that, once identified, could win this contest. That will probably not occur until around late 2009.

The winner should post their entry here or email it to me. The format should be easy to understand like charts or stories. Here is a hypothetical example:


Robot Bartender Sells Real Estate

Omniyat Properties, the recently-launched Dubai-based developer of futuristic high-tech properties, is displaying a robotic bar-tender at its stand at the Dubai International Property Show, which opened at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre near the World Trade Centre.

The robot, which can serve both cold and hot drinks, sits inside its own booth, and has two arms similar to those of a bar-tender which allow him to mix any type of cocktails or mocktails and serve them. The Omniyat Robo-Bar, as it is known, can also prepare hot drinks like tea and coffee as well as serve any type of drink.

Omniyat Properties, the real estate development arm of the 2-billion-Dirham (US $550 mil) technology-based group, Almasa Holdings, has become the first company in the Middle East to focus on developing futuristic properties where technology is used to improve people’s lifestyles and enhance the way they work and live.

Ehab S. Shouly, Senior Vice President and Marketing Director of Omniyat Properties, said, "By bringing the first robotic bar-tender in the world to Dubai, and displaying it on our stand, we wanted to demonstrate that our promise of futuristic properties where robots take care of daily house chores is a real promise and not just a figment of our imagination. The technology we’re talking about exists today,”

“Our buildings will be so intelligent that they will recognize you if you are a tenant, and they will give you access and even press the button of your floor in the elevator. They will open doors for you and robotics will take care of cleaning and mopping your homes, and even pressing your clothes. And your voice will be your command,” Shouly said.


Omniyat displays its first robotic bar tender at Intl. Property Show

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Robots Improve Cleaning Crew

Portland, Ore. - Crothall Services Group, one of the nation's leading facility and support services contractors, has embarked on a significant long-term program with Intellibot Robotics LLC to install robotic floor cleaning equipment at key facilities across the country.

According to Rob Bradford, Crothall regional vice president for the southeast, the multiple advantages of using robotic cleaners give Crothall a competitive edge in securing new business and extending contracts.

Bradford added, "We are confident that robotics is the direction our industry is headed in order to better manage labor costs and related issues."

Accroding to Intellibot:
Labor typically accounts for 80 to 90 percent of the cost of commercial floor care. Intellibot can reduce those labor costs by up to 85 percent without compromising quality. In fact, your floors will be cleaned to your desired standard more consistently with Intellibot’s robotic scrubbers and vacuums. Intellibot units are ready to work efficiently every day and are not subject to absenteeism, boredom or distraction.

The 600 pound scrubber is pre-programmed with a navigation map but also includes redundant sonar and infrared sensors to avoid obstacles.

CM Online News

Monday, February 20, 2006

Autonomous Battlefield 'Wolfpacks'

NASHUA, N.H. – BAE Systems recently demonstrated its vertical takeoff and landing unmanned aerial system (UAS) at Fort Benning, Ga., for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and U.S. Army representatives.

BAE Systems integrated WolfPack with its UAS to demonstrate the deployment and relocation of the sensors.

“This demonstration shows that unattended battlefield sensors can not only operate autonomously, but that they can be made to be self-deploying, self-relocating and, if needed, self-recovering,” said DARPA Program Manager Preston Marshall.

Wolfpack consists of small, unattended sensors that can be placed at areas of interest. Once deployed, individual "wolves" (sensors), self-organise into "packs" to determine optimum detection and jamming strategies. In each "pack," gateway nodes provide data to users, and the system can detect and jam many threat signals.

"The mobility provided by the unmanned aerial system significantly enhances the utility of the WolfPack sensors," said Tom Herring, vice president and general manager of Integrated Solutions for BAE Systems.

Press Release BAESYSTEMS.com

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tele-Signing Robot Invented By Author

By Anthony Barnes

Next month the Booker Prize-winning writer, Margaret Atwood, will unveil a machine she has invented which means authors will never have to meet their adoring public again.

Ms Atwood, the Canadian author of The Handmaid's Tale, The Blind Assassin and Oryx and Crake has created a machine that will allow her - without leaving the comfort of her home - to autograph the pages of her books while she is in another continent.

The imminent arrival of the gadget, called Unotchit LongPen, has prompted fears it could kill off the grand tradition of the book-signing tour.

Yet the threat has led to a backlash by other authors. D J Taylor called it "an absolutely feeble idea - another example of fatuous modern technology."
[That's what makes it great!]

Ms Atwood, 66, is to launch the device - which has been seen by only a select few at secret testings - at the London Book Fair a fortnight from today, where publishers and authors from around the world will be given a demonstration. The writer will be in Canada but will create what is being billed as the world's first transatlantic autograph.

"You don't have to be in the same room as someone to have a meaningful exchange," she said.

Independent Online Edition > News

Photos from Technovelgy.com

Saturday, February 18, 2006

US Army 'rewards' Farmer for Spy Plane

By Julie S. Alipala
Philippine Daily Inquirer

JOLO, SULU-US military officials gave P50,000 to a Sulu farmer in exchange for the return of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that crashed in Indanan town on Feb. 10.

Jolo councilor Temojen Tulawie said the money was handed to the unidentified farmer on Saturday.

"The money was given through former rebels integrated into the military," said Tulawie, also a convenor of the Concerned Citizens of Sulu.

Lt. Col. Eddie Paruchabutr, Joint Special Operation Task Force Philippines acting spokesperson, confirmed that the UAV had been turned over "by a civilian."

He said the man "came to our camp and he gave the equipment to us."

"We definitely appreciated his action and he was rewarded," he said.

US Army exec rewards finder of spy plane - INQ7.net

Labels: ,

Friday, February 17, 2006

Robot Spy Plane Taken Hostage in Phillipines

Muslim villagers are holding for ransom a crashed unmanned US drone used in military exercises against the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in the southern Philippine island of Jolo.

...local television news showed footage of a villager holding the ill-fated drone, whose wing span is about one meter long and has a slim body and a video camera mounted on its belly.

The white drone appeared to be intact, but security sources in Jolo said villagers holding the aircraft "hostage" were demanding as much as P100,000 ($1,934) ransom in exchange for the aircraft.

Sources did not say if the US or Philippine military are willing to pay the money to get back the drone, which may contain valuable information about the Abu Sayyaf or its hideouts on the island.

"There is nothing to fear about the US drone. It is being used to survey areas where humanitarian activities will be jointly undertaken by US and Philippine troops," said Maj. Gamal Hayudini, a spokesman for the Southern Command.

Sun.Star Zamboanga - Crashed US spy drone held by Sulu villagers for ransom?

Swim With the Robot Sharks

A robot shark would be the perfect guest in any pool. Especially at night.
This guy is 2 feet long and can swim in water up to 9 feet deep. The remote controller is also waterproof so you can join your shark friend in the pool.

It comes in two models, red or blue propeller. They also operate on different frequencies so you can run two in the same pool. Robot Shark Sumo!

Retail at US $100.

Remote Controlled Robotic Shark at Hammacher Schlemmer


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Robots to Reach Autistic Kids

From Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Autonomous Systems Lab, a group of doll robots called Robota, that are designed to interact with autistic children.

For example:
"The AuRoRA Project studies if and how robots can become a "toy" that might serve an educational or therapeutic role for children with autism. Our main aim is to engage children with autism in coordinated and synchronized interactions with the environment thus helping them to develop and increase their communication and social interaction skills."
Catch some movies here.

The dolls can mimic arm and head movements and respond to speech. And creepy eyes.
How does it compete with Let's Dance Barbie?
"Barbie® doll can follow the girl's dance moves, teach the girl a new move by demonstrating and saying phrases, or dance to music while the girl watches."

via pasta and vinegar

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Leonardo´s Lost Robots

Here is a short review of the new book by Mark Elling Rosheim, Leonardo's Lost Robots.
(From a Springer Press Release; Heidelberg, February 2006)

Rosheim reinterprets orinal DaVinci drawings to show the designs for mechanical automata.

"Using the rough sketches scattered throughout almost all of Leonardo's notebooks, the author has reconstructed Leonardo's programmable cart, which may have supported a Robot Lion, a Robot Knight, and a "digital," hydraulically powered automaton for striking a bell. Through a richly illustrated, lively narrative, Mark Rosheim explains how he reconstructed Leonardo's designs."

Buy Leonardo´s Lost Robots

Smart Economy: Leonardo Da Vinci's smart Robots - A programmable Cart, a Robot Lion, a Robot Knight, Automated Bell

How To Talk to Your Roomba

Two posts from Make Blog -

Teach your iRobot Roomba cleaner to do more than vacuum.
You can build an adapter to converse with machine through a serial port or wirelessly through Bluetooth.

It looks like a small step to be able to drive your Roomba over the web when you are at work. Or have it email you if it gets stuck while cleaning during the day.

You can get even more help at the Roomba wiki.

MAKE: Blog: HOW TO - Make a Roomba Serial Interface

HOW TO - Make a Roomba Bluetooth Interface


Robot Rodent

I guess this is a few years old, but it is new to me.
GUPI the robot Guinea Pig.

It looks and acts just like a real guinea pig - except for the pellets.
It has moods: fearful, curious, happy and sleepy.

You can lead it around with an infrared carrot pointer or let it explore on its own. Sensors keep it from falling down stairs and such.

Evidently it will also find its way out of a maze, sneeze and fart.
Right now it is only available in Europe.

GUPI - a guide to the one and only robotic guinea pig

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Premium Pricing for Robot Surgery

In a study of performance of the robotic Da Vinci surgery system, Swiss doctors have found that using robots for surgery is beneficial in some cases but is more expensive. The results were published in Swiss Medical Weekly.

They looked at the results of 128 procedures on patients of all ages, of which 122 were successful.

They found that the robot assisted surgery was beneficial in tiny and hard to reach areas.
However, robot surgery took longer and had higher costs. Also, the surgery robot lacks some of the specialized tools that are available to manual surgeons.

Their conclusion is that robot surgery is not yet the best for everyone but can be an advantage for some procedures.

The da Vinci robotic system for general surgical applications: a critical interim appraisal

Robots Improve Surgery Results
Robot Surgery Raises Legal Issues
Surgeon Robot Revenue Skyrockets

Monday, February 13, 2006

Scientsists Let Slime Mold Control Robot Spider

NewScientist.com news service
Will Knight

A bright yellow slime mould that can grow to several metres in diameter has been put in charge of a scrabbling, six-legged robot.

The Physarum polycephalum slime, which naturally shies away from light, controls the robot's movement so that it too keeps out of light and seeks out dark places in which to hide itself.

Klaus-Peter Zauner at the University of Southampton, UK, who developed the slime-controlled bot with colleagues from Kobe University in south-central Japan, says the idea is to find simpler ways to control a robot’s behaviour.

Physarum polycephalum is a large single-celled organism that responds to food sources, such as bacteria and fungi, by moving towards and engulfing it. It also moves away from light and favours humid, moist places to inhabit.

Zauner's team decided to harness this simple control mechanism to direct a small six-legged (hexapod) walking bot.

They grew slime in a six-pointed star shape on top of a circuit and connected it remotely, via a computer, to the hexapod bot.
As the slime tried to get away from the light its movement was sensed by the circuit and used to control one of the robot's six legs. The robot then scrabbled away from bright lights as a mechanical embodiment of the mould.

Next, they will be using the slime mould to operate a hummer. Possibly they can use a weaponized slime mold vehicle to identify and eliminate enemies.

New Scientist Breaking News - Robot moved by a slime mould's fears

PDF paper reprint

Farm Robots to Compete at World Cup

This year's compettion for agricultural field robots at University of Hohenheim in Suttgart, Germany has an additional event this year.

Past competitions have included speed races, navigating through corn fields and counting dandelions.
This year, in honor fo the World Cup Finals in Germany, the robots will be competing on a soccer field (or football pitch). The task - find holes in the grass, trash on the field or other damage. June 23 and 24, 2006.

Teams travel from all over the world for the annual Field Robot Competition.
Field Robot Event Website


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Start Buying Batteries Now

An you thought that all there was to home entertainment robots was rubber baby dinosaurs, pygmy ponies and robot plastic puppets?

Don't overlook the monkey head!

If it is as entertaining as this commercial looks then I hope it comes with a sledge hammer to put it out of your misery.

$150 suggested retail.

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 10, 2006

Remote Fishing Fun

Stop the presses
"Coden has finally yealized image fishing!"

So if fishing is too much work for you, here is the perfect solution.

Remote controlled fishing boat, called "Kamome" for seagull. Launch your boat and wave good bye as you relax on shore and sip on the beverage of your choice.

This one meter long power boat carries a sonar fish-finder, GPS receiver,temperature sensors and, of course, a reel with baited hook. It detects when it gets a bite and notifies the fisherman via color LCD panel display.

It can remember the locations of 5 of your favorite fishing spots.

Next - a robot to clean the fish.

Coden boat - English

Robot Gage-Hands Speed Manufacturing

Control Gaging Incorporated CGI announces a new concept for production gaging in lean manufacturing environments - integration of precision gages into the grippers of factory automation robots.

With the robot 'hands' as measuring instruments, they save time by eliminating the need to stop and measure the parts and save money by removing reject parts quickly.

This is an example of an application where robots add capability and improve quality at a factory. With calibrated hands, robots become smarter than people.

Robot Gages target lean manufacturing environments., Control Gaging, Inc.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

North American Robot Orders Break Record

Ann Arbor, Michigan – North American robotics companies posted record new orders in 2005, surpassing its previous high set in 1999, according to new statistics released by Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group.

A total of 18,228 robots valued at $1.16 billion were ordered by North American manufacturing companies, an increase of 23% in units and 17% in dollars over 2004 totals. When orders placed by companies outside of North America are added, the final totals are 19,445 robots valued at $1.22 billion, gains of 21% in units and 15% in dollars over last year.

''We’ve seen many examples of small, medium, and large companies in just about every industry that have taken advantage of the productivity, quality, and flexibility gains that robots provide in order to compete successfully in the global market,'' said Donald A. Vincent, Executive Vice President of RIA.

Vincent noted that robot use jumped 30% in the life sciences, pharmaceutical, and biomedical industries in 2005. ''As companies learn more about the benefits of robotics in industries where they may currently not be in widespread use, we can expect to see long term growth.''

Automotive manufacturers, the largest users of robots, increased their orders by 49% in 2005. Orders jumped 14% to automotive components companies. Combined, these two sectors accounted for 70% of new robot orders in 2005.

''Automotive purchasing tends to be cyclical, so we would not normally expect to see a repeat of this rapid growth in 2006'' Vincent observed.

Robotics Industry Sets New Records in 2005 as New Orders Jump 23% in North America - Robotics Online

Labels: , ,

Cute Robot Pony, Butterscotch

Ugobe is not the only company planning to woo our kids with cute robot creatures. Hasbro is unveiling their new Furreal creature, Butterscotch, the lifesize miniature pony.

According to their press release:

The BUTTERSCOTCH pony will amaze kids and adults alike with her level of “awareness” and realism.

With built-in light and sound sensors, the BUTTERSCOTCH pony can tell what is happening around her. If it suddenly gets dark, she may become frightened and need a hug from her caregiver. She will also turn her head in response to noises, and relies on calm, soothing voices to settle her. Whether grooming her, playing with her or even climbing on her back, pretending to gallop into the sunset, the BUTTERSCOTCH pony can be a child’s best friend and a parents solution to satisfying their child’s greatest dream without having to build a barn.

“Hasbro has created a breakthrough product that both continues the success of the FURREAL FRIENDS line and defines the future of the toy industry,” said toy and children’s lifestyle expert Chris Byrne, also known as The Toy Guy®. “BUTTERSCOTCH is both a marvel of engineering and technology and a classic 'dream toy'--a virtually real horse that girls can love and care for."

Scheduled for release in Fall 2006, the approximate retail price will be $299.99.


QRIO Still Working as UN Envoy

What do recently unemployed QRIO and former US president Bill Clinton have in common?

They both have landed gigs as emissaries for the UN.

QRIO recently showed up in Sao Paolo, Brazil to encourage kids learn science.
He is on a world tour for the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan.
His trip will include many stops in Brazil.
Perfect timing for Carnival?

It wasn't all science for this bot-about-town, as he was seen lost in the forbidden dance.
"It surprised me when (the robot) danced samba," said Gustavo Vencigueri Azedo, 10, as he mimicked the robot's steps of Brazil's national dance.

Maybe he was out a bit late because students said that during his appearance he "stumbled and got back up, reacting to sounds and talking to students in Portuguese."

As usual he was quite a hit with the girls.
"Izzo could hardly conceal the excitement in her voice as she described the scene, adding the encounter has inspired her classmates to pay more attention in science classes."

This is not the first foray into politics for the video superstar robot. He has been reported schmoozing in Washington DC and in Canada as an ambassador without portfolio of sorts.
Previously QRIO's Science Program have taken him on tours around Asia.

The Japan Times Online - UN Robot Envoy -

Korean Running Robot Stays Connected

By Kim Tae-gyu

South Korea has developed a robot that is capable of running. The feat is the second in the world after Japan and was accomplished by a local venture start-up working on a small budget.

Robotis Thursday took the wraps off the network-based humanoid, tentatively named RX, which can run roughly 500 meters an hour empowered by outsourced software.

``This robot is built up with modulated blocks, which means it can be transformed easily to other types because it is made like Lego building blocks,’’ Robotis chief executive Kim Byoung-soo said.

``Another strength is that this 60-centimeter-tall machine works via software upgraded from outside network, the features our Japanese rivals do not have,’’ Kim said.

Robotis also channeled some $1 million to complete the running robot RX in a year through a joint project with Samsung Electronics, sponsored by the Ministry of Information and Communication.

``Japanese robots are all-in-one models outfitted with all software for sensing and processing capabilities. But our robots are designed to download programs for such features from outside servers with casual updates,’’ Oh Sang-rok, projector manager at the ministry said.

Meanwhile, the MIC plans to commercially launch several types of network robots priced between $1,000 and $2,000 late this year under business alliance with private makers.

The Korea Times : Korea Develops Running Robot


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Bomb Robots in Bulgaria

Two MR-5 mobile robots have entered the ranks of Bulgarian police to help for identifying and disarming explosive devices.

The new mobile facilities, popularly known among policemen as Mr Five, are part of a donation by the US government to Bulgaria's Interior Ministry at the cost of USD 800,000.

Each robot weighs 300 kg, in full equipment, can move on whatsoever terrain and can be directed remotely through an optic wire.

"I hope these robots are never needed, but if they are needed, Bulgaria will have the best possible technology to protect the lives of its policemen and its citizens," the US Ambassador to Sofia, John R. Beyrle.

From the picture it looks like the robots sent to Bulgaria are Mr 5's built by Toronto, Canada based Engineering Service, Inc, ESI.

Robots Boost Bulgarian Police Forces

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Shopping Robot Tested in Japan

Shooping helper robots are being tested at a mall in Japan.

The robots can help shoppers either at the mall or remotely from the web.
It is an effort by NTT Communications and Tmsuk.

The robots navigate with 5500 RFID tags placed in the floor, at the stores, on products and on people.

At the mall:
The shopper can call a robot by showing their own RFID tag to a card reader and requesting a robot escort.
The shopper chooses a store from the touch screen on the robot and the robot accompanies them to the store.
The robot can describe products and specials at the store.
The robot has a lock box to carry your purchases.

The customer selects the store on line and the robot navigates to the store and finds a sales person. There is two-way video so that the shopper at home can talk to the sales person.
It does not explain what the robot does if you buy the product. Since it navigates from RFID tags at the mall, it can't bring the product home to you.

I guess you could also use it to meet friends at the mall. You both log in at the same time then send your robots to the same store where you can chat.

RFID in Japan: RFID-driven Shopping Assistant Robot soon to be tested in a mall

Monday, February 06, 2006

More Theater Robots

Robots wil be playing leading roles in a Elizabeth Meriwether adaptation of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, 'Heddatron.' The play is directed by Alex Timbers and the robots are from the robot design house Botmatrix.

Heddatron includes 5 robot actors in the cast. The robots are not putting anyone out of work though because they must be controlled from back stage.

Robots from Botmatrix have been more independent than these built for the play but for this purpose:
"When you're doing a play, you don't want robots to act on their own, you want to control them," Ms. Finkelstein of Botmatrix said. "You don't want to be innovative. You want the technology to work." And the play's director, Mr. Timbers, required that the robots be tall, humanoid and metallic."
You want them to act!

Ms. Finkelstein says she has grandiose dreams of someday creating an all-robot opera: "It would be the robot creation myth. I have this vision of these clouds, all this robotic foam."

In the meantime, the Botmatrix women consider it their mission to improve people's attitudes toward androids.

"These girls think robots get a bad rap in pop culture," Mr. Timbers said. "And that caused me to reassess how we were depicting them."

More progress for the Robot Agenda.

Do Robots Dream of Electric Lovborgs? - New York Times

You can also listen to a story about producing the play from NPR.

Dancing Robots to Debut

By Penelope Debelle

Enter the robots, towering, ambulatory, geometric structures that cross art deco with Lego, or smaller, silvery creatures that swarm across the stage with bunched spidery legs. They perform as equal partners with the Australian Dance Theatre at the Adelaide Festival of Arts in March, separately or strapped to the dancers' bodies like mutated insect prosthetics.

The performance, Devolution, was created by ADT artistic director Garry Stewart and his collaborator, French-Canadian Louis-Philippe Demers.

Demers, who has created more than 175 machines, is a freelance designer who specialises in machines as media. He has integrated a robot into a dance performance before, but never collaborated in work where robots and dancers move together. The software is complex and tedious to construct yet the machines, at times, mimic the organic movement of humans.

"The machines are so stereotyped, so loaded by science fiction, but these are really abstract, moving shapes," Demers says. "It's more like challenging the notion of what is life, rather than just saying 'man versus machine'."

So far, there is no word from the dancers union over the wages for the on-stage robots.

Closing gap between man and machine - Arts - Entertainment - theage.com.au

Pleo Robot Dinosaur

More news of the Ugobe robots from PC magazine:
By Lance Ulanof...

Ugobe plans on releasing a new kind of sub-$200 personal "Life Forms" robot in the third quarter of this year.
Ugobe executives explained, this is a robot designed to create a roughly three-year relationship with the end users, where the robot will evolve overtime.

Though Pleo will be marketed as a toy, he'll be virtually covered and stuffed with high-technology including a soft-polymer-based skin that cover a series of pressure sensors, infrared in the head to "see' objects and avoid edges, a potentiometer in its belly, force-feedback sensors in its toes to let it know where it is in the world, one 16-bit CPU and a series of 8-bit chips, 14 servo motors and 40 sensors. Pleo's body will be articulated in the center of the torso and at the hips, knees and ankles, and his mouth, eyes and nose will also move. But Ugobe execs believe the most striking thing about Pleo will be the way he moves and respond to his environment. The robot will have "organic movement" that attempts to replicate the way living organisms move and respond to changes in the outside world and within themselves. So, for example, a "tired" Pleo will move more slowly, while an awake one will move with a noticeable amount of energy.

The goal is to have end users to see Pleos as more than just robots, but "living" companions.
Like any robot, this three-pound animatrons will a carry a nickel hydride battery that should offer 3-to-4 hours of battery life.

News from PC Magazine: Can Pleo Robot Charm the Market?


Pleo webpage

"Pleo is modeled after a 1-week-old Camarasaurus sauropod, or long neck dinosaur"
Link to Ugobe press release (pdf)

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 03, 2006

Underwater Autonomous Robot Finds Ancient Greek Shipwreck

After lying hidden for centuries off the coast of Greece, a sunken 4th century B.C. merchant ship and its cargo have been surveyed by an international team using a robotic underwater vehicle. The team accomplished in two days what it would take divers years to do.

The Chios wreck demonstrates how advanced technology can dramatically change the field of underwater archeology, completing in two days what would have taken SCUBA divers using conventional methods years to accomplish.

Using a novel autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) named SeaBED developed and operated by Wodds Hole Oceanographic Institutue, WHOI, the team made a high-precision photometric survey of the site using techniques developed by WHOI and MIT researchers over the past eight years.

For a single three-hour dive, SeaBED was programmed to “fly” over the shipwreck site in precisely spaced tracks. Multibeam sonar completely mapped the wreck while a digital camera collected thousands of high-resolution images. The vehicle took 7,650 images on four dives to reveal the ship's ceramic cargo and marine life, including bright yellow sponges and colorful fish. The vehicle did not touch the wreck, leaving it in an undisturbed state, important for future studies.

Robotic technology is the only way to reach deep shipwrecks like the one at Chios, but the systems can also be applied to shallower sites.

“By using this technology, diving archeologists will be freed from routine measuring and sketching tasks, and instead can concentrate on the things people do better than robots: excavation and data interpretation,” contends Singh, an engineering and imaging scientist. “With repeated performances, we'll be able to survey shipwrecks faster and with greater accuracy than ever before.”

WHOI : Media Relations : News Release : Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Maps Ancient Greek Shipwreck


Japan to launch new robot initiative

TOKYO, Feb 3 Asia in Focus - The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will begin a results-oriented robot development project in fiscal 2006 that will be broad in scope, supporting applications for everything from factory automation to nanny-robots that can make sure children safely get to school and back.

* The project will support development work on three themes: factory automation, robots that operate in difficult environments and robots that help people in daily activities.

* Within in each theme the work will focus on specific objectives, such as a robot that can assemble flexible materials like bundles of wires, and a robot that can bus tables at a family restaurant.

Japan to launch new robot development initiative

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Robot Mule Thinks in Linux

iRobot used embedded Linux to build an autonomous unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) aimed at military scouting, guarding, and hauling applications. The "R-Gator" is based on John Deere's diesel-powered, 658cc M-Gator military utility vehicle platform, with control, navigation, and object-avoidance systems based on BlueCat Linux from LynuxWorks.

iRobot describes R-Gator as "an intelligent UGV that can autonomously perform dangerous military missions, including acting as an unmanned scout, 'point man,' perimeter guard, [and] pack/ammo/supply carrier for soldiers, marines, and airmen."
The R-Gator can be shifted quickly between remote operation, autonomous, and manual modes, a feature that lets military personnel evaluate unmanned vehicle technology in "numerous operational scenarios," the company says.
In follow mode the R-Gator carries supplies for troops on patrol.

Linux powers autonomous military ground vehicle


Robot Rescue Monster

A giant rescue robot with “feet” like a bulldozer and arms 5 meters in length is undergoing practical testing at Nagaoka University of Technology (Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture).
Designed for avalanche disaster relief and snow removal operations, the robot — known as T-52 Enryu - “rescue dragon" in Japanese — is being developed by Tmsuk, a Kitakyushu-based robot manufacturer. T-52 Enryu stands 3.45 meters tall, weighs 5 tons and has 7 cameras.

In the tests, which began on February 1, T-52 Enryu showed off its avalanche prevention skills by removing accumulated snow from the edge of a cliff. The robot also demonstrated its ability to extract a car buried under a bank of snow. Remote control operation is being tested at avalanche sites.

Tetsuya Kimura, an associate professor conducting rescue robot research at Nagaoka University of Technology, says, “In addition to performing avalanche-related work, we hope the robot will be useful in removing snow around the entrances to underground shopping arcades or tunnels.” Tmsuk aims to put T-52 Enryu to practical use in another year or two. Testing will be open to the public on February 4.

It may also be called into service to do battle with Godzilla or other flying or fire-breathing monsters that attack Tokyo from time to time.

Translated by:
Pink Tentacle from Yomiuri Shimbum

Other Tmsuk creations:
Gives Tours and Talks
Household Eyeball Watches for You

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Robosapien Shrink

Can't afford that therapy your former boss recommended?

Here's an opportunity for free 5 minutes with a sympathetic listener. Try not to notice that it is a choppy voice from a ranting robosapien.

ELIZA REDUX is named after the famous 1966 human conversation simulator program Eliza by Joseph Weizenbaum at MIT.

First you wait in the 'Wading room' for your turn. The robot analyst can only talk to one person at a time. When your time comes you go into the next room where the robot appears on a screen in front of you.
You ask your questions and give your answers by typing onto a note pad. The robot answers back with a voice.

Obviously you should be able to resolve all your problems in 5 minutes. Interactive fun!


Ugobe Robot Mystery

Maybe Sony bowed out of the robot business because they knew they they were up against a formidable competitior.

describes themselves:
"We develop and market revolutionary robotic technology that transforms inanimate objects into lifelike creatures exhibiting stunning, organic movement and behaviors. Like Pixar, we blur technology into reality."

"UGOBE is developing a line of revolutionary robotic creatures and companions that exhibit stunning lifelike personalities, sound and responses that will inspire and entertain the child in all of us. "

I do not know who has seen an actual product from this group yet. (But then, I don't hang in the Silicon Valley venture capital circles.)
However, they are scheduled to show their amazing inventions at the that-might-just-work festival, DEMO 06, next week in Phoenix.

They definately have the entrepreneur power to attract the money:
"UGOBE is the latest endeavor for polymath toy inventor, Caleb Chung, one of the most successful and respected toy creators in the $25 billion US toy industry.
Caleb is renowned in both toy and robotic circles as the designer of Furby..."

With CEO cofounder, Bob Christopher:
"An experienced executive leader, Mr., Christopher has contributed to the success of Zentera, Five 9, Circle 24, ValuCircle, Jopari, Mercotel, and NextSport."

etc, yawn...

They say that the robots are so realistic that they had to invent a new word, realbot.
We will see the products "effectively blur the distinction between toy, robot and pet..."

Will the product live up to the hype?
Are we dealing with the next 'Ginger' here?

Hopefully we will find out next week.

See the update here


Labels: ,