Monday, November 27, 2006

Home Robot Can See and Think

Evolution Robotics has announced that they have partnered with Japanese toymaker Bandai to give visual pattern recognition abilities to a home robot kit.
Their new creation is the NetTansor robot which was introduced last month will be available for sale in Japan in December.

The 12 inch tall robot rolls on 3 wheels and includes, cameras, microphone and speakers, and collision avoidance sensors.

The robot will be accessible remotely so that you can check on your home while you are away. Also, using the Evolution Robotics ViPR technology it will be able to recognize changes and make decisions on its own.

Don't forget to check out Roboteria for all you holiday robot needs.

For example, the robot could act as a security guard and only call you if a person enters the house. Or it could keep an eye on how much dog food is left and warn someone - you or another of your household robots - when the food is gone.

The robots also include software for games with kids that use the robot's visual recognition skills.

The ability of the robot to make decisions based on what it sees will add another level of practicality to the home robot.

Bandai and Evolution Robotics Partner on Breakthrough Telepresence Robot

Evolution Robotics is also working on home robot software for visual or navigation with Wowwee and Yujin Robotics.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Quigmans

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ubiko For Welcoming Help

Ubiko is a rolling robot that responds to voice request.
This helper from UBIX is designed to be a greeter in a store. It can welcome people, show them around and recommend products.
According to Akihabara News, you can hire Ubiko for only 350 euros per hour.

Ubiko, the robot that will eventually put you out of work :

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Chinese Security Robot

According to Xinhau the new security robot jointly developed by the Robot Research Institute of the Civil Aviation University of China and Tianjin YAAN Technology Electronics Co. Ltd., is the first of its kind in China.

The two-wheeled robot looks like a small car. It can roam independently on flat surfaces and up to a 20 degree incline.

It can be sent to find its own way or travel a pre-programmed route.

It transmits infromation from its wide-angle cameras back to a base station.

The stylish design looks like America 1950's futuristic (or 2000's China futuristic).

Xinhua - English


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Robot Radiosurgery Firm Files for IPO

Accuray, the makers of the robot radiosurgery machine CyberKnife have applied with the SEC for a stock offering.

The Sunnyvale, California company was founded in 1990 to sell the first Cyberknife systems for limited use radiosurgery in treating tumors in the head and neck.

Since then, the robot system has advanced and successfully used for many different radiosurgery procedures.

Over 140 of the multi-million dollar machines have been installed worldwide.

Accuray will try to raise US $230 million in the offering.

Making Radiosurgery an Option for Every Cancer Patient

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hacking Roomba

Do you feel the need to get more personal with your vacuum cleaner robot? Maybe you want to speak to it through Bluetooth or serial port. Maybe you just want to get a better understanding of how your vacuum robot sees the world.

This new book by Tod E. Kurt, Hacking Roomba, can show you everything you need to know about bringing your floor-running friend to life.

Just published. Available from

Hacking Roomba

BIRON: Let's Interact

Researchers at Bielefeld University in Germany are working on a robot to help understand and develop robot-human interaction.
The robot, BIRON, for Bielefield Robot Companion, will give a person its full attention and learn from them.

BIRON first recognizes a person's face and tracks it. If the person wants to talk to BIRON they must look at the robot. The robot can recognize speech and hand gestures and will follow you if you ask it to.

The robot is built on a Mobile Robots base with laser rangefinder, cameras, microphones and a video screen for a face.

Applied Computer Science Group - BIRON - the Bielefeld Robot Companion

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ride the Robot

Industrial robot manufacturer Kuka and Canadian amusement park ride designer Primal Rides have joined forces to produce themed rides based on a Kuka robot arm.

The 6 degree of freedom arm has been used before as a ride called Robocoaster.
The arm can carry over 1000 pounds (500 kg) out to a 3.3 meter reach. It is capable of accelerating the payload to 2g's.

Evidently the Robocoaster just shook you around until you puked. The Primal Rides game will be fully interactive. The planned "Fight or Fright" ride will challenge participants to shoot at themed targets for points. As the rider's points go up, the targets and speed of the ride increase - until you barf.

Primal Rides plans to offer the ride designs around robot arms and be able to change the game or the theme without replacing the expensive body-slamming hardware.

KUKA Robotics and Primal Rides Sign System Partner Agreement for New Fully Interactive Amusement Ride: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Airport Gets Robot Arms

Four of the gates at Denver International Airport are now using robot bridges move passengers on and off the planes.
The passenger bridges made by Dewbridge are smart enough to find the doors of the planes and dock without help from any people. These passenger tunnels are also double-armed to allow opening both front and rear doors of the planes.

The bridges use Energid Technologies' vision system and object recognition technology to find the doors on the planes. The vision system is supposed to work in any kind of weather including rain and snow and to be able to recognize the doors regardless of the color or patterns painted on the plane.

Right now the Autodocker passenger bridges are used on four United Airlines gates but their use may spread. They can eliminate the need for one person at the gate and reduce the turnaround time by up to ten minutes.

They probably can dock more accurately than humans too.

Dewbridge Deploys Energid Robotic Vision Technology for AutoDocker(TM) Jet Bridges at Denver Airport

Getting a Grasp on the World

A robot helper to follow you around and clean up after you may not be too far off.

Researchers at Stanford University are teaching a robot how to reach for and pick up objects that it has never seen before.
The STAIR project, for Stanford Artificial Intelligence Robot, is an effort to get robots to perform useful household tasks and being able to pick up objects is just one part of the puzzle.

The overall project has four tasks as objectives for a helper robot:
Fetching a book or a person from an office, in response to a verbal request.
Cleaning up after a party, including picking up and throwing away trash, and placing dirty dishes in the dishwasher.
Using tools (screwdriver, hammer, pliers, etc.) to assemble an IKEA bookshelf kit.
Showing guests around an active area (in which things change daily), answering questions and keeping track of the entire group.

While picking up objects may seem like a small step, the team is quite optimistic about the future of their intelligent robots. Dr.Andrew Ng working on the project says that, "Within a decade we hope to develop the technology that will make it useful to put a robot in every home and office."

So far they have developed an algorithm for a one-armed robot to correctly pick up things around the lab. The education of the robot started with identifying pick-up points on drawings of objects then graduated on to looking at real things. The robot uses a simple camera and figures out where to grab the object by 'triangulating' between two views of the object and comparing it to past experiences rather than trying to build up a complete 3D model and calculating the best handle.

Robot learns to grasp everyday chores

NYC ArtBots: The Robot Talent Show

ArtBots is having a New York regional show this week as part of the Science+Art Festival.

8 robot artists and groups will show off their creations from November 9 -12. And it is free!

There have been quite a few robots featured here at Robot Gossip from previous ArtBots shows.
For you NYC readers - send me some pictures!

ArtBots: The Robot Talent Show

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Tennis Robot

The perfect tennis partner.

The SwingShot Tennis Mate tennis robot from Astro Research Corporation.
Astro Research is a Japanese firm specializing in satellites and launch services. So naturally their research led to the invention of a tennis robot. But, no, the Tennis Mate does not launch balls into orbit.
The robot uses a real tennis racket to serve the balls with an easy lob or advanced power-serve. The robot takes commands from remote control or pre-set parameters from its control panel. The hopper holds 150 balls - enough to warm up any serious tennis player or wear out any normal person.
A special non-speaking feature allows the robot to sit there quietly even if the player swears at it and insults its family.

It will sell for around 840000 yen (US$7100). They are targeting tennis clubs and schools.

See a video here:

Robot Trains Not Welcome

A recent idea for small robot trains to run on America's underutilized railroad tracks may face more hurdles than just technological problems.
In the US there are around 3000 accidents per year at highway railroad crossings. (Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis)

Quoted from Oregon Public Broadcasting:
By Elizabeth Wynne-Johnson

Officials in Hermiston, Oregon are squaring off against the nation's largest railroad over remote-controlled trains.

Union Pacific already uses remote control to move locomotives inside dozens of Northwest rail yards. The company says the technology enhances safety and reduces human error.

Hermiston officials got an anonymous tip this week that Union Pacific was planning a test run right through town in the wee hours of the morning.

City Manager Ed Brookshire says the tracks through Hermiston include too many dangerous crossings. But Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis says no such test was planned.

Mark Davis: "I think it was probably a misunderstanding or a rumor that was started bc of all the data gathering over the last several weeks."

The railroad is using a stretch of the Hermiston track for computer modeling. But it says more study and federal approval are needed.

Public NewsRoom

Soft Touch Robot Arm Extends Helping Hand

The Katana robot arm from Swiss company Neuronics AG is designed to work with a human partner.
The arm weighs about 4kg and has a payload capability of 500 grams with a 60 cm reach. (About 1 pound lift with 2 foot reach) It can position the grippers to within +/- 0.1mm accuracy.

The light touch and slow movement of the arm makes it perfect for working with a person. No guard or human exclusion zone are needed. The arm can automate tedious locating tasks for a person and can position a workpiece much more accurately than a person ever could.

The robot hand can be equipped with all kinds of sensors and grippers: soft fingers, vacuum pick-up, sensors for pressure, infrared, conductivity or anything else you can think of.

It can also be mounted on a small cart to carry things around the lab for you.

It comes in 5 and 6 degree of freedom models and you can expect the price to start around US $25K.

Neuronics AG - Intelligent Automation