Friday, December 29, 2006

Roboteria Advertisement

Don't foget that you can use your Amazon gift certificates at Roboteria. You can buy anything available at through Roboteria.

It's exciting to have a credit at a store.
You feel rich and you can go on a shopping spree to splurge on everything you have always wanted.

On occasion of everyone having an gift certificate burning a hole in their pockets, I have set up a special 'go ahead and splurge' department at Roboteria.

Hurry over and buy something before the good stuff is gone! ka-ching.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Go-Robo! Train Your RoboSapien

Software to control WowWee robots, Go-Robo! is available now for testing.

The windows software allows you to write programs for RoboSapiens,Robopets, Roboreptiles and Roboraptor and send the commands to them through infrared.

Young robot masters can put together a program by building up steps using a graphical design mode. More experienced programmers can use the GRIDscript (Go-Robo ID Script) language.

The full commercial release is expected in a few months but experimenters can request an early copy now.

Check out the limited time HUGE DISCOUNTS on Roboreptile and RoboPet one the WowWee page at ROBOTERIA.

Go-Robo! Creative computer programming with robots

Monday, December 25, 2006

Japan Honors Robots

Japanese, METI, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry chose the top ten robots from 153 nominations for their first annual Robot Awards.

The winners included Paro, the robot baby seal, My Spoon feeding arm robot from SECOM and Kondo's small humanoid KHR-2HV.

Watch this space for the upcoming announcement of the Robot Gossip Robot of The Year.

Top 10 robots selected for Robot Award 2006 ::: Pink Tentacle

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Let Tireless Tire Robots Pimp Your Ride

Tiremaker Pirelli is pumping up their profits using factory robots to make custom tires.

The system is called modular integrated robotized system, or MIRS. "Robots manage the entire production cycle in an uninterrupted sequence from the compounds to the finished tyres , with no semifinished products to be moved around and no intermediate storage phases." No tooling changes are needed between product changes.

Niche Manufacturing Comes to a Car’s Four Corners - New York Times

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Robot Scampers Along Power Lines

Engineers at the University of Washington have developed a robot to crawl along power cables to inspect for damage.

The Robotic Cable Inspection System was developed by the Sensors, Energy and Automation Laboratory (SEAL) at UW.
The prototype has been tested mostly on underground cables on campus but was recently taken to Louisiana for field testing on the storm damaged network around New Orleans.

The robot is designed to check for damage on 3 inch diameter main power distribution cables. It has three types of sensors for assessing the condition of the cable insulation. It uses heat sensors, an acoustic sensor to listen for arcing, and 'fringing electric field' sensors to find 'water trees' that have seeped into the defects in the insulation. The robot also has video to show where it is as it communicates wirelessly back to the control base.

Project leader Alexander Mamishev says, ""Maintaining a distributed infrastructure -- power systems, roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings -- is a very large and costly endeavor. Over the years, maintenance costs more than construction. Our vision is that someday robots will accomplish the lion's share of maintenance tasks."

The research has been ongoing for five years. | University of Washington News and Information

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Robots Riot in UK - Dump Tea Into Harbor

Maybe there would be a headline like the one above this article in the future, says a UK study. As reported all over the world, the UK's Chief Scientist, Sir David King, has commissioned a study to see how we can keep robots "correctly managed" to "lead to increased labour output and greater prosperity." The problem? Uppity robots will demand rights which will threaten our very ideas of humanity.

However, the idea to grant rights to robots may just be part of a plan to soak them for taxes and draft them into the army.
According to the report, "Extension of legal rights to robots would likely include requests that robots also be subject to certain responsibilities within society such as voting, the obligation to pay taxes, and serve compulsory military service"

The study is part of a futures study being conducted by consulting firms Ipsos MORI and Outsights.

Check out the Sigma Scan database here.

As a futurist I have to say that the Sigma Scan database is a nice list of emerging issues.
As someone on vacation right now, I also have to say how much it cracks me up how this one issue of robot rights has jumped into the press.

I think we should all be much more concerned about the possibility of animals learning how to talk, which is also covered in the study.
The development of human-animal communication could lead to, "The animal rights movement could be strengthened, and possibly become more militant. There could be calls for animal rights to be made equal to humans, or at least more rigorously protected in law."

Which would be worse: voting robots or militant talking dogs? / World / UK - UK report says robots will have rights

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wheelchairs That Think

Quick Links:

Engineers at Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon universities, working with a Philadelphia-based start-up, have integrated robotics, laser and wireless technologies into a new system that promises to make it safer and cheaper for wheelchair users to drive a car.
ScienceDaily: Robotics, Laser And Wireless Technologies Make Driving Safer For Wheelchair Users

In his research Sven Rönnbäck of Luleå University of Technology in Sweden has developed a new prototype wheelchair that can be either driven manually or remote controlled but can also navigate on its own.

Adaptive, sensor-laden garments could provide a new way for quadriplegics to control their wheelchairs. ...the researchers are developing an adaptive device using sensor-laden fabric. The garment is printed with 52 flexible, piezoresistive sensors developed at the University of Pisa.
MIT Technology Review

Home helper robot
Biped locomotor

Sunday, December 17, 2006


I will be traveling and having a merry Christmas over the next week so I may not have time for regular posts.

I will try to find time to to direct you to some interesting and worthwhile links.

The US postal service needs fewer people but humans still have to read handwritten addresses to keep the robots running.
Floridian: Robots that deliver
I wonder if they have thought of using Mechanical Turk.
Jobs of the future.

From Hanson Robotics, creator of ultra-realistic robots like Albert Hubo and Phillip K Dick heads, is talking about making 2-foot humanoids for the home entertainment market. found a video of a robot arm with a perfect handshake.

SB:Insects with their guts removed and replaced with delicate clockwork mechanisms. Kinda creepy?

Friday, December 15, 2006

WowWee Dragonfly Ornithopter

Expect a flying robot Dragonfly next year from Robosapien creators WowWee.
The flying robot is powered completely by flapping wings - no propellers. According to T3, it can fly for 15 minutes within 150 feet of the remote control.

Don't forget to check out the WowWee page at ROBOTERIA.

The design of the robot fly is based on the ornithopters of Sean Frawley who is currently a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and consultant to toymaker WowWee.
The design is based on the rubber-band powered ornithopter plans that Frawley designed while in high school. With a friend he started a online business, Ornithopter Technologies, selling the flyers.

Video via

WowWee expects to have the Dragonfly robots available for sale by next Christmas. They have a debut planned for the Consumer Electronics Show next month.

Check out the official FlyTech website

UPDATE2: Radio Shack shows these available now for $50 with a 1-2 day delivery. I have not ordered one myself so I don't promise anything. If someone else gets one that quick please post a comment here.
Special Projects -- Invention Mysteries Serial Story | NIE WORLD

Robot Controlled By Brainwave Commands

Scientists in the University of Washington Laboratory for Neural Systems have demonstrated an interface between a person and robot that registers commands from the human's thought patterns alone.

The semi-autonomous robot works as a team with the human operator. The person wears a skull cap covered with 32 electrodes that pick up the brainwave patterns and send them to a computer.
In the demonstrated experiment, the robot found two blocks while the human operator watched the action on a computer screen through the robots eyes. The operator then thought about which block to choose. The robot picks up the correct block 94 percent of the time.

Says leader of the project, Rajesh Rao, "This is really a proof-of-concept demonstration. It suggests that one day we might be able to use semi-autonomous robots for such jobs as helping disabled people or performing routine tasks in a person's home." For example, you think, "I might like a beer," and your robot servant walks to the store, buys it and brings it to you.

Check out the movie here.

Asimo Researches Brain Control

Robot Controlled By Brain-in-a-dish
Neural Interface
Brain Implants Control Arm | University of Washington News and Information

Robots Join Rescue Effort

Rescue workers have brought in flying drones to help locate hikers lost near the summit of Mount Hood in Oregon.

A Colorado non-profit organization, Alliance for Robot-Assisted Crisis Assessment and Response, ARACAR, has joined the search efforts for the lost mountaneers. ARACAR brings 18 inch flying surveyors with visible light and heat sensing eyes. They can be operated from up to six miles.
Rescue teams had hoped that the remote flyers would be able to search even with the continuing bad weather that has kept them penned in at lower altitude camps.
As of yesterday the weather was still too severe even for the robots.

The ARACAR team joins the efforts of Eugene Mountain Rescue, the 10th Special Forces Search and Rescue team , the Hood River Crag Rats, Corvallis Search and Rescue and the U.S. Air Force's 304th Rescue Squadron.

Also, a cell phone signal was detected a few days earlier so eavesdropping experts have been called in. The cell company, the FBI and a government funded spy company out of North Carolina, Iomax USA, have been mustered to try to pinpoint the location of the hikers' phone.

It is believed that one of the hikers is injured near the summit. Two others in the party were thought to have gone for help and could be anywhere on the mountain. Search

More on ARACAR from Rocky Mountain News.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Microsoft Releases Robot Software

Microsoft released their Robotics Studio Software yesterday. The robotics software, which was announced back in June, is a complete development environment for robots. It includes a visual programming language, a 3-D virtual simulation environment and a runtime framework for interfacing with all kinds of hardware.

The software is free for hobbyists, experimenters and students and costs $399 for those wanting to use it commercially. Download it here.

Microsoft hopes that their software will become the heart and soul of future robots just as DOS and Windows launched the revolution in desktop computers.

The software has gained enthusiastic support since the beta release in June. It is already in use by many, many companies, schools and roboticists.

For just one example, research lab SRI International announced yesterday that they are creating robot localization, navigation and mapping software with MS Robotics Studio. SRI's software will give autonomous robots the ability to know where they are, map-out where they want to go and how to get there.

It has already been used with iRobot, Lego and others.

Will robots become as dependent on Microsoft software as PC's are now? It is a possibility.

Will we become as dependent on robots as we are on computers?

The Robot Gossip Contest 1 to identify the turning point - when we become dependent on robots - is still open.

One reader, JakeH, has pointed out that the semiconductor manufacturing industry is already dependent on robots. His observation is appreciated but I still think society as a whole can survive without them for now.

It will not be long though before control some very necessary part of our lives so that without them civilization as we know it would crumble.
We will see signs of this in legislation that will set standards of reliability or define liabilities for failures of a robot.

Microsoft Robotics Studio Now Available to Provide Common Development Platform: More than 30 vendors offer support for creating broad range of innovative robotics applications.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bringing Video Game Realism to War

Pennsylvania company Chatten Associates has released their latest version of telepresence interface for military and civilian use.

The Head Aimed Remote Viewer, HARV, is based on the eMagin Z800 3DVisor on the human operator and gimbal-mounted camera on the remote robot.
The 3DVisor fills the operator's vision as it tracks their head movements. The robot's camera exactly follows the motion of the operator's head.

The interface has been used for explosive disposal robots and weaponized robots as well as civilian use on bulldozers. It can increase the effectiveness of the human/robot team by many times. According to Chatten, "The sense of tele-presence is so convincing that the operator’s vision processing is ”fooled“ into believing the operator is actually on the vehicle."

Chatten Associates : Human/Robotic Interfaces : Welcome


Monday, December 11, 2006

ASIMO Collapses On Stage

Amid rumors swirling around Asimo's rock-star lifestyle, fans were aghast when he collapsed during a live performance. His press corps maintained their usual silence while speculation grows that his busy schedule and pressures from the launch of his new film career may be taking their toll.

He has recently been in Germany filming a series of commercials for Honda that will appear on British television. The director of the project says that he has been well behaved but he is not very flexible when it comes to making adjustments on the set.

According to The Independent online, "Asimo does not have the prima-donna tendencies of a lead actor." But he is still learning the craft. The article says of the director, "He endured a "slow, arduous and painful process" where the slightest diversion from the script called for advanced mathematics, re-programming and the loss of hours of valuable filming time."

The advertising campaign is said to begin today with the launch of short scenes being released onto iTunes. One wonders whether the live performance breakdown is a sign that Asimo is overplaying his battery life or maybe this is just a couch-jumping stunt to start the buzz about his new films. Asimo emerged from rehab last year with significant upgrades - could we be seeing a relapse?

Either way, this darling of science, big business, government and royalty is bound to come through this more popular than ever with his reputation unscathed.

via PinkTentacle

Thursday, December 07, 2006

K-TEAM Next Gen Mini Robot

Swiss company K-Team Corporation has released their next generation mini mobile robot for research and education.

The Khepera III is the latest version of the Khepera line that has been used in education for ten years.

Thew Khepera III is 130 mm in diamater and 70 mm tall. It is designed to work on a tabletop or run around on a lab floor.

It comes with 8 looking-out and 2 ground-looking infra-red sensors and 5 ultra sonic sensors. It has an embedded Linux operating system and communicates via serial or USB.

It can be upgraded for wireless communication, color camera and miniature manipulator. Also, the open-source interfaces can be adapted to almost any application.

The cost is not shown on the website yet. The Khepera II is in the US $1300 range depending on the options.

See the movie...

K-TEAM Corporation

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Robot Lobster

A new exhibition called Design Life Now: National Design Triennial 2006, is opening at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in NYC. It will run from December 8 until July 29, 2007.

One of the design technology examples on display are robot lobsters designed to crawl along the bottom of coastal areas to monitor the environment or search for mines.

The robot lobster are from the Biomimetic Underwater Robot Program at the Marine Science Center of Northeastern University.

The underwater robots are based on the neurophysiology and actual behavior of lobsters. The biomimetic design allows greatest performance and adaptability of the robots to the rocky bottom where they operate.

The lab, led by biologist Dr. Joseph Ayers, is also working on another underwater robot modeled after the eel-like lamprey which is propelled through the water by the undulations of its body.

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum | National Design Triennial: Design Life Now


Monday, December 04, 2006

Helping Robots See

A vision software company, a robot maker, a university and possibly one of the world's largest employers of robots, Toyota, are joining forces to bring the gift of sight to factory robots.

Their objective is to empower robots to recognize random parts in a bin and be able to pick what is needed.

The project is led by Braintech who already makes vision guidance software for factory robots. The robot hardware expertise will come from ABB and it will all be held together with research help from University of British Columbia Collaborative Advanced Robotics and Intelligent Systems Laboratory.
There is also money coming from Precarn, a non-profit that helps new technology startups in Canada.

Owen Jones, CEO of Braintech describes their high expectations and ambitious schedule, "Our internal analysis projects a market size of over 450,000 systems, just for the automotive sector and worth approximately $1Billion in software revenues. With Precarn’s financial support and in collaboration with UBC, ABB and Toyota we expect to release our first commercial system by the end of 2007."

Braintech Teams with ABB, Toyota, and University Of BC - Robotics Online