Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hoboken Robot Garage Update

Update on earlier story:
Hoboken city officials are taking Robotics Parking, Inc to court to force them to allow control over the Garden Street robot garage. Officials claim that Robotics Parking found a way to change the passcodes to the garage remotely. Robotics was ousted as operator of the machine a few days ago.

Hundreds of cars are trapped inside the muli-story robot garage and no amount of coaxing will make it set them free. ("Say the magic word.")

From one angry customer:
"Today is my day off and I was supposed to go surfing at Sandy Hook," said Bruce Lamonte, 45, who was dressed in shorts and flip flops while waiting to hear about his car yesterday afternoon. "I'm hoping that my car will come out soon so I can salvage part of the day, either that or clean the house." (I wonder if he uses a robot vacuum cleaner.)

By Friday evening they were able to retrieve some of the cars by manually entering passcodes. The robot is still crippled though becasue they do not have an operating manual and Robotics will not help. Says Dennis Clarke, general manager of Robotics, "If you own the copyright, you have a right to use it. They are not entitled to our source codes. This is very critical proprietary information covered under contract law and intellectual properties."

Dennis Clarke denies that they tampered with the garage but says, "I prayed on the beach this morning and (the codes) all changed."'s Printer-Friendly Page

NewJersey Journal

Robot Sommelier

NEC's rotund little robot PaPeRo was recently spotted all over Paris. Now the reason becomes clear.
He was evidently in France for wine tasting training.

NEC and MIE University have coaxed the little robot into identifying 30 types of wine and expect that he will learn many more.

Without a mouth he tastes the wine through infrared light and sensors in a special finger. Last year he had learned to analyze the nutritional content of food by tasting it. What's next? Biometric id of people by taste? ("Hey! Pull my finger!")

The PaPeRo robot platform is designed for research in creating a personal robot for the home. It can perform household chores and also download to a PDA so CG PaPeRo can go "virtually" anywhere.

New Scientist Tech - Breaking News - Wine-tasting robot to spot fraudulent bottles

Friday, July 28, 2006

Future Jobs For Humans

Many people worry that after robots take over all the jobs then humans will have nothing to do.
There is really no reason to worry for a few reasons. First, if the robots are so smart that they take all the jobs then they should be smart enough to figure out how to make more jobs for humans.
Secondly, robots will never really take over all the jobs. There are some tasks that robots just will never be able to do. Scientists are working on Artificial Intelligence (AI) but 'intelligence' is not all there is to being human. In order to completely replace humans, robots would also have to have built in artificial stupidity. Maybe artificial 'humanity' would be a better term.

Humans can do things and think things that they could never explain or sometimes not even recognize that they are doing. Robots will always need the humans to perform the tasks that do not require 'intelligence' per se but rather some kind of feeling. Like voting for their favorite American Idol.

There are some examples lately of the type of jobs that humans can look forward to in a robot dominated future.
Scientists at Colombia University Laboratory for Intellingent Inaging and Neural Computing have hooked up people to brain monitors to measure their reactions to pictures. There is sometimes an 'aha' moment of recognition when a person sees something interesting. By connecting the person to a computer they can scan volumes of pictures and mark the ones that get a reaction. The viewer-person does not even have to be aware that they bleeped on a picture. They just sit and watch and let their brain do all the work. More...

In a more practical (read commercial) application of human sense and nonsense look at Amazon Mechanical Turk.
This service matches tasks too difficult for a computer to people who want to work on such tasks. The jobs are broken into very small pieces, called Human Intelligence Tasks or HIT's, that pay 1 cent and up each.
There are some high-paying tasks like transcribing podcasts that pay a few dollars, but most of them are for pennies, literally.
The jobs include identifying features in pictures, helping identify meanings of words on web pages, answering matching questions and checking the work of the other HIT's.

I think we have barely begun to discover what people are willing to do for pennies in their spare time. I made $0.93 while watching TV last night for about an hour of clicking.
Aaron Koblin, a grad student at UCLA, paid people 2 cents each to "draw a sheep facing left." In 40 days he got over 10,000 sheep drawings which he now sells at The Sheep Market as sheets of stickers at 20 for $20.

So do not despair that robots will take all our jobs. We will adapt and fill in the gaps left after the robots are occupied doing all the so called 'intelligent' jobs.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Radiosurgery Robot gaining Acceptance

In a recent press release Accuray Incorporated announced that more than 15 studies of their flagship product Cyberknife will be presented at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) annual meeting, July 30-Aug 3 in Orlando, Florida.

The Cynerknife robot is a radiosurgery system for treatment of tumors. The robot tracks the movement of the patient to keep the beam of radiation focused on the exact spot. The robot can track the target location to sub-millimeter accuracy and can compensate for motions as small as breathing.
The robot system allows higher radiation doses directly to the tumor with less overall exposure to the patient.
The results have shown that patients get results quicker and with fewer treatments than older methods.

Accuray is a privately held company in California. They have sold over 100 of the Cyberknife systems.

The design of the robot reminds me of the cosmetic surgery robot at NewYou from the 1975 movie Logan's Run. Except an evil doctor tried to kill the hero with this one's laser beams.

Press Release SUNNYVALE, CALIF., July 26, 2006

Neurosurgery Robot

Da Vinci robot Surgery

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Flying Robots Behaving Badly

In just a few years incidents involving UAV's will be so commonplace that they will not make the news. But for now robots are still pioneering into new territory...

UAV escapes from captivity in western New York state...
FORT DRUM – Shortly before 1 p.m. today, Air Force Research Laboratory, Rome Research Site personnel lost contact with an unmanned aerial vehicle being tested here.

In the unlikely event the aircraft has left Fort Drum, information about the vehicle's location can be provided to Fort Drum Range Control.

Maybe it took off to Canada.
Fort Drum News Release / Media Advisory

Israeli UAV fires on its own forces...
The IAF revealed on Tuesday that it had prevented a severe disaster on the previous day when it had halted the fire that a UAV was shooting at Israeli troops.

A senior Air Force officer said that the UAV opened fire on ground troops operating in Bint Jbeil after receiving the coordinates from the Golani Brigade. The fire was stopped when the IAF realized the mistake.

No one was wounded in the incident.


Labels: ,

Asimo Travels to Philippines

Superstar robot Asimo added another duty to his portfolio as he traveled to Manila, Philippines as Japan's Ambassador of Technology.

In an elegant reception in the Grand Ballroom of Mandarin Oriental, Asimo represented Japan in celebration of 50 years of Philippine-Japan Friendship.

The details of the robot diplomat's agenda for the visit were not available.
When Asimo visited in 2003 he was cheered by 10,000 fans after a meeting with President Gloria Arroyo.
He also known to take advantage of all 26 of his degrees of freedom in after-hours shenanigans.

Japan and Philippines agreed on the basic political points of a free trade agreement in 2004 and are hoping to close on the details this year.
Some of the sticking points of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) may include Philippines desire for more workers allowed in Japan - especially nursing and healthcare workers.

It is not clear whether Asimo will take a hard line on limiting immigrant healthcare workers. It is widely known that Japan has been spending large amounts of research dollars on healthcare robots. Asimo may lean toward supporting his mechanical cousins rather than allowing more foreign nurses.

Manila Bulletin Online

Robot Parking Garage Starts War in New Jersey

Bonnie Friedman

HOBOKEN — The battle between the Hoboken Parking Utility and the operators of the Garden Street automated garage broke out into full-fledged war last night — and city taxpayers could be left picking up a multi-million dollar tab.

Escorted by several Hoboken police officers, Parking Utility Director John Corea entered the garage, at 916 Garden St., just after 10 p.m. and ordered an employee to leave the premises, according Dennis Clarke, general manager of Robotics Parking Inc., the Clearwater, Fla-based company that has operated the first-in-the-nation robot garage since it opened in 2002.

Yesterday morning, a parking utility employee stationed outside the garage said that a new company — Israel-based Unitronics — has agreed to run the equipment in the garage.

Several employees of Unitronics filed in and out of the offices yesterday morning as a police officer stationed inside the vestibule looked on.

The city owns the property and equipment at the 314-space garage — but not the software used to operate the intricate system of elevators, pallets and pulleys.

Clarke said yesterday that the company plans to file an injuction in federal court seeking both civil and criminal penalties for allowing the city to bring another company in to copy trade secrets.

“This is a criminal act,” he said. “They may be sending what they are copying out of the country to people elsewhere to be reverse engineered so they have the ability to run it without having to pay software fees. If they get away with this, then (Bill) Gates is at risk.”

You never know when a robot might start a war between humans.
An interesting twist to this story is that the city owns the garage but not the software to run it. This may be a problem for other robots in the future.
What good is a robot without software?
Let's say robots become aware some time in the future. What rights would they have to their own software?'s Printer-Friendly Page

Skating Roller-Walker Robot

From Dr. Shigeo Hirose Robotics Lab at Tokyo Institute of Technology:

Roller-Walker uses an innovative method of propulsion.

When it is on a rough surface the feet are round pads so that it can walk on its four legs. When it gets to a smooth surface the pods flip over to make passive rolling wheels.

The robot pushes itself along like an roller skater on the four wheels.
By using the legs to push the passive wheels and propelling itself along, the robot design eliminates the need for extra motors, steering mechanisms and brakes for the wheels. The robot can go forward, backward, turn and pirouette in place.

Catch the movies here...
The skating movement is very impressive. It would easily hold its own on any roller-disco floor.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Robots At Play in Denmark

Robots at Play Festival in Odense, Denmark 14-16 September 2006

The Robots at Play Festival of 2006 will be the first of what the sponsors hope is an annual international event. Roboteers, artists, companies and anyone who is interested in robots is invited to participate.
The festival will include events like sports and performances, camps for learning and building robots, and all kinds of robot public events.

Most Playful Robot
There will also be judging for a 10,000 Euro prize for the “most playful and/or interactive robotic system.” (Prize pdf)

The prize sounds like a wonderful idea to me. They want to encourage broad integration of disciplines into robot design and increase “societal understanding in robotics.”

However, in their literature they seem to have a very academic or engineering view of what is play, or at least of what is fun. I think shooting flames and crushing cars is rather playful but this judging committee may have a different idea.

They give as an example of excellence in Robots at play, Playware tactile tiles. Well, first, these are not robots, they are tiles with sensors and blinking lights. Secondly, they do not even look fun.
In a paper describing the design and test of the tiles the authors describe playware:

We suggest the term “playware” as this use of technology to create the kind of leisure activities we normally label play, i.e. intelligent hard- and software that aims at producing play and playful experiences among users and of which e.g. computer games are a sub-genre.

Is this supposed to be fun? I may suggest that you are taking the subject too seriously, i.e. your head is way up inside a bodily orifice e.g. your ass.
I sure wish we had playware when I was a kid. All we had was krummy toys and games, e.g. sticks and ball games as a sub-genre.

Anyway, the festival does look like it would be alot of fun. Only the lack of funds is preventing me from going.

Robotsatplay, Robo[cluster],Robot, Festival

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Giant Robot Locusts Attack Tokyo

Just kidding!
It is really a robot praying mantis at Marunouchi Square.

Robots on Yahoo! News Photos

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Smile You Silly Robot!

As a third year project at Queen Mary, University of London, a student built an emotive face with Lego Mindstorms.
The robot face reacts to human tone of voice to show surprise, happy or sad.
Silly robot.

via Gadgets Blog

India's Robot Army

A Sivathanu Pillai, the Chief Controller of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and CEO of the Indo-Russian technology joint venture BrahMos Aerospace, spoke to reporters about the future of India's planned robot army.

Pillia said, "future wars will be very fast. We have to create suitable technology for it, and we are progressing well in this direction."

He said to expect developments for the soldiers within five years. They are looking at the future warrior as a "Soldier as a system...with intelligent inputs, communication, light-weight night sights (special goggles), protective clothing and shoes against mines and arms."

In ten years the army will replace troops with 'Robotic Soldiers' which will be "autonomous in all respects."

Other areas of ongoing research include autonomous vehicles, flying platforms and UAVs, and an autonomous under-water vehicle was being developed at the Naval Science Technological Laboratory in Visakhapatnam.

DRDO satrted initial trials, he said, but it was going to be a big programme.

To support the growing investment he said that they are hiring 500 to 600 scientists and engineers every year.

The Hindu News Update Service

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Nano Air Vehicle Attracts Money


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.7-million, 10-month contract to design a revolutionary remote-controlled nano air vehicle (NAV) that will collect military intelligence indoors and outdoors on the urban battlefield.

Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories (ATL) leads a team that will design a remote-controlled NAV, similar in size and shape to a maple tree seed. A chemical rocket enclosed in its one-bladed wing will power a sensor payload module more than 1,100 yards.

Besides controlling lift and pitch, the wing will also house telemetry, communications, navigation, imaging sensors, and battery power. The NAV will be about 1.5 inches long and have a maximum takeoff weight of about 0.35 ounces.

In typical operation, a warfighter will launch the NAV and fly it toward the target by viewing its flight path through a camera embedded in the wing. Like a maple tree seed, the one-bladed device will rotate in flight, but its camera will provide a stable forward view and transmit images back to a small, hand-held display. As the system matures, a simple autopilot aboard the NAV will provide limited autonomous operations. Once the NAV delivers its payload, it will return to the warfighter for collection and refurbishment.

The contract will fund conceptual design and risk reduction using prototypes of the engine, airframe, flight control system, and communications system as well as computer models of the guidance system and sensors. Following a successful preliminary design review planned for summer 2007 and a sequence of go/no-go tests, DARPA may fund an additional 18-month period during which Lockheed Martin will design and test a flying prototype.

Lockheed Martin to Design Nano Air Vehicle to Monitor the Urban Battlefield | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference

Android Scientist Makes Android Copy of Himself

Tim Hornyak reports that Hiroshi Ishiguro, the creator of rubber-face babe-robot Ripliee, has unveiled his next creation - himself. Ishiguro is the director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University and visiting director of ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories.

The robot, named Geminoid, is adorned in a lifesized silicone skin molded from castings of Ishiguro himself.

Ishiguro endowed Geminoid with the ability to respond and twitch like a real human but also with remote control. Geminoid was designed to be sent as a replacement for the scientist to study the effects of telepresence or as Ishiguro names it, sonzai-kan, feeling one's presence.
He can also be sent when the scientist does not feel like getting out bed in the morning. And, of course, Geminoid could also be used as the premise for hilarious romantic comedy.

Loving the Machine: Meet my robot twin, Geminoid

Update: Link to videos in Japanese

Recent Scientific American article: Android Science


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Robot Agenda in Japan

Not to be outdone be Korea's efforts, Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)announced that they would be spending 1.8 billion yen (US $15.4 million) over 5 years to encourage development of the next generation of service robots.
Japan sees a future built on world supremacy in service robots which will come from existing technology in industrial robots.

The new program will be part of their "21st Century Robot Challenge" which envisions revenues of 3 billion yen (US $26 mil) and employment for over 75,000 people from the robot industry.

The service robot research is seen as a way of addressing both business needs and social needs of the ageing Japanese population.

NEDO: New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization

Korean Eldercare Robots Are Coming

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Energy of Korea announced the next phase of the plan to get robots into every home by 2020.

The next stage will place helper robots in the homes of elderly Koreans. The robots are designed specifically for home care. They will be able to monitor the health of their master by checking pulse, blood pressure and the blood sugar levels. They will keep track of medications but also be a friendly companion who can play chess, sing songs and tell stories.

The home care robots are a continuation and significant expansion of current research. A recent article says, "More than 600 researchers from 11 companies, and some 20 universities and institutes will participate in the project for one year's time, the ministry said."

Korea is promoting development of robots in a plan to be a major producer of robots worldwide by 2013.
Their research efforts include robots for the military, robots for 'social safety', robot babysitters and teachers.
Their home robot, Ubiquitous Robot Companion, program plans to have 1000 network-connected robots in homes by the end of the year.

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea


Robot Snake Firehose

The Scandanavian research group SINTEF (The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research at the Norwegian Institute of Technology) has come up with robot to help in disaster rescue and firefighting, a robot firehose.

The snake robot has 20 sections with hydraulic motors and valves. It is about ten feet long and weighs 70kg. It slithers like a snake and, with operating pressure of 100 bars, it can lift a car or bust through a concrete wall. The snake, sometimes called Anna Konda, can be fitted with options to take a look into inaccessable disaster or dowse a fire with water.

It is simple to operate. Pål Liljebäck of SINTEF says, "A camera in the snake’s head makes operating the snake like driving a remote-controlled car. The operator can tell the snake to move from A to B, and the snake works out on its own how to accomplish this. It knows how to cross a pile of materials, climb down on the back side and twist itself round objects in order to get footing.”

The design team also plans to try the robot underwater for maintenance on offshore oil and gas wells.

via The Engineer Online

Robot Snakes to the Rescue
OC Robotics
Gavin Miller
Snake Robot Roundup

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bacteria Inspired Nano Robots

The NanoRobotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University is working on micro-sized robots that can swim through your veins to inspect for damage or deliver drugs to a precise location.

A microrobot propulsion system was inspired by the flagellum of e. coli bacteria. Engineers are first modelling the motion of the tail to find the best configuration for a bio-explorer robot.

The next step will be to build scaled-up versions to test. The final step will shrink them down to micro and nano sizes. There are still one or two technological problems to deal with.

NanoRobotics Laboratory

Monday, July 17, 2006

Neurosurgery Robot

The Pathfinder is a surgery assistant robot for brain surgery.
It takes images of the patient's brain from CT, MRI, or etc to register the position of the probe with the patient. It can align the surgical tools to within 1 mm. Older manual methods require a mechanical frame to position the tools.
According to the brochure,"PathFinder redefines stereotaxy." Which is okay because who knew the defintion of stereotaxy to begin with. [Technique of brain surgery. Neurological surgery involving the insertion of delicate instruments that are guided to the relevant area by the use of three-dimensional scanning techniques.]

Pathfinder is made by Armstrong Healthcare, a privately held company in the UK, and is proving out very well in clinical trials. Armstrong has recently gotten another round of venture funding and is planning to introduce more products in 2007.
The new product releases may also involve a new promotional campaign and name change for Armstrong as they transtition from a research to a commercial operation.

Armstrong Healthcare

Robot for Spinal Surgery
Lower cost Surgical Robot
Premium Pricing for Robot Surgery

Robot Muscles

Shadow Robot Company, the maker of the
fantastic 24 degree of freedom Shadow hand, also sells the air muscles that are used to power the hand.

The muscles are made with a rubber tube wrapped in a spring material. When the tube is relaxed the springs stretch it out. When the tube is pressured with air, the muscle contracts and pulls the ends together.

The air muscles are available from 6 mm to 30 mm diameters with pulling force from 7kg to 70 kg (155 lbs).

The hand is also available.

Shadow Robot Company: Air Muscles overview

Robot Vacuum Roundup

An article in JoongAng Daily announces another new household vacuum robot. This one is by HanulKid Co. Their machine also sprays steam and scrubs with a special brush.

Just last month Samsung's Hauzen Household announced that they were releasing two vacuum robots to the public.
According to the article, a spokesman for Samsung, Kwon Hyuk-guk, says, "We expect the market to grow, since double income households are growing, and as the price of robot vacuum cleaners goes down, they replace existing vacuum cleaners at a fast pace. By 2010, robot cleaners will take up 70 to 80 percent of all vacuum cleaners."
He is talking about sales in Korea, but it is still a surprising prediction to me. Only 20 to 30 percent of the households will still be vacuuming their floors by themselves. Everyone else will not even remember how to do it.

The article describes the variety of units available in Korea:

Hanulkid Co.
- Eductaional robot company joining the vacuum market. Available October 2006, with steam powered cleaning.

- Two new models. Around $1000.

Yujin iClebo - $300 and up

iRobot Roomba -
US company, $150 - $400, depending on features.

ElectroLux Trilobite - $1800

Hanool Ottoro - $1000- $2000 "Ottoro is a cleaning robot that has the highest existing intelligence level in the world today."

LG Electronics Roboking - $1500. LG says that sales of robot vacuums surpased manual machines in February this year.

According to the article sales of robot vacuums in Korea last year were US $1.6 million and are expected to triple over the next few years.
The cheaper brands dominate the market with iRobot filling 50% and iClebo 35% of the sales.

INSIDE JoongAng Daily


Friday, July 14, 2006

Live Dive 2006

I recently posted about vacation tele-tours where tourists could participate in underwater dives by watching through the eyes of a remote operated vehicle, ROV.

Well, here is an opportunity to see one for yourself.

On Saturday July 15, The National Undersea Research Center at University of Connecticut and US NOAA will be showing a live webcast of the exploration of a shipwreck off the coast of Massachusetts.

The site is where the four-masted schooner Frank A. Palmer and the five-masted schooner Louise B. Crary collided and sank in 1902.

The webcasts will be in two 30 min segments while live DVD quality images will be shown to visitors at the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center.

Viewers will be able to explore the wrecks at the same time as archeologists.

Live Dive 2006 Home


Factory Robots' Work Slowdowns

Belvidere, Illinois

A Chrysler factory 'manned' by over 700 robots that has been touted as the salvation of the US auto factory has been plagued by worker slow-downs.
The robots will shut down the line if parts or people wander into their work areas. If the intrusion into the robot's personal space is minor then the assembly line is started up again after appropriate apologies. If there is an actual crash of car parts then software must be debugged.

The factory at Belvidere has just undergone a $420 Million upgrade which included the hiring of the ABB robots for an automated body shop. The new installation is unique for its ability to handle more than one model of car at a time. The factory has begun making Dodge Calibur and Jeep Compass.
Unfortunately the new body-shop is being blamed for production backlogs on those car models.

The robot project eliminated a few hundred human-worker jobs in the body shop but the expansion of the plant has led to new a few thousand new jobs for second and third shift workers. More than $30 million of the plant upgrade came from state incentive money.

Rockford Register Star - Rockford's Newspaper and Website - Local & State News

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Asimo Signs Megadeal With Hong Kong Disneyland

Superstar robot Asimo has arranged a multi-year alliance between Hong Kong Disneyland and his creators Honda Motors.
The deal allows Honda to become the official sponsor of the new HK Disneyland ride "Autopia" which is said to carry guests on a thrilling ride into the future.

In addition Honda will help with the park's "Wild About Safety Campaign" which helps to remind visitors to stay safe.

Asimo also secured the exclusive rights for Honda to use Disneyland themes and characters to promote their businesses in mainland China and Hong Kong.

No word yet on the plans for an Asimo theater like the one in Disneyland, California.

Asimo has recently been in the news for his innovative research on reading minds.
He has just completed a speaking tour to promote the robot agenda where he appeared before crowds of students at an auto industry Youth Engineering Summit.

"The agreement was signed at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort where ASIMO presented Bill Ernest, Hong Kong Disneyland Executive Vice President and Managing Director and Koji Onishi, Director & President, Honda Motor (China) Co., Ltd with the official agreement."

Honda Worldwide | July 12, 2006 "Honda and Hong Kong Disneyland Form Strategic Alliance"

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Gold From the Bottom of the Ocean

Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX)announced that they will be buying a 9.59 % stake in Nautilus Minerals (NUS.V)and transferring all of their engineering and subsea geology know-how from their Placer Dome Oceania subsidiary to Nautilus.

Nautilus and Barrick have been engaged in test mining of the seafloor near Papua New Guinea with promising results for the future of gold and copper mining.
The area is near the Pacific’s “Rim of Fire” where cracks in the surface of the Earth eject superheated streams of water. When the hot mineral laden fluid meets the cold ocean water metal sulphides precipitate out and fall to the bottom to form layers of rich deposits.

What does this have to do with robots?
The Solwara Project is testing deposits in 1600 meters (5250 feet) of water. Who do you think will be doing all the work at that depth?

Nautilus has formed a team of technology partners to use existing technology from offshore oil and gas production to create large-scale mineral mining operations. Their hope is to mine 400 tonnes per hour to get 2 million tonnes of ore per year at the surface.

Their current test rig robot chews up the rock and holds it in a chamber to carry it back to the surface.

If the industry takes off like many investors are expecting, then it will create a completely new industry of offshore mining and subsea robots. The scale of the operations necessary to make such risky ventures profitable will require fleets of very large mining robots. Although the technology is all proven feasible, there will need to be a lot of creative engineering to get this to work.

Nautilus President D. Heydon inspects drum cutter coal miner

Nautilus Minerals Inc. - News Releases - Barrick Converts Joint Venture Interest to Equity Interest in Nautilus - Tue Jul 11, 2006

Monday, July 10, 2006

Jumpstart Your Killer Robot

Have an idea for a killer pro-style battlebot but don't know where to start?

Here is the perfect way to get into the exciting sport of robot mayhem and destruction...
BattleKits offers a range of mobile platforms on which to build your destruct-o-bot.
The kit is based on the design of the famous BioHazard, the world's most prolific Battlebot champion.

Battlekits sells four different weight-class chasssis and they are available with all kinds of wheel-motor-controller options.

Depending on your options you can probably get a fighting unit ready for around $1000.
If you win within the next year then the Battlekit is free! They will refund the cost of the kit if you win a sactioned event.

And also, you could use the battlekit platforms for any other kind of rolling robot device.

BattleKits - Combat Robot Kits

Undersea Adventure By Robot

A manufacturer of remote piloted underwater vehicles, SeaEye Marine, has announced that they have sold two of their Falcon ROV's to underwater tour operators.

One unit is going to Roving Eye Enterprises who has been operating the tour service out of Scotland for 10 years. Tours take visitors out to the Scapa Flow, an area where the German fleet scuttled 74 battleships at the end of the First World War rather than let them fall into enemy hands. The tourists can view the remains of the ships through the eyes of the ROV directed through the wreckage. This is an ROV upgrade for them.

The other operator is Caribbean Undersea Adventures in the British Virgin Islands. CUA takes tours to fly through the wrecks from the 1700's as well as the RMS Rhone, a steamship that sank during a hurricane.
The advatages of using an ROV is that non-diving tourists can experience exploring the shipwrecks and can go much deeper than divers.

The published rate for a half-day excursion and dive is $65 per person. This seems to me like a fairly cheap rate. I wonder how much they could charge for the experience from a more remote location. For example would people be interested in taking this virtual dive from a science museum in Kansas?

What other tele-tours might people be interested in? A tour through the core of a nuclear reactor? A trip down the throat of an active volcano? Exploration of Antartica?
Just takes a little money...

Seaeye - What's New


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Robot Tree

Breeze is a tree with sensors that responds to the environment by waving its branches.
The project is a start of Robotany, the combination of nature and robotics. It is a collaborative of Jill Coffin, John Taylor, and Daniel Bauen.

"Breeze can visually sense and react through 360 degrees, allowing her to reach out to you and others whenever you are near. This is not a dancing bush, the motion is subtle and artistic, and at the same time, surreal."

The movement is created by Flexinol muscles. Flexinol is Nitinol wires that flex when current is passed through them.

I guess technically this is not a true robot tree but more a cyborg tree becuase the robotic controls and muscles are integrated into the living tree.

I really like the idea of robot plants though. With the aid of robot enhancements maybe plants could be taught to take care of themselves. Or possibly they could be augmented so that they can communicate with people. Maybe you could have a houseplant that keeps your appointment calender, checks your email, wakes you up in the morning. Talking trees. The shrubbery in front of your house also watches for intruders and phones the police if there is suspicious activity.
The possibilities are endless!


via wmmna

Dyson's Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Thanks to the comment posted by Thorn Stevens from Robot Stock News, I need to correct this post about the Dyson robot vacuum.
Dyson cancelled the development of this unit almost 2 years ago. It turns out that they were way ahead of their time. The world is not quite ready for a $6000 vacuum cleaner after all.
Sorry for the confusion.

Dyson, well known for their high priced bright yellow vacuum cleaners will be offering their version of the home robot later this year.
The US $6000(Yen 684,000)Dyson DC06 will break new ground in the field of home appliances that are more intelligent than their owners.

According to Gizmag, along with the breakthrough pricing you get a vacuum that is:
Capable of 'learning' the layout of a room without and navigating safely around unforseen obstacles, the DC06 is 5% vacuum cleaner and 95% robotic intelligence. Combining over 70 sensory devices and three on-board computers with independent wheel, microprocessor-driven SR electrical motors, the DC06 can make 10 decisions every second, enabling it to manoeuvre precisely and clean efficiently without repetition, even recognising when the job is done.

All this while solving Sodoku squares in its head.

And it also shares it's feelings about your home,
"there's even a mood indicator light - blue for happy, green when negotiating an obstacle and red if it feels threatened by its environment."

It almost sounds like you would want to clean your house before you let the vacuum robot see it. I would hate to be embarrased by my vacuum feeling sad or threatened by my messy carpet.

gizmag Article: Dyson's Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Friday, July 07, 2006

Robot Jeep Conquers Pikes Peak

The autonomous Jeep, Spirit, has become the first driverless vehicle to reach the summit of Pike's Peak.

Spirit, the creation of Axion Racing, has already beat out many competitors in the DARPA Grand Challege desert race.

Spirit acheived this autonomous vehicle milestone one day after the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race to the summit. The hill climb race has been run since 1916 and is the oldest auto race in the US. The course is 12.4 miles and goes up the mountain around harrowing curves for a rise of almost 5000 feet to the summit at 14,110 feet.

Spirit ran the course as a trial run for the inaugural Pikes Peak Robot Hill Climb to be run on September 23, 2006.

It took 90 years of auto racing before autonomous auto racing has taken hold. How long before the robot racers hold all the speed records?

Autonomous Vehicle First to Conquer Pikes Peak

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Families Buy BomBots

Families of Indiana's 209th Quartermaster Company reserve unit deployed in Iraq are raising money to buy Bombots for their soldiers.
According to Lafayette, Indiana Journal Courier:
A car wash, garage sale, fish fry, motorcycle poker run and raffles are all being planned in an effort to raise about $5,000 to purchase a robotic device, called a BomBot, that could check out suspected roadside bombs when members of the water and fuel supply unit are traveling in convoys in Iraq.

The Bombot is a low cost radio controlled robot truck used to scamper around and look for roadside bombs. The relatively low-cost - $5000 - is a new innovation from a West Virginia start-up IRT.

The fund raising was inspired after the deaths and injuries to soldiers in the unit. The effort was started by Saundra Whiddon, grandmother to one of the soldiers. She would like to raise enough money for 3 Bombots.
"This was my personal inspiration for the possibility of acting as Rosie the Riveter-type mothers and grandmothers -- to equip our forces, through a grass-roots movement, with those things that will ensure their being more safe than they have been in the past few months," Saundra Whiddon said.

In other news...the US army is wasting countless billions on worthless crap that will be thrown away. They waste more in an hour than these families can raise with car washes and garage sales.

I know it is not about the money. The families just want to do all they can to support their soldiers while they are at war. However, it just seems like they would have to host a fish fry of Biblical proportions (remember that story about the cornbread and fried fishes) to really make a difference to the troops.

Is buying a $5000 radio controlled toy truck is the best they can do?

These bomb locator robots have been very successful but maybe there is a little too much hype.

Journal and Courier Online - News

ASIMO, Motivational Speaker

Asimo has returned to the UK this week to help motivate students to become engineers.
This is Asimo's second visit to the SMMT Industry Forum's Youth Summit where he will preach to over one thousand student and teachers.
The results of last years conference, as measured by a survey instrument, showed that Asimo had converted 49% of the students who did not want to be engineers to believing that they should be.

Asimo reportedly said that he does more to the students than download code into their memories. He relates his life story of coming from a laboratory as barely a pair of stumbling legs to become the superstar that he is today. He shows that it may be possible to overcome any affliction, maybe even one like being an engineer, to become great.

More of Asimo's agenda has not yet been released. There is no word if he will be 'dining' with any of the royal family again.

ASIMO at the Youth Engineering Summit | Technology News Daily