Saturday, December 02, 2006

iRobot release new development kit

iRobot to Release New Development Software

Robot maker iRobot will release a new open development environment at the company's annual Payload Developers Conference in Arlington, Va., Dec. 5-6.

The new development environment consists of iRobot Aware 2.0 and a new Robot Developer's Kit. Both are aimed at developers who want to create add-on capabilities for the company's versatile PackBot robot. The PackBot is designed to accept a wide variety of sensors, control units and manipulators so that it can handle an equally wide variety of missions. Most PackBots are in use by the U.S. military, but some are entering commercial and municipal service.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

News from PC Magazine: Hands On with a Ugobe Pleo Prototype Robot

News from PC Magazine: Hands On with a Ugobe Pleo Prototype Robot: "The eagerly anticipated Pleo robotic dinosaur from Ugobe is getting closer to reality. Company President Bob Christopher took the wraps off one of the first functioning prototypes during a recent meeting in PC Magazine's offices. During the meeting, Pleo walked, made sounds, pretended to be scared, faked a limp, responded to its name, and batted its baby blue eyes."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

iRobot gets dirty

News from PC Magazine: iRobot's Dirt Dog Does the Work (Room)
First living rooms (Roomba), then kitchens (Scooba) and now garages; it seems iRobot is destined to attempt to conquer every room in and around the house. The consumer robotics company (which also has a healthy military robotics business), is rolling out a new garage/workroom sweeper elegantly called the "Dirt Dog."

Roughly the same size, shape, and weight as iRobot's popular Roomba robotic vacuum, Dirt Dog sheds not hair, but numerous Roomba features that would not work so well in the workroom environment. This single-button workhorse has no vacuum and instead uses two powerful brushes, spinning at a reported 1,000 rpms, to pick up dirt that includes traditional workshop debris like nuts, bots, screws and woodchips. It also has a 20% larger dust bin to hold all that junk. iRobot officials said that it should have about an hour of cleaning life per charge.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Robots and Microsoft - will $ make success?

Microsoft knows where the action is - they don't always seem the best of playmates though.

Microsoft Robotics Studio Provides Common Ground for Robotics Innovation: Community technology preview of Windows-based robotics development platform garners broad industry support.
Microsoft’s support for advanced robotics was also in evidence at RoboBusiness when Carnegie Mellon University announced plans for a Center for Robotics Innovation. Established with funding and support from the Microsoft Robotics Group, the center will operate a Web site,, for hobbyists, academics and commercial companies to share robotics ideas, technology and software. The new center will open by late 2006.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Microsoft wants to drive Robot standard

Rivals Skeptical of Microsoft's New Robot Software
The third annual Robo Business event opened Tuesday morning in Pittsburgh's Station Square with a whiff of controversy, as one established robotics expert dismissed Microsoft's recent foray into the field. 
Just hours after Microsoft announced the beta rollout of its DirectX, Aegia-based Microsoft Robotics Studio (MRS), Evolution Robotics president and chief technical officer Paolo Pirjanian called the concept of building a software robotics standard, without heeding demands and costs of hardware, "a nice academic exercise." Although Pirjanian did not mention Microsoft by name, the implication was clear to the 750 or so attendees.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Asimov Who?

Despite the boring nature of the extract below, this is quite an interesting review of robot safety issues - industrial safety and social safety.

Trust me, I'm a robot |
With robots now poised to emerge from their industrial cages and to move into homes and workplaces, roboticists are concerned about the safety implications beyond the factory floor. To address these concerns, leading robot experts have come together to try to find ways to prevent robots from harming people. Inspired by the Pugwash Conferences—an international group of scientists, academics and activists founded in 1957 to campaign for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons—the new group of robo-ethicists met earlier this year in Genoa, Italy, and announced their initial findings in March at the European Robotics Symposium in Palermo, Sicily.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Concept of the robot turns 85 - happy birthday robots

The robot turns 85 - 29-05-2006 - Radio Prague
From R2D2 to the Terminator, robots are a common theme in modern fiction, but not many people realize that the robot was born in Prague exactly 85 years ago. To celebrate its birthday a project last week at the University of Cambridge in England examined the life of robots and their Czech creator.

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History of ASIMO

Honda Worldwide | ASIMO | History

Testimonial site to the Honda ASIMO robot.

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

New teaching and experimental robot

Research group develops mini humanoid robot than can sit up, stand on one leg - MSN-Mainichi Daily News
A miniature humanoid robot that can stand up from a lying-down position and smoothly stand on one leg has been developed by an independent administrative organization in Japan and four venture companies.

The "HRP-2m Choromet," as the robot is called, is 35 centimeters tall and weighs 1.5 kilograms. It was developed jointly by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and four venture firms. The robots will go on sale for the purpose of robotic engineering education and research as early as this autumn.

"They are perfect as teaching material to study humanoid robot control methods, and I want them to be used in places such as university laboratories," said Hirohisa Hirukawa, scientific leader of the Humanoid Research Group in AIST's Intelligent Systems Research Institute.

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Developments in Android Face Technology

The continuing development in face technology is exciting. This Einstein model uses a lighter material and its claimed that this can be driven by two AA batteries'.
Clip from youtube.

Friday, May 12, 2006

NEC's Companion Robot Gets A Virtual Interface

PCMag provides this link. So why this upgrade for 2001 technology? Perhaps it's the need for a standard robot platform for researchers - a gap left by the Sony AIBO...

PaPeRo R100, a one-foot-tall personal companion robot developed by NEC's Personal Robot Research Center, looks pretty much the same as he did when he made his debut at the RoboFesta Kanagawa in 2001.

The pint-sized, 5 kilogram robot recognizes and can speak hundreds of words, can remember faces (up to 10 people), responds to hand gestures and can move about and even dance on its two roller feet. PaPeRo comes with different personalities and capabilities. There's a comedian PaPeRo, a lazy PaPeRo and even a silver, child-care model.

Now there's a virtual PaPeRo, as well.

Users can now interact with the PaPeRo avatar—dubbed "PaPeRo CG"—on their PC and PDA. The computer-generated PaPeRo will interact in the exact same way as the real world version. In fact, anything a user does with the avatar robot on the PC can then be downloaded to the real robot. Then, if the user extends its "conversation" with the real PaPeRo, the conversation can be uploaded to the virtual version, as well.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Experimenting with Robotic Mules

Fascinating set of responses on Youtube for this video of a robotic mule going through testing on different surfaces. Some viewers are finding this very frightening. The ability to recover from a sideways push is something new.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

What do Toy Robots Mean?

The comments on Youtube where we found this video of a real transforming robot reflect the wider reaction. Some just cannot see the point, others just want a new toy. However, it is this continuing interest that drives societies to build the skill set necessary for dominance in the real marketplace 10 or 20 years from now. Where are we in the race, and what incentives, competitions etc. are we really funding? This is more than a matter of toys - this is about developing capability for the next generation of robotics.

Monday, April 24, 2006

'BomBots' Roll Off Production Line, Head To War

'BomBots' Roll Off Production Line, Head To War: "Little more than a remote-controlled truck with an improved guidance system, a remote-controlled video camera, and an explosive-charge dispenser, the BomBots were designed to drop off a remotely-detonated charge next to improvised bombs that insurgents have deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Not surprisingly, the BomBots are cheap -- just $5,000, versus other robots that cost about $100,000 or more, according to the WVHTC, which will manufacture the BomBots at a subsidiary, known as Innovative Response Technologies. The low cost means that pencil-pushers won't worry if a BomBot dies in battle, the WVHTC said."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

ROBOTS DREAMS: Who Says Robots Have To Look Ugly?

Can the robot marketplace really be maturing this quickly? A comment on Robots-dreams about the way fashionable design style is becoming an important part of the robot marketing process.

ROBOTS DREAMS: Who Says Robots Have To Look Ugly?: "First attempts at any new technology always have a hacked-together or built-in-the-garage look to them. The designers are overjoyed to just get their concept working, and usually don’t have much appreciation for the artistic beauty of their creation. But, as the technology evolves and starts to become more generally accepted, artistic design values start to play a larger and larger part in the customer’s purchase decision."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I'm not sure that "dancing robots" have enough functionality to be a long-lasting market segment unless they add a lot to their repertoire. I've listed this one, however, because there are replacements for all parts and it looks fun to build.

: : : HITEC ROBOTICS - PRODUCT OVERVIEW : : :: "Hitec Robotics is proud to announce ROBONOVA-I. This exciting new humanoid robot offers educators, students and robotic hobbyists a complete robot package. The stable ROBONOVA-I can walk, run, do flips, cartwheels, dance moves and once programmed, is ready to compete in any Robo One Class “J” competition. Available two ways, as a kit, so you can enjoy building your robot yourself, or as a pre-assembled, “RTW”, “ready to walk” instant gratification robot."

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Korea Times : Seoul to Build Combat Robot

Asimovs laws of robotics are prophetic, essential ... and totally ignored.

The Korea Times : Seoul to Build Combat Robot: "Defense and communications technicians will team up to develop a mobile combat robot to fight alongside human soldiers on the battlefield, the government said Wednesday."

Meet Wakamaru, the Linux-powered humanoid robot

Meet Wakamaru, the Linux-powered humanoid robot: "Wakamaru features continuous access to the Internet and comes equipped with voice and face recognition capabilities that allow the robot to search for and follow voices, faces, and movements. It has the ability to comprehend and interact with humans (such as discussing daily news it obtains via the Internet) based on a built-in dictionary and voice recognition, and can be programmed to call or email a designated person, a hospital or security firm if it notices a problem. When connecting remotely to Wakamaru via its built-in camera-equipped mobile phone, users can see images of the house the robot serves and even communicate with family members at home."

Robotic-vacuum maker, BU team up on antisniper device - The Boston Globe

Robotic-vacuum maker, BU team up on antisniper device - The Boston Globe: "IRobot Corp. of Burlington, famous for its robotic vacuum cleaners, has teamed up with researchers at Boston University to develop a military robot capable of spotting enemy snipers.

''You'll actually see the sniper before the smoke disappears from the shot,' said Joe Dyer, iRobot's executive vice president and general manager."

NPR : Robot Receptionist Dishes Directions and Attitude

Adding a personality to a robot receptionist? haven't these people seen the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy?

NPR : Robot Receptionist Dishes Directions and Attitude: "a team at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh is exploring how to make robots more engaging over the long term. Their assistant is roboreceptionist Marion 'Tank' LeFleur.

Tank sits in the lobby of a computer science building, at a desk decorated with desert storm camouflage and a framed photo of Dwight Eisenhower. He has a computer monitor for a head. On the screen is a blue Frankenstein face. When his sensors register your presence, he smiles pleasantly and says, 'Hello there. What can I do for you?'

Type on his keyboard and you can ask Tank the same questions you'd ask a real receptionist: Where is the bathroom? Where can I get some food? You can also ask Tank where to find the office of Reid Simmons, the computer science professor who created the robot. Then, try asking Tank what he thinks of Reid Simmons.

'Dr. Reid is my boss,' says Tank, sounding wary. 'I don't know him very well yet. Don’t you think he has shifty eyes? And, what's up with that hair?'

Tank's suspicions about his boss come courtesy of the university's School of Drama. It's all part of an experiment on how to make robots less boring. The answer, Simmons says, is simple: turn the robot into a soap opera."

Robots and inflatable conveyor belts set to slash farm labour costs

Robots and inflatable conveyor belts set to slash farm labour costs: "Robots are on the march again into the last bastion of labour intensive industry - farming and horticulture. Research engineers and horticulture specialists at the University of Warwick are working together to devise a suite of robots and automated systems which could transform farming and horticulture over the next decade."

Philoneist: First Military Exoskeleton Reaches Prototype

Philoneist: First Military Exoskeleton Reaches Prototype: "The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has completed the first prototype of an exoskeleton, Bleex 1, which will allow soldiers to carry 70 pounds of supplies on their backs (in addition to the 100 pounds Bleex weighs) while only feeing an extra five pounds of weight beyond their own. "

Star-Telegram | 01/22/2006 | Robotic pets offer health benefits, too

Star-Telegram | 01/22/2006 | Robotic pets offer health benefits, too: "Sure, pets are cute and seem to improve human health. But there are some places where they can't live, such as nursing homes. So can a robot pet provoke the same reactions?

Yes, according to a few preliminary studies -- but not to the same degree.

'I thought it was kind of silly when we started looking into it, ' says Alan Beck, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University's veterinary school. 'But there's something going on there.'

In a recent study at the University of Missouri, for example, levels of the stress hormone cortisol dropped among adults who, for several minutes, petted AIBO, Sony's dog-shaped robot that responds when stroked, chases a ball and perks up when it hears a familiar voice. That's the same reaction live dogs get. Unlike real dogs, though, AIBO didn't prompt increases in 'good' body chemicals such as oxytocin and endorphins."

Linux powers autonomous military ground vehicle

Linux powers autonomous military ground vehicle: "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 autonomous mode, the vehicle can provide robotic following. Or, it can autonomously navigate to GPS waypoints, using 'teach and playback,' iRobot says."

New Scientist Tech - Breaking News - Robotic 'pack mule' displays stunning reflexes

New Scientist Tech - Breaking News - Robotic 'pack mule' displays stunning reflexes: "A nimble, four-legged robot is so surefooted it can recover its balance even after being given a hefty kick. The machine, which moves like a cross between a goat and a pantomime horse, is being developed as a robotic pack mule for the US military.

BigDog is described by its developers Boston Dynamics as “the most advanced quadruped robot on Earth”. The company have released a new video of the robot negotiating steep slopes, crossing rocky ground and dealing with the sharp kick. View the impressive clip here (28MB Windows media file).

“Internal force sensors detect the ground variations and compensate for them,” says company president and project manager Marc Raibert. “And BigDog's active balance allows it to maintain stability when we disturb it.'

This active balance is maintained by four legs, each with three joints powered by actuators and a fourth 'springy' joint. All the joints are controlled by an onboard PC processor.
Robotic pack mule

The project is sponsored by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), who want the robotic pack mule to assist soldiers in terrain too tough for vehicles. Ground-based soldiers often need to carry 40 kilograms of equipment.

Raibert says the latest version of BigDog can handle slopes of 35° – a steeper gradient than one in two. The hydraulics are driven by a two-stroke single-cylinder petrol engine, and it can carry over 40 kg, about 30% of its bodyweight. The robot can follow a simple path on its own, or can be remotely controlled."

Mark Tilden Robosapiens Inventor

Interview with the Robosapiens Man

Mark Tilden Robosapiens Inventor - Reviews | Ratings | Prices: "The only difference between a man and a boy is the price of his toys” said a wise person many decades ago – and little did they know about the 21st century addiction with gadgets and toys.

One man who has fueled this addiction, and at the same time helped bring uber-expensive technology to consumers has been the robotics rock star Mark Tilden. Mr Tilden, a real life rocket scientist, is the creator of hundreds (if not thousands) of robots, based on the simple principles of BEAM ( Biology, Eletronics, Aesthetics and Mechanics).

The essential principles of BEAM involve using simple electronics to create mechanical creatures. Unlike traditional robotics where huge amounts of time and energy go into programming complex artificial intelligence, BEAM relies on the concept of “nervous networks”, a concept patented by Mr Tilden. These robots rely on simple sensors like touch, light and heat detectors which feed into circuits that have configurable responses. "

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Gearlog : RI-MAN Humanoid Robot Cares for the Elderly

Japan has a serious focus on robots in the home and care for the elderly. This post is an example::

Gearlog : RI-MAN Humanoid Robot Cares for the Elderly: "Now, there's the 5-foot RI-MAN Humanoid Robot, created by the Japanese research team Riken, that can see, hear, smell, and even carry human beings--particularly those that are elderly. RI-MAN is equipped with sensors that show it a body's weight and position. So, I guess this takes the 'I've fallen and I can't get up' idea to new levels.

So why a robot that can carry the elderly? Apparently, Japan is expecting a major increase in elderly care due to people living longer, so the RI-MAN would aid in carrying a person to the bathroom, to bed, or wherever they need to go."

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Simple Robot Steps

WowWee is staying in the low cost simplicity zone that really works with the home consumer for this model. Projected price is $399.

News from PC Magazine: WowWee Unveils First Robot Media Hub: "WowWee's next major robot innovation doesn't walk, roll, make disgusting noises or dance, but SCOTY (for Smart Companion Operating Technology) will greet you, read your e-mail aloud, watch your home, and even play your music. All while moving little more than its 'head.'" .............
"Designed as an intelligent media hub, SCOTY is wired- and wireless-network ready, but has little intelligence inside its metal body. Instead, it relies largely on software installed on a connected PC. The software provides facial recognition, text-to-speech and media management. So, for example, you'll be able to talk to SCOTY and have him play music from one of your networked PCs. In addition, SCOTY's software will allow it to tell you when you have new mail and even read it back to you.

SCOTY can also serve as a remoter babysitter and surveillance unit. It can scan a room and detect human faces and then notify you via e-mail that someone is in the room. It'll even send an image captured with its color video camera."