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. "