For behind the scenes pictures, stories and special contests, follow us on Facebook!

Tag Archives: Robots

Robotic Arm Throws Things With More Precision Than You Ever Could

By David Ponce

Paving the way for the day we will watch professional sports played out not by overpriced humans but rather waiting-to-annihilate us robots, the Positive Pressure Universal Gripper performs some neat tricks that have us awed right now, but will have us running when the balls get replaced with bullets. Or something. Setting the overused “robots are going to kill us one day” trope aside, this robotic arm from Cornell’s Creative Machines Lab is tipped with a gripper that functions very differently than most robotic grippers. It’s an elastic balloon filled with a sandlike material. When placed over an object, the soft balloon conforms to its shape. The air is then sucked out and the balloon hardens around the object. Once air is quickly pumped back in, the object can be thrown with a fair amount of precision. Watch the video to see the robot get nothing but net with a few baseballs and a pretty tight cluster in darts.

While the intended use is not to throw things around, the video does demonstrates the new gripper’s capabilities which include: “performance increases of up to 85% in reliability, 25% in error tolerance, and the added capability to shoot objects by fast ejection.”

[ Cornell’s Abstract ] VIA [ IEEE Automaton ]

Start Building That Bunker: We’ve Reached The Quadrotor Nano-Bot Formation Flying Stage

By David Ponce

If you watch the above video, you’ll get a grasp of what you’re witnessing: the birth of the very things that will one day haunt our minds, and hunt our bodies. In our quest for progress, we have reached the stage where the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception lab have developed tiny flying robots capable of complex formations. Sure, right now the video is simply jaw dropping; seeing 20 of these hand sized bots fly around doing figure 8s, and passing through window frames is impressive. But that loud droning noise is a stark reminder that one day these very same bots (or even smaller ones) could be coming in through your windows, with intentions unknown. Never forget that if the technology exists, someone somewhere will find a way to put it to bad use.

Until then, we build our forts and we study the enemy. By watching the video.

Just watch it. It’s freaking cool.

VIA [ DVice ]

Rydis H800 Takes The Home Robot Craze To The Air Purifying Space

By David Ponce

There are robots to clean your floor, like the Roomba (which vacuums) or the Scooba (which scrubs). There are also robots like these to clean your windows. And now there is a robot to go around your house, purifying air. See the thing about air purifiers is that they’re static. They’ll try to cycle as much of your home’s air as they can, but there’s only so much they can do while just sitting in a corner. So the Rydis H800, from Moneual, goes around your home, filtering the air as it does. It has sensors to avoid bumping into obstacles and “you can use a multi-function remote control to turn filter settings from low to high, or to send the H800 into another room. In sleep mode, the H800 operates at a 22dB sound level, and in turbo mode it can go up to 48dB.”

There is no price or availability information at the moment.

[ Rydis Home ] VIA [ Gizmag ]

[CES 2012] Ecovacs Winbot Goes All Roomba On Your Windows

By David Ponce

Through a combination of good marketing and of actually being available in America, the Roomba vacuuming robots are well known. But they’re not the only cleaning bots on the block. Ecovacs has been making these for years, but at CES this year I stumbled onto something I hadn’t see before. It was a cleaning robot that cleaned windows. Vertically. It’s called the Ecovacs Winbot and it’s a robot that splits in two. Both halves are joined together by strong magnets, with your pane of glass sandwiched in between. The cleaning is done through a 3M cleaning cloth, so I’m not sure how much dirt or grime it can handle. But it does work as expected, making its way across a window until it’s clean. Of course there’s a bit of a problem in that you’ll probably need two people to get it going in the first place, one inside and the other outside, each holding one half. But if manual cleaning is something you really hate, there’s a robot for that now.

The Winbot is currently available in China and Europe and a representative said it should come to America within a year. It’s $399.

HexBug Larva Is Meant To Be Robotic Toy

By David Ponce

A toy!? How is a giant (relative to the insect) freaking maggot ever be construed as a toy of any kind? Is this being marketed to entomologists’ kids? This wonderful little creation is the product of HexBug. One of their self-described goals is to “give children a positive experience with robotics at a young age.” Positive experience, eh?… Well, to each their own we suppose. The Larva is but one of a range of creepy crawly robots, with other members being The Ant, The Spider and The Inchworm to just name a few. The Larva itself just barely qualifies as a robot in that it’s autonomous enough to at least avoid obstacles. It does come in 5 colors and is mercifully inexpensive at around $12. Hey, the Holidays are coming and maybe you’ve conceived a little strange one who might appreciate this.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Crave ]

These Are Rock’em Sock’em Bots On Steroids

By David Ponce

Got $17,000 burning a hole in your wallet? How bout these Rock’em Sock’em inspired “Bionic Bopper Cars”? They are large (400lbs!), manned, motorized cars with “two pneumatic-powered, tire-tread-fisted arms”. The goal? Hit your opponent in the face, of course! Not his actual face mind you, but that of the “robot” he’ll be driving around. To this end, you’re provided with buttons mounted atop two independent joysticks. Each time you score a hit, a front-mounted display in each robot’s mid-section will keep a tally. There’s a protective steel cage to keep the humans inside safe, while a full tank of gas will provide up to 5 hours autonomy. You can use an area as small as 16 square feet and you should place your order by December 1st for Christmas delivery.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Uncrate ]

This Robot Plays Angry Birds. That’s it.

By David Ponce

While you tend to think of robots doing useful things, like building your cars or scooping your pets’ poo, this robot created by Jason Huggins does nothing but play Angry Birds. It’s called the BitbeamBot and consists of a finger-like rod connected to two servos. The rod is tipped with skin-like material (we think it’s sausage; sausage works great on iDevices and is also delicious) and moves on a simple X-Y plane in order to sling the little avians to their destructive doom. It’s not as exciting as it appears though, because the BitbeamBot is entirely controlled by Jason, who sends commands to it via a remote. It’s as much of a robot as those remote controlled metal mechs from that battle bot show, or whatever it was called.

Still, there may be a purpose to the madness since “he is the co-founder of Saucelabs, and the creator of Selenium. Selenium is a portable software testing framework for web applications.” The ultimate goal? Perhaps to create farms of game-playing robots that would take care of one of the most tedious parts of software development: debugging.

You know what this means, kids? You dreaming of being a video game tester when you grow up? Please, stay in school and do something useful: your dream job is toast.

[ Bitbeam’s Website ] VIA [ ]

Human Powered Walking Robot Exoskeleton

Human-Powered Stable Bipedal Walking Robot (Images courtesy DigInfo)
By Andrew Liszewski

Researchers at the Nagoya Institute of Technology in Japan have created a bipedal walking exoskeleton robot that’s completely human powered. The rider simply has to shift their weight around to get the thing to locomote, but besides that there’s no other source of propulsion. Oddly enough, another one of the researcher’s goals was to create an exoskeleton that didn’t walk with the awkward gait that’s typical of the ones you see in films like Avatar or The Matrix sequels. And while I guess their creation tends to ‘walk’ more naturally like a human. If you take a gander at the video I’ve embedded below, its movement is just about the most awkward thing I’ve ever seen.

The exoskeleton’s secret is a zig-zag triangular design on the three-dimensional metal pipe frames that make up its feet. Imagine that if instead of being perfectly round, a rubber tire had a triangular faceted pattern on its outer surface. So when you rolled it forward, it would tend to wobble from side to side as it transitioned from triangle to triangle. That’s basically the same idea here. Apparently the design makes for a walking gait that’s very stable, though, remarkably slow and cumbersome. The researchers feel it could assist those who can only walk with a shuffle, letting them move about more freely, or battle a gigantic alien queen in the cargo hold of a spaceship.

[ DigInfo – Human-Powered Stable Bipedal Walking Robot ] VIA [ Ubergizmo ]

LG RoboCyking Canister Vacuum Automatically Follows You Around

LG RoboCyking Vacuum (Image courtesy LG)
By Andrew Liszewski

LG’s new RoboCyking canister vacuum might not be completely autonomous like the Roomba or other robotic cleaners. But instead of having to drag the canister around your home while you clean the floors, it automatically follows you like a dust-filled puppy. While the company doesn’t go into the details of how exactly the system works, I’m assuming it simply senses the ‘tugging’ that comes from the hose attachment while you clean. I’m also hoping it’s smart enough to avoid getting caught on corners, which often makes me want to hurl my vacuum off the balcony.

But following you around the house isn’t the RoboCyking’s only trick. It also operates at a relatively quiet 57dB, which LG promotes as being ideal for “dual-earner couples” who typically have to clean at night after work. It also packs a HEPA filter, carbon air purifier, and an automatic dust compression system using rotating plates that minimizes the amount of dust being blown back out. Available soon, in South Korea at least, for ~$400. (?469,000)

[ PR – LG RoboCyking ] VIA [ Newlaunches ]