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Tag Archives: Robots

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 [ Geek.com ]

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 ]

Autom Personal Weight Loss Coach

Autom Personal Weight Loss Coach (Image courtesy Intuitive Automata)
By Andrew Liszewski

Sticking to a diet or weight loss plan is a lot easier when you have a little positive reinforcement. And that seems to be what inspired MIT alum Cory Kidd to create Autom. She’s billed as a robotic weight loss coach, but that’s maybe being a little generous with the term ‘robot’. Her head and eyes do move, but otherwise she’s mostly just a stationary touchscreen tablet that lets you keep track of your nutritional and exercise habits. It’s her software, though, that makes Autom really effective. Every day multiple users can have conversations with her where they input their meals, or how much physical activity they got in throughout the day. Autom will then provide praise, or encouragement, depending on how close they are to achieving their weight loss goals.

I actually think it’s a great way to help a diet be successful, I just wish Autom wasn’t so expensive. She’s available for pre-order for just $195, but when she ships the remaining balance is an additional $670. For a total of $865, plus a monthly subscription plan of $79.95! I’m not sure how that compares to other weight loss plans, but it seems all of Autom’s functionality could also be provided via a considerably cheaper iPad app.

[ Autom Personal Weight Loss Coach ] VIA [ Automaton ]

Kid-Friendly Robotic Teddy Bear With Soft Animated Limbs

Robotic Teddy Bear With Soft Animated Limbs (Images courtesy DigInfo)
By Andrew Liszewski

Remember Teddy Ruxpin? For his time he was pretty advanced as far as animated toys go. But as a stuffed animal he was the last thing you wanted to take to bed with you. He had enough ’80s technology inside him to stop a car if left in the middle of the street, so I don’t think he ever became any kid’s best friend. A group of researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology are hoping to right history’s wrongs though, and are working on an animated stuffed animal that’s still soft to the touch.

Strings running through the bear’s arms and legs are connected to motors hidden inside its padded torso. By pulling on the strings with varying amounts of force, the limbs are able to move in different directions, creating a fairly convincing life-like effect. Furthermore, because the strings are under tension, the electronics in the torso are also able to detect and register when the limbs have been touched or moved externally, allowing the bear to react and move in response. Most importantly, it’s these kinds of advancements that will give mankind the upper hand and advantage when robots eventually become self aware and rise up. Arms and legs made of steel make punches and kicks very dangerous. But arms and legs made of fabric and stuffing? They make being attacked feel like getting an overzealous hug!

[ DigInfo - Teddy Bear Robot With Soft Arms and Legs ]

LG’s Roboking Vacuum Tries To One-Up Roomba With 3 Built-In Video Cameras

LG Roboking Vacuum (Image courtesy LG)
By Andrew Liszewski

It’s hard to debate the superiority of an autonomous vacuum called the Roboking, but that’s not the only ‘trick’ LG has up its sleeve when it comes to challenging the incumbent king of robovacs, the Roomba. To ensure their latest model does the most efficient job of cleaning your floors on a given charge, the Roboking comes equipped with 51 sensors and 3 video cameras allowing it to create a detailed map of its surroundings, and keep track of areas it’s already cleaned.

It’s also wifi equipped, which seems rather pointless for a vacuum until you realize it provides remote access to the Roboking’s cameras allowing it to serve as a roving home security system when you access the video feed from an app on your smartphone. And a limited number of voice commands, like telling it to stop, recharge or requesting weather forecasts will make you feel like you live in a futuristic Jetsons-like world. On paper it certainly outperforms the Roomba in terms of features, but the one area where LG doesn’t seem too concerned about competing is price. As the Roboking will set you back a fairly hefty $830+. (899,000 WON)

[ PR - LG Roboking Vacuum ] VIA [ Newlaunches ]

Want! Bender Bending Rodríguez Toque

Bender Bending Rodríguez Toque (Image courtesy wa2wider)
By Andrew Liszewski

Yesterday I may have been lamenting that Winter seems to be dragging its feet on the way out the door, but after discovering this amazing Bender Bending Rodríguez toque, I’m now content to have the cold weather stick around for a few more weeks. It was crocheted by Flickr user ‘cheewawamomma‘ and after perusing their photo gallery it’s safe to say they have near Jedi-like skills when it comes to using a crochet hook. Color my shiny metal ass thoroughly impressed, and jealous of Flickr user ‘wa2wider‘ who snapped the above photo.

[ Flickr - wa2wider - Bite My Shiney Metal Ass! ] VIA [ Illuminations and Other Stuff ]

Mega Hurtz Paintball Robot Is Only Fun For The Person Behind The Controls

Mega Hurtz Paintball Robot (Image courtesy Chris Rogers)
By Andrew Liszewski

I don’t really see the appeal of running around the woods with a paintball marker in fear of being hit with a small ball of paint that’s going to leave a nasty bruise, and the prospect of having a robot capable of firing 20 paintballs a second on my tail certainly doesn’t change my opinion. Designed and engineered by Chris Rogers, the Mega Hurtz looks like a re-purposed battle bot but instead of targeting fellow robots, it allows the person behind the controls to hunt down people playing a game of paintball. And since it’s equipped with video cameras and an LCD display on the remote, the driver doesn’t even have to put themselves in harm’s way.

At 280lbs it’s not exactly something you can just toss on your back and deploy in ‘battle’ when the outcome is grim, but rest assured when you do decide to break out the Mega Hurtz you’re probably not going to have too much trouble dominating a paintball match. It’s got everything from red laser sights, night vision, a range of 500 feet and is strong enough to tow a Hummer. Pretty unstoppable it seems, though ironically it would probably only take a single paintball hitting the camera lens, essentially blinding the driver, to render it harmless. At the moment Chris has started a Kickstarter project with varying levels of support options to fund his work on the Mega Hurtz, and hopes that the refinements he makes to its design will one day make the platform a usable tool for military and law enforcement applications.

[ The Mega Hurtz ] VIA [ Mobile Magazine ]

Cubelets – Modular Robotic Building Blocks

Cubelets - Modular Robotic Building Blocks (Image courtesy Modular Robotics)
By Andrew Liszewski

LEGO and its MINDSTORMS and TECHNICS counterparts allow you to build an infinite number of robotic contraptions, but they do require some level of engineering and programming know-how to bring your creations to life. Something most kids don’t have. So to make it easier for kids to hit the ground running/building, the Cubelets robotic building blocks already have all of that intelligence and functionality built-in. In fact each block is a simple robot in and of itself, but they can be combined to create something more complex and interactive than just a building block castle.

The standard Cubelets kit comes with 20 blocks that each have unique capabilities. Like action blocks (drive, rotate, speaker, flashlight & graph), sense blocks (knob, brightness, distance & temperature) and think/utility blocks (inverse, minimum, maximum, battery, passive & blocker) which sit in-between and affect how the action and sense blocks interact. So instead of having to specifically program your creation to behave a certain way, you just assemble the Cubelets you think it will need, and then watch how it behaves on its own. Now obviously you’re not going to be able to build something like a complex Rubik’s Cube solver with the Cubelets, but as a way to introduce kids to robotic concepts it seems like a fantastic learning tool.

Modular Robotics, the company behind the Cubelets, created 100 beta test kits as an initial introduction to the building toy, and even at $300 a set they’re already sold out. But more are in production, and they’re hoping to have them available in the very near future.

[ Cubelets - Modular Robotic Building Blocks ] VIA [ Core77 ]