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Robot Stuff for March, 15, 2005

Cool robot news, articles, and resources, updated daily.

Robotics and Robot news from around the world

How Spitting Robots Saved the B-2 bomber
In the last year, the U.S. Air Force has introduced the use of robots to reduce the maintenance efforts required to keep their B-2 bombers flying. The B-2 uses a stealth (anti-radar) system that depends a lot on a smooth outer skin. That, in turn,

A robotic antenna inspired by a cockroach!
An engineering student at Johns Hopkins University has designed a robotic antenna inspired by a cockroach That sends obstacle warnings to mechanical bug's brain. The artificial antenna sends signals to a wheeled robot's electronic brain, enabling the

Thinking robots - not quite yet!
Noel Sharkey is in the mood to debunk a few myths. The 56-year-old professor of computer science at Sheffield University is at the forefront of robotic technology in this country and there's a few things he wants to get off his chest. "Everybody wants

UCLA Medical Center introduces robot into the ICU
The robot, made by Santa Barbara, California-based InTouch Health, allows doctors to "virtually" consult with patients, family members and health care staff from a distance. The RP-6 robot is being used by neurosurgery intensivists to provide additional

Run, Robot, Run
Gary Carr is a mechanical engineer working for Ensco, a professional-services firm and government contractor headquartered in Falls Church, Va. But get him started on the subject of the robot he's building, and he sounds more like a beaming parent. "It

Engadget: Robots

Engadget's Robots section covers everything related to robots and robotics, including Sony's Aibo and Qrio bots, the Honda Asimo, iRobot's Roomba Robovac and PackBot, and other new robots being developed.

Nautical positioning alternative to GPS
by Barb Dybwad

Boat traffic currently relies on GPS technology to determine positioning at sea, but the solution is not always fool-proof, and submarines can’t take advantage of it because of visibility requirements. At Linköping University, doctoral candidate Rickard Karlsson has developed a system that uses a ship’s own radar to measure distance to the surrounding shore, after which position can be determined by comparison with a digital sea chart. For subs, sonar measurements get compared to digital depth charts to achieve the same effect. The entire system is software-based, obviating the need for any external GPS hardware, so is not susceptible to interference. This same particle filtering mathematical algorithm is also expected to be utilized to track industrial robots, avoid vehicular collisions, and track marine vehicles from aircraft. [Via Near Near Future]

Robart III rent-a-cop drone
by Barb Dybwad

We’re used to seeing unintentionally creepy robots, but not quite so often do we witness drones that are supposedly intentionally scary but ultimately laughable. The Robart III is a mechanical rent-a-cop replacement currently in prototype from the U.S. military’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems. It detects intruders and caps ‘em with a six-barrel Gatling-style tranquilizer (or rubber bullets, if that’s your pleasure) gun. It uses head-mounted sensors of several varieties: two Polaroid sonar transducers, a Banner near-infrared proximity sensor, an AM Sensors microwave motion detector, topped off with a video surveillance camera. All this sex-appeal may backfire for the Robart III, who ends up looking like some comical mixture of a Dalek and Johnny Five. Robart III apparently has some new developers coming on board who want to develop a whole fleet of slave robots to accompany Robart III on its missions. We figure this troupe will either nab a bunch of bad guys, or perhaps end up with a starring role in the next Austin Powers movie.

Actroid robot greets Japan World Expo visitors a bit too naturally
by Barb Dybwad

Peep that photo at right and tell us you wouldn’t have to do a double-take. The Actroid robot, developed by Kokoro and Advanced Media, will greet guests at the information booth of Japan’s World Expo opening March 25 in Aichi. She understands 40,000 phrases in each of four languages and has nuanced facial expressions to match the more than 2,000 types of answers she can give. She’s even imbued with a sense of irony; when asked if she is a robot, she answers disconnectedly and with clumsy movements — followed by a “just kidding!” before reverting to smooth humanoid motions. If you skim the article too quickly, you might miss the glorious factoid that she can also perform rap music. It’s gonna be a party up in Aichi! [Via Near Near future]

Sony Ericsson's Bluetooth Motion Cam ROB-1
by Peter Rojas

Sony Ericsson really better not just be messing with us, because you rarely see a gadget with as much potential for mischief and abuse as their new ROB-1 Bluetooth Motion Cam. Yeah, it looks like a yo-yo, but the ROB-1 is actually a robot with a built-in digital camera that you control from your (Sony Ericsson) cellphone using Bluetooth and that can wheel around and snap pics or stream video back to your cellphone. No word on cost, but the ROB-1 (which is 11cm in diameter, by the way) should be out sometime in the third quarter of this year.

i-Cybie robot dog unleashed
by Barb Dybwad

Awwww, c’mon, you know we couldn’t resist that one. Continuing the recent trend in robotic pooches, Outrageous Toys International is launching a mechanical mutt that hopes to give the AIBO some canine competition. The i-Cybie does some typical doggie moves such as sit, stand, shake and lie down, as well as using its robotic brain to respond based on how it’s treated: praise it and the dog will be in a good mood, but scold it and i-Cybie will behave more passively. Sensors throughout its body help prevent it from bumping into things, and enable i-Cybie to be sensitive to light changes. As if to kill us with cuteness, when it’s getting low on batteries the dog will go into the “downward-facing dog” yoga pose to let you know it needs recharging. We’re pretty sure that makes i-Cybie the only robot dog at home in an ashram. Available in July starting at $199. [Thanks, eric]

The robot that eats cookies
by Ryan Block

Remember how everyone used to drop that example of researchers testing the viscosity of catchup (catsup? ketchup? whatever) to exemplify wasteful spending and useless science? Well, boffins at Mcvitie’s laboratory in High Wycombe (that’d be in the UK, mate) have created the Crumb Test Dummy. Sole purpose? To test which baking techniques and recipes produce the most crumbs by continuous mastication (yes, that’s mastication). And why was it created you ask? A Mcvitie rep said it’s because “they haven’t yet found a human who can test on this scale.” Duh, why didn’t you tap Cookie Monster, dude? [Via Near Near Future]

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What is that displayed on my RCX2.0?
by orion
Mail in discussion follows:

Are there any chance of video clips of Jamocklat in action?
by orion
Use this thread to discuss the Are there any chance of video clips of Jamocklat in action? page.

other robotics mailing lists?
by orion
Use this thread to discuss the other robotics mailing lists? page.

RCX 3??
by Anonymous
Use this thread to discuss the RCX 3?? page.

Bumpy Ride
by orion
Big changes are afoot on the OrionRobots website. We will (For the first time in our history) be moving to a third party hosting system - as opposed to being hosted on a server in my lounge. It means that while things are transferred, and DNS settings catch up, that there may be gaps in service. This however will avoid the potential for the larger disruptions that will have occured when we moved - shutting down the site for days or weeks. Expect a couple of hours downtime between now and may, but I have ducked to avoid the worst of it. On the upside, we should see improved spam protection and faster access. Also. by leaving the sysadmin tasks (upgrading stuff, keeping the spam settings up to date, making sur...

PLs help me
by Anonymous
Please help me design a robot... any ideas? I'm in a robotics class, im 15 yrs old, and our final project is our own robot using lego, I was thinking of a coin sorter but i want a better design. some made coffee makers, whiteboard erasers, etc. it should be useful. Can you help me??

Recent articles

Sony-Ericsson's Linux-based ROB-1
A article describes the new Sony Ericsson ROB-1 robot which was announced last week. The robot is basically a small, teleoperated camera contained in an 11 cm spherical shell. The two hemispheres form main drive wheels and a small tail-dragger is used for balance. The robot uses a 200 MHz Freescale Dragonball processor with 2 MB of RAM and runs Linux. The robot can maintain a bluetooth link to a Sony-Erricsson P900/P910 mobile phone. The phone can control the robot and display streaming video from the onboard camera.

Japan's New Generation of Robots
A Washington Post article discusses the wide variety of robots being embraced in Japan; from the latest android receptionist and the familiar Asimo humanoid to a $3500 robot seal designed to comfort the elderly. "Scientists and government authorities have dubbed 2005 the unofficial year of the robot". The article notes that while the US is probably Japan's equal in the field of AI, Japan is far ahead in robotics. They are investing billions of dollars to develop humanoid robots that can take part in every day life. One researcher suggests that monotheistic western religions may be part of the reason that humanoid robots cannot be accepted in the west as they are in the east.

Two Tiny New Linux Microcontrollers
Kontron has announced a new microcontroller board based on the Intel XScale that's just 67 x 49 mm. The board includes a 400MHz XScale, 128MB DRAM, 256MB Flash, 1280x1024 graphics controller, 10/100 Ethernet, AC97 audio, USB 1.1, and other I/O. Pricing starts at $245 for single units. The new board, called the X-Board GP8, is the lastest addition to Kontron's line of tiny X-Board SBCs. Not small enough for you? A Linux Devices article mentions that Oki is about to release the world's smallest ARM processer. The chip is just 5.09 x 4.84mm - bacon-bit sized according to Linux Devices :-). The Oki chip has a 33MHz ARM7TDMI core and includes multi-master I2C, SPI, I2S, and UARTs. Oki will offer SBCs using this chip...

Why Robots Won't Take Over the World
Noel Sharkey wants to debunk the myth of robots taking over the world according to a Yorkshire Post article. "Everybody wants to hear that robots are going to take over the world but it's not going to happen..." Why, you may ask? Because despite claims that modern robots are as advanced as rats or other mammals, Sharkey says they're closer to the level of bacteria. He also comments on the continuing decline in the number of engineers and reminisces about beating his school headmaster at chess. For more on Noel Sharkey, a detailed bibliography of his research publications is available.

NASA Ames Robots Roll, Walk, and Slither
A Wired News article and a San Francisco Gate article offer photos and descriptions of experimental robots that have been under development for several years at the Autonomy and Robotics group of the NASA Ames Research Center. Among the robots designed to test ideas for planetary exploration are the K9 rover (more K9 photos, 2003 K9 Field test photos), the 8-legged Scorpion (another NASA article on the Scorpion), and the 12 segment Snakebot (more Snakebot photos).

High School Girl Strong-arms 3 Robots
In light of International Women's Day, I can't think of a more appropriate story than this. Scott Zinn and other readers sent links about the long anticipated Arm Wrestling match between man and machine. The machines in this case are using the latest electroactive polymer (EAP) actuators, also known as artificial muscles. EAP technology is more powerful than electric motors but much lighter than hydraulics and pneumatics. Dr. Bar-Cohen of NASA first proposed such a competition in 1999 and it finally happened March 7th in San Diego. Three organizations entered robot arms to compete against a human opponent, high school student and robotics hobbyist Panna Felsen. She beat all three robots. The robot build by ERI ...

Gizmodo : Robots

This is Gizmodo's Robots section. Gizmodo, the gadget guide. So mesmerized by shiny new toys. It's unnatural.

Rex ROBART III and the Slave Bot Boys
Looking like a three-way love fest between a Imperial Lambda-class Shuttle, a harem of iPods, and an A-10 'Warthog,' the ROBART III is a new robot prototype from the Space and Naval Warface Systems Center, designed to be placed in...

Ice Robots Are Coming
We dig robotic rovers, so robotic rovers able to traverse sub-zero Antarctic ice sheets while receiving power from the sun and wind are always enough to catch our eye. Carnegie Mellon tells us that their Nomad rover (which earlier trekked...

Robot Greeters at 2005 World Expo
The 2005 World Expo (formerly the World's Fair, famous for once introducing the world to ice cream cones and also communism) in Japan will be greeting its guests with robots when it opens later this month. The Actroid greeting robots...

Three Robot Arms Lose to Teenage Girl
This NPR article reports a total of three robot arms lost to a 17-year-old girl. One of them even went down in 3 seconds, apparently. This is somewhat disappointing considering robotic arms are supposed to be good at this sort...

Robot Mannequin Caught Posing
And that's another pic of the bizarre robot mannequin we talked about on Monday. If I saw a mannequin move, I'd be reminded of that crappy movie "Evolver." (Thanks, Eddy!) Robot mannequin strikes a pose [HowardForums] Related Robot Mannequins...

Biscuit-Eating Robot
As useful as military or medical robots are, what we need are more machines that are only interested in a nice cuppa and a sit-down. Baking experts at McVities Biscuits designed the Crumb Test Dummy to test which baking techniques...

Clickable Culture - Robots

Our electronic overlords.

RoPot Invasion
Toronto-based artist/adventurer Andrew Duff has unleashed a RoPot army. This terrifying blend of robot, clay and yoga has escaped the confines of firey kilns, only to be stretched and twisted into relaxing poses for your viewing pleasure. Nine of Duff's creations are currently available for inspection and rotation. I've got a RoPot on my windowsill, but you can't see it because I'm not inviting you over.

MechAssault's Hot Robot Action
MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf has been out for a few weeks now, and not only features most of what you're used to in a MechWarrior-themed game (giant robots), but also the ability to hump your enemies' legs. No, really. You can jump on like a randy little bulldog and prod until you've achieved penetration by nudging the controller in the right sequence. At this point, the enemy robot falls under your command. The game also features awful cut-scenes and abysmal dialog. Strangely, there's a new Xbox bundle for sale, which comes with MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf, a 2-month Xbox Live trial, and a mail-in offer for a free Xbox Live Communicator headset. The Xbox is not a menacing gunmetal gray, nor does it feature any ...

Kawada Robot: If Looks Could Kill
Sure, Toyota makes nice little bubble-shaped robots. But who needs that when you've got this 4-foot-tall monster? [link:taluagel] Forget those overrated wheelchairs--the Kawada Industries Humanoid Robot "Promet" can assemble panels, walk on rough terrain, and stand up from a face-down position. If only the Promet was as fast as it was stylish. The unit is currently on standby to protect Tokyo in case of a snail stampede or tar-spill.

Military Robots Await Eager Gamers
The Associated Press reports (via Yahoo! News) that the U.S. Army has upgraded their Talon robots into "SWORDS," remote-controlled death-machines. Eighteen of the deadly-accurate, machine-gunning robots will reportedly be shipped to Iraq this spring, and are controlled using two joysticks, a handful of buttons, and a video screen. AP reports that the cumbersome control-rig may be replaced with something more akin to a game controller, complete with virtual-reality goggles. The Army's official video game now features Talon robots. I'm sure SWORD units will be next up--gotta get those potential human controllers ready. Ender's Game? Spiders? Yup. I'm all for roboticizing the world's armies. Once we repla...

Backyard Robot Enthusiasts
Last year, some guy made his kids a huge backyard battlemech. This year, some crazy Alaskan is going further, building a giant steel exoskeleton on his backyard, and hopes to test it by demolishing cars next year. The robot exoskeleton, which has cost $15,000US so far, "...can exert about 3,500 pounds per square inch, or more than enough to set his ton and a half creation in motion..." All we need now is for the maker of this mechanoid to be struck by lightning while wearing the suit, thereby fusing its raw power with its creator's intellect. But will this new super-being use his powers for good or evil? The world trembles in anticipation.

Casshern Stuns
I didn't think it would be possible to duplicate the look and feel of an anime movie with live action footage, despite a nice try by the Wachowski brothers. The Casshern movie trailer changed all that. Based on a 30-year old anime series, Casshern was released this year in Japan, and I would buy the DVD in a second if it made its way to Canada, subtitled or not. Casshern is set in a clunky retro-future world where the lights are dimming for humankind after ages of war and strife. A scientist comes up with a way to save humanity, but of course his work backfires... and apparently some muzzled teenage cyber-hero with a sword ends up squaring off against endless robot hordes. Hard to tell. I don't speak Japan...

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Moving Men 8-Piece Furniture Slider Set

Amazon Price: $5.89
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» The Moving Men TV commercials are a bit over-hyped, but the sliders do work very well. One must realize that all they do is reduce friction, making it easier to move large items. They do not make item...

» Even someone over 50 with a bad back can easily rearrange a room full of heavy furniture with these glides. No need to empty the bookcase. Just tip slightly and insert the glides. You can move televis...

» This product has its uses but I feel that the TV spots overhype its value. The moving (especially for heavy items) is not as effortless as I would have liked it to be. And you need to have some streng...


Robosapien Robot

Amazon Price: $89.99
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» it works super good i bought my 11 year old 2 so they fight.the money is well worth it.i would throw somthing on th ground and it would pick it up. IF I WERE YOU I WOULD BUY 2

» This is a great remote control toy. My kid has loved it ever since he got it. It is definitly worth the money. It is not like other remote control dogs that fall over every time and cost a lot more. I...



iRobot Roomba Rapid Charger, 2004

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iRobot Roomba Replacement Filters

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» I've had my Roomba for over a year, and I don't use it weekly as they suggest (or even bi-weekly) and my filters are falling apart. Backwashing with an air canister hasn't worked, though perhaps this ...

» Back-wash the filter after each use with canned air and they will last almost forever.


iRobot Roomba Virtual Wall, 2003

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» I bought the Roomba Elite Pro which includes 2 virtual wall units. They work exactly as advertised. Roomba doesn't go across the wall. I can push my mess to one side of the room, set up this virtual w...


» Overall, YES this thing works with Roomba with no doubt! But you gotta consider the price is way to high for just a virtual wall unit.....


iRobot Roomba Battery Pack, 2002

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ServoCenter 3.1 Controller IC DIP Package

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Sony ERF220AW02E AIBO Explorer AIBO-ware Entertainment Robot

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BugBrain Walking Robot Kit

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ARobot - Programmable Mobile Robot Kit w/ Basic Stamp and 2 Books

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