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Jason Falconer

Jason Falconer
Jason is a freelance writer based in central Canada with a background in computer graphics. He has written about hundreds of humanoid robots on his website Plastic Pals and is an avid gamer with an unsightly collection of retro consoles, cartridges, and controllers.
Panasonic's ongoing effort to automate Japanese hospitals continued this month with the launch of the HOSPI-R, an autonomous delivery robot that is now on sale. In its press release, Panasonic contends that robots like this one are needed to maintain and improve the quality of nursing services due to Japan's rapidly aging society. The latest in the company's line of HOSPI robots is designed to transport samples and drugs so that lab technicians and nurses won't have to. Read More
A new 3D-printed robot called Poppy is helping a team of French researchers study bipedal walking and human-robot interaction. They were able to design, fabricate, and assemble a relatively large robot for around €8,000 (US$11,000) including servo motors and electronics. That's about a third the cost of commercial robots in the same size category like the RQ-TITAN, and is still cheaper than smaller humanoids like the Aldebaran Robotics NAO. And best of all, they plan to make their design open source. Read More
A new research robot was unveiled today by Unbounded Robotics that has a good chance of infiltrating robotics labs around the world. Unbounded Robotics' founding members hail from Willow Garage, where they helped to develop the PR2 (a robot famous for performing everyday tasks like folding laundry). The problem with the PR2 was its hefty price tag; at US$400,000, it was simply out of reach of most university labs. Unbounded Robotics' UBR-1 is essentially a PR2 "lite", and at $35,000 it won't break the bank. Read More
Boston Dynamics, the company behind DARPA's most advanced legged robots such as PETMAN, BigDog, and Atlas, has unveiled the free-roaming version of their sprinting robot Cheetah. The new robot is called WildCat, and it's already galloping at speeds up to 16 mph (25.7 km/h) on flat ground. You don't want to miss the video tucked after the break. Read More
Ultimaker, which was born in 2011 as an outgrowth of the RepRap project, and which quickly grew to become an important player in the home consumer 3D printing market, has announced its second generation 3D printer. Boasting improved reliability, user-friendliness, and an increased print volume. Read More
With Grand Theft Auto V getting all the attention, there's a chance Sony Japan Studio's Puppeteer, recently released exclusively for the PlayStation 3, will be overlooked. And that would be a crying shame. It's a side-scrolling platformer hewn from the stuff of 16-bit classics, and is presented entirely as a twisted puppet show that would make Tim Burton proud. Don't be fooled by its cute art direction as there's a fairly meaty game here with plenty of challenges and secrets to be enjoyed. Read More
The PlayStation Vita, Sony's latest portable gaming console, has had a rough start in life. According to VGChartz, it has only sold about 5.7 million units worldwide since launch compared to the 33.5 million units sold by its primary competitor, the Nintendo 3DS. Down but not out, the Vita may soon get a new lease on life thanks to two new models announced by Sony Computer Entertainment Inc (SCEI) in its pre-Tokyo Game Show conference today, one of which abandons portability entirely in favor of an Apple TV-like living room experience. Read More
Advanced prosthetics have come a long way in the last few years, but the costs have also skyrocketed. A cheaper alternative may be on its way thanks to Easton LaChappelle, a 17-year old high school student from Colorado, who is using free online resources and the boom in inexpensive 3D printers to develop a functional prosthetic arm and hand. His projects have already earned him an invitation to the White House, and he's now working at NASA on the Robonaut team. Read More
Similar in size to Boston Dynamics' BigDog, the HyQ hydraulically-actuated quadruped robot can walk, trot, kick, and jump, but its reflexes need an upgrade before it can move from flat ground to more challenging terrain. To that end, researchers from the Italian Institute of Technology's (IIT) have developed an animal-like step reflex algorithm that quickly detects when the robot's feet run into obstacles, preventing trips and falls. Read More
Sculpting in a digital environment gives you the freedom to create impossibly balanced models and gravity-defying poses, and that's all well and good until you go to 3D print it. Depending on the severity of the model's shape, size, and pose, it may need to be glued to a heavy pedestal or even modified just to remain upright. That's a headache that's going away with an ingenious software solution called Make It Stand that quickly and easily optimizes a model's internal volume to balance it out, even when posed precariously. Read More
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