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.
Toyota is taking to the public sidewalks of Japan with the Winglet, its two-wheeled personal mobility robot that looks like a miniature Segway. The trial, designed to test the Winglet's safety and practicality in the real world, takes place in Tsukuba city's Mobility Robot Experimental Zone, an area designated for just this type of thing. The move points to a possible commercialization of the robot in the future, which has been demonstrated only as a concept thus far.
Mechanized characters, such as clockwork automatons that move using a series of gears, go back hundreds of years. Now the most difficult aspect of their mechanical design, which took specialized engineering skill and lots of trial and error, has largely been eliminated by a pair of new software tools developed by Disney Research labs in Zürich and Boston, and labs at ETH Zürich and MIT. They're being presented this week at ACM SIGGRAPH 2013, the International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques.
The line between art and technology isn't just being blurred, it's being erased altogether. Painting and sketching from photographs and life, for example, is a technique that is now being mastered by robots. The latest, called eDavid, combines a camera, computer vision software, and a standard welding robot arm to skillfully recreate (in a variety of styles no less) any image you feed its software. It seems that even art, a cornerstone of human ingenuity since the dawn of man, isn't safe from a robot takeover.
A new breed of robot fish
that is both relatively inexpensive and highly customizable is teaching students between the ages of 10 and 18 about technology and biology. It's the latest in a line of biologically-inspired underwater robots developed within the naro (nautical robots) project at ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), which has previously developed robots based on tuna fish and sea turtles
Now that you can be scanned and 3D-printed in miniature form, two-dimensional portraits seem so last century
. Of course, this novelty is way more expensive than a photograph, but now a company called Twinkind located in Hamburg, Germany is offering a 3D portrait service where the lengthy scanning process has been made as quick and painless as having a photo taken. You can even scan your pets, as they don't need to stay still for 20 minutes at a time!
The DARPA Robotics Challenge
(DRC) has scheduled its first physical trial for late December, leaving competing teams less than six months to finish building and programming their robots. In case you're just tuning in, the DRC is a gauntlet of daunting tasks designed to test robots that may someday stand in for people as first responders. DARPA has just revealed the completed ATLAS humanoid
, but there's still a half dozen others
that remain somewhat mysterious. Now, Team DRC-HUBO is spilling the beans on its own humanoid robot.
DARPA has revealed the completed ATLAS humanoid robot, which is to star in the upcoming DARPA Robotics Challenge
(DRC) – and it cuts a striking figure. Designed by Boston Dynamics (the guys behind the BigDog
, and LS3
quadrupeds), it's being given to the top teams that recently competed in the Virtual Robotics Challenge
(VRC). Now those teams have less than six months to fine tune their software with the real robot before they face the first of two live challenges.
Several snake-like robots have been developed around the world, and while we keep hearing about their potential applications
few have managed to slither outside of their research labs. Earlier this year Carnegie Mellon University's Biorobotics Lab put its modular snake robot's practicality to the test in an abandoned nuclear power plant, where it provided clear, well-lit images from the inside of pipes.
In recent years Japan has erected life-sized statues of giant robots like Tetsujin-28 go (Gigantor) and a Gundam mobile suit, but statues can't defend the island nation from kaiju
attack. Perhaps that is why Sagawa Electronics is bridging the gap between fantasy and reality with a working robotic exoskeleton it calls the Power Jacket MK3 that mimics your every move. And it says it will produce up to five of them for about US$123,000 apiece.
Legged robot kits aren't anything new, but unlike its competition, the T8 octopod comes with a disturbingly realistic 3D-printed exoskeleton that is sure to make an unforgettable first impression. Robugtix (a robotics company based in Hong Kong) is living up to its name with the lifelike robot tarantula, and it can be yours later this year for an introductory price of US$1,350.