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.
The Japanese spider crab is about to lose its title as the world's largest crustacean thanks to a new robot developed in South Korea. For the past two years researchers at the Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) have been working on a giant robot crab that is about the size and weight of a Smart car. This summer it will help scientists explore wrecks below the sea, weathering harsh tidal currents rushing over one and a half meters per second.
In Japan, clockwork automata (karakuri ningyō
) emerged in the 17th century, and were mainly sold to wealthy or important people who used them to impress guests. These little mechanical dolls have an illustrious history, but like their Western counterparts they largely went out of fashion by the 20th century. Now, a modern version of these automata that mixes popular anime-style vinyl dolls and hobby robotics is on its way thanks to Danny Choo of Culture Japan.
Engineers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have proven once again that they know how to make a snazzy looking robot. Quietly announced to little fanfare, DLR's Robotics and Mechatronics Center recently put the finishing touches on its DLR-Biped, a pair of shiny blue legs that first stepped onto the scene in 2009. Those legs have now been upgraded to the status of a full-fledged humanoid robot, sporting an all-new upper body and a new name: the Torque Controlled Humanoid Robot, or TORO for short.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company's decommissioned Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, is still under investigation. Progress has been slow due to lethal radiation preventing workers from accessing the site, and a lack of industrial robots ready to tackle the job. Now Honda and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have unveiled a High-Access Survey robot that began work inside the reactor building last week.
If you thought the monkey-like robot AMEE seen in the Val Kilmer sci-fi flick Red Planet
was a tad far-fetched, think again. The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and the University of Bremen are working on an ape-like robot called the iStruct Demonstrator that it classifies as a "Space Robot." Lately the mechanical monkey has been practicing how to walk and balance in the center's mock lunar landscape.
Nintendo raised eyebrows when it bowed out of holding a traditional live press conference in favor of a pre-taped video at E3 this year. This was doubly shocking because of the importance of this particular E3, where its competitors in the home console market would be pulling out all the stops to showcase their new hardware
and games. Nintendo's latest console, the Wii U
, stumbled out of the gate and has been under-performing in virtually all regions. If ever there was a time to make a splash, this was it.
Have you been reading Gizmag's robot articles and ever thought you'd like to get your hands dirty with a robot of your own? Well, there's a Kickstarter for that. Shota Ishiwatari has just launched RAPIRO, his custom designed Raspberry Pi Robot. The robot is easy to assemble, and comes with RGB LEDs, 12 servos, and an Arduino-compatible servo control board. And the best part is it will only set you back £229 (US$354).
Remember that awesome transforming robot
built by the one-man wonder Kenji Ishida? Well, apparently Takara Tomy took notice of it after videos of the robot went viral last year and is developing its own mass-market version under the official Transformers
banner. They showed the automatically transforming toy alongside a robotic lion from its Zoids line, both controlled with an iPhone, at Tokyo Toy Show 2013.
Though there's much work to be done before miniature robots move exactly like insects, Harvard Microrobotics Lab is making strides with its latest prototypes. It recently demonstrated the Harvard Ambulatory MicroRobot (HAMR), a 4.4 cm quadruped that scurries around at up to 8.4 body lengths per second.
In a move that is already sending shockwaves through the gaming community, Microsoft has reversed course on the ill-advised digital rights management (DRM) and always online policies
of its forthcoming Xbox One game console. Microsoft, which had up until earlier this week defended its restrictive policies, suffered what many considered to be an embarrassing defeat at the hands of rival Sony PlayStation at the Electronic Entertainment Expo earlier this month. Today Don Mattrick, President of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, announced an about-face that will have consumers breathing a sigh of relief.