Not all that long ago a bag of marbles or a deck of cards might have been the go-to tools for a bit of family fun, but today's households harbor all kinds of games, both virtual and real-world. Combining the two by bringing robotics into the mix promises an interesting blend of education and entertainment, something startup CutThroatRobotics is aiming to achieve with ZoZbot. A basic omnidirectional rover at a minimum and a customizable, multi-purpose gaming platform at most, ZoZbot can be put to work in everything from lounge room floor soccer matches to table-top games of pool.
Though it has been adapted to a number of inventive shapes and sizes ranging from three-wheeled patrollers to self-balancing two seaters, the Segway never quite found the commercial success envisaged when the first models appeared way back in 2002. Now the company is bringing a little robotics into the mix to give it a new edge. The Segway Robot builds on the company's approach to self-balancing urban transport by converting into a robotic helper once you hop off.
Some years ago, a new type of attendee began appearing at tech conferences. They were robots with iPads for faces and a disembodied human face on the screen. Those robots were Doubles and the disembodied faces were people who couldn't attend in person. Now, the Double 2 has been unveiled.
Luggage lying around unattended at an airport justifiably triggers the jitters. The hazardous task of getting up close to inspect what could potentially be a bomb that could explode any time invariably falls to the bomb squad. Researchers have come up with a way to minimize the risk by creating a sophisticated, robot-mountable, sensor system that allows authorities to scan a piece of luggage and get an accurate image of its contents. The contact-free detection system could not only potentially help bomb specialists assess the danger quickly, but it could also help them obtain vital evidence.
Machines that can read and respond to human emotions like the fast-selling Pepper, and spooky lifelike models that look much like we do have bridged the gap between robots and humans, for better or for worse. By combining these two approaches scientists at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University have taken another step in this direction, taking the wraps off a creepy new humanoid named Nadine who has her own personality and is designed to play the role of social companion or personal assistant.
Although they aren't as common as flying drones, we are seeing an increasing number of wall-climbing robots. What isn't so common, however, are devices like the VertiGo, which both drives on the ground and climbs up walls. Its climbing ability is particularly impressive, as it can even tackle walls with rough, uneven surfaces.
Despite the fact that locusts are held in fairly low regard by us humans, there's a chance that you may one day be rescued by one … or at least, by a robotic locust. Working with colleagues at Israel's Ort Braude College, researchers from Tel Aviv University have created a tiny locust-inspired robot that can reportedly jump over twice as high as other similarly-sized devices. They say that it could ultimately find use in search-and-rescue operations at disaster sites.
In 2007, International Climbing Machines (ICM) unveiled its Climber robot, which can scale walls and rounded surfaces using a patented seal system. Now, it's trying to interest the US Navy in using robots to take over the nasty job of stripping away the rubber anti-sonar cladding from the nuclear submarine fleet using a method that is both cheaper and safer than current procedures.
Welding pipes in cramped, potentially dangerous areas is an expensive and time-consuming exercise. OC Robotics and TWI Ltd have been working on a potential solution in the form of an articulated robotic snake that navigates and welds pipes from the inside using high-powered industrial lasers.
The biennial International Robot Exhibition is billed as the largest robot trade show in the world. Gizmag went along to this month's 21st edition in Tokyo, which attracted more companies and 20 percent more visitors than iREX 2013, to check out the latest developments in the world of robotics.