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. Read More
Teams vying for a spot in the historic DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) must first prove themselves in the Virtual Robotics Challenge (VRC) later this month. The VRC digitally simulates the physical challenges slated to take place at the tail end of the year, where real robots will get down and dirty for the first time. A total of 26 teams qualified to take part in the VRC, but only eight of them will earn the privilege of working with their very own ATLAS humanoid. Others will participate with their own unique robots. Read More
While there are several humanoid robot kits available to hobbyists, most of them leave much to be desired when it comes to walking the way we do. The fact that they can move on two feet at all is pretty cool, but most simply bend their knees and make a series of quick little steps, resulting in a gait which looks like they're shuffling rather than really walking. Professional roboticists and programmers are now beginning to show some improvements that are worth seeing in action. Read More
They may not make for the showiest videos, but some of the most interesting problems in robotics are to do with the subtleties of human interaction. Even something as apparently simple as receiving an object poses great difficulty, but it's a problem that will need to be solved before multipurpose robots are ready for the home. By building a database of captured human motion, Disney Research and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology are making strides towards building a robot that can take an object handed to it by a human. Read More
We've seen robots optimized for stability before, but where, for example, Dr. Guero's modified Kondo KHR-3HV could withstand the odd gentle prod with a finger, the Italian Institute of Technology's COMAN is apparently made of sterner stuff, remaining vertical in the face of rather more determined jostling thanks to its sensor-equipped motorized joints. Read More
Back in late 2009 Boston Dynamics revealed it was working on a humanoid robot that would test protective clothing for the military. Having already amazed the world three years earlier with the lifelike balancing capabilities of its quadruped BigDog, this would be the company's first bipedal robot. It was an ambitious project, but it appears the work has paid off. The robot's eerily realistic body movements are made all the more convincing now that its mechanical nature is hidden by a chemical protection suit. Read More
When it comes to the diminutive robot kits you find at hobby stores, most have what can only be described as a primitive sense of balance. If, however, you happen to be an expert roboticist like Dr. Guero (aka Masahiko Yamaguchi), then it's surprising how much can be squeezed out of these pet projects with the right programming. His latest trick is to have his robot balance on a pair of nail-like stilts, which you can see it do after the break. Read More
The Japanese communication robot destined to join the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) this summer recently underwent some zero gravity testing. The Kibo Robot Project, organized by Dentsu Inc. in response to a proposal made by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, unveiled the final design of its diminutive humanoid robot and its Earthbound counterpart. Watch the cutest robot-related video of the year after the break. Read More
Ironically, humanoid robots may have to put aside their arms and legs if they're to gain a foothold in our daily lives. All those servos required to power multiple limbs can get expensive, they quickly drain the robot's batteries, and cause all sorts of problems if even one of them breaks. Eschewing this complexity leaves you with just a head and torso, a compromise adopted by several prospective household robots. Among those is a new communication robot by Waseda University's Ory Lab, launching later this year. Read More
Hot on the heels of InMoov, the 3D-printable android, comes a similar but much less intimidating project for DIYers by Hello Robo. MAKI is a cute communication robot that can be assembled from 3D-printed parts and some off-the-shelf electronic components for less than US$500, making it an affordable platform for hobbyists and university labs. Hello Robo has opted to launch MAKI via crowdfunding site Kickstarter, where a $30 pledge will net you the 3D blueprints. Read More