Sunday, December 30, 2007

Virtual Robotics Program - FREE!

I can think of no other body of practice/ approach to teaching and learning that is more perfect for today's students than Robotics. The only drawback I can think of is the expense of purchasing robotics kits, something that can put this highly accessible approach beyond the grasp of so many schools. Fortunately, there are virtual robotics programs which allow for much of the concepts and content to be learned without actually building robots in the real world.

Here's an item this morning's surfing turned up. Looks like a gem waiting to be discovered by the world of Education.

ROBO is a new and very simple educational programming language that will familiarize you with the basics of computer science. You will also be introduced into popular programming techniques, and you will gain an insight into areas such as robotics and artificial intelligence. These skills will be gained by creating programs for a robot.

The robot
The robot is capable of performing several actions. It can drive, look around, move items and paint. This can all be done in different environments that are made up of blocks.

The ROBO programming language
ROBO is designed in such a way that you can start exploring and programming right away. A special language has been written that consists of a concise set of rules and is aimed at programming a robot. As a result there are a lot of opportunities to create your own programs and experience the principles that lay at the heart of most other programming languages..."

Get the whole 9 and free download @: +

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Yikes! Elvis IS Alive and Doing His Act @ the Mall!

After leaving the Apple Store at the mall the other day (I bought an iPod for my wife’s birthday), I stopped in to browse at one of my favorite stores – The Shaper Image.
Cool stuff as always, but I nearly did a double take on my way out as no fewer than 6 life size robot busts of The King himself stared me down from their shelf.

WowWee’s Alive Elvis robot sells for $199. He is wearing a faux black leather jacket and has a thick head of cheesy ‘doll’s hair’ that can rival The Donald’s comb over mop. Elvis can be switched on to sing for you from his well known repertoire or you can toggle to karaoke mode to do a duet with him. Either way he is OUTRAGEOUS!

What’s so cool about this is that it was just a couple of years ago that only a very, very few – people like the operators of Disney World – could eve hope to get their hands on this level of entertainment robotics. Now, post Xmas mall browsers can bring it home without putting too much of a dent in their plastic.

I pumped the guy at the store for the public’s reaction when Elvis was set out for holiday shopping. He shared with me that he got everything from “Oy!” to “Wrap him up. I gotta have it!” Hey, if your lonesome tonight, this may be the way to go…

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Be Smart - Stay on This Killing Machine's Friends List!

From Fortune Magazine:
"Killer robots could replace soldiers: Robotex, a Silicon Valley start-up, combines engineering skill and groundbreaking weaponry to create a new generation of soldiers."
"NEW YORK (Fortune Magazine) -- It's 1900 hours on Veterans Day in Fayetteville, N.C., a pistol shot from the Fort Bragg military base. Ten minutes ago a 25-year-old self-taught engineer named Adam Gettings pulled into the Waffle House parking lot, lifted the hatch of his black SUV, and unveiled what could very well be the future of urban warfare: a toy-like but gun-wielding robot designed to replace human soldiers on the battlefield.

It's two feet tall, travels ten miles an hour, and spins on a dime. Remote-controlled over an encrypted frequency that jams nearby radios and cellphones, it'll blow a ten-inch hole through a steel door with deadly accuracy from 400 meters.

Now Gettings is sitting calmly on the other side of a plate of fried eggs and sliced tomatoes, talking about how his company, Robotex, has teamed up with a wild-eyed Tennessee shotgun designer to rethink the development strategy for military technology. "

The idea that you can use investor money rather than [government] research money - that's a new thing," says Gettings, who's in town for SpecOps, a war-fighter technology conference.

Military contractors typically get the funding to build, test, and sell new weapons systems from federal agencies. It can take forever.

Robotex, based in Palo Alto, is financed by angel investors and went from idea to product in six months. "This is the new defense, Silicon Valley-style," says Gettings. "You build only what's necessary, iterate quickly, and keep the price low."

How low? Try $30,000 to $50,000. A similar bot, the Talon, which was developed by defense contractor Foster-Miller and is being tested in Iraq, costs six times that amount. "Our system does all the same things as the Talon, weighs half as much, and costs a fraction," says Gettings.

An endorsement from Blackwater
Robotex is the brainchild of Terry Izumi, a reclusive filmmaker who comes from a long line of samurai warriors, has trained Secret Service agents, and worked both at DreamWorks (Charts) and in Disney's (Charts, Fortune 500) Imagineering division.

When Izumi decided to build a better war robot in 2005, he recruited Nathan Gettings, a former PayPal software engineer and founder of Palantir Technologies, who brought in his brother Adam as well as a fourth (silent) partner who hails from both PayPal and YouTube. They had a prototype in no time. But they needed a weapon, and that's how Jerry Baber, his revolutionary shotgun, and a pilotless mini-helicopter come into the picture..."
Read the full article @ its source:

Monday, December 17, 2007

Great Dreams Come in 2s

From: Quad City Times
"Buddy system: Honda networks robots to work in pairs"
"TOKYO (AP) — As if the idea of having one robot to serve you wasn’t unusual enough, Honda says its humanoids are now ready to work in pairs — and they can even serve drinks.At a demonstration Tuesday at its Tokyo headquarters, automaker Honda Motor Co. showed off two of the child-sized Asimo robots serving tea and performing other tasks in coordination with one another.The bubble-headed robots seemed to pick their steps carefully as they made their way around the room, picking up and putting down drink trays and pushing around a refreshments cart.Honda said it has developed a system to link its robots together so they can share information about where each one is and what each is doing.The 51-inch tall Asimo is “smarter” now, thanks to upgrades that allow it to do more tasks without human help, the company said. The robot can, for example, recognize drink choices and carrya tray with the requested drink to the person who placed the order.The Asimo, which looks like a child in a white spacesuit, also does a better job of moving around people because of technology that allows it to better predict people’s movements so it doesn’t get in the way.The robot can even automatically head off to the nearest charging station when its batteries fall below a certain level.Honda has been working on robots since 1986. Rival Toyota Motor Corp. has been aggressively beefing up its own robotics team, showing off last week a robot that could play the violin.The Japanese government has been pushing companies and researchers to make robotics a pillar of this nation’s business. Other companies, including Hitachi Ltd., Fujitsu Ltd. and NEC Corp., are also developing robots.Asimo — which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility and is play on the Japanese word for “legs” — first became available for rental in 2000. It’s considered one of the world’s most advanced humanoids. It can walk, even jog, wave, avoid obstacles and carry on simple conversations.“By the end of 2010s, we’d like to see these robots working at every street corner of the city,” said Tomohiko Kawanabe of Honda’s Fundamental Technology Research Center."
Read this article @ its point of origin:

Robotics Resources for Students & Teachers

I am going to use this post as the start of a listing of Online Robotics Resources of Particular Value, Interest, and Potential.

At some point down the road I'll move the list over to a formal web page that I'll link to from this blog.

  • Robot Portal
    This one (free registration required) offers: Forums, Albums (photos & media), Articles,
    (links to) Websites, and info on Vendors. All it needs is more participation from people like you:)
  • Norms Robotics
    THE online space for information concerning student robotics activities (particularly, but not necessarily limited to, FIRST LEGO League) in the New York City area


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Thumb Wrestle, Anyone?

(from Wired 'UMan uses trial and error to figure out how to manipulate items it has never seen before. Photo: Glenn Matsumura)
"Getting a Grip: Building the Ultimate Robotic Hand"
"A 6-foot-tall, one-armed robot named Stair 1.0 balances on a modified Segway platform in the doorway of a Stanford University conference room. It has an arm, cameras and laser scanners for eyes, and a tangle of electrical intestines stuffed into its base. It's not pretty, but that's not the point. From his seat at a polished table, roboticist Morgan Quigley sends the bot on a mission. "Stair, please fetch the stapler from the lab."

Nothing happens. Quigley asks again. Nothing. After the third attempt, Stair responds in an inflectionless voice: "I will go fetch the stapler for you."

Using its laser scanners to identify potential obstacles, Stair 1.0 rolls out of the room and into the lab's central workspace, a rectangular area bordered by desks. On one side is a kind of robotic graveyard, a jumble of decades-old industrial arms. A poster of the NS-5 humanoid from the movie I, Robot seems to taunt the researchers from its spot on the wall: Try building me, punks. Quigley and computer scientist Andrew Ng, who directs the Stanford AI Robot (Stair) project, walk behind their robot, watching.

Stair 1.0 searches the rows of workstations, then locates the stapler. The robot moves forward and stops. If it had lungs, it might take a deep breath, because this is the hard part...."
Read the full article @ its source:

Meet the Real Lawnmower Man

From Wired Magazine (product reviews)
"LawnBott LB3200 Evolution"
Nothing beats mowing the yard while relaxing in a hammock with a beer and the paper — good thing LawnBott shears up to 30,000 square feet of grass all by itself. The sensor causes a directional shift whenever the mini mower bumps into an object at least 4 inches high or detects a perimeter wire you've laid out. When the rechargeable lithium batteries start to run down, the little guy returns to its docking station to juice up. And it uses only about $10 worth of electricity a year, so even the greenest gardeners have zero reason to stress. The bot can be programmed to a regular schedule, and it's so quiet you can set it to mow at the crack of dawn while you sleep in. $2,499,

ALSO see review From A Trendy Home
"Home > Outdoor Living > Lawnbott Robotic Lawn Mower Evolution Model LB3200"
"Designed in Italy, with the most advanced software available, the Evolution is for the discerning homeowner who wants only the best. The Evolution is the only robotic mower with Adaptive Programming Technology. Its learning computer actually reprograms itself to adapt to the cutting requirements of your yard. This not only conserves battery life and lengthens the durability of the electric motors, it also contributes to a healthier looking lawn. Advanced Spiral Cut programming allows the Evolution to concentrate, by spiraling outwards, from any area where it senses higher grass. This feature helps to assure an evenly cut lawn. LawnBott Evolution is able to cover areas up to 33,000 sq. ft. That represents approximately ¾ acre of lawn! And, it will also navigate slopes of up to 27°. This amazing Lawnbott automatic robotic lawn mower does the work for you! This Evolution model, robotic lawn mowers will cut your grass, everyday, freeing you to do the things you enjoy. Spend Saturday’s with the kids, play golf, relax. Its up to you, with KA you have One Less Thing to Worry About...."
Read the rest of this very thorough write up @

Tireless, Fearless Rent-a-Cop

"Korean Scientists Build Autonomous Mobile Robot"
"A Korean research team has developed an autonomous mobile robot that can be used to patrol industrial facilities or apartment complexes.

The Korea Institute of Science and Technology said Thursday that its "Securo" (SECUrity RObot), developed by the team led by Dr. Kang Sung-chul, passed a recent test by successfully navigating a one km-long course by itself.

Using a built-in global positioning system and laser image scanner, the robot moved along a pre-set route at a speed of 5.4 km/h within an error range of 10 cm without human control.

The robot can identify obstacles by directing laser beams in front of it in a semicircular pattern and reading the reflected signals.

Other moving robots depend greatly on GPS, which can be problematic in urban areas where tall buildings and trees block the satellite signals.

Securo can also be used to perform surveillance operations or deliver military supplies because it can take photos and send them to a remote control center as it moves.:
Read article @ its source:

Friday, December 14, 2007

More FIRST LEGO League Activity in New York City

If you enjoyed the post below and the slide show of the recent FLL Qualifying LEGO Robotics Competition in the Bronx, you'll find this one interesting, too!

If you are a New Yorker, you'll know that Brooklyn can't let Da Bronx get all the limelight. Here's a similar slide show from the recent FLL Qualifying LEGO Robotics Competition in Brooklyn...yeah!

Also, you may not be aware of it, but New York City has got to be the hottest LEGO Robotics hot spot on the planet. One particularly adept and enthusiastic chroncler of all this activity is my friend and esteemed colleague, Norm Scott. Check out his blog Norm's Robotics for a wonderful stream of consciousness, log it in as it happens, trove of student robotics related information and material:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

(BRONX) FIRST Robotics Competition Slide Show

For larger pictures and to select the photos in the order you wish to see them click here:

Last Saturday I attended the FIRST LEGO League 2007 Power Puzzle Challenge at Lehman High School in The Bronx. If you haven't seen a robotics competition, what Dean Kamen (guiding light of FIRST) calls a "Coopertition", you are missing out on an alternative vision of what Education can be. As Dean says " “Create demand among kids and the rest will follow” and I can't think of any philosophy of teaching and learning that holds more truth.

What you are seeing here are students, teachers, and parents on a SATURDAY. These people could have been flaked out in front of the tube, assuaging the pain of modern life with Gino's Pizza Rolls, but they chose instead to spend the day in challenging LEARNING activities. Either something is very wrong or very right here, and I think it's the latter!!!

Good Morning Mr. Tiro!

From: Suicide Bots

"Tiro Teaches English"

"A classroom full of gobsmacked schoolchildren was treated to a lesson in English taught by Tiro, a robot developed by Hanjool Robotics Crop and programmed with the will to destroy young minds ability to interact on the fly and keep the kids’ attention completely riveted to their teacher.

Tiro asked in English questions such as: “How many giraffes are there on the board?” It also displayed the name of the next student to participate in a role-playing task on the screen on its chest.

Korea’s dedication to becoming a world leader in the imminent surge of robotics technology should teach a thing or two to the US, who has not yet gotten a clue about robotics in any really meaningful government-supported way. Korea’s building a whole freakin’ district for robots, called “Robot World” and aims to have a robot in every home by 2020. We’re talking Rosie the Robot here, kids."

Also: Robot makes teaching debut

The Last Man on Earth Builds Himself a Friend

From: Geelong Advertiser
"Deakin's junkyard robot hits big screen"
" IT'S the end of the world as you know it. You're the last person on Earth so you decide to build a robot companion from scrap.
It's not such a far-fetched idea for Deakin University robotics teacher Ben Horan.
The Waurn Ponds PhD student and robotics lecturer was recently enlisted to make a working robot for the upcoming film Lone to premiere at Melbourne's Federation Square tomorrow.
And after five weeks Shoey was the result.
Mr Horan followed artistic sketches from what the robot should look like and used his robotics expertise to make it tilt, twist, glow, grab and spin.
After the PhD student finished building Shoey, prop designer Jeremy Shaw, who worked on the Lord of the Rings,  finished the robot's cosmetics
Mr Horan said his creation starred alongside a character struggling to deal with being alone.
``It's about the last guy on Earth and he's in a junkyard searching for the parts to make a satellite dish,'' he said.
``He comes across a metal head, he twists a few screwdrivers and spanners and builds this robot.''
The film screens tomorrow at Melbourne's Australian Centre for the Moving Image."
Read the original article @:

Lookout, Yo-Yo Ma! Watch Your Back, Clapton! Here Comes Toyota's New Robot!

(above) From YoutTube:

Yahoo News:
"Toyota shows violin-playing robot"

"TOKYO - Compared to a virtuoso, its rendition was a trifle stilted and, well, robotic. But Toyota's new robot plays a pretty solid "Pomp and Circumstance" on the violin.

The 5-foot-tall all-white robot, shown Thursday, used its mechanical fingers to press the strings correctly and bowed with its other arm, coordinating the movements well. Toyota Motor Corp. has already shown robots that roll around to work as guides and have fingers dexterous enough to play the trumpet.

Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said robotics will be a core business for the company in coming years. Toyota will test out its robots at hospitals, Toyota-related facilities and other places starting next year, he said. And the company hopes to put what it calls "partner robots" to real use by 2010, he said.

"We want to create robots that are useful for people in everyday life," he told reporters at a Toyota showroom in Tokyo..."
Read the full article @:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Does that robot need a diaper change?

From: PC World

"Fair Spotlights Robots that Can Teach and Play:
Robots play ping-pong, feed babies, and train dental students in demos at Tokyo's annual Robot Exhibition"

"TOKYO - Find a high-tech ping-pong pal, see an android patient twitch in pain and experience breast feeding, even if you're a man.
Showcasing around 1,000 industrial and service robots, the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo confirmed that Japan is hooked on androids, which manufacturers are seeking to adapt to the needs of an aging society and a sliding population.
Employees of Yamazaki Co, an educational goods company, were busy nursing four baby robots who cried and burped.
The $620 robots, imported from the United States, help teach students and soon-to-be parents how to care for infants.
"Opportunities to see kids in society are decreasing," said Kaoru Nukui of Yamazaki Co, referring to a sharp fall-off in births that means many Japanese families have only one child.
"The way students would touch a baby would be completely different once they have looked, touched, and experienced this 'baby'," he added, then demonstrated how men can feel what breast feeding is like by putting a nipple-like sensor on his chest.
Nearby, a long-haired, fair-skinned female android on a dentist's chair drew the crowds. Simroid, a $635,000 simulator was developed as a dummy patient for dental students..."
Read the full article @:,140197-c,artificialintelligence/article.html

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Peace Bots?

From Bryn Mawr . edu
"Peacebots Picket Robotic Violence"
"What do robots do in the real world? They vacuum floors, work on assembly lines, assist with laparoscopic surgery and, as of last Saturday, march for peace.

The peacebots that demonstrated at the Franklin Institute on Oct. 20 were programmed by four students from Associate Professor of Computer Science Doug Blank's introductory course in computer science, which uses robotics to introduce the basic principles of the discipline. Calling themselves People for the Ethical Treatment of Robots, they were a comical counterbalance to an event titled "Robot Conflict," in which pairs of robots faced off against each other in a glass-walled arena to "smash, toss or cut their opponents to bits," as the Institute's Web site said..."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Can you say "servo?"...Here Come the Era of Electric Friends!

From National
"Toddlers Bond With Robot, Study Shows"

"Will the robot revolution begin in nursery school?Researchers introduced a state-of-the-art social robot into a classroom of 18- to 24-month-olds for five months as a way of studying human-robot interactions.The children not only came to accept the robot but treated it as they would a human buddy—hugging it and helping it—a new study says."The results imply that current robot technology is surprisingly close to achieving autonomous bonding and socialization with human toddlers," said Fumihide Tanaka, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).The findings will be published tomorrow in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.(Related: "Robot Code of Ethics to Prevent Android Abuse, Protect Humans" [March 16, 2007].)StorytellersThe development of robots that interact socially with people has been difficult to achieve, experts say, partly because such interactions are hard to study."To my knowledge, this is the first long-term study of this sort," said Ronald Arkin, a roboticist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who was not involved with the study."It is groundbreaking … and helps to forward human-robot interaction studies significantly," he said.The most successful robots so far have been storytellers, but they have only been able to hold human interest for a limited time.For the new study, researchers introduced a toddler-size humanoid robot into a classroom at a UCSD childhood education center. One of the QRIO series of robots, the 23-inch-tall (58-centimeter-tall) machine was originally developed by Sony.Children of toddler age were chosen because they have no preconceived notions of robots, said Tanaka, the lead researcher, who also works for Sony.The researchers sent instructions about every two minutes to the robot to do things like giggle, dance, sit down, or walk in a certain direction.The 45 sessions were videotaped, and interactions between toddlers and the robot were later analyzed..."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Telegraphed Punches

"Scientist programs robot to hit humans"
"Isaac Asimov will undoubtedly be turning in his grave. Asimov’s first law of robotics says a robot may not injure human beings

German engineer Sami Haddadin has built a robot that he regularly allows to punch him in the head. The invention blatantly contradicts Asimov’s first law of robotics – that a robot may not injure or harm human beings. Mr Haddadin, of the German Aerospace Centre Space Agency, has programmed the robot so that it knows when it has hit a person as a way to reduce industrial accidents..."

Read the full article @ its source:

"My Fellow Cockroaches..."

_________________________ ( )

From NY Times:
Led by Robots, Roaches Abandon Instincts

"Many a mother has said, with a sigh, “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump, too?”
The answer, for cockroaches at least, may well be yes. Researchers using robotic roaches were able to persuade real cockroaches to do things that their instincts told them were not the best idea.

This experiment in bug peer pressure combined entomology, robotics and the study of ways that complex and even intelligent patterns can arise from simple behavior. Animal behavior research shows that swarms working together can prosper where individuals might fail, and robotics researchers have been experimenting with simple robots that, together, act a little like a swarm.

“We decided to join the two approaches,” said José Halloy, a biology researcher at the Free University of Brussels and lead author of a paper describing the research in today’s issue of the journal Science..."

Also see piece from Coolest Gadgets below:
"I have this absolute hate and fear of cockroaches, so it is with trepidation that I approach this Bandai-sourced robot which was modeled after real cockroaches. It comes with half a dozen legs and a touch sensor that tells the robot to change its directions whenever it bumps into a wall. A micro monitor embedded within enables it to vibrate just like a cellphone, while a microphone will detect loud noises, making it scurry away like the scum it is. If a cockroach is not your cup of tea, there is always another house-friendly model such as the ladybug. Known as the Hex Bug, this cockroach-inspired creation from Bandai will retail for approximately $15 a pop and will be released sometime in the middle of September..."

(robotically) Assisted Living

____________ From emagazine - Credit Suisse:
"Robots Lend a Hand in Japan"

"It is no wonder Japan has been called "the robot kingdom." Of the world’s at least 923,000 industrial robots, about 4 in 10 are in Japan. Now Japanese interest is turning to so-called service robots, which could play a crucial role in looking after the nation’s aging population.
Japan has a deep-seated infatuation with mechanical friends, whether it is with the heroes of manga (comic books) and anime (animation), hard-working industrial robots, or the public relations humanoids of major Japanese corporations. Currently, all eyes are on the service-robot sector. This broad category includes underwater, medical, cleaning, security, fishing, forestry, caregiving, entertainment and pet robots. At present, such robots only make up a small percent of the overall robot market, but expectations for the sector are high. An example is the 2007 International Robot Exhibition due to open this November in Tokyo. Service robots are expected to account for more than a third of exhibits. Basically, the category includes any robot for use outside the factory, but the Paris-based International Federation of Robotics identifies two main types: professional-use robots and private-use robots. Of the former, they estimate that 31,600 were in operation at the end of 2005, the most numerous being underwater robots at 18 percent, cleaning robots at 17 percent, and defense and security robots following at 16 percent."

First Hardware - Then Software - Now PLAYware! :) :) :)

________Children play on 'intelligent tiles' in Odense, Denmark.

"Intelligent playgrounds"

Pick me! Pick me! The weakest children may no longer be left out of playground games. New technology may help to put kids on a more level playing field, which may in turn motivate them to learn and encourage competitiveness. Using modern artificial intelligence and robotics, new playground games can recognize a child's behavior and respond accordingly -- in real-time -- to make the game harder or easier.

The industry calls it augmented cognition, or 'aug cog', a technology that is also being developed by the armed services to reduce mental overload in the battlefield. For example, fighter pilots helmets can be equipped with sensors to distinguish when the brain is becoming overdosed. When that happens, a computer will adjust the level of incoming stimuli, dimming the interface and lowering the volume of messages. The end goal is that a computer will eventually be able to judge whether incoming material is important enough to interrupt your current activity.
The research aims to create more effective military personnel but it could be used by anyone who has to cope with multiple information streams, for example stock brokers under stress. Aug cog is also being studied for its applications in the gaming world. It can be utilized in video games to raise or lower difficulty levels, thereby ensuring that a player is sufficiently stimulated but not overwhelmed.

It may be children who are experiencing the benefits of aug cog first. Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark at Odense have built special playgrounds at two schools, two kindergartens and two youth clubs in the city. Henrik Hautop Lund, professor of robotics, says he wants to transform playgrounds for the new millennium. "It has been incredible to see how immediate children respond to them," Lund says. "They immediately took to this technology."...

Also see: Robotic Therapy Tiles: Playing Your Way to Health

Making those robots warm and fuzzy :)

( )

"Researchers try to make robots approachable, not creepy"
Wile E. Coyote never utters a word in his relentless pursuit of the Road Runner, but audiences around the world easily understand his frustration as his prey slips away.
A University of Calgary researcher is studying such cartoons, looking for ways to help people accept robots into their lives.
James Young, a PhD student, is working with robotic vacuum cleaners called Roombas, analyzing how giving them cartoon-like expressions changes people's reactions to the machines.
"If you look at a comic book or a cartoon, with very few lines they can show motion, they can show anger, they can show basically almost as much as what a human can show," says Young, who presented some initial research at the second Human-Robot Interaction Conference in Washington last spring.
Young uses a hand-held computer to track a Roomba's movements in a University of Calgary lab and display an cartoonish image of the vacuum cleaner. When the Roomba gets stuck, beads of sweat pop along its brow in the image, and its eyes screw tightly up as it tries to push its way out..."

From Navigating Passageways to Frying Eggs!

________________(Photo from endgadget: see article below)
"Robotic aids for the disabled and elderly"

"For now, a robotic wheelchair viewed as a future all-purpose assistant for disabled and elderly individuals is in pieces in different rooms of the University of Pittsburgh's Human Engineering Research Laboratories: a motorized chair here, aluminum arms with end-claws over there, computer sensors elsewhere.
By March, its developers hope to put the components together to have it open a door for a wheelchair user.
In 10 years, they want it to prepare an omelet for that person.
That kind of dramatic leap, from navigating passageways to frying eggs, represents just one aspect of a wide range of advanced technology research taking place jointly at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University to help people stay independent..."
Read full article @:
Also see: "Inventor shows off robot chef"
"While it may not boast quite the same capabilities of the AICookingrobot that came out of China last year, this robot chef designed by retired professor Liu Changfa looks like it should be more at home in your kitchen, if you're brave enough to let it into your house, that is. According to InventorSpot, the apparently unnamed "food robot" stands nearly five feet tall, and packs a pot and induction cooker inside its torso, along with a robotic arm to aid in the cooking process. Apparently, hungry humans simply need to pick a (presumably simple) recipe and wait while the robot works its magic. While there's no word on a commercialized version just yet, the bot has reportedly served dinner for some 200 taste testers already, and its inventor is now hoping it has what it takes to take home the top prize in China's upcoming national invention contest."

Boy, Have We Got a Vacation for You!

From Computerworld:
"Korea plans to build two robot theme parks"
"The South Korean government plans to help build two robot theme parks as part of an effort to boost its robotics industry... The theme parks will be built in Incheon, which is about 25 miles west of Seoul, and Masan, a port city on the country's southern coast... The two cities will be developed as meccas for the country's robot industry, while having amusement park areas, exhibition halls and stadiums where robots can compete in various events..."
Read the full article:

A New Meaning for Tin Ear - Robotic Guitar, Dude!

"Gibson Robot Guitar tunes itself so you can just jam"
"The idea of a Gibson Robot Guitar hits all the right notes with me, what with robot in the title and a ton of snazzy lights and automated bits. All you have to do is strum the strings and the guitar does the rest. A knob lit with multi-colored LEDs lets you know when the strings are in tune, going from a negative red to positive green, and finally to an all-clear flashing blue. And don't worry — the pickups used for tuning are embedded underneath the strings so you won't have to worry about the amount of noise that usually accompanies a guitar from interfering.

Also, from PC Word, see
"Gibson Turns to Robotics for Newest Les Paul Guitar"

The Gibson Les Paul is one of the world's most recognized and popular guitars and now it is also one of the most technologically advanced, as well. On December 7, Gibson will release its first Les Paul that utilizes robotics to assist users in tuning and intonation.
While simply tuning a guitar may not be an issue for many guitarists, the Gibson Robot Les Paul goes beyond tuning the guitar. It also allows the player to easily change tunings to one of six alternate tunings.
The guitar supports Open E, Dropped D, DADGAD, Open G, Hendrix Tuning, Double Dropped D, or any of your own custom tunings that you program into the system...
Read the full article @:,139537-c,techindustrytrends/article.html

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Great Video on Current State of the Bots

"Video: Vision for the robotic future"
Robot development takes center stage
From the RoboDevelopment Conference and Exposition in San Jose, Calif., CNET's Michael Kanellos takes a look at the show's most impressive robotic developments, including robotic hand for the disabled.
Follow the link below (you'll see a commercial for a few seconds before the video starts):

Friday, November 2, 2007

Got Bombs? (need a cuppa joe?) Get BomBot!

From: CNN
"First Responder Products Inc. Becomes Distributor for X-Bot(R) Robotics"
"..."The BomBot® 2 represents the future of easy-to-use, rapidly deployable, affordable Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) robot systems," said First Responder's Chief Operating Officer Richard Reincke. "First Responder Products will help bring this vital technology to more first responders to meet the domestic homeland security mission..."
Read entire article:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lunar Mining Robots


"Robotic Prospector Under Development at Carnegie Mellon"
"A prototype lunar prospecting robot called "Scarab" has been developed at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute.
David Wettergreen, leader of Scarab's software and autonomy development, said, "This is a technology development program that is focusing on extracting hydrogen and oxygen from lunar soil." At present, NASA has no specific plans for a robotic Moon mission. (However, other countries are working on it; China is planning a robotic lunar sampling mission by 2017.) ..."

Read complete article at:

Some cool videos of SCARAB in action>>>

Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Downturn Busywork for Automotive Engineers = Robotics Creativity!

The Pivo2 comes complete with a robotic companion -- a mechanical head that bobs near the steering wheel and speaks with what the automaker describes as a "cute electronic voice."
The little robot can detect changes in facial expression and responds by chirping suggestions to the driver to relax, for instance, or to stop someplace for coffee.


"Cutting-edge quirkiness: Designers, engineers are encouraged to experiment"
"The Tokyo motor show hasn't always been the showcase for weird and wacky cars, but it has earned that reputation in recent years. And judging from the roster of concept vehicles going on display this week, it's well deserved.
Scoring high on the bizarre scale is Honda Motor Co.'s Puyo -- a bubble-topped, fuel-cell car with a slightly squishy exterior that can take a dent and recover its shape a bit like a Tempur-Pedic mattress.
Honda said its objective was to create a clean, friendly car "with the feel of an adorable pet..."

Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Major League Robotics

Gary Israel (team Coach - in red on the left) and Dean Kamen (in light blue, front) and student members of Morris High School's 2Trainrobotics team.

Morris High School's Robotics Team Sponsored by The Yankees!
Recently the Morris High School (Bronx, New York) FIRST Robotics Team had the opportunity to show off the team's robot. "2Trainrobotics" (the only New York Team) and four other top teams from New Jersey were invited to the 2007 Gadgetoff event Liberty Science Center in New Jersey. You can view their robot in action at Liberty Science Center below.

Dean Kamen founder of FIRST Robotics came over to thank the team for making the trip from the Bronx. In addition, he told the team that when he was in Washington D.C. recently he met with a person who has agreed to help pitch FIRST Robotics to Major League Baseball. Dean said that he told this lobbyist that the Morris team was already partnered with the NY Yankees. With over 1,500 high school robotics teams throughout the world the Morris team is the only robotics team sponsored by a Major League Baseball team.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Self Driving Cars!

"MIT Students Create Car That Drives Itself"
The Land Rover LR3 is decked out with $400,000 worth of gizmos and gadgets. Fifteen radars, 13 remote sensing lasers -- called lidars -- and six cameras feed a computer that will ultimately drive the car. .."


Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Robots Get NO Deferments!

From: Boston Business Journal
"iRobot gets $8.8M Army order"
"iRobot Corp. said Tuesday it received a delivery order totaling $8.8 million from the U.S. Army.
The Burlington, Mass.-based robotics firm (Nasdaq: IRBT) said the order for 40 iRobot PackBot robots, plus spare parts and equipment, is specifically from the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation, on behalf of the Robotic Systems Joint Project Office at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. .."
Read Full Article:


Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Newer and Truer Meaning for the Phrase "My Better Half"?

From: Sify News
"Humans will soon say ‘I Do’ to robots, says scientist"
"London: People might soon be tying the knot with robots, for a British scientist has predicted that androids are the perfect marriage material.
David Levy has been awarded a doctorate by Maastricht University for his thesis entitled ‘Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners,’ wherein he claims that humans and cyborgs will say ‘I Do’ to each other in the near future.

"Trends in robotics and shifting attitudes on marriage are likely to result in sophisticated robots that will eventually be seen as suitable marriage partners,” Ananova quoted Levy, as saying..."
Read the full article:

Amusing contextualizing ditty: (from AOL Television) - The Jetsons Episode "Wedding Bells for Rosey" (Rosie was the Jetson family's robot maid)
click below and enjoy -
Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Hello, Mr. Chips (Silicon Chips, that is)

Photo from JoongAng Daily

From: Independent Online
"Robot makes teaching debut"
"Children could hardly take their eyes off a new teacher when the instructor entered their classroom. Greeted with intense curiosity by the pupils, the teacher said: "How are you, my students? Let's get started. Have you opened the book?"Although the voice sounded human, the teacher was not. It was a robot named Tiro, which was recently invited for one day to assist a human instructor with a 30-minute English class at Euon Primary School in the central South Korean city of Daejon, 250km south of Seoul..."
Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

If You're Good, Santa Will Bring You This 2 Week Old Hyper-cute Dinosaur Robot :)

"Pleo Delayed Again! Dec 10th Now!"
"If you've been keeping up with the Pleo dino robot as much as roschler, you know it's been a long anticipated robotic toy! Well, it looks like it's delayed again! UGoBe is concerned that the batteries keep overheating when they are charged so the charging system has to be redesigned. They want to get it right! Imagine the excited look on your child's face as their Christmas present pleo goes up in flames! As it is, this robotic dino is sure to be the "hot" Christmas item this year! Amazon is taking preorders for December 10th so you still might be able to get a robotic dino (that doesn't go up in flames hopefully) for your little tike for Christmas! It's only $349.00 and what a bargain that you'll get free shipping! Keep watching that ship date and keep hoping!
Read the full article:
Also>>>> see the manufacturer's (UGOBE) own demo video:
And another cool video>>>>
Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Granny's Robot?

From: Pop City
"Qolt: The Amazing Technology that Helps Seniors Stay Independent"
" Imagine a world where personal robots help the elderly and disabled cook and clean. Where camera- and sensor-rich “smart cottages” provide data to teams of human angels poised to swoop down and intervene when residents need help. Where senior citizens avoid or defer the need for assisted living facilities because of this benevolent monitoring and assistance network..."
Read full article:

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

If the Issue IS Brain Surgery, Better Get a Robot!

From: Isreael 21C
" Israeli team develops GPS accuracy for keyhole neurosurgery using mini-robot"
"A tiny robot shimmies into position on the skull and reaches out its arm to automatically target the best spot for keyhole neurosurgery. It may sound like science fiction, or the latest animated feature by Dream Works, but it's actually an Israeli-developed mini-robot prototype that is likely to have a major impact on the way keyhole neurosurgery is done in the near future..."
Read full article:
Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

That's MAJOR Domo SIR to you, boy!

From: ABC News
"Robot Diet Coach Keeps You in Line"
"It Feels, It Senses, It Peers Into Your Soul, It's a ... Robot?"
"They say the buddy system works.
Imagine how easy sticking to your diet would be if you always had someone (or something) to keep you in line. It's a phenomenon that may be closer to reality than you think..."

"...Domo's visual system is attuned to unexpected motion -- it locates human faces and locks its gaze into them. While many robots are doing manual work on factory assembly lines, those machines follow a script and are not able to adapt to new situations, the way Domo can. Domo can even place things on shelves and do minor tasks -- all based on what people tell it to do. .."
Read full article:
Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Boing! Boing! Boing! It's RoboStick...

From: New Scientist Blog
"Blazing robot saddles"
"While doing background research for this story about Boston Dynamics' latest robot, called LittleDog, I stumbled across the homepage of Martin Buehler, the company's director of robotics. The page features several very cool looking robot projects. And one, entitled "Robot Jockey Racing", particularly caught my eye. There's not much detail about the project, only this description: "A prototype jockey-ridden hopping robot that controlled forward speed, hopping height, and pitch balance, the jockey did sideways balance and steering."

But you can see a video of the jockey robot in action. It looks like lots of fun, if slightly dangerous. It's a shame they don't seem to have made two, so we could see them race.

Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Can't Afford a Baby Sitter? Here's One for $199.00 and You Own It!.. Catches Burglars, too!!!

From: Associated Press
"Robots Take on Social Tasks"
" Dominated by home-cleaning gadgets, the consumer robotics market is expanding with the arrival of 'bots that can spy inside your home when you're away or arrange virtual meetings of family or friends.
Robotics experts say gadgets introduced Thursday could usher more socially oriented robots into the U.S. market, though they bear little physical resemblance to humans or pets as robots embraced by consumers in Japan and South Korea do..."

"...enables seeing remotely. Spykee the WiFi spy robot, developed by France-based Meccano and marketed in the U.S. by Erector, best known for its Erector Set kits, has tank-style track wheels, two decorative mechanical arms and a camera on top that looks vaguely like a human head..."
Read the full article:
Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Hey, Somebody's Got to Dig for Hydrogen and Oxygen on the Moon...

From: The Tartan
"'Scarab' the robot"
"The Field Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute has developed a prototype moon rover, 'Scarab.' The robot has the ability to perform the challenging task of lunar prospecting.
The ultimate goal of lunar prospecting is to discover, extract, and utilize resources in the soil of other planets.
David Wettergreen, leader of Scarab’s software and autonomy development, said, “This is a technology development program that is focusing on extracting hydrogen and oxygen from lunar soil..."
Read full artticle:
Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

This Is One Tall, Walking Robot!

From: Collegiate Times
"Robot making new strides"
"STriDER is not your average robot. It won't vacuum your floors or do dishes for you. STriDER (Self-excited Tripedal Dynamic Experimental Robot) is bound for loftier missions. Courtesy of RoMeLa The three-legged robot, which closely resembles a camera tripod, was created for sending its sensors to hard-to-reach areas.

"Since STriDER is tall by nature, it is great for deploying cameras, as most other autonomous robots cannot even see above bushes," said Dennis Hong, director of Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) at Virginia Tech. .."
Read full article:
Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Meet Rin Tin Can!

From: New Scientist
"Robot dogs race to be soldier's best friend"
"A timid-looking four-legged robot about the size of a Chihuahua might seem like an unlikely companion for soldiers of the future.
Yet the robot, called LittleDog, could ultimately help researchers create more sophisticated robotic assistants for military personnel, including automated "pack-mules" capable of hauling heavy loads over tough terrain.
This is because LittleDog is remarkably agile for a robot when faced with treacherous, uneven terrain. Researchers are also fine-tuning its movement to be even faster and more animal-like over rough terrain..."
Read full article:
Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Now We Know What Puts Those Little Things in Those Little Boxes - Over and Over and Over and...

An earlier video of Quattro posted in March '07
FromL Gizmag
"Adept Quattro high-speed packaging robot"
"September 24, 2007 Vision-guided robotics specialists Adept Technology has unveiled a new high-speed kinematic robot with a unique four arm design exclusively for pick-and-place applications. .."
"...Billed as the "World’s fastest robot", the Quattro features a rotational platform designed for maximum speed, maximum acceleration in “one at a time” packaging, manufacturing, material handling, kitting and assembly applications in sectors such as food, medical and consumer goods."
Read the full article:

Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Blind, Deaf, and Without a Sense of Touch, 170,000+ US Workers Labor 24/7 Witout Pay

Who (or what) is the world's strongest robot? - According to the Guinness Book of World Records, that is - Follow the link to the news item below.
From: Industry Week
"Meet the New Robots"
"Oct. 1, 2007 -- The time: 1961. General Motors' implementation of flexible robotic automation in Ternstedt, N.J., started U.S. manufacturing on the path to realizing a future depicted in a 1923 play by Karel Capek. In "R.U.R." (Rossum's Universal Robot), Capek's vision was for millions of mechanical workers -- robots (as derived from the Czech words for work or workers)..."
Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Robots Snubbed By Humans

From: Sci Fi . com
"Sayonara Mr. Roboto: Nagoya robot museum closing its doors"
"This is a sad day in the world of robotics as Nagoya's Robot Museum has announced that the facility will be closing after only one year in operation. The announcement, which expressed embarrassment and offered apologies to fans, appeared suddenly on the museum's website yesterday. The reason given for the closure has to do with a lack of visitors, which kind of makes sense given that Japan is currently the Mecca of robotics (Japanese locals are increasingly less-than-impressed by humanoid robots). .."
Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

2,000+ Year Old Robot Rocks Again!

From: New Scientist
"New Scientist recreates a robot made by the ancient Greeks"
"Technology feature editor Ben Crystall explains how he recreated a programmable robot dating from 60AD..."
Print Article from New Scientist>>>
"When Lionardo was at Milan the King of France came there and desired him to do something curious; accordingly he made a lion whose chest opened after he had walked a few steps, discovering himself to be full of lilies."
Giorgio Vasari, The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects (Florence 1550).
Constructing a mechanical lion that could walk, let alone present flowers to the king, can't have been a simple task back in 1515 - even for a genius like Leonardo da Vinci. How he managed this feat remained a mystery until 2000, when US robotics expert Mark Rosheim came to a surprising conclusion.
Pulling together fragments of notes and drawings, Rosheim worked out that the lion was almost certainly powered by a clockwork cart illustrated in da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus (see Illustration) Intriguingly, Rosheim suggested that the cart's steering mechanism was controlled by arms attached ..."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Like Dig this Great Video of Cutting Edge Digging Machine

Be patient, the robot takes a sec to appear after you launch the video
From: The Register
"Subterranean mole-bot under development"
"British boffins are developing a mechanical, mole-like robotic system which could dig its way through debris or rubble. The technology could be used to build burrowing rescue machines able to retrieve people trapped by collapsing buildings or tunnels.
New Scientist reports that the men behind the new kit are Robin Scott and Robert Richardson of the Artificial Intelligence Group at Manchester's School of Computer Science. The engineering brainboxes were apparently inspired by the digging action of talpa europea - the common mole - rather than the fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs et al..."
Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hey Kids - Grab Your NXT Robotics Kit and Be the First One on Your Block to Win $20 Million

From: WIRED Magazine
"Google Offers $20 Million X Prize to Put Robot on Moon"
"...Google will award $20 million to the first private team to put a robot on the moon, the company and the X Prize Foundation announced at Wired NextFest in Los Angeles Thursday. Members of the public will also get the chance to send digital mementos to the moon..."
Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)

The Greening of FIRST

FIRST LEGO® League Goes “Green” with 2007 “Power Puzzle” Challenge
"FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology through teamwork and problem solving, today officially launches its biggest-ever FIRST LEGO® League season with the unveiling of the 2007 “Power Puzzle” Challenge.
This year’s Challenge calls for teams of middle-school students, ages 9 to 14, to use robotics to understand and create solutions for one of today’s most critical environmental issues: energy management and conservation..."
Some suggested ideas and connections>>>
"4 Robots That Are Saving the World
Smart machines help fix humanity's ecological screwups"
Robots4Farms - Objectives: To reduce the use of pesticides, herbicides & fertilizer.

From: Mongabay
"Robots aid in search for Ivory-billed woodpecker"

From ScienceDaily:
"Video: Robot Walks on WaterMimicking Insects to Avoid Sinking Using Surface Tension"
From: innovations report
"Ocean robots watching our climate"
Check Out: "CLASSROOM ROBOTICS" (the book)