Monday, December 22, 2008

Classroom Robotics Considered a Top STEM Resource for Teachers

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Berkshire STEM Pipeline Resource Page:

From the Berkshire STEM Pipeline - a glowing review of Classroom Robotics (click on the link below for the full text of the review)

"Have you ever wanted more information about a particular subject? Were you able to find what you needed written in a book? Well, let me tell you that I just happened to pick a book titled, "Classroom Robotics Case Stories of 21st Century Instruction for Millennial Students", edited by Mark Gura and Kathleen P. King, as a last resort when I couldn't obtain one of my first three choices (always the case when you are looking for information on any topic, right?). I was in for a wonderful treat, which I hadn't expected, since I was still feeling quite glum at not getting one of my top picks on the subject of classroom robotics. My interest level in robotics increased when I attended a seminar at MCLA this fall, hence one of the reasons for my search for more on the topic. This book turned out to be just what I was looking for to help me understand many facets about classroom robotics which I had been intrigued with for some time. As the title suggested, I was expecting to read stories from teachers who had incorporated robotics in their classrooms. It was even more than just teachers' experiences! This was the wonderful treat! I had wanted to learn how to start robotics either in the classroom or as an after school program. Where did I start? How did I know which materials to choose? How does robotics fit into the fifth grade curriculum? I had so many questions- many of which were answered by reading this book. This book provided the best tool I could have hoped for as one of its main purposes was to reach out to people like myself just starting to explore the idea of classroom robotics..."
edited by Mark Gura and Kathleen P. King
reviewed by Paul Duhon, Lee Elementary School

Monday, December 1, 2008

Surgical Robots That Operate on You from the Inside

StomachBot: Magnetic Self-Assembly of Swallowable Modular Robots

Found @
"A Surgeon You Can Swallow"
"ScienceDaily (Dec. 1, 2008) — In the future, tablet-shaped robots could perform some surgical operations without injuring the body. A new publication by the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems of ETH Zurich shows how such surgical bio-microrobots might function.

Paolo Dario, Professor of Biomedical Robotics at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy, explained the dawn of a new medical era in the September edition of the American financial magazine “The Economist”. Surgical operations with open wounds are increasingly being replaced by non-invasive techniques extending even to systems that enable operations without a single scar.

Bio-microrobotics has a decisive role in this development. Like the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, ETH Zurich is also a part of the EU’s ARES research project (Assembling Reconfigurable Endoluminal Surgical System), a consortium of robotics experts from four European higher education institutions. Together, the researchers want to make micro-robots usable for medical applications. The plan is that, in the future, robots no bigger than a conventional capsule will perform a series of tasks in the gastro-intestinal tract, e.g. a gastroscopy or a tissue biopsy.

Although pill-shaped micro-cameras have existed for seven years now and are currently being used successfully in surgery to study the gastro-intestinal tract, these systems are passive. The camera takes thousands of pictures as it passes through the gastro-intestinal tract, but its position during this time cannot be controlled. This should soon change, because the ARES scientists are currently developing micro-robots with controllable insect-like legs with which the “robot pills” would be able to move around in the stomach. Other groups are working on special devices for tissue biopsy. In the future, such instruments could be used to make a precise examination of damaged regions in the gastro-intestinal tract while at the same time taking tissue samples for subsequent investigation.

Multi-segment, self-assembling stomach robots
One of the biggest challenges facing the robotics scientists relates to the enormous miniaturisation of the electronic systems. Room for the system’s entire technology, including the power supply, must be found within a few cubic millimetres. In the micro-cameras that are already established, the battery alone takes up 60 percent of the capsule’s volume. Hence one key question: how can a series of surgical robot functions be brought into a form that the patient can swallow and which is at the same time compatible with the body?

In a recent publication, Zoltan Nagy, a doctoral student at the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems of ETH Zurich (IRIS) since 2006, presents the following approach to a solution: the patient swallows not one but several “robot pills” fitted with individual functions, such as the controller or forceps for tissue sampling. The pills can be swallowed one after another and assemble themselves automatically to form a larger, more powerful system only when they reach the stomach. For this purpose, Nagy developed a magnetic mechanism that enables the parts of the robot to join together automatically in the stomach to form an entire system. The individual components are polarized at right angles to the surface, so they arrange themselves in a predictable sequence when they come together.

The system was tested in an artificial stomach with a 75 percent success rate. Because a rigid chain of several robot components moves only with difficulty through the stomach and intestine, Nagy has also developed intermediate links that make the system more mobile. This would enable the surgical system to move as a whole through the stomach and intestine, like a multi-link chain. A magnetic system has the added advantage that the magnetic field changes in a characteristic way when the individual members of the chain come together. This change is measurable and can be communicated to a computer and used as an indicator of the exact position and arrangement of the robot snake.

Probing the limits of feasibility..."

Reach this article in its entirety at its source:

also read "Building a Self-Assembling Stomach-Bot" @

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Open Wide!

"Robotics, orthodontics a winning combination"

"HERRIN - Patient satisfaction with orthodontic care has been enhanced greatly with the development of robotics. This new procedure, known as the SureSmile system, is being performed by only a handful of specialists in Illinois.Dr. Kyle R. Childers, who owns a practice at Logan Professional Park in Herrin, is one such specialist. He has spoken at seminars to inform fellow orthodontists and dentists of the technological advancement.

Childers said that instead of eyeballing a wire and bending it for the patient's braces by hand, he is able to maneuver the wire through robotics to the exact shape it needs to be to benefit the patient most.This custom-built wire is within 50 microns (width of a human hair) of perfection and allows Childers to move each of the patient's teeth to the target position."The finishing part or detail work is what takes the longest in orthodontics," Childers said.

To design the customized wire, a 3-D computer image of the patient's smile is scanned into the computer. Childers reviews the image, and with the help of the computer, determines the best position for the teeth..."

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Clothes Make The Man

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> From: The Herald Net

"Robot suit helps disabled people walk"
"TSUKUBA, Japan -- A robotic suit that reads brain signals and helps people with mobility problems will be available to rent in Japan for $2,200 a month -- an invention that may have far-reaching benefits for the disabled and elderly.

HAL -- short for "hybrid assistive limb" -- is a computerized suit with sensors that read brain signals directing limb movement through the skin.

The 22-pound battery-operated computer system is belted to the waist. It captures the brain signals and relays them to mechanical leg braces strapped to the thighs and knees, which then provide robotic assistance to people as they walk.

Cyberdyne, a new company in Tsukuba outside Tokyo, will mass-produce HAL. Two people demonstrated the suits at the company's headquarters on Tuesday.

A demonstration video also showed a partially paralyzed person getting up from a chair and walking slowly wearing the HAL suit.

"We are ready to present this to the world," said Yoshiyuki Sankai, a University of Tsukuba professor who designed HAL.

Sankai, who has worked on robot suits since 1992 and is also Cyberdyne's chief executive, said a full device that covers the entire body is also being designed, though it is unclear when it will be available commercially.

HAL comes in three sizes -- small, medium and large -- and also has a one-leg version for a 150,000 yen, or $1,500, monthly rental fee.

Noel Sharkey is a robotics expert not affiliated with the technology. The professor at the University of Sheffield in England said HAL will have wide-ranging benefits for the elderly others with movement disabilities.

"HAL can only lead to extending the abilities of the elderly and keep them out of care for longer," Sharkey said in an e-mail to The Associated Press..."
Read the full article @ its source:

"Scientists think that, one day, robots could fool us into believing they were human"

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>From: BBC News/Science

"Japanese develop 'female' android"
"Japanese scientists have unveiled the most human-looking robot yet - a "female" android named Repliee Q1Expo.

She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner. She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe.
Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University says one day robots could fool us into believing they are human.

Repliee Q1Expo is not like any robot you will have seen before, at least outside of science-fiction movies. She is designed to look human and although she can only sit at present, she has 42 actuators in her upper body, powered by a nearby air compressor, programmed to allow her to move like a human.

We have found that people forget she is an android while interacting with her
Prof Hiroshi Ishiguro"I have developed many robots before," Repliee Q1Expo's designer, Professor Ishiguro, told the BBC News website, "but I soon realised the importance of its appearance. A human-like appearance gives a robot a strong feeling of presence..."

Read the full article @ its source:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hello Mr. Chips

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>From: Edutopia

"Rise of the Robots: Human-Machine Interaction Enhances Tech Teaching"

"Simpler to build, less expensive to buy, self-activating machines will become indispensable teaching tools.

Robots have long been the stuff of sci-fi movies, from the rabble-rousing fembot in Fritz Lang's classic silent film Metropolis to the maniacal micromanager HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Teutonic Terminator (who came back from the future to become governor of California). Film robots have been fecklessly funny (C-3PO) and ferocious (those evil Star Trek Borgs), yet what they all had in common was that they were fictional.

That was then.

Now, bots are hot, they're real, and they're a growing part of secondary school curriculum. Sebastian Thrun, a professor of engineering at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, leads a team at the school that competes in the DARPA Urban Challenge, where highly sophisticated robot cars must handle simulated real-world traffic conditions. Thrun sees an increasing number of freshmen entering Stanford with head starts in robotics. "I find that there's an enormous awareness and fascination with regard to robotics in the incoming student population," he says.

This awareness may start early, as Web sites such as offer information on how parents (or teachers) and kids can build small robots. The rise of robotics now showing up in school science curricula, often starting at the elementary school level, can be credited to inventor Dean Kamen, who launched the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition in 1989, in which student-designed robots engage in a last-bot-standing battle royale. Now, more than 32,000 students on 1,500 high school teams from all over the world have competed, and the FIRST Lego League and Junior FIRST Lego League have brought robotics to kids ages 6-16..."
Read the full article at its source:

Monday, September 15, 2008

More News about BigDog


"Now, robodog to be the latest weapon! "

"...Modern battlefields may soon resemble something out of a science fiction flick, thanks to advances in robotics. And, the latest weapon to be unveiled is the robodog -- four-legged, petrol-powered robots.

Scientists have developed the 'BigDog', billed as "the most advanced quadruped robot on Earth", which they claim is able to carry up to four packs of military equipment on awkward terrain unsuitable for vehicles.

Standing at over 2ft tall and more than 3ft long, BigDog comes equipped with all manner of high-tech gadgets, including laser gyroscopes, a video camera sensor system and a sophisticated on-board computer, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

"Some of the wars we're engaged in now happen to have that kind of terrain. The idea is to look at the way nature has solved different robotics problems," Robert Mandelbaum, the Project Manager at Boston Dynamics, was quoted as saying.

According to the scientists, who have developed the robodog for the US Army, the 11-stone machine can trot along at up to four mph and would even stay on its legs when it is kicked hard in the side -- but, sadly, no wagging tail.

In fact, its legs are designed to work in a similar way to a real dog's, even storing energy in shock absorbers when a foot touches the ground.

The 14-million-pound BigDog project is currently being tested across a five-mile trail used to train the US Marine Corps, carrying the soldiers' equipment to prove that it can cope with holes, steep slopes and water hazards.

However, the scientists are also planning to use the technology for non-military purposes..."

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Robots Rule, Eat Flies, etc.

The world’s six most useful robots
1 EcoBot
A revolution in robotics. The robot, developed at the University of Bristol, is designed to power itself by eating flies. Feed the EcoBot a dead bluebottle every so often, and it will digest the insect in one of its eight microbial fuel cells, each filled with sewage slurry teeming with bacteria. A sugar compound in the fly's exoskeleton is extracted and metabolised by the bacteria to generate energy, which is turned into electricity. 'The idea is that it could go places we don't or can't go and send back information,' says Ioannis Ieropoulos of the EcoBot team. It might take temperature readings, or toxic gas measurements. For now EcoBot's achievements seem modest. In endurance tests, eight flies lasted the bot for 12 days, but it only moved for a few seconds every 14 minutes. And its developers aren't sure how it will attract its food. It's not yet WALL-E, nor is it autonomous, but it's on the way.

2 Big Dog
It may be the best known kick on the internet. A man in a car park kicks a strange, spooky, headless thing with four legs. The thing staggers, then it rights itself. The thing is a robot; the humming noise, the engine that powers it. Made by Boston Dynamics and partly funded by the Pentagon outfit that brought us the internet, Big Dog is designed to be a military pack animal. It is powered by a gas engine, has a ball for each foot, and can walk or trot at a maximum of four mph. It can distinguish terrain, carry 165lb and cross ditches.

3 Robonaut
It's either an advanced piece of space robotics, or Boba Fett on a skateboard. Robonaut, with its 'centurion-inspired' helmet, is Nasa's star robot. Its torso is meant to look human, but not too much: research shows that humanoid robots can only look so human before humans freak out. 'Robonaut was designed to work with the same tools and interfaces that have been built for an astronaut's gloved hand,' says Ron Diftler, project manager at Nasa's Johnson Space Centre in Houston. Eventually, it will 'assist astronauts with tasks the same way a nurse helps a doctor, and provide maintenance on lunar or Martian bases between astronaut visits.'

4 NeuroArm
Last month, a Canadian woman became the first person to have a robot's hands inside her head. Controlled by a neurosurgeon at a computer workstation, neuroArm worked for nine hours to remove a tumour from Paige Nickason's head. NeuroArm, developed at the University of Calgary, has a sense of touch, a necessity in brain surgery, where surgeons judge how to proceed by how soft the brain is. And for precision, the two robotic arms are peerless.

5 Wakamuru
This rotund, yellow, black-eyed robot, launched by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 2005, was the first properly useful helper robot for the home. It can talk to its elderly owner; recognise faces and voices; download from the net and relay the news out loud; and send an urgent call to a hospital or police station.

6 Swarm robots
If you have a problem with creepy-crawlies, look away now. These tiny, sugar-cubed sized robots, developed by the EU-funded Symbrion project, work like insects, grouping themselves into a mass, then reconfiguring into the most useful position. They can power each other, and will soon be able to home in on the nearest 220V socket to charge themselves. Swarm robots could be sent into earthquake zones, where they could get into small spaces to sense survivors, or form chains back to rescue-workers.

Read this article @ its source:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Monkeys and Robots... A Powerful Pairing!!!

Mind over matter: monkeys control robots with brain power

PARIS (AFP) — Scientists have trained monkeys to manipulate a robotic arm solely with brain power, and could soon help amputees and paralysed stroke victims do the same, according to a study released Wednesday.

Immobilised monkeys with electrode filaments inserted into their cerebral cortext learned in only days to reach out with the free-standing prosthesis, pluck a tasty morsel with a pincer-like claw, and pop it in their mouths. When the path of the arm -- positioned next to the shoulder -- was deliberately blocked, the animals simply willed it around the obstacle with their minds, says the study, published in Nature.

"The entire task is now performed with brain control," Andrew Schwartz, the lead researcher and a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, told AFP.

In preliminary experiments, also with Macaca mulatta monkeys, computers assisted with various parts of the task, he explained. The study's findings are the first reported use of a so-called "brain-machine interface" (BMI) to perform a practical action in three dimensions -- in this case feeding oneself -- purely via brain control of a computerized arm, noted John Kalaska, an expert on the central nervous system at the University of Montreal.

Strokes, spinal cord injuries and degenerative neuromuscular diseases cripple tens of thousands of people every year, rendering the simplest of actions -- opening a door, scratching an itch, drinking a glass of water -- frustratingly difficult or impossible.

Those afflicted with the most severe form of paralysis, known as locked-in syndrome, are fully-conscious prisoners inside a body that no longer responds to the most basic of commands.
"These patients are still able to produce the brain activity that would normally result in voluntary movements," explained Kalaska.

"But their condition prevents those signals from either getting to the muscles or activating them," he said in a commentary, also in Nature.
Schwartz's experiments provide the most tantalising hope to date that paralysis victims can one day short-circuit their own nervous system by hardwiring their brains directly to a computerized robot.

"Hopefully we will be implanting microelectrode arrays [in humans] in the next two years," Schwartz told AFP.

"At that point it should be relatively easy to perform this kind of task," he said.
In the meantime, Schwartz and his team are making improvements on the robotic arm, adding points of articulation in the wrist and hand to the five already built in -- three at the shoulder, one at the elbow, and one at the hand.

This does not mean that "neuroprosthetic robots will soon be available at the local rehabilitation clinic," cautions Kalakska, who says several barriers remain before such devices can be easily deployed.

The long-term reliability of the electrodes -- about the breadth of a human hair -- must be vastly improved.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Robo-Ladies of Note

The amazingly realistic female android, named Actroid DER 2, was demonstrated at the AKIBA Robot Festival here in the Akihabara district of Tokyo. For more information visit Robots Dreams at

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Through Brain Power Man Makes Himself Iron Man...FOR REAL!

From: The Salt Lake Tribune
'Iron Man' comes to life in super soldier prototype
"Rex Jameson bikes and swims regularly, and plays tennis and skis when time allows. But the 5-foot-11, 180-pound software engineer is lucky if he presses 200 pounds - that is, until he steps into an ''exoskeleton'' of aluminum and electronics that multiplies his strength and endurance as many as 20 times.

With the outfit's claw-like metal hand extensions, he gripped a weight set's bar at a recent demonstration and knocked off hundreds of repetitions. Once, he did 500. ''Everyone gets bored much more quickly than I get tired,'' Jameson said. Jameson - who works for robotics firm Sarcos Inc. in Salt Lake City, which is under contract with the U.S. Army - is helping assess the 150-pound suit's viability for the soldiers of tomorrow. The suit works by sensing every movement the wearer makes and almost instantly amplifying it.

The Army believes soldiers may someday wear the suits in combat, but it's focusing for now on applications such as loading cargo or repairing heavy equipment. Sarcos is developing the technology under a two-year contract worth up to $10 million, and the Army plans initial field tests next year. Before the technology can become practical, the developers must overcome cost barriers and extend the suit's battery life. Jameson was tethered to power cords during his demonstration because the current battery lasts just 30 minutes.

But the technology already offers evidence that robotics can amplify human muscle power in reality - not just in the realm of comic books and movies like the recently debuted ''Iron Man,'' about a wealthy weapons designer who builds a high-tech suit to battle bad guys. ''Everybody likes the idea of being a superhero, and this is all about expanding the capabilities of a human,'' said Stephen Jacobsen, chief designer of the Sarcos suit..."
Read full article @ its source:

Friday, May 16, 2008

ASIMO Conducts Detroit Symphony as Young Musicians Watch

FROM: Washington Post .com
For the Kids, Robot Conducts in the Key of Cool
"DETROIT -- Classical music enthusiasts long have sought to drum up support for the musical genre among young people, and now they have a secret weapon: a 4-foot-3 childlike robot.
On Wednesday, the day after the Honda robot ASIMO conducted the Detroit Symphony, it warmed up a crowd of 250 students who came to the concert hall to watch a master class with cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

ASIMO -- which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility -- ran, danced and kicked a soccer ball. "It was phenomenal. I had no idea of the level people were developing robots," said Sam Pernick, a 16-year-old cellist from the Detroit suburb Huntington Woods.
Eric Hwu, 14, a fellow musician from Bloomfield Hills, said he thinks a robot could potentially play a musical instrument, but in the meantime, ASIMO could get kids excited about technology.
"A lot of kids I know think robots are cool," he said.
Honda, which has been developing humanoid robots since the mid-1980s, brought ASIMO and Ma to Detroit as part of its recent $1 million donation to the orchestra for music education efforts. The donation will pay for introductory music training and outreach in schools and will help young musicians get access to instruments and private lessons.

Leonard Slatkin, music director of the Detroit orchestra (as well as the National Symphony Orchestra), said ASIMO can serve as a kind of mascot for the city's efforts, since it relates well to younger people. But he joked to the students that he's not concerned about losing his job to a robot.

ASIMO impressed both the students and the symphony's musicians with its fluid, humanlike movements. But it can only mimic the actions of a previously videotaped conductor and can't respond to musicians. If the horns come in late or the orchestra speeds up, ASIMO can't change course in the middle of a piece.

"Ultimately, a great orchestra like Detroit's, with great instruments playing in a great hall -- technology is not ever going to replace that," said Larry Hutchinson, a bassist with the symphony..."

Read the full article at its source:

Monday, May 12, 2008

This Bot Tacks & Jibes and Doesn't Get Sea Sick

From: ZDnet
A sailing robot to cross the Atlantic
"The Times of London reports that seven robotic craft will compete in a race across the Atlantic Ocean in October 2008. One of them, ‘Pinta the robot sailing boat,’ has been designed at Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK. Pinta is expected to sail for three months at a maximum speed of four knots (about 4.6 mph or 7.4 kilometers per hour). Its designers hope the Pinta will become the first robot to cross an ocean using only wind power. This 150-kilogram sailing robot costs only £2,500 (US $4,900 or €3,200). The transatlantic race will start between September 29 and October 5, 2008 from Viana do Castelo, Portugal. The winner will be the first boat to reach a finishing line between the Northern tip of St. Lucia and the Southern tip of Martinique in the Caribbean…"

Read the full article @ its source:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Are you listening, lawn toy? You missed that weed patch!

From: New York Times
CIRCUITS The Robotic Lawn Mower Will Take Your Call Now
"Using your cellphone ... to mow your lawn?
Owners of Kyodo America’s newest robotic lawn mower, the LawnBott LB3500, can program the little guy using a Bluetooth-equipped mobile phone, telling the mower when to leave its docking station and run around your estate, happily chewing up the grass while you sip a mint julep.
The $3,249 device can mow up to an acre out of the box — and two acres if you add two more lithium-ion batteries. A guy wire tacked around your property’s perimeter keeps the LawnBott from straying into your neighbor’s yard.
You can program the number of times per day and days per week that the LawnBott should mow, either by entering information on its screen or by using a Java program downloaded to your phone. One glitch is that Kyodo America says that an incompatibility between Bluetooth technologies in Europe and the United States means that it will be a few months before the phone features work here. Meanwhile, if you need to impress your friends, you can always accessorize the LawnBott with a $79 pair of spiked wheels. ERIC A. TAUB"
Read this article @ it's source:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Robotic Exoskeleton Suits to Make Everyman Iron Man

Real Life Iron Man Suits
"As the old saying goes: the suit makes the man; never will this maxim resonate so well, than when referring to bionic exoskeleton suits. They’ll not only make you the man, they’ll make you superhuman.

Yes, picture this for a second. Imagine walking at an average speed of 20 miles an hour, lifting 300lbs weights as if they weighed only 10 and being able to leap 20-30 feet in the air. Imagine having a bionic extension that shadowed your every move.
You might be thinking that this could only be achieved in comic books, or in glossy Hollywood blockbusters like Iron man or the 1959 epic Starship Troopers. Frighteningly however, robotics has come a long way thanks to the archetypal bunch of mad scientists and inventors, working away in their laboratories.

The reality of an army of indestructible soldiers wearing exoskeleton suits may come sooner than you think. No longer are exoskeleton suits merely wearable joysticks. At long last, robotics is combining our decision-making processes with the dexterity and brute force of the machines. In other words, the mind controls the metal.

However much this might sound like the plot of a bad science fiction movie, the rabbit hole goes deeper. The US Pentagon’s DARPA or Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has invested $50 million in robotic exoskeleton projects.

The question to ask then, is will we see a bionic army, roaming the battlefields of the future or will there be some unexpected twist?..."

Read the Full Article @ Its Source (Environmental Graffiti):

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Science Fair Was Never Like This! - Middle School Kids Develop Prosthetic Hand for Limbless Peer!!!

From: ABC local / KFSN
Porterville, CA (KFSN) -- A little boy with no hands and only one foot got a special gift from some Burton Middle School students. The students developed and constructed their own prosthetic hand that helps him write
The six students had just gotten back from an international science competition when they heard Matthew Lane's story. They decided to help him out. Little did they know, they gave him a new tool that would change all of their lives.
Nine year old Matthew Lane throws around a football with ease. He's playing with new friends who've just made his life a little easier.
Matthew Lane says to the students, "Thank you, dudes!"

Matthew was born with no hands and only one foot. He used to write using the ends of his arms. These six students used leather, rubber and tools in their robotics classroom to make a prosthetic hand to help Matthew write..."
Read the full article at its source:

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Wall*E @ a Store Near You Soon!

From: Wired Blog
Wall*E Robot Toy to Debut This Weekend at Maker Faire Event
"If you're going to the Maker Faire this weekend, you'll be treated with the first of what could be a cool new line of robotic toys from Disney, starting with a Wall*E robot from the upcoming movie of the same name. And if you know anything about the pioneering history of robotics from the company, from Walt himself on down to the current Imagineers, you have a right to be pretty excited . . . to be able to show it to your kids. Maybe you could juice him (it?) up, hack it up, and make it speak a few special un-PG words. The little kids will love that.
The robots will come from the Disney Consumer Products (DCP) outfit in collaboration with Pixar, Thinkway Toys, and ">WoWee. They are also working on bringing a Tinkerbell-inspired robot dancing boombox later this fall. The Wall*E is scheduled to come in the summer, presumably around the date of the movie, and be priced around $24.99..."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

LEGO Mindstorms Inducted into Robot Hall of Fame

From: The Tartan
SCS’ Robot Hall of Fame inducts four new robots
“When the robots take over, we want them to remember that we were the first ones to appreciate them,” Morris said jokingly. The School of Computer Science established the Robot Hall of Fame to honor real and fictional robots in our society. There are two categories in which robots receive honors: Robots from Science and Robots from Science Fiction.

Robots in the science category must have served an actual or potentially useful function and demonstrated real skills in accomplishing their purpose. Robots in the fictional category must have received worldwide fame, inspired others to build real robots, and helped form opinions about the functions and value of robots.

The first robots to be inducted into the Hall of Fame were NASA’s Mars Pathfinder Microrover Flight Experiment (MFEX), better known as “Sojourner”; Unimate, the first industrial robot; R2-D2, a droid from the Star Wars movies; and the evil HAL-9000 computer, featured in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, created by science fiction writer and futurist Sir Arthur C. Clarke and director Stanley Kubrick.

Any robot may be nominated for the Robot Hall of Fame, Morris said. Inductees are then chosen by an international jury of leading thinkers and technology developers. The four robots being inducted this year — Lt. Cmdr. Data, the Raibert Hopper, LEGO Mindstorms, NavLab5 — were announced last May at the RoboBusiness Conference and Exposition in Boston..."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

ROBOFEST NYC 2008 - A Successful New Robotics Event for Students in the New York City Area

From: The New York Times
In science fiction robots don’t have much fun. If they’re not determinedly trying to conquer humankind, they’re officiously serving it. But the real robots invading Sony Wonder Technology Lab on Saturday will be much more playful: they swing, they wave, they gyrate to music, they rock out.
These robots are literally dancing machines. Created by children ages 6 to 12, they are part of the first RoboFest NYC: Dancing With the Robostars, a competition as much about sizzle as it is about science. Although it features the same building materials — the Lego Mindstorms Robotics system — as many other robotics contests, it is far less regimented, said Laura Allen, the festival’s founder and president of Vision Education & Media, a New York company whose programs introduce children to technology. “We’re more like Woodstock,” she explained...
Read the full article @ its source:

RoboFest NYC event website:

iDog Becomes a Featured Discussion on The Teachers Podcast!

Listen to Episode #15 of The Teachers Podcast for a Discussion of iDog as Educational Technology @

Not familiar with iDog? Check out the following...




Monday, April 7, 2008

Robot Evolution - Sorry Creationists :)

From: The Financial Express

Android Robots are the Future

"Robots have come a long way since the day the first robot was built in 1927. Nowadays, these machines are used as surgery robots, service robots, and military robots. It is startling to learn that scientists are now trying to make robots human-like by infusing emotions and expressions onto them. However, eyebrows are raised about their misuse too. “Criminals in the US now use robot submarines and aircraft to smuggle drugs. This misuse can cause human life an enormous damage, to an extent we cannot even imagine,” says Noel Sharkey, professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Sheffield, UK. His proposed remedy: setting up of an international body to lay down the code of ethics. On his recent visit to India, Rachana Khanzode caught up with the British computer scientist to know his views on the future of robots and their benefits to mankind. Excerpts:

How have robots evolved over a period of time?
The first useful robot was ‘Televox’, which was developed way back in 1927, and was used in electrical substations. Then in 1930, we saw traffic light robots and the first commercial robot arms were used in car manufacturing in 1950. And now, we have science fiction robots. That was when we saw the commercialisation. Today we have semi-autonomous robots—surgery robots, service robots, and military robots that are used in various industries viz. automotive, electronic petrochemical and military operations. Android robots are the future.
Scientists are trying to make them look realistic..."

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Integrating Robotics into Core Instruction: LEGO takes a robotics step in Texas

From: RedOrbit

Kids Get a Kick Out of Building Robots
"SOUTHLAKE -- Students say it's not about playing around in class.
But they can't deny it's awesome to build Lego robots -- one that kicks a paper ball into a miniature soccer goal and another that tries to block it -- and control them with their laptop computers.

Durham Elementary is among five schools nationwide chosen as test sites for Lego Education's science-based robotics set for elementary schoolchildren. The company plans 12 robot sets, to be marketed to teachers and school districts, in early 2009.

Durham will receive a free classroom set after the product is released.
"This is amazing. Robotics is the future," said J.P. Reppeto, 9, a third-grader. "In cartoons, comics, pretty much anything interesting has something to do with robots. That's what you think of when you think of the future."

Each week, pairs of students in second, third and fourth grades build a different robot from a kit. The robots are made from colorful Lego parts and are powered by a tiny motor and motion-detection sensor attached by cable to a laptop computer, said Nancy Peterson, director of market research for Lego Education, in Pittsburg, Kan.

The first week, students built a mechanical kicker and programmed the computer to make its leg kick a ball of paper.

This week, students made a soccer goal and mechanical goalkeeper. The goalie, attached to a mechanical arm, moves back and forth in front of the goal to block the balls lobbed by the kicker. The computer keeps score.

Lego wants to find out which models are best for each age, Peterson said.
"We are looking to put something into the hands that is easy for every student to pick up and to have success," Peterson said..."

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Classroom Robotics (the book)

Classroom Robotics
Case Stories of 21st Century Instruction for Millennial Students

Edited by: Mark Gura, Fordham University and
Kathleen P. King, Fordham University 2007
A volume in the series: Instructional Innovations in Teaching and Learning.
Series Editor(s): Kathleen P. King, Fordham University and Mark Gura, Fordham University

Paperback $39.99ISBN: 978-1-59311-839-6T
Hardcover $73.99ISBN: 978-1-59311-659-0
10% discount and autographed by King and Gura if requested

Hallmarks of Classroom Robotics
· Chapters written by current and former NYS teachers
· Case stories, practice means theory, curricular suggestions
· Application of robotics across content areas
· Based on our work that brought student robotics practice competitions to the Bronx
· Adopted as textbook at teacher education colleges in New York state
· Already available in 46 libraries around the world (CA, NY, WY, TX, IA, PA, MA, VA, GA, AL, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Canada and many more)

CONTENTS: Dedication. Preface, Kathleen P. King. PART I: CLASSROOM ROBOTICS BASICS. What is Student Robotics? Mark Gura. Student Robotics: A Model for 21st Century Learning, Mark Gura. PART II: CASE STORIES. Not Your Average "Soccer Mom." Carol Franken. Changing the Inner City, One Robot at a Time, Evan Weinberg. PB&J, Robotics, and Programming, Agata Dean. Teaching, Coaching, and Parenting RoboCup Jr., Laura Allen. From LOGO to LEGO Robotics? A Journey, Phil Firsenbaum. The Morris High School Robotics Team: An Interview: Winners at a High-Intensity Sport for the Mind, Mark Gura. Power of Robotics in the Lives and Learning of Alternative High School Students, Albert Robinson, Kathleen P. King, and Ryan Thompson. Bringing Robotics to Life: Students Experience Life Sciences with Real World Medical Applications, Joselyn J. Todd and Eric Himburg. PART III: PERSPECTIVES ON ROBOTICS AND LEARNING. Robotics-Prime Opportunities for Careers and Student Learning, Kathleen P. King. Learning and Literacy in Robots-Making Connection for the Classroom, Steven D'Agustino. Catching the Vision, Teachers as Learners: Robotics Professional Development, Steven D'Agustino and Kathleen P. King. PART IV: RESOURCES AND CONCLUSION. Student and Classroom Robotics Equipment: Robotics Kits, Components and Material, Mark Gura. Information Resources for Student and Classroom Robotics: Web Sites, Magazines and Resources, Mark Gura. Program and Curriculum Resources for Student and Classroom Robotics: Organizations, Software and Curriculum, Mark Gura. Conclusion and Beginnings, Kathleen P. King. About the Authors. Index.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Robots to now perform surgery on youngsters!

From: Khaleez Times online

Robotics surgery for children discussed

"ABU DHABI — Robotics surgery for children was debated yesterday by an elite panel of international experts attending the UAE Paediatric Surgeons Conference, first of its kind to be hosted by Abu Dhabi.

The three-day conference themed 'Kids' Safety in the UAE and the Arab World' has been organised by the Medical Services Department in the UAE Armed Forces, in cooperation with the Emirates Medical Association (EMA) and the Arab Association of Paediatric Surgeons.

Delicate surgeries for children will take place at Shaikh Zayed Military Hospital on the sidelines of the conference and will be transmitted live so as to enable international experts from France and other European countries to take part in the operations.

About 80 scientific research papers pertaining to child health and seven sessions will be dedicated to shed light on minimal invasive surgery and robotics surgery, in addition to child abuse, safety and trauma. Participants will be accredited 21 hours of Continued Medical Education (CME) certificate by the American CME Academy.

The participants will discuss a proposal to initiate an annual award named 'Shaikh Zayed Award' for the best Arab paediatric surgeon. A project to set up the first Gulf association of paediatric surgeons, will also be discussed during the conference."

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Warrior Robots? Let's Be Careful What We Wish for...

From: The Star
Sheffield expert claims risk from warrior robots
"TERMINATOR-style robot warriors could soon be stalking the earth as a result of a new automated arms race, according to a Sheffield University boffin.
Professor Noel Sharkey, well known for his appearances on hit TV shows Robot Wars, believes the new generation of weapons being developed around the world pose a real threat to humanity.The robotics expert told the Royal United Services Institute he believed it would not be long before robots became a terrorist weapon to replace the suicide bomber.Many nations are now involved in developing the technology for robot weapons, with the US Department of Defence being the most significant player.According to expert journals the US proposes to spend an estimated $4 billion by 2010 on unmanned systems technology. The total spending is expected to rise above $24 billion.Prof Sharkey said: "The trouble is we can't put the genie back in the bottle. Once the new weapons are out there, they will be fairly easy to copy. How long is it going to be before terrorists get in on the act?"With the prices of robot construction falling dramatically and the availability of ready-made components for the amateur market, it wouldn't require a lot of skill to make autonomous robot weapons."
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The EMOTIONAL Bond Between Robot and Human DEEPENS!

From: ABCnews
Japan Looks to a Robot Future
Far Ahead of Other Countries, Japan Experiments With Robots As Part of Daily Life
"At a university lab in a Tokyo suburb, engineering students are wiring a rubbery robot face to simulate six basic expressions: anger, fear, sadness, happiness, surprise and disgust.

Hooked up to a database of words clustered by association, the robot — dubbed Kansei, or "sensibility" — responds to the word "war" by quivering in what looks like disgust and fear. It hears "love," and its pink lips smile.
"To live among people, robots need to handle complex social tasks," said project leader Junichi Takeno of Meiji University. "Robots will need to work with emotions, to understand and eventually feel them.
While robots are a long way from matching human emotional complexity, the country is perhaps the closest to a future — once the stuff of science fiction — where humans and intelligent robots routinely live side by side and interact socially.
Robots are already taken for granted in Japanese factories, so much so that they are sometimes welcomed on their first day at work with Shinto religious ceremonies. Robots make sushi. Robots plant rice and tend paddies.
There are robots serving as receptionists, vacuuming office corridors, spoon-feeding the elderly. They serve tea, greet company guests and chatter away at public technology displays. Now startups are marching out robotic home helpers...:
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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Internal Robotics?

... Microbots' Fantastic Voyage Through Your Clogged Arteries
"Finally, Fantastic Voyage is becoming reality — well, almost. Rather than mini Raquel Welches scuba diving through your veins, picture teeny-tiny insects. Researchers at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology are building six-legged robots small enough to skitter through your blood vessels. The critters can crawl for up to 10 days, no batteries required. Their biocompatible skeletons — made of the same stretchy stuff that's in Silly Putty — are plated with heart cells from rats. When immersed in a glucose solution, the cells beat in synchrony. With each pulse, the bot's back legs contract, pushing the bug forward at a "speed" of 100 micrometers per second (50 meters a week). Lead scientist Sukho Park believes such devices could be injected into humans to treat cardiovascular disease as early as 2020. Once inside a clogged vessel, the bot would feed off the glucose in the blood as it creeps along the length of the artery, releasing a dissolving agent to clear blockages and plaque. Sure, but how will it look in a formfitting wet suit?"
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Robot Invasion Begins: World on Brink of Immersion Into Robotically Enhanced Environment

Artificial or not, AI enhances human life
"Self-steering vacuum cleaners. Self-parking cars. Dolls responding to voice commands.
We may not be living in the world of "The Jetsons," but robots are definitely becoming a part of ordinary life. The company iRobot reports that more than 2.5 million of its home robotic products -- Roomba vacuums, Scooba floor washers, Verro swimming pool scrubbers, Looj gutter cleaners and ConnectR "Virtual Visiting Robots" -- have been sold.

This year's Toy Fair introduced an animatronic "Elmo Live" that can act out stories. And Playskool's Kota the Triceratops, a $300 life-size baby dinosaur for preschoolers, reacts to touch by moving its head, tail and horns, and gives "a friendly dino roar" when spoken to.
Then there's the first-generation Lexus LS 460 L automobile with "Advanced Parking Guidance System," which parallel-parks itself (as long as there's 6 feet of wiggle room). The LawnBott LB3500 from KA Home Robotics can be told when and where to mow from your cellphone or PDA.

In fact, the line between appliance and artificial intelligence is getting blurrier every day. According to roboticist Daniel H. Wilson, author of "How to Build a Robot Army: Tips on Defending Planet Earth Against Alien Invaders, Ninjas, and Zombies" (Bloomsbury; 176 pages; $13.95), to be classified as a robot, a machine only has have the ability to sense the environment, "think" about what to do and act in the physical world. Doing it for you

That sense-think-act closed-loop process "is a pretty broad definition," Wilson admitted in a recent phone interview. "But we are surrounded by all these machines that are making decisions without human intervention. Robots don't have to move to be robots. Instead of moving themselves, they can send commands to the real world."

By that criteria, even a smoke alarm is a type of AI -- artificial intelligence. So are your car's antilock brakes: Hit the pedal to tell the ABS system you want to slow down, and the vehicle's onboard computer takes over and does it for you. No more relying on humans to resist the urge to slam on the brakes instead of using the more effective light taps.

"In How to Build a Robot Army," Wilson takes robots that can be found today in homes or in laboratories -- "A lot of them are prototypes. I have a lot of friends that have cool projects." -- and suggests ways to turn them into allies in the fight against pop-culture villains such as zombies and great white sharks.

The tongue-in-check instructions include adding a can of gasoline to your Roomba to turn it into a roving land mine, or sending micro air drones, such as the remote-controlled FlyTech Dragonfly from Robosapien-maker Wowwee, with infrared navigational sensors added on to do overhead reconnaissance of werewolf-filled forests..."
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Also See (from Wired News Blog):
Book Review: How to Build a Robot Army
"A couple weeks ago my GeekTeen, John, age 15, asked if he could blog a review of roboticist Daniel Wilson's two books. We checked and found Wilson had just published a new volume -- which gave me a great excuse to interview him too! He says he's gotten a lot of positive response from parents and kids (including's Chris Anderson, whose kids sent him drawings inspired by his previous book).
You can read my Times Union interview with Wilson for the next week.
And here's John's review:
You’ve all seen movies where aliens come to wreak havoc in cities or Godzilla terrorizes Tokyo,and the poor, weak humans have to fight them. But what if we had robots on our side? Almost nothing can stand up to those powerhouses (except other robots of course). But how to make an army of robots? You buy this book.
How to Build a Robot Army is written by Daniel H. Wilson, who has a degree in robotics and has written two books before this one. (How to Survive a Robot Uprising and Where’s my Jetpack?) In this book, he tells you how to build a make-shift army using Roombas, Furbys and other household robots. The first part of the book is a crash-course in robotics: how to modify them for battle, what types there are, how to put weapons on them, and more. It also explains how to upgrade humans for battle (such as suiting them with exo-skeletons or swallowing a pill infused with microbots). Next is a lesson in robot training, such as how to make a robot team and how to tame walker robots. The final section is a list of famous movie monsters (Godzilla, the Wolf Man, zombies etc.) and what robots you can send against them...."
Full article @:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Robots Take Over Warehouse Work!

Carrying the load
In an industry motivated mostly by gee-whiz factor, Bay State firms take the lead in creating robots with real-world uses
"Don't call them robots.
I made the mistake five minutes into a conversation with Kiva Systems Inc. chief executive Mick Mountz, who paused for a second, smiled, and explained:
"We're not about the robot. This company was founded to solve a business problem, and a lot of robotics companies are about a cool technology that is looking for an application."
The idea of turning a warehouse over to stout orange robots the size of an ottoman might induce anxiety in the average logistics manager, and so Mountz prefers to call the rolling machines built by his Woburn-based company "mobile drive units" (though he sometimes relents and uses the term "bots").
The theory is that the bots can make order fulfillment faster and more efficient, letting a human stuff more boxes per hour. Kiva's bots can also rearrange warehouses on the fly, moving racks of popular items closer to the workers, while consigning slow-selling items to a distant corner. So far, customers like Staples Inc., Walgreen Co., and the online shoe store have been willing to give Kiva a try.
Kiva is part of a growing cluster of Massachusetts companies that are developing a new generation of robots that can do surprising things: clean out rain gutters, swim underwater to inspect the hulls of Navy vessels, and manage warehouses. The state has more than 150 companies and research labs working on robots, according to the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, which says the figure is conservative.
"Boston and Pittsburgh both have a good number of robotics companies, but Boston has the advantage, in terms of being a larger city, and a larger investment community, " says Dan Kara, president of Robotics Trends, a Natick company that organizes the annual RoboBusiness conference; it alternates between Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Silicon Valley, Kara says, has a decent number of robotics companies, but doesn't register very high on the robotics Richter scale..."
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Babies Drive Robots - No Learner's Permit Required

From: The Daily Times
Babies get a license to thrive
" They don''t have licenses, and they can't even sit in the front seat of a car. But some infants already have driving experience. For the past two years, researchers from the University of Delaware have been observing babies 4- to 15-months-old "drive" a special robot outfitted with a booster seat and joystick. They hope their findings will help determine how robots can enhance the progress of infants with developmental disabilities as well as those with long-term mobility limitations.

Most of the 20 babies studied thus far have demonstrated that they understand the link between their physical actions and the robot's motions; the results from two have been published in the journal Intel Serv Robotics. If this understanding continues, the next step is to see whether the robots can accelerate the interest of slow-developing children in moving on their own.

"If you take them out of the robot, they may still have that drive inside them to move," said James C. Galloway, associate professor of physical therapy at UD. "The robot may work as a stimulus, and then they may have the possibility after a couple of times using it to have the drive to learn to crawl."

More than 43,000 American babies were enrolled in special services in 2006, either because they had or were at risk of developing a disability, according to the U.S. Department of Education. In these infants, intellectual and physical development is hindered by their inability to explore their world, said Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron, national medical director of United Cerebral Palsy, an advocacy group. Once the babies obtain that ability to explore, their ability to think and learn skyrockets.

"There's a real cognitive explosion when a child without any developmental problems starts to explore the world by crawling and walking," she said. "To me, it seems very likely that a child with a developmental disability will have the same or similar response. What a difference if they were exposed to the world more actively."..
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Professor Klatu Uses Comic Books to Teach Robotics!!!

From: The Enquirer
Comic books help students understand robotics theory
Prof creates materials using newer software

"University of Cincinnati professor Ernie Hall has discovered the joys of using comic books in the classroom - for learning - although the professor of robotics and computer science isn't opposed to having fun either.

Using a new software, Comic Book Creator, Hall has created comic books, finding them helpful in explaining technical points for college students in his robot control class.

"It just fits perfectly with our robotics activities," said Hall, director of the Center for Robotics at UC. "In there, I have a lot of theory. The theory of control is very sophisticated, but I have to show them enough about it to make it look easy as a piece of cake. Then, they'll go out and build their own robots."

Students in the class agreed that the comic books are a hit.
It definitely spiced it up a lot," said Ben Stayton, 23, a senior in mechanical engineering. "It made it a lot more interesting."

Matt Abirached, also a 23-year-old senior mechanical engineering student, added, "It was different than our normal lecture, which is just seeing PowerPoint slides."
Comic books won't replace serious technical papers, Hall said, but he does plan to use that format more often to enhance his lectures.

"It's better than PowerPoint," he said. "It lets me spiff up my PowerPoint lectures. I have all my lectures on the computer with PowerPoint but now I see I really need to spiff them up with this, and then they would be a lot more effective, especially on hard, technical problems. I can lighten up the scene a little bit."...

Do We Have to Tip Robots? An Issue We'll Face Soon!

From: Christian Science Monitor
Robots set to overhaul service industry, jobs

In the next decade, robots will increasingly take over low-level jobs, experts say, displacing human employees.

Pittsburgh - At a mall in Osaka, Japan, lost shoppers can get directions from a robot that looks like something out of "The Jetsons." In hospitals across the US, disc-shaped robots deliver bed linens and meals to rooms. In some homes, robots are already doing a range of chores, such as vacuuming rooms and cleaning gutters. At least one company is working on a robot that works on a farm.

As a growing number of robots become capable of working alongside humans, the service industry may face a pattern all too familiar in the manufacturing sector: robots replacing humans in jobs.

"The service sector, which is a gigantic part of the employment landscape in the United States, is inevitably going to be a place where you can replace millions of people with robots that work 24/7 for less money," says futurist Marshall Brain..."
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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Put this robot on and you're... super carpenter!

"Wearable Robotics Aid Construction Workers"
"Applied scientists and engineers at Nagayo University in Japan introduced a prototype wearable half-robotic device designed for carpentry workers. The study of carpentry workers utilizing the device in the task of fitting ceiling boards in place concludes marked reduction in muscle output force, thereby reducing arm fatigue. Further study is on going to reduce weight, size and low adjusting speed of the device. The next phase will test the overall effectiveness of the half-robot aid to workers..."

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Anthropormorphized Autonomous Snow Plow!

From: Pink Tentacle
"Yuki-taro autonomous snowplow robot"

"The harsh winter in Niigata, Japan brings heavy snow, which can pose problems for residents — particularly the elderly — who are faced with the laborious task of clearing it from driveways and entrances. To the rescue comes Yuki-taro, an autonomous snowplow robot developed by a team of researchers from five Niigata-area organizations.
The friendly-looking Yuki-taro measures 160 x 95 x 75 cm (63 x 37 x 30 in.) and weighs 400 kg (880 lbs). Armed with GPS and a pair of video cameras embedded in its eyes, the self-guided robot seeks out snow and gobbles it up into its large mouth. Yuki-taro’s insides consist of a system that compresses the snow into hard blocks measuring 60 x 30 x 15 cm (24 x 12 x 6 in.), which Yuki-taro expels from its rear end. The blocks can then be stacked and stored until summer, when they can be used as an alternative source of refrigeration or cooling.
Yuki-taro is the result of nearly seven years of work by researchers from the Niigata Industrial Creation Organization (NICO), Research and Development, Inc. (RDI), Niigata Institute of Technology, Yamagata University and the Industrial Research Institute of Niigata Prefecture (IRI), who set out to design an environmentally-friendly robot that can operate by itself and support the elderly. In 2006, Yuki-taro received a Good Design Award in the small-to-medium sized enterprise category.
Researchers continue to work on reducing Yuki-taro’s size, weight and cost, and they hope to make it commercially available in five years at a price of less than 1 million yen ($8,300). It is unclear whether or not the researchers intend to further enhance the robot’s “cute” factor, but they might ought to consider attaching a pair of pointy ears. O-negai!"

Read article at its source: Yuki-taro autonomous snowplow robot

WIRED's "50 Best Robots Ever"

From: Wired
"The 50 Best Robots Ever"
They're exploring the deep sea and distant planets. They're saving lives in the operating room and on the battlefield. They're transforming factory floors and filmmaking. They're - oh c'mon, they're just plain cool! From Qrio to the Terminator, here are our absolute favorites (at least for now).

50. ROBONAUT Not all NASA robots drive around poking at rocks. This android will one day work alongside people on space stations. Robonaut is the same size and shape as a person in a space suit, so it can handle tasks typically performed by humans - its hands are even better articulated than an astronaut's gloved digits. The fact that it looks like Boba Fett? Lucky coincidence.
49. LEONARDO Awww, isn't it cuddly? Or maybe just creepy. MIT's Cynthia Breazeal is famous for building robots that humans have an emotional reaction to. Her newest creation, Leonardo, was bolted together in 2002 with the help of the movie monster gurus at Stan Winston Studio (their animatronics include the Terminator, the aliens in Aliens, and the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park). Leonardo can grab objects, make facial expressions and complex gestures, and even learn simple tasks (like turning lights on and off) through trial and error.
48. KITT The smooth-talking, self-driving muscle car from the early '80s TV drama Knight Rider was so cool, it even upstaged David Hasselhoff. The success of this Trans-Am helped to usher in a new genre of show with supervehicles as heroes, from Airwolf to Stealth.
47. HAL 9000Some tasks are too important to be left to humans. Just ask Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The 1968 film gave the world the ultimate all seeing, all knowing - and apparently all ego - AI villain. It set the standard for machines that can think (and kill) like us but are too powerful to control.
46. ROOMBA DISCOVERY This wasn't the first robosucker, just the first that didn't blow. In 2005, iRobot's second-generation robotic vacuum showed that domestic bots can actually work. To clean the floors, simply turn the thing on - just try not to stand around watching slack-jawed.
45. NINTENDO R.O.B.In the mid-'80s, the PC was killing the market for videogame consoles. The game industry's only hope? A robot. Nintendo packaged the Robotic Operating Buddy with the 1985 Nintendo Entertainment System. The R.O.B. didn't do much, but the gimmick helped Nintendo sneak systems onto shelves. Lo, the console market was saved.
44. SLUGBOT Meet a real-life hunter bot. Built in 2001 at the University of West England, SlugBot uses a vision sensor and an extending arm to find slugs, grab them, and drop them into an onboard trap. The idea is that one day it will deposit the slugs in its dock and use the gas from the decomposing bodies to charge its fuel cells.
43. ATTACK BOTS FROM RUNAWAY Tom Selleck got top billing, but the real stars of Michael Crichton's overlooked 1984 thriller were the spider attack drones. OK, their weapons were low tech (they sprayed acid at people), but the bug bots presaged Genghis (see #14) and similar critters in The Matrix and Steven Spielberg's Minority Report.
42. LILLIPUT TOY ROBOT Before there were real robots, there were toy robots. Among the first was Lilliput, a windup walker from the 1930s. It couldn't do much - the legs would walk, causing the arms to swing. But by the late '40s, the tin tykes had spread from Japan to the US, earning a spot in toy history alongside teddy bears and fire trucks.
41. MOBOTS What would you get if Robby the Robot got busy with a Mars rover? Probably something like the Mobots. In 1960 Hughes Aircraft unleashed these industrial machines for use in hazardous material sites - teleoperators controlled the snaking appendages. Alas, like the Spruce Goose, they weren't financially viable.
40. ELEKTRO AND SPARKO Westinghouse engineer Joseph Barnett made a splash at the 1939 World's Fair with a 7-foot, cable-controlled metal man that could walk, speak 77 words, and even smoke cigarettes (so debonair). The next year Barnett gave the hulking android a best friend: a robotic dog that seemed to bark and sit in response to Elektro's commands.
39. S-BOTS An ongoing project of the EU's Future and Emerging Technologies program, these minibuggies show strength in numbers. Each s-Bot is fully independent, but get a bunch in a room together and they'll form a chain to carry heavy payloads or bridge obstacles. Kinda like ants on roller skates … in a conga line.
38. SONY AIBOThink this is a hunk of plastic that won't fetch a tennis ball? Think again. It's actually an advanced piece of robotics that won't fetch a tennis ball. Introduced in 1999, AIBO is one of the most sophisticated toys on the market. It can find its docking station, recognize its owner's face, and respond to voice commands.
37. RB5X It hit store shelves in 1985, and this first-ever mass-produced home robot kit is still sold today. RB5X can be programmed to speak, navigate a room, and perform such simple tasks as retrieving small objects. Of course, its real claim to fame was as a sweet prize on the '80s videogame quiz show Starcade.
36. PACKBOTS From the creators of the Roomba comes a kick-ass droid for the US military. Carried on a soldier's back, it can be tossed into a building or under a car, where it will assess the situation (or maybe just be blown up). First deployed in Afghanistan in 2002, it's now on active cannon-fodder duty in Iraq.
35. THE IRON GIANT This 100-foot-tall combat machine from the 1999 movie wields an energy cannon and snacks on cars. But he really gets in gear playing hide-and-seek with a schoolboy. The giant eventually achieves robot enlightenment, realizing that he controls his own destiny (even if that means head-butting a suborbital nuclear weapon). It's a classic example of how robots - like all technologies - are neither good nor evil, just tools of circumstance.
34. OPTIMUS PRIME Robots are cool. Robots that turn into giant trucks - way cool. Robots that turn into giant trucks and command a fleet of autobots - now that could change pop culture history. Such was the impact of the Transformer when the toy line was introduced in 1984, spawning decades of TV shows, movies, and comic books.
33. THE TURK Step right up and marvel at the mechanical device that can beat you in chess. Not impressed? You would be if it were 1769. The contraption was a hoax (inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen stashed a human chess master inside), but it sparked early debates over what it means for a machine to think.
32. ABE Mars may belong to the rovers, but the oceans belong to the Autonomous Benthic Explorer. Completed in 1995 by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the first fully independent underwater scout can dive down to 15,000 feet, map thermo layers and collect water samples, then swim home on its own.
31. GM UNIMATE After bonding over their mutual love of sci-fi, engineers George Devol and Joseph Engelberger invented the industrial robot. They must have been reading very utilitarian fiction - their 1961 creation was a 4,000-pound arm that stacked sheets of hot metal. But it transformed the assembly line; a variant is still in use today.
30. THE TIN WOODMAN While technically a cyborg, the heartless lumberjack of Oz did wrestle with a common existential dilemma faced by robots: the desire to feel. (Well, that and the desire to combat rust.) Not bad for 1939. And hey, how many other robots sing and dance with Judy Garland?
29. VAUCANSON'S DUCK Back in 1739, Jacques de Vaucanson wanted to create artificial life. He settled for a mechanical duck that pooped. The machine used a weight system to quack, flap its wings, drink water, and eat grain, which it would digest mechanically and expel through an opening in its backside.
28. THE TERMINATOR Apparently robots of the future like to hit the gym. Out of a long line of assassin bots, the Terminator is the perfect blend of indestructibility and determination. With him, James Cameron personified what we really fear about robots: They'd do better without us.
27. MQ-1 PREDATOR Forget fantasy robots that kill people - here's a real robot that kills people. The US military's famed unmanned aerial vehicle became a household name in 2002 after taking flight in Afghanistan. Now armed with hellfire missiles, it no longer just monitors enemies - it blows them up, too.
26. FALSE MARIA The classic sexbot from Fritz Lang's 1927 Metropolis was one of the first mechanized humans on film. She danced topless, incited riots, and sparked duels, but what really got her off was overthrowing the ruling class. No wonder she inspired every vision of an android for the next 80 years.
25. PARTNER BALLROOM DANCING ROBOTS Some robots build cars, some explore space, some do the cha-cha-cha. In 2005, Tohoku University's Kazuhiro Kosuge debuted a series of ballroom dancing androids, complete with fancy dresses. They can predict the movements of a partner, enabling them to follow another dancer's lead. And they're klutz-proof: There are no toes to step on.
24. ELSIE AND ELMER Neuroscientist W. Grey Walter's mechanical tortoises from the 1940s were the first fully autonomous electric robots. Programmed to seek out light and to turn if they ran into an object, they could find their illuminated charging stations, even if something was in the way.
23. GORT In the 1951 flick The Day the Earth Stood Still, spaceman Klaatu and his robot Gort come to Earth to promote peace. When that doesn't work out, Gort teaches us what happens to those who eschew harmony - they die. Oh the irony that a machine must remind us of our humanity.
22. ROSSUMS' UNIVERSAL ROBOTS Czech author Karel Capek coined the term robot in his 1920 play about automaton factory workers. One problem: The characters that gave a title to all robotics weren't actually, you know, robots. They were biological creatures - more Jango Fett clones than C-3PO.
21. PERSONAL SATELLITE ASSISTANT Legs, wheels, and treads - those are for bots that can't get off the ground. NASA's Personal Satellite Assistant possesses none of these things; instead it uses small fans to propel itself through zero gravity. Perhaps as soon as 2007, these assistants will hover over an astronaut's shoulder, serving as an all-in-one PDA, videophone, and air monitor.
20. MINDSTORMS Since 1998, Mindstorms have been turning 8-year-olds into fledgling roboticists. The Lego kits come with programmable blocks that animate all manner of dinosaurs, vending machines, unmanned planes - whatever kids, or more likely their parents, can dream up.
19. R2-D2R2-D2 and C-3PO - the Abbott and Costello of space - may be the most popular robots in history, but it's the littler one that really steals the show. Sure, C-3PO could walk and speak 6 million languages, but R2-D2 proved that robots can be emotive without being humanoid and don't need to speak English to communicate.
18. HONDA'S P2Asimo? A pipsqueak. Before Honda's much-hyped biped was touring the world, there was P2, a 6-foot, 462-pound prototype. Unveiled in 1996, P2 possessed most of Asimo's walking skills - including the ability to climb stairs - making it, as Honda puts it "the first self-regulating, two-legged humanoid walking robot."
17. ALBERT HUBO Here's an idea: Stick an elastomer foam Einstein head on a robot spaceman. This 2005 collaboration between roboticist David Hanson and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology is more likely to give you nightmares than a unified field theory. But it's the best combo to date of bipedal movement and realistic facial expression.
16. ROBART III Not only does Robart III have a gun, it has a team of spider "slave" bots. Under development by the Navy since 1992, this security robot uses microwave motion detectors to search, say, a hostile building for enemies, sending out its insectoid companions to look in dark corners. Alas, its barrels hold only rubber bullets and darts.
15. WABOT AND WABOT 2In the '70s, some roboticists were building machines to make Chevettes, but researchers at Tokyo's Waseda University were building bots in man's image. In 1973, they introduced Wabot, the first full-scale programmable android. It had eyes, flailing limbs, and the ability to speak Japanese. The next rev, Wabot 2, played piano.
14. GENGHIS Creeped out by bug bots? How about bug bots that can learn? In 1988, Rodney Brooks' lab at MIT created this six-legged walker, which taught itself how to scramble over boards and other obstacles. The secret: Allow each leg to react to the environment independently and you won't need to program every complex step.
13. EDINBURGH MODULAR ARM SYSTEM Part man, part machine, all Scottish: Campbell Aird received the first complete bionic arm in 1998. Pressure sensors in the shoulder attachment detect minute fluctuations in Aird's muscles, activating motors that control the arm's movement. Eat your heart out, Lee Majors.
12. T-52 ENRYU What's better than an 11-foot-tall robot? An 11-foot-tall robot that can rip cars in half and lift 1,100-pound slabs of concrete. Japanese manufacturer Tmsuk unleashed Enryu in 2004 to help in rescue operations (think earthquakes). The best part: It's piloted from a cockpit in its belly, manga style.
11. SPEEDY Before Sonny (shown) made Asmiov's three laws of robotics known to the masses, there was Speedy, the robot in the 1942 short story Runaround that inaugurated the directives. Speedy knows not to harm humans, to obey their commands, and to protect itself, just not which rules matter most. Turns out a bot's needs come last.
10. THE STANFORD CART Grand Challenge finishers, UAVs, and even KITT from Knight Rider all owe a debt of gratitude to James Adams and Hans Moravec's Stanford Cart. In 1979, the wagon traversed a chair-filled room on its own, a landmark achievement for self-navigating vehicles. Travel time: roughly five hours.
09. DANTE II After eight volcano researchers were killed in two 1993 eruptions, robots were brought in to take the heat. The next year, Carnegie Mellon's Dante II was lowered into Alaska's steaming Mount Spurr to collect data. It fell in, but not before uploading its readings, making it the first "successful" terrestrial explorer robot.
08. DA VINCI SURGICAL SYSTEM In the future, you'll beg to be operated on by a machine. Credit Intuitive Surgical's 2000 robot, a fusion of arms, cameras, and instruments that allows doctors to slice into patients remotely. Procedures done with the da Vinci are more precise than when humans wield the scalpel - research shows there's less blood loss and quicker recovery.
07. THE MECHANICAL KNIGHT Way back in 1495, Leonardo da Vinci designed what was probably the first robot - an automated suit of armor with a windup crank. It could sit up, wave its hands, and maybe even talk. Five hundred years later, engineer Mark Rosheim used the master's schematics to build a working miniaturized version.
06. QRIO Bipedal robots that can walk up stairs seem flatfooted compared with the running, jumping, and traditional-Japanese-fan-dancing Qrio. Officially, Sony uses its state-of-the-art androids, debuted in 2003, as corporate ambassadors. But the company may one day sell them for entertainment. Works for Beck: The singer recently used all six Qrios in his video for "Hell Yes."
05. SHAKEY Developed by Stanford Research Institute International, Shakey had jerky, often nonsensical movements. But that didn't stop the 1972 robot from entering the history books as the first machine to autonomously locate objects, steer around them - and then explain its logic for doing so.
04. ROBBY THE ROBOT Few robots can trace their origins to Shakespeare. Robby, from the 1956 film Forbidden Planet, was inspired by Ariel in The Tempest. But that didn't keep Robby from leaving a legacy all his own. For decades, the very idea of a robot was synonymous with Robby's bulbous figure.
03. SPIRIT AND OPPORTUNITY Some robots sit in labs for researchers to tinker with. These two bots are on frickin' Mars. Expected to last only three months when they touched down on the Red Planet in January 2004, the rovers are still going strong two years later - each sends back 100 megabits of data a day.
02. ASTROBOY While American kids were daydreaming of Superman, Japanese tykes were worshipping at the altar of Tetsuwan Atom, aka Astroboy. First drawn in 1951, Astroboy has rocket boots, lasers that shoot from his fingertips, and, uh, an ass cannon. The lovable crime-fighting robot was an inspiration to a generation of kids -some of whom went on to become robotics researchers. He's a big reason why Japan is at the forefront of android development today. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.
And the #1 Robot of All Time Is...
01. STANLEY The Stanford Racing Team's autonomous vehicle is a modified Volkswagen Touareg that can scan any terrain and pick out a drivable course to a preset destination. Cup holders optional.