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..."
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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..."

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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…"

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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"
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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?..."

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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..."
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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..."