Archive for the ‘Android’ Category

Meet Pepper – Adorable Robot Face of Our Demise

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Created as a joint effort between SoftBank and French robotics company Aldebaran, Pepper a preciously adorable robot, was unveiled recently in stores throughout Tokyo.

The humans behind Pepper are hoping that everyone will want him to join their family in the very near future.

Pepper laughs, tells jokes, dances and probably quietly mocks us behind his adorable little face as he and his ilk develop their future plans.

Like a toddler or a pupper looking for a handout, Pepper constantly keeps eye contact with any human that he comes in contact with, can hold discussions about the weather and…stuff…and can do so in about 17 languages.

Determining the emotional status of humans via facial recognition and tone of our voices is another feature of the almost child-like metal man. Using algorithms and collected data from facial recognition studies, Pepper will seek to interact with humans in a way that will begin building the bridge across the vast ‘uncanny valley’ that exists right now between natural human behavior and robotically programmed behavior.
Looking to introduce him as a companion for seniors and as the gateway drug to having family service robots his price tag comes in under an affordable $2,000.
Masayoshi Son, Softbank’s CEO, stated during the press conference surrounding the unveiling of Pepper, “Several thousand Peppers are going to learn at the store (where the unveiling took place). Everything they learned and gained, is going to be accumulated into the cloud-based service. So that can be accelerating the evolution of the collective wisdom.”
Thousands of Peppers…connected in a hive-like mind.
Not too frightening, right?
He’s not even really mobile.
Until son added, “Our vision is to create an affectionate robot that can understand people’s feelings. Then autonomously, it will take action.”
Great.
Like when a bunch of silver, bipedal robots with glowing red eyes in the future autonomously ‘took action’?

[Above Science's YouTube Channel]

Japan Unveils Disturbing Future of Newscasters

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Meet Otonoroid (the more stately female android on the right) and Kodomoroid (the awkward android on the left).

Unveiled in Japan as part of a future museum exhibit asking, “What is human?”, these two androids are accessing news stories in real time and delivering them to the audience. Not only can Kodomoroid ‘read’ the incoming news reports, she can translate them from various languages and read them aloud in other languages.

Who needs live human newscasters who require bathroom breaks, hair and make-up and can only work for a measly few hours before they get tired and need rest? Networks who buy news-reading androids and have a labor budget to swing under…that’s who.

As awkward as this demonstration is, it’s an interesting sign as to how robots are slowly becoming more and more integrated into our public lives.

While it all seems innocent and even a ‘cute’ demonstration of some oddly moving animatronics, it’s when Kodomoroid says something that should illicit a little, “Aw, Hell no!” from many of us human folk that we’re reminded of the possibility of a frightening robot-run future:

“My dream, when I grow older, is to have my own TV program. If you hear about a newscaster job, please, let me know.”

[DesignBoom]

Drummer Rocks Amazing Drumming Prosthetic

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

As the mechanical components that make up robotic prosthetics shrink, they’re integrating more easily into the lives of those that need them.

Drummer Jason Barnes built his own crude drumming hand but, after meeting an engineer who felt he could create something much more, Barnes now sports a pretty incredible robo-drumming arm. Using a technique called electromyography, the device responds to electrical signals as Barnes flexes his bicep. A secondary attachment for another drumstick was added that actually listens to what Barnes is playing and responds by playing along with what it’s hearing!

Giving talented people like Jason Barnes the ability to continue doing what they love and what they’re talented at is a fantastic way to get physically challenged people back to what they do best…

n this case it’s also the heralding of a whole new future for band battles.
[New Scientist]

Disturbing Robot ‘Baby’ Makes Ultra-Realistic Faces – Smiles at the End of Mankind

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

In our article about the other new toddler robot called Roboy we mentioned Diego-san. Here’s your first look into the robotic wagon-train that’s leaving Uncanny Valley slowly but surely.

When John Connor shows up and SkyNet goes live it won’t be the T1000s we’re worried about.

Why?

We’ll be too terrified by something that’s already been here.

Robot babies.

And you can tear that cute baby robot picture off the wall of your imagination…because robot babies are about as far as you can get from being ‘cute’.

Because we’re not satisfied with making skeletal robots that look like mechanical grim reapers, the University of San Diego has created a ridiculously amazing and disturbingly realistic over-sized one-year-old in order to study the cognitive development of infants.

“Its main goal is to try and understand the development of sensory motor intelligence from a computational point of view. It brings together researchers in developmental psychology, machine learning, neuroscience, computer vision and robotics. Basically we are trying to understand the computational problems that a baby’s brain faces when learning to move its own body and use it to interact with the physical and social worlds.”

As we continue grinning and patting ourselves on the back about our advances in robot technology and march ourselves into our own demise, you can rest assured that the armies of creepy robot babies are just going to keep on smiling that same frightening smile that’ll remind us of ourselves when we were so excited about our accomplishments in robotics.

Until then just keep hitting the replay button and shuddering at Diego-san’s facial expressions.

[Gizmag.com]

Company Creates Robotic Toddler to Help Us Like Our Future Overlords

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Across the globe from the uncanny valley that is Diego-san’s facial expressions, the University of Zurich’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory making another weird foray into the creation of a robot toddler.

Roboy is being developing with the help of crowd-funding,, sponsorships and almost 40 engineers and scientists.

Just like its weaker, fleshy, real-life inspiration, Roboy’s design gestation is going to take about 9 months to full completion.

Roboy is being developed to ease people into actually living with robots and not being creeped out by them. Roboy’s face was chosen during a Facebook contest. Its body is made entirely of plastic and will be covered with a fleshy, rubber-like material to simulate skin. Unlike typical robot movement mechanisms, Roboy will feature elastic cables pulled by motors in order to provide movement more human-like and less bad robot-dance-like.

Part of Roboy’s mission is to help build a bridge across the uncanny valley and get people more comfortable with having robots around and being a part of their lives.

Service robots are going to be a part of our lives in the very near future. As the population ages, new generations will already be more comfortable with having robots around and using them to do menial tasks for us.

Roboy will heading out into the world as part of the ‘Robots on Tour’ event that begins March and will exhibit all sorts of our future replacements.

Then there’s that incessant and nagging subconscious feeling that we might piss them off and see an army more terrifying than anything Hollywood could put in front of our peepers….


[Roboy]

Disney Develops Robot That Plays Catch and Juggles!

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

When the Hall of Presidents attraction opened in Disneyland decades ago, the animatronics featured in it floored guests with their life-like movements. Disney became known for its animatronics in other attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and others. It was good ol’ Abe Lincoln, though that got a lot of attention…especially when he stood up.

But that was then.

Recently a video has surfaced on YouTube from a Disney R&D lab in Pittsburgh that hints at what they’ve been working on since then. Imagineers are now literally playing ball with a robot prototype that can track object movement and respond in real-time!

Being that this is just taking its baby-steps at this point, it both frightening and amazing to think about what Disney might have in the works for this type of interactivity with a robot and park guests.

From the video’s description:

Robots in entertainment environments typically do not allow for physical interaction and contact with people. However, catching and throwing back objects is one form of physical engagement that still maintains a safe distance between the robot and participants. Using an animatronic humanoid robot, we developed a test bed for a throwing and catching game scenario. We use an external camera system (ASUS Xtion PRO LIVE) to locate balls and a Kalman ?lter to predict ball destination and timing. The robot’s hand and joint-space are calibrated to the vision coordinate system using a least-squares technique, such that the hand can be positioned to the predicted location. Successful catches are thrown back two and a half meters forward to the participant, and missed catches are detected to trigger suitable animations that indicate failure. Human to robot partner juggling (three ball cascade pattern, one hand for each partner) is also achieved by speeding up the catching/throwing cycle. We tested the throwing/catching system on six participants (one child and ?ve adults, including one elderly), and the juggling system on three skilled jugglers.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t get bored of playing catch with the guests in the parks and decide one day to unbolt itself, head to Cinderella’s Castle and proclaim the Disney parks as the headquarters of our new robotic overlords!
[DisneyResearchHub]

Russian Company Wants to Put Your Soul into a Creepy Android

Monday, May 21st, 2012

While everyone’s been busy applauding Space X, nerd-herding our likes to Pinterest and getting anxious over Facebook’s IPO, Russia’s decided to just keep right on working on their latest little science fair project… immortality!

With little buzz or fanfare, a group of Russian visionaries has been quietly tinkering away to ensure that the singularity gets here in a timely fashion.

After the above video started getting some play on YouTube, people’s interest began directing them to something that seems like a viral marketing campaign for the latest summer blockbuster about people being embedded into androids. It’s not.

The Russia 2045 Project is planning on eventually taking YOU (call it what you will…your ‘soul’, your ‘bio-data’ or your ‘Midichlorians’…whatever) and embedding it like a YouTube video into one of their androids.

While this all sounds like a science fiction dream-come-true? Watch the video. Russia 2045′s latest model of android looks like someone is puppeteering him just to get him to nod his head.

Ventriloquist dummies are creepy enough. Having your soul trapped inside one for eternity? Creepier.

Best of luck, humanity.

[The Verge]