Archive for the ‘Robot’ 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]

Skynet’s Future Soldiers on Display at Fort Benning

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Over a weekend at Fort Benning, human inventors of automated robotic war machines showed off the devices that Skynet will probably use against us when it goes live.

Sorry ’bout your first rule, Asimov.

[Computer World]

Robot Teaches Itself to Paint So Humans Can Lose at Everything in the Future

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Just when you think we’ve come to terms with robots and their place amongst us, they do something else that ruins all those happy-go-lucky feelings we had with them for just a brief moment.

E-David, a robotic arm developed by the University of Konstanz in Germany, is teaching itself to paint.

Using 24 colors and 5 different brushes, E-David takes a photo of its subject and then goes to work recreating it in paint. As E-David paints, it’s constantly checking back and forth between the photo it took and what it’s actually painting. If E-David decides that what’s hitting the canvas isn’t correct, it can change the process on the fly to work toward a better finished painting.

“Our hypothesis is that painting – at least the technical part of painting – can be seen as optimization processes in which color is manually distributed on a canvas until the painter is able to recognize the content – regardless if it is a representational painting or not.”

Just another thing we can all give up doing when the robots take over.

[GeekOSystem]

3D Robotic Spider Creepier Than the Real Thing

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

A small robotics company called Robugtix is about to give everyone something special whether they want it or not…arachnophobia.

One of the company’s newest bots is named, simply and innocently, the T8. All of that simpleness and innocence evaporates quickly when you actually get to see the T8 in action.

3D-printed and housing 26 motors to move its creepy little self around, the T8 doesn’t just have the fact that it’s made to look like a spider going against it. When you see the T8′s movements is when you get to see just how amazingly and eerily realistic it looks.

For about the price of one month’s rent in a metro apartment, you can grab your very own robotic nightmare from Robugtix which can either be controlled by you like your very own spidery, robotic minion or you can program the T8 to step through a sequence you create.

Robugtix mentions how great the T8 is for someone to learn advanced robotics.

About 10 or 15 years from now, super-villains will be sitting around talking about their formative years where they all owned a small, slightly menacing-looking robotic spider they had to send away for.

[Gizmodo]

Z Machine – New Robot Rock Band Makes Debut!

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Musicians are usually willing to jam with anyone that has some ability at playing an instrument. As we begin walking hand-in-hand with our quickly-becoming-commonplace robotic friends, it only seems natural that musicians and robots would start creating the modern equivalent of their own Wyld Stallyns.

Other bands, like Compressorheads, have tread this road long before Z Machine. It just seems that right now we’re all a little more comfortable with our new metal friends and Z Machine has hit the stage at the right moment because of the reaction that the band’s had overseas.

Z Machine performs a lot like an emo band who’s feet have been nailed to the floor in the video we’ve posted here. That looming alien thing in the background on the left seems to be on a union break.

Despite the feeling that this performance is like we’re watching the result of something that’s been a weekend project between the glee and choir clubs, this is a simple, innocent example of how welcoming a new generation is of their new robotic buddies.

[Oddity Central]

Robot Learns to Throw…Humanity Flinches!

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Anyone who’s been following the evolution of Boston Dynamics has been creeped out at one point by their BigDog robot. BigDog is a quadraped robot that has learned a lot of tricks since it was a terrifying little puppy of a machine. It balances itself even when an engineer makes an attempt at cow-tipping it, it ambles over the most diverse terrain ever laid out in front of a robot, follows humans like an obedient pack-mule and even understands what humans are saying to it.

Each stage in BigDog’s learning process has brought with it a level of creepiness.

But BigDog’s newest trick just put the nail in the coffin of humankind’s demise.

BigDog now throws things.

And what it’s throwing isn’t a spitball. It’s not a paper airplane. It’s not throwing Mardi Gras beads. It’s not a fun frisbee.

Nope. Not anything even remotely associated with enjoyable OR fun…

It’s throwing cinder blocks.

30 pound, concrete cinder blocks…

And it’s throwing them easier and more accurately than you could ever hope to throw one.

Which once again goes to prove that we shouldn’t be worried about the robots taking over in the future…

We should be worried about our own fellow humans helping them.

[Boston Dynamics YouTube Channel]

Russian Team Creates Cheap, DIY Ostrich Mech – Future Armies Will Look Terrifyingly Ridiculous!

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Russia is a unique place. They drive a little differently there, meteors land there and now they’ve decided to tackle robotics…in the form a creepy walking robot disguised as a cute (but threateningly non-cute and blankly-staring) ostrich-walker.

Like the love-child of an AT-ST from the Star Wars universe and the little robots from the classic sci-fi film Silent Running, this attempt at making roaming ‘bots cute just ends up making it all that much creepier.

Why an ostrich? Only the group of four Russians calling themselves the Konstantin Ivanov could answer that question.

Using parts you might find at home and your local Radio Shack, the team set out to contstruct a walking robot on an extremely limited budget as a way of showing what they might be capable of if someone actually opened their wallet for Team Ivanov.

Total cost of Ostrich Mech? $1,500…

Expressions of horror from anyone who sees this thing marching toward them on the street?

Priceless.

[Konstantin Ivanov YouTube]

Robot Begins Year-Long Mission: To Survive One Year of Elementary School Among Real Students!

Monday, February 11th, 2013

We’re always making references to the ‘Robot Apocalypse’ or about all of us being enslaved by ‘our future overlords’ when it comes to our slowly evolving erector set-like counterparts. While 30 and 40-somethings stand around and make jokes, robots continue their often awkward baby-steps into being a part of our lives.

But what about the children?

You know…the children forced to oil the joints of the those aforementioned ‘future overlords’ so that they can continue their ‘overlording’ of the humans?

Those children won’t be worried because they’ll have grown up with robot friends at school.

Friends like ‘Robovie’.

Higashihikari (sneeze it and it’ll sound just fine) Elementary School in Kyoto began a 14-month experiment just a few days ago where a new ‘student’ joined the fleshy ankle-biters’ ranks in order to collect data that will help ‘Robovie’ and other tin-men of the future to interact more naturally with various people. That way, instead of speaking atomic-age sci-fi robotic phrases like “You will not be needed” or “Exterminate!”, they’ll be sitting us down quietly and gently breaking the news our enslavement is really for our own good.

Although this isn’t the first time that a robot has been placed in this kind of environment, this will be the longest amount of time that a robot has spent in the harsh, Lord of the Flies-like habitat of the elementary school student.

Good luck surviving that, Robovie.

[The Mainichi]

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]

DARPA Robot Navigates Obstacles – Strolls Into Your Nightmares!

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Remember that weird and completely creepy mule-like, self-stablizing robot that’s been swimming around the internet for a while now called the BigDog from Boston Dynamics?

Well BigDog just got out-weirded and out-creeped by DARPA’s newest step toward removing the word ‘human’ from ‘humanity’.

Designed as a part of DARPA’s Robotics Challenge, the robot ‘thing’ in the video above, known as the Pet-Proto, will be let loose in a series of environments designed to replicate the conditions of a natural disaster. Several other teams are working on similar robots to compete in the challenge. They will all be competing to gain access to a more advanced version of the Pet-Proto called the Atlas which will be used in the 2013-2014 live disaster-response event.

We don’t know what’s worse…being trapped in a natural disaster or being saved from natural disaster from something that looks like this.

[DARPAtv]

South Korea’s Deadly New Border Weapon!

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Because there’s not enough tension already in North and South Korea, a company has now developed what’s being hailed as a ‘super gun’ to help keep an eyeball on the demilitarized zone between the Hatfield/McCoy-style rivalry amongst the two countries.

The Super aEgis II is one of the most intimidating weapons ever to back up someone’s ‘No Trespassing’ policies. Featuring a thermal camera, a laser range-finder and can nail and destroy a human-sized target from almost 2 miles away. Because it’s designed as a modular system, the aEgis II’s ‘gun pod’ can be replaced and fitted with various other life-destroying joys like surface-to-air missiles or similar goodies yet to be revealed by its manufacturer.

What’s disturbing about the Super aEgis II isn’t that it can destroy a target before the target’s even aware it’s being destroyed…it’s that once Skynet takes over or some 12 year-old hacker decides to add them to their toybox? We’re all in a lot of trouble.

[Reuters]

Sperm-Extracting Machine Comes to Chinese Hospitals!

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Because some people just can’t get the job done while locked in a room by themselves with some fun magazines or just some mental photography, some genius in China has developed something to help those people out…

The lonely Chinese scientist who created this was probably suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and couldn’t even hold a tablet that was playing his favorite movies any longer without discomfort.

(Insert your sad-face pervy scientist emoticon here)

Now this once-sad scienstist has solved ALL of his problems! This thing even has adjustable controls and a built-in dvd player so you can watch your favorite ‘films’.

Like the krill in Finding Nemo, there’s nowhere for your little swimming future-yous to go but in the perpetually slurping maw of a robot that looks like the original Pong arcade game’s second-cousin from the hills.

Clicking play on that video above will either bring laughter, what some like to call ‘cringy-I-smelled-poop’ face or a look of awe and wonder and possibilities to your precious little faces.

The director of the urology department at Zhengzhou Central Hospital said the machine was being used by infertility patients who are finding it difficult to retrieve sperm the old fashioned way.
A website which is selling the machine for $2,800 promoting it stating ‘it can give patients very comfortable feeling.’

Is this the end of prostitution? As newer versions of this machine hit the market, will the older ones find their way into dark alleys and those fun-smelling booths in the back of porn shops or will they start showing up in brothels to replace human workers as the recession keeps taking a chunk from EVERYONE’S budget?

Only time and enough oddly satisfied customers will tell.

[DailyMail UK]

Soft, Creepy Worm-Like Robot Gets Hammered…Keeps Going!

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Robotics design is continually making all those creepy robot-takeover concepts part of our future reality. Check this thing out. It’s a ‘robot’ that imitates the actions of a worm but has the uncanny creepy factor of a maggot when you continue to watch it move. As soon as someone attaches some kind of weird syringe-probe thing? We’re done.

From MIT:

Earthworms creep along the ground by alternately squeezing and stretching muscles along the length of their bodies, inching forward with each wave of contractions. Snails and sea cucumbers also use this mechanism, called peristalsis, to get around, and our own gastrointestinal tracts operate by a similar action, squeezing muscles along the esophagus to push food to the stomach.
Now researchers at MIT, Harvard University and Seoul National University have engineered a soft autonomous robot that moves via peristalsis, crawling across surfaces by contracting segments of its body, much like an earthworm. The robot, made almost entirely of soft materials, is remarkably resilient: Even when stepped upon or bludgeoned with a hammer, the robot is able to inch away, unscathed.

Watch it again….it’s creepy little self gets stepped on and hit with a hammer! And it KEEPS GOING!

[GeekNews.net]

Lonely? These Creepy Robotic Lips Won’t Help That – Ever!

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Prepare for a new level of weird, people.

A while back we reported on a kind of pillow ‘roboty’ thing that would cuddle with you and that your siginificant other could be channeled through. Creepy and a little awkward, right?

That’s like a mild ’2′ on a scale of 1-10.

THIS? This just pegged that scale into oblivion.

Unveiled in the UK at the annual Designing Interactive Systems conference, the egg-like device has been dubbed Kissenger. Hidden inside Kissenger’s eyeless, Humpty-Dumpty-like body is a pair of pressure-sensitive soft plastic lips that peek through a smooth plastic casing about the size of an Easter egg.

The lips contain pressure sensors and actuators. When you kiss them, the shape changes you create are transmitted in real time over the net to a receiving Kissenger. There, the actuators reproduce the mirror image of the pressure patterns you created– magically transmitting your smacker to your partner.

“People have found it a very positive way to improve intimacy in communications with their partners when they are apart,” claims Hooman Samani of Singapore-based Lovotics, which developed the device.

The device is a prototype and Samani says it will not be commercialised until “all the ethical and technical considerations are covered”. He adds: “I am not interested in sexual uses for it.”

Remember that part where he stated, “I am not interested in sexual uses for it”? He’s obviously been locked away in his lab for far too long and has forgotten what people are like.

While this isn’t the first weird thing used to kiss across a distance (that award goes to a device that’s more like tonguing a slurpee straw attached to a speaker box with someone equally lonely as yourself on the other end), it IS the first to accurately record your partners kiss onto a pair of lips so it can be played back like a sad reminder of what your relationship’s come to.

Best part of the story from the New Scientist article? THIS little excerpt:

“I think that approach is too much and I find it kind of creepy,” says Samani. “You don’t need to transmit all the parameters of a kiss. The main aim is to improve long-distance relationships. We’ve taken several steps to minimise the creepiness.”

Two things: We’d hate to see this dude’s idea of what he considers creepy and what did this thing look like BEFORE he minimized the creepiness?

We all just collectively shuddered together.

Here’s Lovotic’s actual company video for an earlier version of the device (in case you were wondering about that ‘before’ design mentioned above)…which makes us wonder how going from a cute rabbit-like design to the disembodied mouth of a Cenobite is ‘minimizing the creepiness’. Again…can someone get a search warrant for this dude’s basement? Or are we just not ready for that?


[New Scientist]