Archive for the ‘Robot’ Category

Computer Sings Interpretations of Human Ballads – Will Probably Sing Robot Overlords Into Battle

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

Created by artist Martin Backes, this installation of a lone “robot” singing 90s power ballads is almost hypnotizing in a quietly terrifying way.

Fittingly created with SuperCollider, a freeware audio program that synthesizes audio using algorithms, “What do machines sing of?” is an art project where the machine attempts to mimic human sentiment in an extremely haunting way:

“What do machines sing of?“ is a fully automated machine, which endlessly sings number-one ballads from the 1990s. As the computer program performs these emotionally loaded songs, it attempts to apply the appropriate human sentiments. This behavior of the device seems to reflect a desire, on the part of the machine, to become sophisticated enough to have its very own personality.”

Let’s hope the behavior of this device doesn’t reflect a desire, on the part of the machine, to become sophisticated enough begin giving motivational speeches to robots within earshot on how to overthrow the human race.


Hitchhiking “Robot” Begins Epic US Adventure

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

It’s traveled from one side of Canada to the other. It’s also traveled extensively all over Europe.

Now it’s about to travel from Salem, Massachusetts to San Fransisco, California…

Depending completely on the the kindness of strangers because it can’t move without them…

Because it’s an extremely low-tech, immobile, hitchhiking robot called HitchBot.

As the creators of this adorable little “robot” put it:

“We want to see what people do with this kind of technology when we leave it up to them. It’s an art project in the wild — it invites people to participate. It has a really low-tech look to it, something we dubbed the ‘yard-sale aesthetic”. The head is actually an acrylic cake-saver. We want to create something that has a bit of narrative to it, a sense of adventure. We don’t really know what’s going to happen.”

Hitch started its journey across the US on July 17th. Equipped with a disarmingly charming LED smiley face, a GPS and a camera that posts photos every 20 minutes to its Twitter account, Hitch is embarking on a completely unpredictable journey that many of us only dream of or think about doing “one day”…

And its just a little yard-sale-built robot reaching out to the world and hoping it’ll reach back.

Maybe “robots” have something to teach us after all.

Shoot us a photo and your story if you decide to help HitchBot get across the US at any point!


Jaguar Shows Off New Experimental Auto Tech – Turns Range Rover into Smartphone-Driven RC Car

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

A long time ago on the WeirdThings podcast, because we’re always ahead of the curve when it comes to hypotheticals about how new tech might be used in ridiculous scenarios, we pondered how someone might use smart-car tech to commit manslaughter by hacking a vehicle and driving it into a squishy human being.

Jaguar is pushing that possibility into becoming a very real scenario.

Currently the vehicle has severe limitations on speed (it tops out at 4mph) and the distance that the phone is from the vehicle (the car stops when the phone is too far or too close).

It’s still early in development and still early to really understand how an average user might need this kind of control over their car with autonomous vehicles rolling into the public traffic and becoming part of our every day lives.

Sure….it all sounds safe…

But like the curious primates we are…

It’s only a matter of time before curiosity…and an unmanned Range Rover with a driver on smartphone miles away…kills the cat that’s crossing the road.

[Posted in Car, Robot, self driving car, smartphone, Technology | Comments Off on Jaguar Shows Off New Experimental Auto Tech – Turns Range Rover into Smartphone-Driven RC Car

Our Childhood Dreams Are About to Come True: Two Huge Robots About to Throw Down!

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Since the very idea of giant robots the thought of giant robots beating the paneling off of one another has also existed.

Japanese movies, Rock’em Sock’em Robots, Voltron, Robot Jox, Shogun Warriors, Pacific Rim, Real Steel and a massive list of things with fighting robots have whet our appetites for something we all secretly want to be a real thing…

Wish no more!

It’s happening.

Recently the creators of the MK. II came out of nowhere with a video taunt aimed at Japan’s million dollar Kuratas. The creators of Kuratas responded with a snarkingly condescending video asking MK. II to put down its ridiculous cannon-ball launching and missile-firing weaponary and fight like a big metal man.

The guantlet has been thrown.

Now all we’re waiting for is a time and place.

A time and place where two giant metal warriors are going to bring our secret dreams into reality…

One crushingly loud, satisfying blow at a time.


Meet “Han” the Ultra-Realistic-Looking Robot Bust… And a reminder that we’re all doomed.

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Hanson Robotics (no the “MmmBop” band hasn’t regrouped and out to destroy us with robots blaring their only memorable song as retribution) has been hard at work creating our future robot overlords in the form of…um…us.

Recently on display at the AsiaWorld Expo in Hong Kong, Han’s fiberglass bust is covered in a new, extremely life-like rubber compound called Frubber which if fitting since Han was created by an ex Disney Imagineer who’s now looking to take things to a whole new level of interactivity and realism.

Han is able to interact on a limited level with humans and can understand and carry on very basic conversations with those near him. Besides Han’s incredibly realistic expressions based on the conversation that he’s having, sensors in his eyes actually help him look directly into the soft, squishy soul of any human he’s actually speaking with.

Back in 2013 we featured another post about Roboy that had also been created by Hanson Robotics and is just as terrifying as Han.

In either case (as well as all the other similar robots Hanson Robotics has produced) let’s just be glad that Hanson Robotics is focused solely on robot heads….

Heads that, fortunately for us, don’t have legs…

Unless, of course, they get introduced to Boston Dynamics…

Because the thought of a Boston Dynamics Cheetah with a Hanson Robotics Face mounted on it would be a sign we should just prepare ourselves for the end.


Google’s ATLAS Robot About to be Unleashed – Mankind Should Probably Start Worrying

Monday, January 26th, 2015

In 2013 Boston Dynamics introduced its ATLAS robot to the public. It was a little creepy because the thing walked around sort of like a child learning to walk around…

Like this…

The only thing making us all feel relatively safe from the narrowing uncanny valley of movement that the robot was able to mimic was that the thing was tethered to a thick umbilical cord of necessary cables that provided electricity and signals.

It also kept the thing safely chained in a lab.

That’s changing…

The cord is about to be cut in an upcoming robot competition to help ATLAS become a completely free-range robot.

Like this…

While we’re excited that ATLAS will be used as a rescue robot in environments too deadly for our soft, fleshy bags of bones to enter and rescue humans…we know it’s only a matter of time before things go awry…

Like this…


Opportunity Rover Celebrates 11 Years on Mars

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

What was supposed to be a hopeful three month mission has quietly stretched into an unbelievable journey.

Opportunity bounced onto Mars back in 2004. During that time the little rover has traveled twenty six miles and transmitted a lot of data back to help us understand the ancient history of that planet and it’s make up.

The video above will let you relive the excitement of the crew that put “Oppy” up there and you’ll probably smile and hi-five your nearest coworker when you those first transmitted photos, from Oppy’s eyes to ours, pop up on the screen.

It’s a pretty awesome moment in the history of space exploration.


Because the Ocean isn’t Scary Enough…Robosquid

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Robots. We just can’t stop building them even though countless movies tell us where it’s all headed. Not only can we not stop trying to emulate ourselves mechanically, a small portion of the robotics community can’t stop trying to emulate creatures from the animal world.

One of the latest creations by a group called FORTH (Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas) is a tiny little robot trying to emulate the natural actions of octopi and squid.

The video above showcases the features and development of the robot as it goes from having bare legs to more efficient webbed legs to carrying an object in a couple of its legs (check out the little yellow ball it’s carrying) to going for a swim out among more natural life in the actual ocean.

It’s fascinating and almost relaxing to watch as it pulses through the water.

Relaxing until someone attaches tiny laser-guided torpedoes to it.

[Spectrum IEEE]

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.”
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.


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.


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?


[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]