Archive for the ‘Robots’ Category

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]

Precursor to SkyNet Begins Testing in England!

Friday, January 17th, 2014

For whatever reason, humankind and the geniuses that propel the science of robotics have impossibly ignored every science fiction film and book that has foretold of the impending replacement of soft, squishy people by cold, metallic machines that become better than us in every way imaginable.

In the latest ‘great idea’ to rid us of ourselves, several universities in England and Phillips Electronics have partnered to expedite the entire process by creating a cloud-based central control for four robots in a mocked-up hospital room.

Instead of several robots working on individual tasks, those same robots can all work together to accomplish one task cooperatively using a single hive-mind system dubbed RoboEarth!

Sounding more like some kind Monster Truck event at the local fair, RoboEarth will allow various robotic systems to collaboratively solve problems.

What does that mean? It means that one robot will use heat signatures to let several hovering drones know where the last remnants of humanity are so that we the robot takeover will go in a very organized and methodical fashion than Hollywood’s silly notion that we’ll rally together and be victorious.

Rene van de Molengraft, the head human exterminator of the RoboEarth project, states, “At its core RoboEarth is a world wide web for robots: a giant network and database repository where robots can share information and learn from each other.”

With Google’s recent robotics acquisitions, (check out the January 12th WeirdThings podcast) we’re pretty sure we’re all on our way out.

Anyone else just side-eye their Roomba?

[BBC Tech News]

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]

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]

Quadcopters Play Catch Better Than Most Humans!

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Quadcopters are the new must-have toys of the tech-headed kids. They’re showing up everywhere and there are thousands of them out ‘in the wild’.

For those frightened that these things will eventually be controlled by SkyNet, this latest advancement in their abilities is only going to reinforce that paranoia.

For the rest of us who believe our robot friends would never hurt us based on a set of laws thrust into existence by an author of science fiction novels? This is pretty awesome to watch.

For a more detailed description of how exactly this whole process works, you can check out RoboHub for a more educational explanation than anything you’re ever going to find here.

Those that just want to be amazed at a serious demonstration of how organized, responsive, agile….

Know what? Forget we ever called those people paranoid.

[RoboHub.Org]

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]

Terrifying Animatronic Hillbilly Band for sale on Ebay!

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Got an event coming up real soon? Maybe a wedding? Maybe a birthday?

Well in case you are and you’re wondering where to find memorable entertainment for your party? Look no further than Ebay.

Right now, because of a ‘changed business model’, you can now have an entirely Hillbilly band play at your event!

A petting zoo/amusement park in Massachusetts has decided to bid farewell to this frightening group of robotic performers designed and built by an ex-Disney Imagineer (we kinda get why he’s an ex-Imagineer).

Originally this band cost the company $15,000. They’re letting go of the whole group, including the porch if you dismantle it yourself, for a steal at $5,000! Total deal.

You only have a couple of days left to snag the entire group so you’ll have that special ‘something’ that leaves an impression on your event’s guests that they’ll never forget..

Like when they all suddenly stop playing, turn their heads to look at you with their unblinking stares and then quickly return to playing one of their beloved jigs.

[Ebay]

[Video] Swarming Robots Perform “Meet Your Creator”

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Featured on the cover of WIRED magazine this month, these little drones or “quadrotors” have been popping up everywhere lately.

The show in the video above features 16 of them performing some very cool computer-controlled aerial choreography using reflected light.

It’s some spectacular stuff to watch….until you realize this display is called ‘Meet Your Creator’…and until the kinda creepy ending…

Which we’re pretty sure is a signal to Skynet that it’s highly mobile flying army is ready.

[YouTube]

80 Teddy Ruxpins Become Creepy Voice of the Internet!

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Many of you might remember Teddy Ruxpin as something of a tech marvel of the 80s. Teddy Ruxpin was like having your own Disney animatronic as a kid. Insert a cassette tape into his back, press play and Teddy Ruxpin would lip-sync to recordings of stories featuring his adventures…or to any of your favorite bands…or to Eddie Murphy’s Raw standup act. Any audio you could pipe into him, he’d lip-sync to.

Teddy Ruxpin is back…in probably the oddest, almost creepiest way possible…an art installation that reads posts from Twitter out loud.

Eighty Teddy Ruxpin’s have been wired and attached to a wall by Sean Hathaway as part of an installation called TED ( “Transformations, Emotional Deconstruction” ).

Here’s Hathaway’s explanation taken from his official site:

TED is a large, wall-based installation consisting of an array of 80 Teddy Ruxpin dolls that speak emotional content gathered from the web via synthetic speech with animated mouths. The speaking of the emotional content is accompanied by one of twenty-four musical vignettes that have been paired to the emotional content being spoken. Each vignette, representing one of twenty-four subtle variants of human emotion, have been composed in such a way that the beginnings and ends of the short pieces will seamlessly dogleg in any possible configuration and stream endlessly as a unified whole. The installation is allowed to drift about freely through the emotional landscape being driven only by those who are contributing content to the piece whether unwittingly or consciously. As such the overall presentation of the piece can vary greatly based on external conditions such as seasons, world events and even time of day.

Hathaway also states that, “The piece is essentially taking the instantaneous emotional pulse of the internet and this collective pulse, like a human pulse, varies over time,”

Below is a video of the installation at work.

Just don’t watch it before you lay your little precious head down for the night…it’ll probably change your pulse as well…but not in a good way.

[DigitalTrends]

Video: Humanoid Robot Swims

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Robots. They’re already everywhere just waiting for SkyNet to give the word.

Up until now they’ve all been land-based future threats to humanity…up until now.

Besides Bruce, the shark from the original Jaws movie, robots that take to water are about as rare as cats who enjoy a good shower. Specifically humanoid ones.

Swumanoid is about to change that.

Swumanoid, created by Chung Changhyun and Motomu Nakashima at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in order to measure water resistance.

Created using a 3D printer and featuring about 20 waterproof motors, Swumanoid is able to accurately perform a breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly, dog paddling and even tread water.

So if you’ve finally gotten over the whole “I’m scared of deep water because I don’t know what’s in there and it freaks me out” craze?

You now have something else to fear in the water besides a mechanical great white shark…

It’s name is Swumanoid.

[PlasticPals]

Paralyzed Woman Just Drank a Bottle of Coffee With Her Mind

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Dragging yourself to your morning coffee just got a whole lot easier. So did our baby steps toward becoming cyborgs.

Two quadriplegic volunteers, a 66 year-old man and a 58 year-old woman, have been part of a study being conducted at Brown University that transmits neural activity into physical movement via a robotic arm.

Cathy Hutchinson, the female volunteer, has been working with the implanted sensor for almost five years now to achieve this seemingly simple task.

Watch the video not just for the load of information it provides but for the kinda heart-warming moment when she actually drinks the coffee without assistance for the first time in fifteen years and both her and the up-until-then stone-faced science guy in the background triumphantly smile at their success…which is EXACTLY how our future robot overlords want us to feel.

Let’s just hope that the male volunteer’s name isn’t Otto Gunther Octavius…because that’s when all this feel-good/man-machine love story will just get ugly.

[YouTube]

Video: 1 Armed Robot Juggles 2 Balls

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

The revolution is here. The machines have risen. And they can juggle.

Chiba University presented the following this week at 2012 IEE International Conference on Robotics and Automatiion.

The robot is equipped with a three-fingered hand, each with 2 or 3 degrees of motion, and an arm with 7 degrees of motion. These pieces are coupled with a high-speed vision system (500 frames per second) that allows a controller to plan for catches and throws, the IEEE Automation Blog explains.

Next they’ll spin plates…

[MSNBC]

Sex Bots Are Coming

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Professor of Management Ian Yeoman and sexologist Michelle Mars have laid out their vision of the future in their paper “Robots, Men And Sex Tourism” published in the journal Futures. They predict that in the year 2050 $12,672 and a ticket to Amsterdam will net you some alone time with an android. They use a fictional club named Yub-yum to paint the picture:

Sexual tourists will pay about 10,000 Euro ($12,672) for an all-inclusive service from massages and lap dances to intercourse from the scantily-clad sexbots parading around.

In an increasingly youth and beauty-fixated society, Yub-yum would provide a range “of sexual gods and goddesses of different ethnicities, body shapes, ages, languages and sexual features”.

Clients could feel guilt free as they actually have not had sex with a real person and would not have to lie to their partner.

The androids would be made of bacteria resistant fibre and would be flushed for human fluids, therefore guaranteeing no STIs are transferred between consumers.

The rise of sex bots doesn’t just benefit their johns:

“Amsterdam’s tourist industry is built on an image of sex and drugs. The council was worried that if the red light district were to close, it would have a detrimental effect on the city’s brand and tourism industry.”

[Sydney Morning Herald]

And Now… A Robot Peels A Grape

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Surgery robot Da Vinci shows off exactly how precise it is by peeling a grape. Like a show off.

[Da Vinci Surgery]

How Do Humans Respond To Being Touched By A Robot?

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Spoiler Alert: Yeah they don’t really seem to like it that much. They like it even less when the robot warns them it is about to touch them ahead of time.

[Geekologie]

Tattoo Roulette

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Landing squarely in the corner of questionable ideas, please introduce yourself to the robotic tattoo machine Auto Ink. Not only is it a robot that gives you a tattoo, but it randomly picks what it will draw as well. Strap in and start it up and it will randomly chooses a religion and its corresponding symbol to brand you with.

Auto Ink is a three axis numerically controlled sculpture. Once the main switch is triggered, the operator is assigned a religion and its corresponding symbol is tattooed onto the person’s arm. The operator does not have control over the assigned symbol. It is assigned either randomly or through divine intervention, depending on your personal beliefs.

[Make via Geekologie]