Archive for the ‘robots’ Category

Holiday Shopping Season Could Be A Robotic Toy Story

December 11, 2007

This could be a big year for robot toys. From lifelike baby dinosaurs to mechanized humanoids, robots are hitting store shelves in many forms.

Sharper Image SHRP even devoted the cover and more than five inside pages of its recent holiday catalog to robot toys. The specialty high-end electronics retailer is billing itself as the “shop for bots” this Christmas.  One of the most anticipated robot toys is coming from privately held Ugobe of Emeryville, Calf. This month, it started shipping its Pleo robotic dinosaur to customers who pre-ordered online.

Pleo units aren’t expected to show up in Sharper Image (NASDAQ:SHRP) stores until early to mid-January. Online retailer (NASDAQ:AMZN) AMZN lists Pleo as shipping Dec. 18.

Ugobe’s Web site said the product is on back order and that orders placed Monday would be shipped Jan. 21. It offers customers a holiday card that they can print out that says “Pleo’s On His Way.”

Source:  CNN Money


The Robots Among Us

December 8, 2007

The San Francisco Chronicle has an excellent piece about the future of consumer robotics.  Many say robotics now stands where computing did in the ’70s.  So what does the future hold? 

The Chronicle highlights many sectors of the robotics industry.  Mentioned are the Grand Challenges, Pleo, the ubiquitous Roomba and AI.

Read all about it at  The San Francisco Chronicle

Toyota’s new robot can play the violin, help the aged

December 7, 2007


Toyota Motors on Thursday unveiled a robot that can play the violin as part of its efforts to develop futuristic machines capable of assisting humans in Japan’s greying society.

The 1.5-metre-tall (five-foot), two-legged robot wowed onlookers with a faultless rendition of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance.

With 17 joints in its hands and arms, the robot has human-like dexterity that could be applied to helping people in the home or in nursing and medical care, the carmaker said.

Toyota also unveiled a two-wheeled, single-seat “mobility robot” that could be used to transport an elderly or disabled person over uneven ground and around obstacles.

Source:  AFP

Pleo the Dinosaur Arrives…Finally!

December 4, 2007

UGOBE Pleo robot dinosaur

PC World covers the hatching today:

We got to play with Pleo today at PC World, and despite the delay, he remains kind of amazing. There have been other toy robot dinosaurs, but Pleo is nothing like them–or like any other robotic toy, period. Aside from the decidedly mechanical noises he makes as he does his thing, he’s the least robotic robotic toy I’ve ever seen.

UGOBE calls him a “life form,” and he is indeed remarkably lifelike for a robot. Rather than being cast in a hard plastic shell, he’s got scaly skin, not to mention eyes with eyelids. He ambles around, with a surprisingly loose-limbed gait. He likes to play tug-of-war with things you put in his mouth. He appears to notice activities around him, but when he gets tuckered out, he sleeps and snores. He likes to be petted and hates being picked up by his tail. Most of all, he appears to think–and UGOBE says that he learns from his experiences and gets smarter over time.

Rosie makes the rounds at Michigan hospital

November 30, 2007

The Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press has a cool article on a robot currently being used at a local hospital. 

The robot, created by Aethon, looks like a filing cabinet on wheels, is wireless, has a schematic of the hospital programmed in her brain and makes rounds every two hours, pausing to recharge her batteries in between.

The company calls her Tug, as in tugboat, but, get ready now, the hospital staff named her Rosie after the humanoid housekeeper in The Jetsons animated TV series.   

There are a little more than 100 of the robots working in hospitals across the United States. 

Full article:  Grand Rapids Press (video is included at link)

Robots dazzle at Japanese exhibit

November 29, 2007

A robot math whiz breezes through a Rubik’s Cube, using metal hands to twist and turn the colorful toy. A panda robot uses sensors to detect when people are laughing, and joins in. A dentistry student peers into the mouth of a new patient — a humanoid practice robot with a complete set of pearly white teeth.

Japan showed off its cutting-edge robots Wednesday at the country’s largest robotics convention, a dazzling display of the technologies that make it a world leader in both service and industrial robotics.

The dental training robot, dubbed Simroid for “simulator humanoid,” has realistic skin, eyes, and a mouth fitted with replica teeth that students practice drilling on. A sensor fitted where the nerve endings would be raises the alert when they drill too close — triggering a yelp from the robot.

Source:  Associated Press

Robot with soft hands chats, serves meal

November 27, 2007


A pearly white robot that looks a little like E.T. boosted a man out of bed, chatted and helped prepare his breakfast with its deft hands in Tokyo Tuesday, in a further sign robots are becoming more like their human inventors.

Twendy-One, named as a 21st century edition of a previous robot, Wendy, has soft hands and fingers that gently grip, enough strength to support humans as they sit up and stand, and supple movements that respond to human touch.

It can pick up a loaf of bread without crushing it, serve toast and help lift people out of bed.

Source:  Reuters

The autonomous warbird

November 27, 2007

It was considered a stunning turn in warfare when a remotely controlled aircraft on a reconnaissance flight over Afghanistan spotted a Taliban convoy and fired a jury-rigged Hellfire missile, striking and destroying the target.

The headline-grabbing flight in late 2001 — though rudimentary and under remote human control — marked the first search-and-destroy mission by a flying drone, and it propelled robotic warfare from the pages of science fiction to the battlefield.

Now, behind a barb-wired fence and double security doors in Palmdale, Northrop Grumman Corp. engineers are building what could become the ultimate flying robot: a jet fighter controlled by a computer. It would take off from an aircraft carrier, drop a bomb on an enemy target and then land back on the carrier, all autonomously.

Source:  Los Angeles Times

Armed pilotless planes to protect London Olympics

November 26, 2007

Olympic athletes will be “protected” by heavily armed, remote pilotless planes during the London Games in 2012.

Royal Air Force sources have confirmed it will deploy armed “Reaper” unmanned aerial vehicles during the 2012 Olympics.

Using the machine above a huge city such as London is not without risk but according to RAF sources British authorities regard the terrorist threat to the 2012 Olympic Games an even greater risk.

“Armed Reapers will fly over London,” a source said.

The Reaper, which is the latest version of the General Atomics Predator hunter-killer UAV, can carry an array of laser-guided bombs and missiles including the deadly Hellfire air-to-ground weapon.

Source:  Australia’s Courier Mail

Future Of Consumer Robotics May Rest On Toy Dinosaur

November 24, 2007

A small green and tan dinosaur slowly wandered across the table in an airy Emeryville, Calif., office space. As it plodded to the end of the table, one plastic hoof started to step off the ledge and instead it felt thin air. It slowly backed up and murmured a little cry.

The 20-inch-long toy is a much-anticipated robotic device named Pleo, and it will finally ship next month to consumers after a year’s delay. Created by the same team who brought the world the Furby, the Pleo will also mark an advance in robotics, as it packs much of the functionality of far more expensive robotics toys into a much lower cost design.

Some industry futurists believe robotics will be the next big thing. The nascent area has sometimes been compared to the early days of the personal computer industry, when tinkerers gathered in garages and at computing clubs to swap ideas and parts.

“There is a revolution in the offing,” said Paul Saffo, a Silicon Valley technology forecaster. “It’s coming in the next couple of years.”

Source:  CNN Money