STANFORD, Calif.--When I walked onto the Stanford University campus this week and into the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab, I was greeted by a short, gray robot waving his two long arms -- he was looking for a high-five.
All around me robots of all sizes were roaming the floor. I was trapped -- in the future. … Read more
Sure, you could go out and get an outdoor heater, but we think we prefer the solution of a U.K. engineer who goes by the name "Rob Halftroll." He built himself a wood stove in the shape of one of our favorite lovable rascals of all time, Bender Bending Rodriguez from "Futurama."
Halftroll started with five old metal gas bottles -- two at 29 pounds, one at 42 pounds, and two big boys at 104 pounds -- and cut them into pieces to form Bender's body and head, welding all the pieces together as he went. Tube steel forms the arms, legs and fingers, and a chimney juts out from behind his head, neatly concealed.
It's actually quite a fiddly and involved process. Our hats have to come off to Halftroll, who did all his bending human style to create a wood-burning heater we'd never, ever be able to stop showing off -- and which, even in spite of itself, would be quite useful to humans. … Read more
If you're missing a hand, getting a replacement isn't exactly cheap. The BeBionic -- which is, admittedly, a higher-end model -- can cost up to $35,000. We imagine that's a little out of the price range of many amputees.
It's unsurprising, then, that some have taken it upon themselves to find a more accessible solution. Robohand, for example, has been creating 3D-printed robotic hands for children, with a free, open-source 3D-printing pattern available on Thingiverse for people who wish to make their own.
We've decided: Cars are nonsense. Who needs cars? Matt Denton's Mantis hexapod robot clearly represents the transportation of the future.
Denton, an animatronics and special-effects designer whose portfolio includes "Prometheus" and "Lost in Space" with company Micromagic Systems, has an interest in hexapods that goes way back. Over the years, he has built a few miniature hexapods at Micromagic.
Mantis is his first giant-sized model, the result of four years of research, development, design, and building, and is, Denton claims, the biggest operational hexapod in the world. The thing comes in at 9.2 feet tall, weighing 2 tons. It's powered by a 2.2-liter turbo diesel engine and is designed to take on any terrain. … Read more
In the future, the U.S. Army could rely on low-cost ambidextrous autonomous robots, instead of bomb disposal technicians or remote control robots, to defuse improvised explosive devices. Better yet, activating and operating the smart robots may only require a nearby solider to say, "Go find and defuse the bomb."
As a precursor to that end goal, DARPA's Autonomous Robotic Manipulation program released a video that shows a robot changing a tire by itself. The robot, complete with a camera and an array of sensors, successfully uses two hands (one equipped with a drill) to remove a tire and put a new one in its place. A small screen shows the robot's virtual view of the tire, which reveals how software algorithms detect each the scene and its minute details in real time.… Read more
"We're gonna need a bigger jellyfish." I imagine that's what the Navy and researchers at Virginia Tech were thinking when they started development on Cyro, a robot jellyfish that is 5 foot 7 inches across and weighs a hefty 170 pounds.
Saudi Arabia wants to spend over $100 billion to build vast solar arrays and reduce its dependency on oil to generate electricity. But desert sandstorms pose a major challenge to keeping solar panels clean and efficient.
Japanese startup Miraikikai is developing a solution to getting rid of this pesky dust and grit: a cleaning robot that doesn't need water.
The firm has produced the Wall Walker wall and ceiling robot, and recently unveiled a prototype solar panel cleaner built with researchers at Kagawa University.
It weighs about 24 pounds -- light enough to be carried by one person -- and measures about 22 inches across. … Read more
When we first set eyes on the Telenoid, we were convinced it was not a gadget we'd be comfortable having in our lives. The robot was designed as a telepresence interface; it would act as a sort of speaker phone, expressing emotions and giving you a human face to speak to.
The "human" part needs a little work.
Apparently, though, the Telenoid R1 is perceived as less strange when presented as alien in origin. While on display at the Ars Electronica Futurelab in Austria, visitors received a leaflet about the robot. Each leaflet contained the same information about the robot's functions, but contained one of two different origin stories, or no origin story at all.
The first story was completely dry and straightforward, describing the robot as "a communication robot that could become an alternative for mobile phones or video conferences within a few years time."
However, the second -- the one that made visitors most receptive to the robot -- was described it as a creature from outer space. … Read more