Webware's Josh Lowensohn spends his days reviewing Web sites, while the rest of us get to play with an endless stream of newfangled gadgets. While most of the Crave and CNET reviews team have become jaded to the perpetual parade of gizmos coursing through our office, Josh greets each rare tech toy bestowed on him as if it were handed down by Santa himself. So when an unsolicited pair of Learning Curve Battle Wheels RC samurai appeared on Josh's desk, there was no way to avoid a full-scale battle royale. Lucky for me, I had my camera on … Read more
ORO GRANDE, Calif.--After two hours in the race, three teams have fallen out of the DARPA Urban Challenge, leaving eight driverless cars to finish the urban course.
So far, Team Oshkosh, Team Annieway, and Intelligent Vehicle Systems have been eliminated from the challenge for various reasons.
Team Oshkosh, a more than 24,000 pound Oshkost truck, nearly ran into an old shopping center here at the former George Air Force Base after it ran over a parking lot curb. The team of Intelligent Vehicle Systems, a collaboration with Honeywell, Ford, and Delphi, had difficultly negotiating what to do at … Read more
Pirates have grown mighty bold around the Horn of Africa of late--so bold that the Navy is reportedly considering the deployment of 30-foot, armed robo-boats to challenge the dusty buccaneers. Surely they'll mend their ways.
The Navy began testing the Israeli Protector unmanned surface vehicle (USV) last year. There is a civilian version of these rigid-hulled inflatables built by Rayglass Boats in New Zealand, a common enough sight around any harbor that's even used as the official chase boat for the America's Cup. But you'd hardly equate these with the unmanned version.
Extensively tweaked by defense … Read more
A robotic truck, Prius, and family sedan will be among the 11 autonomous vehicles trying to pass their driving test this weekend in Victorville, Calif.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said Thursday that it has selected the finalists for its Urban Grand Challenge, a robotic race at the former George Air Force Base with $3.5 million in total prize money. The 11 teams, whittled down from 35 semifinalists in qualifying rounds this week, will compete Saturday. They must drive a 60-mile urban course with live traffic in less than six hours.
Among those in the race are: … Read more
Ah, computers. They make our lives so easy ... but we should fear them, for they may yet turn on us. We've collected 10 of the most ee-vil computers not only to achieve sentience, but also decide that those pesky, squishy hu-mans just have to go.
Click through the photos to meet the future masters of the world, and remember to turn your computers off at night--who knows what they're plotting when you're not there? These are in no particular order, but if you have a favorite, or if we've missed any particularly Machiavellian machines, let us … Read more
I came across an interesting site a few minutes ago from a BACN message from Myles Weissleder, creator of the SF New Tech Meetup group. One of the presenters, Mosio, will be showing off its site at next week's meetup. The company specializes in mobile Q&A, letting anyone with a phone ask a question via SMS or e-mail and get public replies back from other Mosio members. The site launched at the beginning of August and has since answered a good number of questions.
Like some other Q&A services, to ask and answer a question … Read more
The winner of iRobot's amateur robot-building contest is a multi-functional home robot designed by Danh Trinh of Towson, Md., the company announced Tuesday.
Trinh's winning robot, called simply "Personal Home Robot," is a teleoperational robot controlled from a laptop using Microsoft NetMeeting. It's capable of doing things like watering plants, controlling appliances, giving out reminders, dancing, and acting as a media center.
Trinh won $5,000 for his invention.
Personal Home Robot can suck up water through a straw into an onboard reservoir and then deposit the water at another location, such as a dog … Read more
Time's running out. The holidays are almost here, and you need ideas to get a rise out of your boring relatives, who will already be on the lookout for the RC tarantula you unleashed on the last family gathering. That 44-pound roach bot would be ideal, but it's not for sale.
Enter the "Roboscorpion." This beast's motions have been pattered after the poisonous desert dweller, according to Gizmowatch, with independently moving head, tail, and claws that look sharp enough to make it the robotic equivalent of Edward Scissorhands. It's the closest thing we've … Read more
Talkster has been getting some buzz from fellow CTIA-goers. The new international dialing service is offering free global calls in exchange to listening to a few ads. The VoIP-based, phone-centered service feels like the perfect Skype (download) and Pincity mashup. It's free like Skype, and also relies on a VoIP backbone, but like Pincity, Talkster makes use of local numbers to initiate mobile and landline calls.
It sure sounds irresistible, and I've read a few glowing reviews, but in actuality it's a bit tricky. Talkster members enter their number and the number they're calling, and Talkster assigns a new, local number for callers on each end of the line. Say what?
If I want to call my sister in England, I enter both our phone numbers and receive a third number in my 415 area code. That's my permanent number for the phone number I just entered. My sister will get a number for me too. If I want to catch her at home, work, and on her cell phone for free, I'll need to enter each phone number and get three separate Talkster lines.
It wouldn't be so confusing if that were all, but of course it's not. Initiating a call isn't merely the result of dialing one of my Talkster-issued local numbers. There's an order to the calling system. Let's say I initiate the call to my darling sib using a Talkster phone number. I dial the appointed number in my area code and she picks up. But we can't talk yet. She first has to hang up while I stay on the line. My sister then quickly locates her local number, and while Talkster servers do some speedy math to connect our loose ends together, we both listen to an ad. Or that's the plan as soon as Talkster's ad deals are in place.… Read more
SAN JOSE, Calif.--I'm down in the Valley on Thursday for the RoboDevelopment conference, and, having been to a few other robotics events, something seems very different.
In the past, I've been to RoboNexus, a show aimed at presenting kids and adults alike with the latest developments in robotics technology. And I've been to RoboGames, a display of pure robot-on-robot battle fury.
And there's no doubt that Robo Development is different. For one, it's smaller. For two, there's no pervasive grinding sound from the gnashing teeth of gears and claws and, well, saw blades … Read more