It's not news to anyone that Japan comes out with a vast variety of weirdness and whimsy--it seems to be one of their national cultural specialties. But we'd like to direct your attention to a very specific brand of wacky--what one team of musician-artist-engineers calls "nonsense instruments." It takes a certain kind of lunatic lyrical inspiration to spend your life making carefully engineered objects purely for the sake of mind-breaking entertainment. For this achievement, we award Maywa Denki the coveted Demented Genius Award. Congratulations!
Let's say five fiber-optics communications cables are severed, some thousands of feet beneath the surface. How do you get them back up & running? Well duh, you don't replace the cable down there beneath the waves, you go get the cable and bring it to the surface. But now the question is, how do you retrieve the cable?
Read the full story at Slate: "How do you fix an undersea cable?"
New York machine artist Stephen Conti is obsessed with steel robotics. Take a look at his highly polished articulated hands, tarantulas, and unmanned anti-personnel devices--all inspired by the science fiction genre known as cyberpunk. There's one steampunk-inspired bug in the batch as well, and all are executed with a watchmaker's precision and an aesthete's eye.
Nightmare warning: we abdicate any responsibility for sleep loss involving the Lethal Injection Attack Droid Prototype.
See the full gallery on Wired: Creepy cyberpunk fantasies come to life
Who says creativity is dead? Sanity, maybe, but not creativity. Just hours after learning of a concept that lets you use your laptop while walking, we came across another invention that does it one better: a chair that does the walking for you.
The ingeniously named "Walking-Chair" is the brainchild of a couple of mad-scientist designers in Austria, for what purpose we have no idea. The eight-legged beast is made of steel tubes, plastic, and an "electronic heart," according to Gizmowatch.
The price might be a bit on the high side for the office budget, however: … Read more
MORGAN HILL, Calif.--What do you do if your company has raised $291 million in venture funds and you're still waiting for your market to take off?
You buy replica robots that starred in movies from the 1950s.
At least that's what Alien Technology, based here, did. The company's previous CEO bought these two gems, which sit in the headquarters lobby. (The company is currently headed up by Fujitsu and Apple alum George Everhart.)
The roundish one, that looks like Bib the Michelin Man wearing a hat that pipes beer from two cans into your mouth, is … Read more
Popular Mechanics has compiled a lovingly researched gallery of all the Terminator models, from the original Schwarzenegger model to the present-day, and even speculating into the future of the television and film series. Carefully cataloged according to model number, chronological sequence, nanoscale composition, special skills, and fighting techniques, as well as fairly sophisticated cross-references to historical works of science fiction, this might go down as the definitive listing.
Ah, it all makes me nostalgic...not.
As much as I loved the first two movies back in the day, as much as I played the video game, I just can't … Read more
What's an electronics show without a robot, or 20. Well there weren't many at CES this week. Robots must not be the way forward to mass consumer electronics manufacturers. But this one was cute, dorky, and according to the rep, easy to build for your own home (AI not coming soon). And, as far as vendors go, this company (whose site is not up) was one those vendors that just seemed genuinely nice, unlike many massive CES booths that made you feel like you're at a cell phone store - impersonal and livestock-like. So, when robots come … Read more
LAS VEGAS--Back in the '90s, iRobot worked on a robot that could help drill for oil.
Then oil dropped from $30 to $20 a barrel, and interest among potential customers dropped too, said iRobot CEO Colin Angle during a meeting at this week's Consumer Electronics Show here. With oil bouncing around $100 a barrel now, that chucked idea may make a comeback, he said.
Drilling for oil is sort of misnomer, Angle noted. The ground doesn't consist of hidden lakes of liquid petrochemicals. Instead, oil is encased in porous rock, Angle said. To get at it, oil drillers … Read more
A new aquatic UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) is skimming the briny deep. It's the Flying Fish, fresh out of the labs at the University of Michigan. According to its developers, the seaplane can take off, fly, and land autonomously in moderate seas some 6 feet high, all while performing surveillance functions and relaying information back to a home base. Considering the technical complexity of taking off and landing on pontoons in choppy water, this is no small feat. According to MSNBC: "The craft (has) to acquire data all the while, through the onboard inertial gyro sensors it uses … Read more
We won't venture to guess why spy bots are so popular on the consumer market, but there's just one question that continues to nag us: Is anybody really fooled by their appearance? It's one thing if they're pawned off as some sort of RC robot or toy, but the design of this latest entry pretty much broadcasts its intent.
The "Spy Snooper Robot Vehicle" from iiRobotics has what looks like a mini-satellite dish and antenna mounted atop a six-wheeled tank, ready to capture every word from the subject under surveillance. It does have a … Read more