I've just returned from an amazing weekend at the second annual Maker Faire held in San Mateo, CA. The event is packed with booths featuring hundreds of inventors and crafters showing off their latest and greatest projects. We're still collecting our notes and getting our photos together, but here are a few projects we really enjoyed.
Just because there are robots that clean pools, dispense tissues and make omelettes (badly), you may have thought that they've come up with one for pretty much everything. But we're willing to bet you hadn't thought of this: a bot that's an expert on vinegar.
That's right, in Japan--land of the future human-free society--the Tamanoi Vinegar Corporation has just hired a robot made by Buildup to make presentations about its namesake product. The inspiringly named Tamanoi Vinegar Robot "has a mouth that moves in sync with its voice, as well as a fiber-reinforced … Read more
Who says all the good gadgets are in the big cities?
The sick bay in one small California town just got a lot more interesting. Healdsburg District Hospital, in Sonoma County, Calif., recently showed off a new addition to its staff, a remote-presence robot called RP-7.
RP-7 cruises around the hospital's hallways and, with its flat-screen TV for a head and two panning cameras for eyes, allows patients and doctors in one town to consult with other doctors or specialists hundreds of miles away. Sitting at a computer, a doctor can move the robot around a hospital in a … Read more
It could almost be the set-up for a vaudeville-style joke: How does a one-legged robot get to the hall of fame?
Two decades ago, a gadget called the 3D One-Leg Hopper marked a breakthrough in robotic locomotion. It looked a lot like a birdcage frame that landed on a pogo stick, but its agility--relatively speaking--set the stage for two- and four-legged robots that followed.
This week, Carnegie Mellon University paid homage to that peg-legged machine and a pair of its nimbler successors, inducting them into the school's Robot Hall of Fame. Also among this year's honorees is Lego'… Read more
Move over, Nabaztag--make room for "Wassup." B2 calls its latest creation "a fusion of technology and personality" that will hit the market in July for $25, but we say it's basically a bunny bot that dances to your tunes. Transfer songs from your iPod or MP3 player to this irritatingly named speaker-toy, and it promises to look like a futuristic version of the Energizer Bunny after a dozen triple espressos. Our take: Keep it away from the kids.
Domo can be said to be a descendant of MIT's two other famous robots Cog and Kismet, because it combines features of both. Like Cog it was built to duplicate human head, neck, arm and hand movement, and like Kismet, it's an anthropomorphic robot designed to be expressive and interact with humans on an emotional level.
These are the mechanical progeny of The Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where much of the world's robotic magic happens. We toured the facilities at the Ray and Maria Stata Center (designed by … Read more
Scientists will try to chart one of the world's deepest oceanic sinkholes this week by deploying a robotic submarine in a mission that if successful, could one day be helpful in exploring other planets.
The NASA-funded robot, called the Deep Phreatic Thermal Explorer (DEPTHX), will be deployed Tuesday on a two-week mission into Mexico's El Zacaton geothermal sinkhole, or cenote, which is more than 282 meters deep and pitch black. No human has ever reached its bottom, but one diver has died in the process. Scientists hope that the expedition will produce greater understanding of the sinkhole's … Read more
Maybe it was the influence of the Segway, but some spy bots apparently prefer to travel by two wheels. Earlier we saw the "Spy-Cye," for instance, which almost seemed to borrow its rather awkward design from the "Clocky" runaway alarm clock.
But as it turns out, the bi-wheeled surveillance robot seems to be something of a trend--even in the military. Developed according to Marine Corps specs, the remote-controlled "Recon Scout" is reinforced with titanium to withstand battlefield conditions and can "even be launched out of a mortar, or dropped from an unmanned aerial … Read more
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said Friday that it has whittled down the contestants for its upcoming urban robot race from 89 to 53 teams via qualification events. Among the 53 teams are the Stanford Racing team (winner of the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge--a desert robot race across 132 miles), Princeton University and Team MIT. The 53 teams will get a visit from DARPA people next month for a road test of their autonomous cars, in a test of their safety and viability for the Urban Challenge, a robot race across mock city streets slated for Nov. … Read more
Crave has seen all manner of remote-controlled spy bots, flying gadgets and even pirate ships with working catapults that kids can use to terrorize their families. But none can compare with the "Uncle Milton RC Tarantula." This horrible thing scurries, crawls and even has "a furry texture just like the real thing." As if that weren't enough, its eyes can light up just at the right moment (like on a pillow next to a napping parent's head). And for only $25, just in time for Mother's Day.