A scene in the 2004 film "I, Robot" involves an army of rogue NS-5 humanoids establishing a curfew and imprisoning the citizens of Chicago, circa 2035, inside their homes. That's not how Knightscope envisions the coming day of deputized bots.
In its far less frightful future, friendly R2-D2 lookalikes patrol our streets, school hallways, and company campuses to keep us safe and put real-time data to good use. Instead of the Asimov-inspired NS-5, Knightscope, a Silicon Valley-based robotics company, is developing the K5.
Officially dubbed the K5 Autonomous Data Machine, the 300-pound, 5-foot-tall mobile robot will be … Read more
Ready or not, we're about to enter the age of robotics.
That's the message underlying Google's announcement on Wednesday that former Android honcho Andy Rubin would be aiming the company's next "moon shot" at robots. Google has bought its way into the robotics game, purchasing seven companies to become the foundation of its robotics team, from makers of robotic arms and powered caster wheels to companies specializing in computer vision.
Tuesday night, when Rabbi Yosef Langer lights a 22-foot menorah in San Francisco's Union Square, he'll get a helping hand -- an aluminum helping hand, that is -- from Isaac the robot.
The 5.5-foot humanoid will be responsible for lighting the shamash (the helper flame used to kindle the candelabrum's other lights) on the 3-ton "Mama Menorah," a fixture at San Francisco's annual public Hanukkah candle lighting since 1975. In doing so, Isaac, namesake of sci-fi author Isaac Asimov, will bring a decidedly geeky gild to the decades-old proceedings.
"As CP Snow observed, new ideas often emerge from the clash of cultures," said Ken Goldberg, an artist and UC Berkeley robotics professor who organized Isaac's Union Square Hanukkah appearance. "Menorahs represent the past and robots represent the future. Rabbi Langer and I have a hunch that a ritual that brings them together will generate some interesting new sparks." … Read more
Amazon is testing a delivery service that uses drones to deliver packages within 30 minutes of an order being placed.
Dubbed Amazon Prime Air, the service uses 8-propeller drones about the size of a remote-controlled airplane to transport shoebox-size plastic bins from fulfillment centers to customers' homes. The service, which still requires more testing and clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration, could take to the skies as soon as four to five years, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told Charlie Rose during an interview Sunday on "60 Minutes." (Disclosure: "60 Minutes" is produced by CBS, which also is the parent company to CNET.) … Read more
Beer, sweaters, Twitter, and a hardworking robot are converging to promote designated drivers during the holiday season. This unlikely combination comes from Budweiser UK, which has Knitbot, a Twitter-powered knitting machine, busy making unattractive sweaters for drivers who elect to stay sober and make sure their friends get home safe.
What's known in the US as the "ugly Christmas sweater" is known in the UK as the "ugly Christmas jumper." The more #Jumper4des hashtags tweeted, the more jumpers get made.… Read more
What if people who are paralyzed could use their brainwaves to get up out of wheelchairs and walk away? That's exactly what researchers from the University of Houston are hoping to accomplish with the latest evolution of robotic exoskeletons. They're turning to mind control to move these high-tech mobility machines to the next level -- and take patients with them.
The idea for for a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton came to engineering professor Jose Contreras-Vidal, the project's lead, after Duke University's Miguel Nicolelis demonstrated that electrode arrays implanted in monkey brains could pick up on the neuron-firing patterns that occur when the monkey thinks about walking.
"Contreras-Vidal's group found out they could get the same effects using EEG (electroencephalography) to control an exoskeleton. EEG doesn't have the spatial resolution of an implanted electrode array, but it is noninvasive and has the added benefit of being able to measure electrical activity across the entire brain," Popular Mechanics reported. … Read more
Working as a stand-up comedian isn't an easy gig. Night after night, you bare your soul in front of a microphone, hoping for nothing more than a room full of people laughing at your jokes. You refine your material, research the latest news headlines, and even make a few props to get applause and a paltry paycheck. And now, you have to compete with a robot.
Meet RoboJase, an artificially intelligent android modeled after Jason Bradbury, host of "The Gadget Show" in the UK.
"The idea for RoboJase came about when North One TV, makers of 'The Gadget Show,' tasked us with replacing ourselves with artificial intelligence," Bradbury told The Guardian. … Read more
Imagine painstakingly creating a working astromech that looks and sounds just like the beloved R2-D2, and then being asked to build one just like it for the new "Star Wars" film. That's exactly what happened to UK "Star Wars" fans and R2-D2 builders Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples.
It all started when Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy toured the R2-D2 Builders area at Star Wars Celebration Europe this summer in Germany, Steeples told StarWars.com. "She posed for pictures with us, looked at all the droids we'd built, and was very complimentary," Steeples said. "I mentioned that the R2-D2 Builders in the UK were available if required, as a semi-joke. When I was contacted to work on the film by [executive producer] Jason McGatlin, it was on her recommendation." … Read more