papershredder

DARPA $50,000 Paper Shredder Challenge

Darpa Paper Shredder

DARPA, the same folks that brought us, or at least funded, the development of the Internet and several autonomous robotic vehicles, has a new challenge. If you like puzzles, mental gymnastics, and extremely short deadlines, you're going to love this one.

It turns out that the US military frequently takes over the headquarters of hostile forces, but all too often all the critical paperwork containing precious clues and insights has been shredded before they can get their hands on it. That's where the DARPA challenge comes in. They're putting up a $50,000 prize for the team that can come up with the best solution for putting all the shredded information back together again.

Rather than just present one puzzle, which might be too difficult for any team to solve, DARPA has posted five puzzles with increasing levels of complexity. The puzzles are already up on the challenge website, and can be downloaded by anyone, even if they decide not to enter the competition.

To keep things even more interesting and exciting, they have a Leaderboard on the website that is updated regularly. The winning team will be announced on December 5, 2011.

(Via DARPA Shredder Challenge.)

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Kondo Robot Releasing New Multi-legged Robot Kits

kondo robot

Kondo Robot announced two new multi-legged robot kits expanding their already impressive line of high performance, and highly modifiable, robots. Famous for introducing the first hobby humanoid robot kit, the KHR-1, and the most popular platforms of choice for ROBO-ONE competitors, Kondo has recently branched out into multi-legged robots.

In addition to robot fans and hobbyists, Kondo kits have become extremely popular among technical high schools, colleges, other academic institutions, as well as research facilities here in Japan. Both of the two new robot kits are likely to attract a strong following, particularly since their price/performance is expected to be improved over existing products already on the market.

 

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Robot Pro-Wrestling Dekinnoka 8! (Video)

robot pro wrestling

I'm really looking forward to the mega Robot Colosseum event coming up in a few weeks in conjunction with the 50th Japan SF Convention in Shizuoka. It's going to be an absolute blast. One of the reasons that gets me so excited is that one of the main robot attractions will be the 8th Robot Pro-Wrestling Dekinnoka competition.

I'm sure you can easily imagine what it's like to have humanoid robots battling it out in the ring with all the energy, excitement, posing, and costumes that make real pro-wrestling such a blast. But, don't take my word for it, or depend on the limits of your own personal imagination. Check out the Dekinnoka promotional demonstrations and press conference videos below.

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Lockheed Martin Promotional Video Features NAO Robot (Video)

lockheed martin robot

I didn't realize that Lockheed Martin, one of the world's largest aerospace, defense, security, and technology companies, has projects underway utilizing the Aldebaran NAO humanoid robot, but they must have because their latest corporate promotional video, titled "Visions of Tomorrow" features the easily recognizable, and extremely cute, robot from France.

According to the video caption:

"Visions of Tomorrow" reflects the Corporation's dedicated workforce, growing technology portfolio, and innovative spirit. The video is a tribute to those innovators and the sense of greater purpose they share.

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Mega Hobby Robot Event Coming Up

hobby robot event

It's been a long, hot, and extremely humid summer here in Japan. The weather, the economy, and the general mood has been depressed and languid to say the least. As I have mentioned before, a lot of the plans for regular robot competitions, like ROBO-ONE, had to be cancelled or postponed indefinitely after the triple disasters (earthquake, tsunami, & nuclear) that took place on March 11th.

All of that is about to change big time, and all the pent-up robot energy and enthusiasum is going to explode on the scene over the next few weeks in a frenzy of exciting competitions with a new mega robot battle double-header that promises to totally blow away all standing records.

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Robot Society of America Needs Your Vote!

robot challenge

The Robotics Society of America has an active entry in the PepsiRefreshProject that needs your votes! The Pepsi project gives away millions (US Dollars) to worthy causes funding great ideas to "refresh the world." That might sound a little corny, but their heart is in the right place, and the causes are certainly worthy of your support.

The Robotics Society project is designed to teach middle school girls, and boys, about robotics with hands-on experience. Assuming that the project is one of the successful winners that get funded, it will culminate next April with the participating students having the time of their lives by actively competing at RoboGames 2012 in San Mateo, California.

So, what do you need to do....?

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J, Robot Documentary Segment Looks Behind the ROBO-ONE Scenes (Video)

robo-one robot battle

The ROBO-ONE video footage below may seem a little dated to fans that follow the game closely, but we really like it because it provides a glimpse behind the scenes and into the personal lives of some of the top competitors. The video segments are part of an upcoming documentary, "J, Robot" by Michael Garrigues that focuses on some of the key aspects of Japanese culture that have enabled them to lead the world in robot development and deployment.

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gundam-robot-cup-noodle

What Do Robots Eat When They Run Low on Power? (Video)

gundam robot cup noodle

It's not surprising to find Japanese companies featuring robots in commercials to pitch and promote their products. Gigantor (Tetsujin 28) is currently appearing in cellphone ads and commercials for NTT/DoCoMo. Gundam has done gigs for ANA airlines. And, even Atom (Astro Boy) has been known to earn a few yen doing the pitchman, or pitch-robot, routine.

But, the latest Gundam TV commercial is puzzling to say the least. And, the real mystery - what is the meaning of the punchline message at the end of the video? We're just as puzzled as we're sure you will be after you watch it. If you have any clue, please post a comment below and let us know.

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