The Robot Family Portrait Album Project

kismet robot projectOne of these days, perhaps in the not too distant future, robots and artificial intelligence technology will evolve to the point that our mechanical buddies will take on more and more of what we consider to be human characteristics. Over time they may even develop a deep longing for times past and want to recall memories of their ancestors.

Unfortunately no robot, and no human being, has been rigorously capturing and collecting images of the robots as they evolve. There is a significant risk that some of the robots will be lost to history or consigned to the scrap heap.



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More Than Just Robots

110502 Bicycle Stem-012.jpg

I have what some people might call an 'Obsession' with robots, but they aren't the only theme in my life. I've been making do with the largest bicycle frame that Trek makes for several years. The bike is great, and I've put uncounted miles (km actually, since I live in Japan). But after a long ride I always feel some pain in my shoulders, neck, and back. And, I know there is too much weight on my wrists.

So, last week while I was in New York on business I took the time to stop by Bicycle Habitat in lower Manhattan. The service and know-how was excellent. They immediately knew what I was talking about and took the time to explain everything to me in great detail. It didn't matter to them that my bicycle hadn't been purchased from their store, or that I lived overseas and wasn't likely to ever bring my bicycle into them for service.

They went over the options and we settled on a handlebar stem extender along with several spacers. They even showed me how to install the extender using a bike in their shop for demonstration purposes. After I arrived back home, and had a day or so to adjust to the jet lag, I tackled the installation with zero problems.

My bicycle feels like it fits me and is a pleasure to ride now. I'm looking forward to a long and active summer filled with lots of adventures exploring this part of the country.

Now, i just need to find the Robot Habitat store... 😀


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HEXBUG Robot Habitat Bags Toy of the Year Award

In principle we like the cute little HEXBUG Micro Robotic Creatures and can understand how they might be fun to watch and play with, even though we're not sure that they trigger any real long term interest in robotics or technology.

Hexbug robot toty

At the same time, the toy community really appreciates the robot bugs enough to honor the HEXBUG Nano Habitat Set as the Specialty Toy of the Year 2010 at the American International Toy Fair held earlier this month in New York City. The organization's annual TOTY awards recognize ",,, the best in toys and children's entertainment and the outstanding achievements made by individuals and companies."

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Engadget 2010 Awards – Robot of the Year

Engadget robot

It's that time of year again, time for the annual Engadet award voting. This time around the robot selection might be a bit questionable, at least for some dedicated robot fans. They might argue about a couple of the robots that were included, and quite a few that were left out. Never the less, the voting is limted to one of the selections offered on the Engadget ballot, so click on over to the 2010 Engadget Awards page and make your vote count!

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Japanese Robot Makers May Be Big Winners

Some analysts are expecting strong benefits for Japanese robot makers triggered by the current economic situation, especially inflation in Asian economies.

"Japanese robot and machinery makers could be winners this year as Asian manufacturers, faced with rising wage costs and surging prices for energy and other commodities, seek to boost efficiency and cut labor dependency by automating their production lines..."

What they don't mention is the possibility that in the longer term, as production becomes more and more automated, those same production lines may move back to the US and Europe. As the percentage of total product manufacturing and distribution cost attributed to labor drops, off shoring manufacturing will become less and less attractive while other factors, like shipping, communications, responsiveness, and support will play a bigger role in corporate decision making and strategic planning.

Robot makers to win from Asia inflation: report

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Reminder: January 13, 2011 is FREE DAY at SparkFun

Just a quick reminder to all the robo-geeks and electro-nuts out there, this Thursday, January 13th, is SparkFun FREE DAY. This year they have increased the give away pool of money from $100,000 to $150,000 and have gotten a lot more creative about the ways you can grab a piece of the action. It's open to anyone, even if you have never ordered from SparkFun before. But, you'll have a definite advantage if you are a long term customer, or are good at answering basic electronics questions.

In any case, you're going to have to be very quick. During the 2010 event, which was originally scheduled to last all day, all of the budget was given away in just one hour and 44 minutes. This time around it may go even faster, assuming that the SparkFun servers are up to managing the tsunami of users frothing at the mouth to get in, place their orders, and gorge themselves on an electronic SparkFun feast.

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Robot Japan 2011 – Dance Contest (Video)

One of the most surprising and delightful aspects of hobby level robotics in Japan is the wealth of different competitions and styles. On any given weekend you can find humanoid robots battling it out in the ring, micromouse robots solving and racing through mazes, line followers blazing around the track, underwater robots plunging to new depths, and flying robots soaring skyward autonomously.

Last weekend was no exception. We spend a delightful afternoon with the gang at Robot Japan enjoying humanoid robot fights, including some that were orchestrated as well as professional wrestling matches, and a robot dance contest:

Oddly enough, the competition was held in an auditorium that is a part of the Tsukiji Hongan-ji Buddhist temple in Tokyo. The temple traces its history back to 1657 and is a major pilgrimage destination. After last Sunday's competition, it may become a favorite pilgrimage destination for the robot faithful as well.

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