Innovation First and UK Customs officials had nearly 7,000 robot clones seized and destroyed as they attempted to invade Southampton.
The mini robot toy insects were unauthorized copies of Innovation First's popular Hexbug product line. According to the report, the robots were manufactured in China and intended for sale online in the UK.
The exact implications aren't clear yet, but today the management of the popular ROBO-ONE humanoid robot movement officially announced a structural reorganization.
According to the new organization chart posted on the ROBO-ONE website, the movement's major events, including the twice annual ROBO-ONE competitions, technical conferences, Humanoid Helper Project, and others, will be organized under Tokyo International Television. This appears, from the chart, to include all the ROBO-ONE Entertainment activities.
Event management and the related technologies/hardware/software will be organized under Best Technologies. No specific mention was made of some events, like the ROBO-ONE Gran Prix series.
The management reorganization may be laying the groundwork for the next phase of ROBO-ONE. The next major competition, ROBO-ONE 20, will mark the 10 year anniversary and will be the perfect occasion to revitalize and re-energize the ground breaking movement. No date has been announced for ROBO-ONE 20, though if it follows the traditional ROBO-ONE pattern the competition will take place sometime in late March or early April.
Basic assumptions, whether explicitly defined or not, often determine the eventual success, or failure, of all research and design projects. It's all too easy for an engineer to make assumptions that don't bear out in the real world. It's also very common for corporate management to dedicate huge budgets to projects built on faulty logic.
After watching, and thinking about, some of the patient assistance robotic technology showcased yesterday by Toyota, I really have to wonder what their original design assumptions were. A good example is the Toyota Patient Transfer Assist Robot.
Heather Knight and her NAO robot Data were interviewed on CNN. Knight talks about how she creates the performances, especially incorporating real-time audience feedback and interaction, as well as the hotly discussed topic of the robot singularity.
I'm very happy to report that our good friend and colleague Taylor Veltrop was selected as one of the Popular Mechanics Backyard Geniuses for 2011. The selection recognizes his work with "Wireless Marionettes" - their take on his innovative fusion of the Microsoft Kinect, Willow Garage ROS operating system, Nintendo Wiimotes, and several different robot species (Kondo and Aldebaran NAO).
The IEEE Spectrum Automation blog just published a really amazing report that includes photos, videos, and detail blog entries from an anonymous worker responsible for operating robots at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
The original Japanese language blog posts have disappeared from the internet, though remnants still exist online thanks to Google cache. It's not clear what rights the IEEE has to translate and publish the source material, and that isn't likely to become clear in the immediate future.
Nevertheless, it is fascinating reading. There's a lot to be learned from the pages of material about conditions within the reactors, how the robots have performed, ways that they need to be improved to do their job better in the future, and of course the feelings and experiences of the human workers exposed to the extremely hazardous nuclear environment.
If you have any interest at all in rescue or surveillance robotics in real world situations, this is an absolute must read.