I've asked robot builders from all over the world about their ultimate purpose in building a robot. German builders often respond saying they want to improve performance, to design a robot that is better, faster, more reliable, or more precise than others. Japanese builders, especially those involved with humanoids, typically say "I want to build a real Gundam." And, Americans jokingly say they want to design a robot that will "Bring me a beer."
As Andrew Alter at Trossen Robotics found out, there's a problem with that. What if your robot has a serious drinking problem? You better make sure that he can't figure out how to open the can...
Software development isn't cheap, and it's particularly difficult if you happen to be a sole developer committed to supporting and enhancing a popular open source software project out of your own pocket.
For years Robert Oschler has contributed to the robot community in many ways, including freely sharing his knowledge and expertise, creating hilariously entertaining robot videos and unique new robot songs, in addition to developing the RoboDance project that enables users to control a wide range of robots from their PC or other devices. He's even gone to the extreme of adding voice recognition capability and Skype functionality to the open source system.
While his dedication and commitment to the project have brought him some level of recognition and fame, like being featured in the New York TImes, it hasn't attracted funding to underwrite the project. As a result, he's putting several very attractive internet domains on the auction block, including potentially strong SEO ranking properties like AndroidBlogs.com, AndroidJob.com, WomanBlogger.com, and WomanWorker.com.
It's a great chance for the right person to pickup a hot, highly relevant, domain at bargain pricing, while helping out the robot community in the process.
(Via RoboDance fundraiser.)
While some robot developers are striving to create humanoid soccer players that will outperform their carbon based inventors, or are trying to bring their childhood robot heros, like Gundam, to life, Carl Clement in the UK is taking a much more pragmatic and perhaps humanistic/social approach. He's enrolled his NAO robot in a training regimen to become his personal secretary and assistant.
Without exception every robot distributor that we've had the pleasure of talking to over the years has expressed a strong commitment to school education and encouraging young people to get involved with science, technology, and robotics. Most of them have special programs, educational discounts, or actively participate in school events donating their time and effort to the cause.
A good example is Michael Gruber with the RoboteShop located in Australia. There's a major School Education Expo coming up in Sydney next month, so the company decided to design a very simple, low cost hexapod robot to dramatically get the message across that robot education doesn't have to be expensive. It can be accomplished with parts and tools as basic as ice-cream sticks, a glue gun, and a few items 'borrowed' from an off the shelf kit.
Humanoid robot motion sequences are difficult to create, especially when they require moving several different degrees of freedom at the same time. More often than not, the robot will lose it's balance and go crashing over. Turns involving twisting the upper body via the limited number of servos in a humanoid robot is really tricky to do well. That's why we were a bit surprised, and impressed, by the slick turn executed by robototakuTEAM's design below.
’Unusual Humanoid Robot Turn (Video)’ continues
The Hasegawa Group located at the Tokyo Institute of technology has been able to integrate artificial intelligence into a semi-humanoid robot enabling it to think, learn, and act by itself. The robot uses a self-replicating neural network to learn in much the same way as its human counterparts. It is able to extrapolate based on its past experience and knowledge combined with observation of its surrounding environment, then make educated guesses. In that sense, it learns from its mistakes, just like a child, and consistently corrects and adjusts until it can successfully perform required tasks.
’Robot Learns, Thinks, and Acts By Itself (Video)’ continues