I'm really drooling over the new Attacknid robots released in the U.K. by WowStuff. They look really jaw dropping. It will probably be a while before they hit toystore shelves here in Japan, or in the U.S. for that matter. But, as soon as they are available you can be sure that there will be a couple battling it out at the Robots Dreams headquarters.
Remember Dr. Guero, the robot builder that stunned everyone last year with his bicycle riding Primer-V2 humanoid robot? He's back with another astonishing robot feat. This time his Primer-V4 robot is a full fledged tightrope walker!
Pretty darn amazing, especially considering that just a few short years ago many of the hobby level humanoid robot builders were lucky to keep their robots balanced and upright while walking for an extended period or boxing in the ROBO-ONE ring.
The tightrope used for this feat was a 4mm diameter cable suspended 1 meter above the floor. The technical challenges were significant and considerably different from normal humanoid robot walking. When a bipedal robot walks on the ground the standard approach is to apply gyro sensor feedback corrections primarily to the leg servos to shift the center of gravity. The arms don't play a significant role.
With tightrope walking the arms and upper body play a much more critical role in shifting the robots center of gravity to keep it balanced and avoid crashing to the floor. Dr. Guero's blog doesn't mention the use of any safety net, but I'm sure he had to catch the robot quite a few times before he got it working perfectly.
The robot's feet have a small slot for the tightrope, which is fair enough. A human tightrope walker in the circus would cup their feet and use their toes in the same fashion.
Here's Dr. Guero's bicycling robot, for those that haven't already enjoyed it:
Furby is back, and he looks really bad - in a good way....
The new Furby has some interesting, and hopefully engaging, improvements especially in the way that it interacts with humans. The only thing that appears a bit off target are the LCD eyes. While they appear useful in indicating changes in Furby's personality (or personalities), the LCD eyes don't really match the rest of Furby's body and give an eerie, somewhat unsettling feeling to the toy. It will be interesting to see if that impacts market acceptance and take-up on the toy as we move into the critical 2012 holiday gift buying season.
About two minutes after I posted about the first iOS app for the Aldebaran NAO humanoid robot, another one popped up on my radar screen. This one, iControlNao, is by Klaus Engel and seems to have fairly similar functionality.
One significant difference, assuming I'm interpreting the app description correctly, is that iControlNao detects all the Nao robots in the vicinity and, using Bonjour, automatically connects to the one you select. The app notes also imply that it can be used with the Nao simulation software, assuming you have access to it.
It was hard to capture in words all the fun and excitement of the new BattroBorg 20 battling robots when I first posted about them last week. Now, with the Tokyo International Toy Show opening here tomorrow morning, I can share this exclusive video footage of the robots in action with you:
And here's some additional footage in Japanese via the Takara Tomy YouTube channel:
Seems like almost every major country has popular television program featuring local talent performers, and Korea is no exception. What does make the "Korea's Got Talent" program unusual is that some of the top performers are robots operated by middle school students.
Don't worry about robots replacing humans on the soccer field. There's a much more preeminent threat. Dancers are about to be replaced by their android counterparts.
Wataru Yoshizaki is, without a doubt, an absolute wizard at real time control systems for humanoid robotics. I've been impressed by a lot of his work over the past couple years, especially his V-Sido robot control application.
Now he's raised the bar even higher. By expanding on the already impressive V-Sido functionality he's able to capture choreography by dancers and translate that into realistic humanoid robot movements that don't miss a beat.
Here's his latest video featuring several of the RIC series humanoid robots developed by RT Corp:
The dance choreography data is from Perfume, one of the top Techno-Dance groups in Japan. They've taken the unusual, and very welcome, approach of making the motion capture data of their performance freely available for download via their website (with certain usage restrictions.)
Sublime (Brad) at Tantillus.org printed a fully functional hobby lathe using PLA plastic capable of cutting metal parts. Each of the parts necessary to build the lathe was small enough that they could be produced on an affordable 3D printer within the budget of most robot hobbyists.
The lathe design was the result of contributions from many people, though Sublime added his own touches/improvements. The surprising thing for me was that it is definitely possible to bootstrap from a low-cost 3D printer to create other tools that most robot hobbyists want for their home workshops.
I'll be posting more about Sublime's work and the creation of the Tantillus 3D printer in subsequent videos. By tempusmaster
I just added John Long's new book, "Darwin's Devices" to my reading list. Long serves as the director of Vassar College's Interdisciplinary Robotics Research Laboratory and is also a professor at the same institution focusing on cognitive science and biology.
Surfing the web, I ran across some recommendations and reviews of Long's book, and the subtitle, "What Evolving Robots Can Teach Us About the History of Life and the Future of Technology", immediately caught my attention.
Long's unique approach has been described as:
… he creates robots that look and behave like extinct animals, subjects them to evolutionary pressures, lets them compete for mates and resources, and mutates their ‘genes’. In short, he lets robots play the game of life.
Here's the author being interviewed about his new book:
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