Walyou » Robots http://walyou.com Cool Gadgets, New Gadgets, Tech News and Geek Design Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:34:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Just peachy? Robot feeds you tomatoes while you train http://walyou.com/just-peachy-robot-feeds-you-tomatoes-while-you-train/ http://walyou.com/just-peachy-robot-feeds-you-tomatoes-while-you-train/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 18:36:39 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215371

We are pretty happy with wearables becoming mainstream, but this goes beyond any stantard: this humanoid robot is Petit-Tomatan and it will sit on your shoulders and feed you tomatoes while you train.

You don’t have to be Michael Phelps to know that the key to get into shape is the proper balance between physical exercise and a proper diet, yet combining the two can sometimes be complicated. That is why Japanese company Kagome (specialized in selling juice) made a very special wearable, a humanoid robot that sits on top of a person and feeds them tomatoes while they train – and yes, you read that right.

The design came from the mind of the designers and artists at Maywa Denki, and its name is Petit-Tomatan. This was created as an advertising piece, and is not an actual product that will be up for sale, no matter how funny it is. The robot was used in last weekend’s Tokyo Marathon , and it’s not only hilarious but also perfectly functional with its timers regulating the tomato per minute rate. Would you wear one of these in your next training session?

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DARPA’s ATLAS Robot Has No Strings Attached http://walyou.com/darpa-atlas-battery-powered-robot/ http://walyou.com/darpa-atlas-battery-powered-robot/#comments Sun, 25 Jan 2015 14:21:13 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=214938

The latest version of Google’s humanoid robot no longer draws its power through a cord. Now that it is able to run on battery power alone, ATLAS will be able to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) finals.

Having no strings attached was actually one of the requirements to qualify in the finals of the challenge, so there really was no alternative to this. First developed by Boston Dynamics in 2013 and now a property of Google, following the acquisition, the ATLAS humanoid robot has gone through many upgrades in the recent past, all to make it compliant with the DRC prerequisites.

“The introduction of a battery and variable-pressure pump into Atlas poses a strategic challenge for teams,” stated Gill Pratt, program manager for the DRC. “The operator will be able to run the robot on a mid-pressure setting for most operations to save power, and then apply bursts of maximum pressure when additional force is needed. The teams are going to have to game out the right balance of force and battery life to complete the course.”

Standing 1.88m tall and weighing 165 kg, ATLAS might look like a lean, mean, killing machine, especially since it also knows karate moves now, but you’d have to wait some more for the robot apocalypse (or is it termination in this context?) to happen. The onboard 3.7-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack only supplies the robot with enough power for it to walk or use various tools up to one hour.

“Risk mitigation is part of the game,” mentioned Pratt. “It’s up to the teams to decide what chances they’re willing to take during training and risk falls and damage, but come the DRC Finals, the cords are cut.”

We’ll have to wait until June 5 to see how ATLAS and the other robots (six of which are based on the same platform) will perform. That’s when the DRC finals are taking place, but I’m almost certain this is not the last time we hear about this humanoid robot till then. The roboticists that are working on it will surely fined new things to add and new technologies to implement, to make certain the victory is theirs. I can’t imagine Google not winning this challenge, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for surprises.

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AirDog: a drone that follows you and takes your pictures http://walyou.com/airdog-a-drone-that-follows-you-and-takes-your-pictures/ http://walyou.com/airdog-a-drone-that-follows-you-and-takes-your-pictures/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 12:00:00 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=214706

The AirDog team introduced their creation at CES 2015, and it turned out to be grand: a drone that follows users and takes their pictures, so they only have to worry about having a good time.

Our friends behind the lenses and cameras on trips have complained time and time again about something, and with reason: they haven’t really seen the places they visited, having to settle instead for whatever they see from behind their gadget’s screens. Airdog aims to provide a fun solution to this by taking the camera away from the user, and mounting it on a drone that simply follows them around and takes pictures for them instead.

By combining a drone with a resistant plastic body with a mounted Sony Action Cam Mini on top, the AirDog team created the perfect companion, capable of staying by your side on any terrain, no matter how hard or complicated, and operate your pictures for you.

What makes AirDog different from similar concepts is that it doesn-t need a heavy, big controller for the drone, but instead uses an “AirLeash”, which is a bracelet that serves as a control remote via BlueTooth technology. So no matter where you go, AirDog flies by your side and will keep up thanks to its four propellers and fantastic code. It’s fast enough to follow a skater autonomously, without having to control each move separately, and the degree of autonomy is the greatest thing it has going for itself.

AirDog is not without problems, though: being that it’s so fast and lightweight, it doesn’t really have a long battery life: apparently only 20 minutes at a time, at full power and speed, but those 20 minutes might be what you need to get under that wave, or get to the perfect angle of the mountain, or take the perfect selfie.

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Budgee Rolling Robot Carries Luggage So You Won’t Have To http://walyou.com/budgee-rolling-robot-carries-luggage-so-you-wont-have-to/ http://walyou.com/budgee-rolling-robot-carries-luggage-so-you-wont-have-to/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 14:32:57 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=214103

It would seem that technology enables us to get lazier and lazier with each passing day. Just in case you’re not in the mood for carrying your own baggage, the Budgee rolling robot can get that off your chest.

Developed by 5 Elements Robotics and unveiled these days at CES, Budgee is a robot that’s programmed to do one task, and one task only: let you walk freely even when you have shopped for hours. The developers of this rolling robot did not get discouraged by the failure that was their Kickstarter campaign from back in February, and looked for funding somewhere else, promising that it would start delivering Budgee in December of last year or at latest, this January.

I think that Budgee is more appropriate for shopping than for carrying luggage at the airport. Right after parking your car, you can unload Budgee and strap the device that controls the distance between you and it to your belt. After doing so, the robot will maintain that distance, meaning that at no point will he invade your personal space. However, as demonstrated by The Verge‘s Ben Popper at CES, Budgee is sometimes shy and does not follow you as it should.

People who have learned about this robot’s existence fear that someone else could grab their luggage while it’s being carried by Budgee. I assume that 5 Elements Robotics have taken some security measures to ensure that the bags are strapped properly to the robot and that no one else can get them. It wouldn’t harm if the developers also taught Budgee a few martial arts moves.

5 Elements Robotics claims that its robot can be used both indoors and outdoors, but I don’t think it’s really good as a travel companion. What do you do with it at the airport or at the train station, after you no longer need it? I admit that it would be interesting if airports would pack some of these to help travelers carry their heavy cases over short distances

One thing that Budgee is missing (besides accuracy) is the ability to climb stairs. I believe that a stair-climbing tracked robot with some storage capacity would be more appropriate for carrying your luggage.

If you’re too lazy to carry your own bags, you can get Budgee for $1,400, which really isn’t that much in terms of modern robots. But just before you do that, take a look at the above video and see if it’s really worth it.

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Unlicensed Wall-E Restaurant Uses Robots as Waiters http://walyou.com/unlicensed-wall-e-restaurant/ http://walyou.com/unlicensed-wall-e-restaurant/#comments Mon, 29 Dec 2014 20:50:30 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=212984

Starting from the premise that Wall-E was a hardworking robot, a Chinese company has opened a restaurant that uses equally hardworking robots for delivering the dishes and greeting the customers.

Even though many Chinese corporations are working hard to demonstrate that original things can come from this country, others are keeping alive the conception that all that Chinese do is copy successful products and ideas. Unfortunately, this Wall-E restaurant, which was opened recently in China’s Anhui province, fits in the second category, as its owners did not bother to ask (or rather pay) Disney for a license to use the name of their most famous robot. Now that the restaurant has made the news, a herd of lightsaber-wielding Disney lawyers will most likely pay the owners a visit to discuss a thing or two about much they should pay to use that name.

More than that, the 10 robots that make the staff of the Wall-E restaurant in Hefei look a lot like the ones populating a similar restaurant in Chengdu. Considering that each of these robots costs $10,000, I guess that some Chinese manufacturer is making a lot of money designing robots that resemble Wall-E’s love interest, Eve.

While Wall-E’s job was to clean everything around him, that’s exactly the one thing these robots won’t do. Instead, they are rolling on a track along the floor, delivering dishes and greeting the customers. I doubt they’re able to provide feedback, so asking them for food recommendation will remain an unanswered question.

On the upside, if the waiters are robots, you don’t have to tip them. Supposing that in the not-so-distant future we’ll have robotic service providers exclusively (“oh, joy, more humans losing their jobs!” – hope that this is not what you’re thinking now), would you miss the human touch? I do think that human kind will need some time to get used to this, but in the end, if we’re served properly (good programming leaves little room for mistakes), I don’t see why we shouldn’t adopt such changes. Still, if robots are to take over cooking, as well, they should be supervised by a human chef, or at least programmers should ask for one’s opinion when programming the recipes.

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Humanity’s Fate Hangs in Balance as IHMC Robotics’ ATLAS Learns Karate http://walyou.com/ihmc-robotics-atlas-humanoid-robot-balance/ http://walyou.com/ihmc-robotics-atlas-humanoid-robot-balance/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 19:36:30 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=192714

One day, the 6-foot tall humanoid robot commissioned by the US government is taught karate, and the next thing you know, humanity is wiped off the face of the Earth. This is perfectly plausible, isn’t it?

Many of us are terrified at the idea that robots will someday become self-aware and will consider humankind unnecessary for its future development. At that point, robots would probably learn in an instant all sorts of gruesome ways to terminate us, but roboticists thought that teaching them karate wouldn’t be such a bad idea. You, to cut down some of their effort! ATLAS, the humanoid robot built by IHMC Robotics, already is quite intimidating, as it stands 6 feet tall. On top of that, its developers programmed him to keep his balance on one foot, in what what looks very much like the Crane Kick karate stance from The Karate Kid.

As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what the roboticists behind this humanoid robot went for when they released a video aptly titled ATLAS KarateKid on YouTube. I guess the next logical step is to teach ATLAS to sand the floor, wax on and wax off, paint the fence, and catch flies. After that, we might as well turn off the light and leave by ourselves, before the mechanical units decide to take over.

Apparently, the crane kick stance is precursory to jumping, something that robots are not particularly good at (phew!). Balance is not that difficult to master when it’s a quadruped robot we’re talking about. Both DARPA’s Big Dog (or China’s Da Gou version) quadruped and Boston Dynamics’ PETMAN bipedal robot keep their balance when they are kicked, but they’re using all of their feet in the initial position. In that context, what IHMC Robotics has done with ATLAS is impressive, even though we don’t know how this humanoid robot would react when kicked.

ATLAS was taught this particular stance for the DARPA Robotics Challenge finals, where it will compete against others of its kind. Let’s just hope that they won’t plot against us, as some of us really like this planet and wouldn’t mind living on it just a little bit longer, until we find our way to the stars. Remember, Mars is entirely populated by robots. Do you want Earth to be the same?

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Rethink Robotics Redefines Human-Robot Collaboration http://walyou.com/rethink-robotics-robot-positioning-system/ http://walyou.com/rethink-robotics-robot-positioning-system/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 13:30:30 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=192357

The robotic revolution is not about replacing humans entirely, but about taking human-machine cooperation to a new level. The Robot Positioning System developed by Rethink Robotics equips machines with the adaptability they need to work alongside humans.

Since they lack a mind of their own, most robots can only handle pre-programmed events. Industrial robots are hence mostly seen working on their own, as human coworkers may turn out to be very unpredictable. Rethink’s Robot Positioning System (RPS) brings in the required flexibility so that industrial robots and human workers can team up safely.

Part of the Intera 3.1 Rethink softwre, the RPS makes complicated programming unnecessary. Basically, the Baxter general purpose robot that has been equipped with this software can learn from his human coworkers. At first, his actions need to be guided manually, but after that, it takes control and performs them automatically, at a pace that humans are comfortable with.

“Manufacturing robots have always been caged, not only to protect the workers around them from harm, but also to protect their precisely configured environments from being disrupted by those same workers,” explains Scott Eckert, CEO at Rethink Robotics. “With Baxter, we brought the manufacturing robot out of its cage by making it safe enough to work next to people; and now, we’ve made it safe for the robot to work effectively in real-world conditions as well, by allowing it to adapt to everyday variations that people naturally produce.”

How safe is it to work around Baxter? This inexpensive industrial robot has plenty of sensors and safety systems to make sure that no one gets hurt while working with it. Besides that, the Landmarks code-marked cards give Baxter an idea about where his location should be in reference to his workstation. Considering that the robot can work with up to 20 Landmarks and can be appointed to multiple workstations, the entire concept is very impressive.

Check out the following video to get an idea about how the Baxter industrial robot looks and works in real-life:

Baxter was exhibited at the Pack Expo 2014 trade show in Chicago between November 2-5, and hopefully it will find its way to factories in the not-so-distant future. Its flexibility and capability to adjust to various conditions make it a valuable co-worker, no doubt.

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Ambulance Drone Flies In to Provide First Aid http://walyou.com/ambulance-drone/ http://walyou.com/ambulance-drone/#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 20:56:36 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=181097

If ground robots prove helpful in situations when involving humans would be hazardous for their health, flying drones might come in handy in emergency situations where the time factor has an utmost importance.

Invented by Alec Momont of TU Delft’s Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, this ambulance drone could be the solution for areas where traffic represents a real problem. Conventional ambulances are often delayed by traffic jams, and in an emergency situation, a few minutes could signify the difference between life and death.

Unlike the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator drone, which is an UFV used by the army, the ambulance drone will have the exactly opposite purpose: not taking lives, but saving them. The way it works is quite simple. When someone calls the emergency services, their smartphone location is saved and an ambulance drone is deployed right away. There are plenty of scenarios when this couldn’t work. In tunnels or elevators, where the mobile signal is not that great, not only finding the location of the caller would be a problem, but also trying to reach the emergency services.

“Some 800,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest in the EU every year, and only 8% survive,” pointed out Momont. “The main reason for this is the relatively long response time of the emergency services (approx. 10 minutes), while brain death and fatalities occur within 4 to 6 minutes. The ambulance drone can get a defibrillator to a patient inside a 12 km zone within one minute. This response speed increases the chance of survival following a cardiac arrest from 8% to 80%.”

Momont says that the ambulance drones are still in the development stage, and an usable version of them should be ready in about 5 years. Mind you, they won’t come cheap, and at $20,000 a piece, I’m not sure many hospitals will be able to buy them.

The ambulance drone could have plenty of downsides. The emergency services would have to make sure that the drone is charged at all times so as not to fail midway to the emergency. Secondly, the drone’s propellers represent a danger on their own (a man killed himself long ago while controlling his drone, remember?), so they would have to be controlled with great precision so that the UFV doesn’t do even more damage.

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Malleable Robots to Lead the Way in Space Exploration http://walyou.com/malleable-robots-space-exploration/ http://walyou.com/malleable-robots-space-exploration/#comments Sun, 12 Oct 2014 20:17:29 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=180035

Long before mankind sets foot on anything but the Moon, it will have already sent plenty of robots into space to explore the great unknown. Flexible tentacle robots seem to be ahead of the other mechanical device of their kind, though.

Sure, Curiosity, Opportunity and the other rovers are not only good-looking, but also highly-functional. And still, researchers have found a way of making planet exploring robots even better: equip them with tentacle-like arms. Bioinspired robotics is definitely not something new, but it’s the first time it will be applied on NASA’s rovers. More precisely, the arms of this new generation of robots look a lot like elephant trunks, octopus arms and giraffe tongues.

Grasping things and inspecting Mars crevices in a similar way a space-octopus would do weren’t exactly on NASA rovers’ to-do list. In fact, “those are all things that would be difficult for a conventional robot to do,” claimed roboticist Ian Walker of Clemson University in April at a presentation for NASA’s Future In-Space Operations group.

Until now, conventional robots have been designed to function much like humans, and their arms resembled ours, with joints and everything else. In space, that design might not be as useful, though. “What we want to do is something rather different than that,” stated Walker. Their ultimate purpose is to create “something that can adapt its shape more completely down its structure, and to be able to adapt to environments you haven’t seen before. So it’s the non-factory scenario, in many ways.”

Walker has explained that the design of the flexible NASA robots goes beyond elephant trunks and octopus tentacles: “You could reach it out into the environment and grab things, and basically use it as a tunable hook for stability. In some ways, this is inspired by various monkeys.”

An alternative to making their arms highly flexible would be to equip them with different tools with similar functionality: “They would basically have a robot lasso, or a robot rope, that would be part of their toolkit that they could deploy in situations that called for it.”

“Mechanically, these things are cheap and very versatile in what they can do,” added Walker. However, the challenge is “to extract that performance from it. So there are questions of, How much do you need to model it? How much does it need to know?”

The community of tentacle robot researchers have gone a long way in the past few years, and there will be even more progress in this field in the years to come: “The learning curve has been significantly attacked, and I would say that we know an incredible amount more now than we did five years ago. At the progress we’re making right now, I would be surprised if there aren’t things that look intelligent and [are] intelligent in, say, a decade.”

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Little Moe Uses Ultraviolet Pulses to Fight the Ebola Virus http://walyou.com/little-moe-ebola-killing-robot/ http://walyou.com/little-moe-ebola-killing-robot/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 20:52:38 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=179859

Recent infections with Ebola have caused a lot of distress all over the world, especially since the virus isn’t confined in a single area, but on all major continents. As scary as it may be, the Ebola virus is quite easy to destroy, and the Little Moe robot seems to be a trusty ally in preventing infections.

Light can kill viruses. That’s not exactly news, but a few more details wouldn’t hurt. Ultraviolet light is able to destroy bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms, but that only happens at certain wavelengths. UV mutagenic irradiation has been in practice for more than a century, as the first attempts to disinfect water with it took place in 1910 in Marseille. However, in hospitals and anywhere else it may be installed, Xenex’s Little Moe Ebola fighting robot will do more than just disinfect water.

This medical robot cannot automatically from one room to another, the way Roomba robots vacuum through an entire home. Instead, they need to be setup. After entering the room type and number, Little Moe starts shooting UV rays all over the room in order to disinfect all the surfaces. Mark Stibich, Ph.D, provided a very simple explanation on how the germ-zapping robot works: “What’s inside here is a xenon bulb.”

Little Moe is said to be extremely efficient. Two such robots can rid an entire hospital of dangerous microorganisms in 5 minutes, and can destroy the Ebola virus on any surface in just around 2 minutes. Its function may not sound like much, but Little Moe only has one job, which means that it was built to do this task as efficiently as possible.

The University Health System in San Antonio and the Dallas hospital represent only two of the 250 locations from across the US that are equipped with a Little Moe robot. At Dallas hospital doctors are currently treating the first patient infected with Ebola in America, and while Little Moe can’t do anything about that, it’s good to know that it will prevent the virus from spreading (even though it’s not an airborne virus and it can only be transmitted through exchange of bodily fluids).

I get it how the manufacturer’s name refers to the Xenon bulbs these robots are equipped with, but it sounds uncomfortably close to Xanax. Other than that, it’s good to see that medical robots are getting popular, especially since they can help humanity in such difficult situations.

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