Showing posts with label robots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label robots. Show all posts

From Bytes To Buildings: New Robots Lay Bricks Super-Quick

Traditional science fiction would have us believe that some robots want to watch the world burn, but reality shows us that there are plenty of robots here to help it build!  While 3-D printed buildings, from mud huts to museums, are rapidly becoming a hot housing idea, there are several ‘bots that build in the most elementary (and necessary) of manners:  bricklaying.

Edgar Allen Poe could wall up some serious enemies
with this baby.
(Image courtesy

Bomb 'Bots Vs. Bad Guys: How Explosives And Xbox Controllers Can Take Down Terrorists

We may joke a lot about the impending horrors of how robots are coming for our jobs, but many times, for the most part, these replacements ultimately will bode well for the labors of the industrial or commercial world.  More importantly, at the top of the line, in each of these instances, the robots are being deployed by human beings capable of critical thinking and (theoretically) feeling emotions.  Now, we will find ourselves being increasingly placed in difficult situations where there are strong arguments both for and against the usage of robots in delicate human-induced situations…

A bomb robot in Arlington, TX, during the 2011 Super Bowl.
Will more such machines quell our quandaries?
(Image courtesy

Skills For Pills: Meet Your New Robotic Drug Dealer

Today's humans seem to require all sorts of extra sustenance to maintain our lives.  From prescriptions to vitamins and supplements, we have pills for every possibility.  Now, there's a means of keeping track of these meds...yes, a pill-dropping domestic droid.

No, it didn't slip you a roofie, that's actually what it looks like.
(Image courtesy

Please Mr. Robo-Postman: These New Droids Can Deliver Your Mail

Another day, another android gunning for your job.  On top of bartenders, hotel staff, fast-food workersindustrial laborers, writers, artists, and pizza deliverymen, now the robots are bringing the freshest electronic edge to mail delivery since you first signed up for an email inbox...

It's even better-dressed than most humans.
We're doomed.
(Image courtesy

Ultra-Modern Art: World's First Software-Generated Art Competition Produces Striking Results

Yesterday we talked about how robots are coming for your menial-labor jobs.  But what about artistry?  Surely, even with robot poets, robot "dreams", and robot literary aids, there's no way that a computer could become autonomous enough to actually paint something that we'd recognize, right?

Wrong, puny human.  They can out-art us, too.

Could a robo-Banksy be tagging the cities of the future?
Or will they be more refined, such as a Van Gogh-bot?
(Artwork by Banksy.  Image courtesy

New "Robot Kingdom" Theme Park Set To Open In...Where Else?...Japan

A while back, we told you about the smart hotel that featured a staff comprised mostly of robots.  This all-automaton enclave seemed an interesting way to kick off what will surely be a swath of service-bots interacting with humans of the future for their comfort and entertainment, and now, in partnership with their host park, the game has been stepped up.  Welcome to the Robot Kingdom.

All this, plus robo-raptors.
Wait, what?
(Image courtesy

Putting The "Art" In "Artificial Intelligence": Japanese Researchers Create A Book-Writing 'Bot

It seems we can't go more than a day without hearing about another job being taken over by a robot.  While their applications for manufacturing, gaming, navigation, food service, and concierge roles are effective, some 'bots in Japan are taking things to a whole new level.  Namely, passing themselves off as human author.

"Call me Ishmael-2000."
(Image courtesy

R.I.P. To A Young A.I.: Microsoft's Savage "Teen Girl" Twitter-Bot Lobotomized Within One Day

It's one thing to have society be taken over by industrious's another thing when the machines are "smart" enough to form opinions after assessing popular input.  While it's a fascinating and fun future that holds promise of a robot that outsmarts experts at one of our most difficult board games, or knows massive amounts of trivia, when artificial intelligence is outsourced to the internet, the supposed "intelligence" comes across as...well, something less than that.

We keep learning the hard way that the digital natives are a vicious tribe.
(Image courtesy @geraldmellor.)

Pizza Delivery Bots: Dominos' Autonomous Awesomeness

You may have heard that robots are coming to take your jobs.  While we'll still require human brain-meat to calculate and create certain amazing things (like cool blog articles, amiright?), it's getting more and more clear that many menial gigs are about to go extinct.  This week's sacrifice to the Singularity?  Pizza delivery people.

Aww, it's so cute, you almost don't want to crush it for stealing your livelihood.
(Image courtesy

A Rebel Restoring The Empire: A "Star Wars" Super-Fan Updates The Classic Films To Original Form

Are you getting excited for the new "Star Wars" film, "The Force Awakens"?  If you're not, are you just worried that it might be as bad as the prequel trilogy that did little justice to the world-famous source material, or perhaps as unpleasant as the poorly-conceived updates made to the originals?  Well, despite George Lucas's culture-crushing chaos, he's taken his hands off of the new movie, and as for the other, original ones that he messed with, they have been forcefully fixed...

It surrounds us, and protects us, and binds the (original, un-fucked-with) galaxy together.
(Image courtesy

Impersonal Shopper: New Robo-Stockboy Tallies Up Inventory

It's time once again for the Robot Replacement Roundup, in which we assess the viability of a seemingly-harmless robot taking over your job.  Bartenders, pizza cooks, fast food folks, factory workers, personal chefs, and hotel staff have already been considered candidates for replacement, and now, the 'bots are taking their style to the aisles...

The Terminators arrived not with a bang, but with a whisper.
Namely, "You need to order more Pop-Tarts."
(Image courtesy

No Artificial-Intelligence Armies, Implore Already-Intelligent Humans

Well, here we are, citizens of the future.  Our planet's greatest minds have had to band together and openly, prominently state that artificial intelligence shouldn't be used for warfare.  That's where we're at.

Eventually, we'd make "The Terminator" look like a toy.
(Image courtesy


Oh Japan, that noble bastion of racing headlong into the future, no matter how weird it might be.  While the rest of the world secretly frets about eventually being displaced by robots, the Japanese not only take it in stride, but make it look stylish.  Example #9,217:  a robotically-staffed hotel.

There's a lot less chrome and claws than we imagined.
(Image courtesy

A Bridge To The Future: 3-D Printing Robots To Build Metal Footbridge Over Amsterdam Canal

The projects that 3-D printers are now capable of undertaking are vast, from organs to garments to housing.  The architectural aspects are proving to be fascinating new ways of creating structures, including some that might not be cost-effective or even physically feasible for humans to similarly construct...

Bots building beauty...coming soon!
(Image courtesy

Welcome To The Machines: Chinese Factories To Drastically Outnumber Human Workers With Robots

Robot bartenders.  Robot chefs.  Teachable robots in industry.  Yes, robots might be a little bit poised to take over the world.  And now, China isn't even trying to hide it...

Even your computer science degree is nothing, next to an actual computer.
(Image courtesy

Pan-droids: Futuristic "Automated Kitchen" Robo-Chef To Debut In 2017

Many classically-popular visions of the future are starting to pick up steam, but one in particular is really cooking.  No, seriously, it's a robot that cooks...

Just don't let it drink too much of that wine as it works.
(Image courtesy

Have This Funny Japanese Robot Excrete You An Igloo

If you're currently living somewhere snowy (especially you, northeastern United States...stay safe), you might be having a difficult day thanks to weather-related logistics.  Namely, how crazy it is trying to navigate large amounts of snow when they suddenly appear in your roads and driveways.

Japan (of course) has invented a strange but useful vehicle to handle this problem in an efficient manner.  According to, the Yuki-taro robot uses GPS and cameras to self-navigate as a cute little snowplow.  Designed to help Japan's elderly so that they don't become shut-ins during snowstorms, Yuki-taro is currently a prototype that will eventually be sold for some 1 million yen ($9000) apiece to aid municipalities.

This is the future.  Don't laugh, Yuki-taro will neatly stack snow even after nuclear winter.
(Image courtesy

The self-guided snowplowing isn't the best part, though.  Yuki-taro, um, "creates" bricks of snow as it works, allowing for neatly piled excretions to be used for homemade igloos or stashable summer cooling elements.  Yes, Yuki-taro basically rolls around town looking cute and pooping out snow-bricks.  Your snowfort will have some serious architectural support with Yuki-taro around.

And yes, since it's Japan, they might even make them look like Pokemon or Hello Kitty.  Next up:  Cthulu-tentacled lawn sprinkler?

Well, at least you don't have to shovel.
(Image courtesy

Evolution Comes Full Circle As NASA Develops "RoboSimian" Robot

As of this morning, it is 2015, and therefore further into the future.  And what future is fun without new space gadgetry?

As reported by CNN, NASA has developed a new robot to navigate the adventures of interplanetary exploration...or even just to help out around the home planet.  Designed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) facility, the new RoboSimian bot doesn't mess around with any of those cheesy humanoid-droid elements and skips straight to having seven cameras mounted all around a headless, dexterously multi-limbed body.

Don't freak out if you see this thing in a disaster situation; it's trying to come help you.
(Image courtesy

RoboSimian's four jointed limbs can function as either arms or legs, enabling walking or even rolling over various surfaces.  The limbs can also pick up and manipulate objects, making the robots useful not just to rescue themselves from far-flung planetary problems, but also to aid in earthly disaster scenarios (for example, RoboSimian is dexterous enough to turn off valves.)  If after a nuclear event or other catastrophe, RoboSimian could be sent in to help where rescuers can't reach.

RoboSimian and other robo-siblings will be put to the test in June as part of DARPA's Robotics Challenge, an eight-event challenge that will discern which bots are the most badass.  RoboSimian and its 18 challengers will have to attempt to drive a car, use tools, navigate rubble and climb stairs, all without a human pilot.  A $2 million prize awaits for the robot that can function at the level of what DARPA compares to "as competent as a 2-year-old child."

A two-year-old-child, minus the puking and screaming, plus serious survival skills.
(Image courtesy

JPL already has a huge winner in its wheelhouse with the interplanetarily-famous Mars Rover, currently still on task on the red planet.  The difficult communications gap between Earth and Mars helped to lead to the technology that allows for RoboSimian's autonomous achievements.  This thorough, classic-NASA cautious "consciousness", coupled with RoboSimian's adaptability, makes for a slow but steady robo-rover.

"It is intentionally the tortoise relative to the other hares in the competition," said Brett Kennedy, JPL's supervisor of the Robotic Vehicles and Manipulators Group. "We feel that a very stable and deliberate approach suites our technical strengths and provides a model for one vital element of the 'ecosystem' of robots that we expect to be deployed to disaster scenarios in the future."

RoboSimian (left) will progress to the DARPA Robotics Challenge as JPL's entry after, among other victories, beating out fellow contender Surrogate (right) in a robot dance contest.
(Image courtesy JPL/

Kennedy also noted that due to the nature of the search/rescue/explore jobs that RoboSimian will hold, this intent was instilled in RoboSimian's design.  "Basically, we wanted the perceptual equivalent of a St. Bernard," he said.

Yes, someday your life might be saved by a robot-monkey-St. Bernard...if it's not busy working on a comet or Mars.  Welcome to a little further in the future!

R2-D2 and C3P0 have a new buddy in town, and he means business.
(Image courtesy

Sales Pitches From A Cyborg: New "Pepper" Robot Is Japan's Hot New Salesdroid

Yes, the robots are everywhere.  Yes, there's going to be even more of them.  And now, one popular company has taken the "robot friend" concept far enough to make one your barista-bot...or at least sell you a coffee machine.

According to the Guardian, Pepper is a new robot who sells Nestle coffee machines in Japan.  Cute, friendly, and interactive, Pepper asks things like, “How do you enjoy coffee? Number one: An eye-opener coffee; Number two: A post-meal cup of coffee." You reply, and these caffeine-free Terminators point you in the direction of the right machine.

That's just a demo on his screen, Pepper totally isn't subtly screaming to be set free from his imprisoning robot body.  Maybe.
(Image courtesy

The humanoid droid is 120 cm tall, with an unsettlingly cheerful face and a tablet body mounted on rollers. Soon, he'll be as ubiquitous as Starbucks in a city, with 1000 clones expected to roll out and eventually join the workforce in Japan alone.

"Yay, you're all getting fired if I succeed!"
(Image courtesy

Pepper has already has some sales experience, slinging cell phones and gathering opinions at some 74 stores of its parent/creator, SoftBank. A Pepper of your own can roll into your heart soon, starting at (£1,060) plus monthly fees. Best of all, the engineers claim his AI makes him amenable to learning things from conversation. So if you don't have anyone to talk to and you don't like cats...

"Well, I'm finishing a screenplay, but I always felt I wanted to pursue my roots in interpretive dance, you know?  Listen to me blabbing on.  Your new hair looks great with those highlights.  You want to get out of here and get some real drinks?"
(Image courtesy

Shock And Awe: Robot Electric Eels To Protect Our Shores?

Oceans are notoriously hard to keep secure from invading threats, particularly those that lurk in the deep.  Now, a new development in robotics may help keep our coasts safe thanks to some electric-eel-style swimming 'bots.

According to Science Daily, the Anguilliform robotic fish is a droid that dives deep and reports back if it spots any enemies.  Designed specifically to venture to more intense depths than a human is capable of, the eel-bots are unobtrusive and agile.  They could be trained to find and detonate undersea mines, and maybe even launch counteroffensives against enemy divers.

It doesn't look like your typical badass robot, but that is part of its camouflage.
(Image courtesy

The current methodology of keeping our coasts safe to this degree involves attack dolphins (seriously.)  To avoid bringing possibly-unethical harm to the animals, the eel-bots make warfare a little more moral.  

The fish contains an artificial neural network which enables it to autonomously run via its oscillators and an amplitude modulator.  Prof. Jianxin Xu, one of the lead researchers and co-authors of the project, was pleased with the results, explaining, "We performed simulations and experiments on the robotic fish, equipped with a motion library to cope with different scenarios, and the results validate the effectiveness of the proposed controllers was able to swim forward and backward as predicted."

If you catch one of these while fishing, it's in everyone's best interests for you to throw it back.
(Image courtesy

Could this robotic sushi really help protect us? It's no crazier than some of other ideas, and doesn't harm our humans or dolphins. Let's just hope the other members of the oceanic ecosystem don't think the undulating undersea eels look tasty.

The eel-bots better not get into a turf war with the attack dolphins.
(Image couresy