Jun 092017

Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics, the MIT spin-off and self-proclaimed maker of “nightmare-inducing robots“, has been sold by its parent company Alphabet (aka Google) to the Japanese tech behemoth SoftBank. No specifics regarding the price or the terms of the sale have been announced which is not surprising given we still don’t know how much Google paid for the company when it purchased it four years ago.

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Mar 212006

Pirkus-R at Robot-OneAs I predicted last Friday, the coverage by Robots-Dreams.com of the Robo-One competition that took place in Tokyo over the weekend has been nothing short of outstanding. Lem dropped us a comment this morning to let us know that he actually got some face time (pun intended) with the Pirkus-R Type-01 robot, the Bluetooth humanoid whose facial recognition upgrade we reported on late last week. In addition to going one on one with the bot in the controlled environment of the exhibitors area, he also has posted a video of Pirkus-R attempting to do its thing under the more extreme conditions of the competition ring.

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Mar 182006

Pirkus-R Type-01 robotPinkTentacle.com reports today that the Pirkus-R Type-01 robot has recently had its facial recognition software updated. The upgrade addresses limitations that had often hindered recognition attempts by earlier models, including variations in lighting and positioning of the target subjects. Now Pirkus-R can track the location and orientation of its target and move itself into position in order to capture an optimal facial image with its built-in camera.

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Mar 152006
RI-MAN Humanoid Robot


OK, the truth is that right now the RI-MAN humanoid robot can only carry your grandma if she weighs less than 26 pounds, and if she does, she’s got bigger problems than not being able to walk. (That’s a doll in the pic.) But the goal of RI-MAN’s creators is for him to be able to bear loads of up to 155 pounds within the next 5 years, a weight that still seems borderline for American grandmas but probably a safe limit for grandma’s in RI-MAN’s home country, Japan.

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Feb 102006

Robotis RX

The Korea Times is reporting that on Thursday South Korean robot manufacturer Robotis unveiled the RX, a robot capable of running at almost 0.5 mph. Developed in conjunction with Samsung Electronics and Korea’s Ministry of Information and Communication, the RX stands 2 feet tall. Like the Robotis’s Bioloid kit, the RX is made up of modular components that can be rearranged easily into other forms according to Kim Byoung-soo, Robotis chief executive.

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Feb 082006

WR-07 Robo-One Transformer

As if it it weren’t difficult enough to build and program a regular biped robot for Robo-One events, Nakamura-san at Himeji Soft Works in Japan has raised the bar with the WR-07, a car that transforms smoothly on the fly into a battle-ready humanoid and back again. It’s no surprise that Robots-Dreams.com has the scoop on the WR-07 including pictures and links to videos of it in action. If that’s not enough, they taunt us with the fact that they’ll get to see it live at the Robo-One competition in Tokyo next month.

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Jan 302006

HRP-2 Promet humanoid robot

Thankfully it seems that when one Japanese humanoid robot meets an untimely end it isn’t too long until another appears on the scene to take its place. Qrio may be headed towards an early grave, but Gizmodo caught an AP article from last Friday describing the HRP-2 Promet, a new humanoid robot being developed by Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Envisioned as a domestic helper, Promet is already able to control your TV with a remote control built into its chest and is able to fetch your beverage of choice from the fridge.

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Jan 172006

JVC J4 Bluetooth robotEven though it was initially announced in the fall of 2004 at the CEATEC trade show in Tokyo, details about JVC’s J4 Bluetooth-controlled robot have been few and far between. Engadget is reporting today that JVC had the J4 out on display again in Japan recently, and quite frankly the details are still sketchy. The original news article is in Japanese, but Engadget has been able to translate some of the new details. They’ve determined that the J4 has two CMOS cameras in its head capable of recording video. It has a lithium ion battery that gives it 90 minutes of power, and it can be controlled via voice or cell phone. Apparently it also is capable of the staples like singing and dancing. All in all except for the Bluetooth it seems comparable to the other humanoid robots out there. JVC’s got no plans for a commercial release although apparently this demonstration was to test the waters. I think I need to see some solid specs in English before I can form an opinion.

Dec 162005
Sony's QRIO humanoid robot

source: AFP

Hot on the heels of Honda’s Asimo update announced this past Tuesday, Sony today introduced the world to the newest version of their humanoid robot, QRIO. The enhancements to the QRIO include an additional camera mounted in its forehead, mechanical improvements to its arms and hands, and better machine vision algorithms and AI. Like its Honda counterpart, QRIO is now able to recognize faces, colors, and stationary and moving objects.

During its debut in Ginza, Japan this morning, the 60 cm, 7.5 kg QRIO strode out on to the stage wiggling its hips in sync to the music in the background.

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Dec 102005

ROBOTIS Bioloid modular robot kit

I’m finally getting through posting about the robots at IREX last week, but the one that is left on my list, the ROBOTIS Bioloid robot kit, may be of the most interest to amateur roboticists. There are several robot kits available these days, and they run the gamut from relatively simple and cheap to expensive and complicated. On the more affordable end of the spectrum are Lego Mindstorms and Radio Shack’s VEX system. More expensive (and complex) products include Kondo’s KHR-1. Korean manufacturer ROBOTIS offers systems similar to the KHR-1 in that they can be purchased in a kit form that includes a microcontroller, servos, sensors, frames, and wheels. Unlike the KHR-1 each kit can be assembled into a variety of different forms including a humanoid, dog, spider, or whatever you can imagine. If you need additional components to create your custom bot, ROBOTIS sells all of the parts individually as well. The Bioloid kit sells for $1500 USD.