24 May 2011

Life like Andriod Actroid-F

Actroid-F is the most convincing android to date. If you still needed evidence Japan is the country churning out the most realistic androids out there, here’s another hint for you. Meet Geminoid-F, the newest robot from one of Japan’s most famous robot makers, Hiroshi Ishiguro.  The android you see on the picture below is a doppelgänger of the human model on the right. It mimics the facial movements of human beings through twelve pneumatic actuators, for example by smiling or frowning. The system works via a camera that detects facial expressions coming from the human and sends the data to the robot whose head (based on that data) starts moving like the original. Professor Ishiguro is planning to commercialize these human clone robots, estimating each unit at $110,000.

20 May 2011

iMac G4 Cube Apple Robot ...Almost

Take a Lego NXT set and cramp it inside an old Mac G4 cube and what do you get? Wall-e! ...Well not quite, but almost. It does make you think though. How long will be before Apple decides to manufacture and distribute it's own autonomous life form? The next frontier is obviously a mobile platform. 

Look at the recent shift towards mobile smart phone technology; iPhone, iPad, Mac Air. Apple is well aware of this shift and has always been ahead of the game. Here's to hoping the next name of the game is robotics. 

19 May 2011

MakerBot & RepRap 3D Printers for the Roboticist

MakerBot CupCake CNC
While most new ideas start as drawings and sketches, there comes a moment when one must see the work in their hands. When I started creating my own robot I tried using many forms of media to create rough drafts. I used Paper mache', a slew of different plastic parts, motors, and wires stripped from different objects around the house, nothing was safe from becoming apart of my bot. 

In college I entered a mechanical engineering class that taught the students to draw sketches on computer programs. These programs included Autocad, Inventor, and Solidworks. This class used two different rapid prototyping 3D printers, the Dimension Series from Stratasys and Z-Printer from Z corp . These two printers cost $30-50K each. Not the price a to ordinary robot hobbyist like myself could afford. Luckily, less expensive rapid prototypers are available. 

An art teacher named Bre Pettis was passionate about invention, innovation, and all things DIY. He helped start a small company called Makerbot Industries. Their MakerBot is capable of printing any plastic objects within a 6"/6"/8" tall area. These objects or things are stored in a growing upen source data base called Thingiverse then downloaded and printed free of charge. They recently added a build platform belt that spits out one creation after another on the cache. This CupCake model runs $699 and is said to be on it's *absolute last batch*. The company is moving to their more expensive model the Thing-O-Matic, priced at $1299. Replacement parts can be printed directly from the unit. Some smarter enthusiasts have built replica MakerBots from existing models. 

The RepRap Darwin is the original Godfather of homemade 3D printers. RepRap comes from Rapid Replication. The idea was to make a machine that could create a copy of itself. It theorized that appliances like these would change the entire economy. Imagine it, being able to have any product produced for only the price of the materials. This cuts out shipping, labor, tools, and all the other overhead costs. While only a percentage of the parts are actually printed, the project hopes to be able to print it's own circuit boards. There is newer model called the Mendel after the scientist that discovered genetics. Make a RepRap printer of your own.

15 May 2011

Foster Miller Killer SWORDS Military Robot

A new statistic came out revealing that for every 50 soldiers there's one robot drone out in the battle field, with this number increasing. The obvious theory is for every bullet a bot takes it's a life saved. Spawning from the makers of iRobot comes Foster Miller's Talon.

These armed robots travel 5.2 MPH and carry a variety of different weapons including an M16 rifle, a 5.56 mm SAW M249, a 7.62 mm M240 machine gun, a .50 cal M82 Barrett rifle, a six barreled 40 mm grenade launcher or quad 66 mm M202A1 FLASH incendiary weapon. Remote operation of one of these bad boys is as easy as handling an XBox controller. 

The current price of one unit is $230,000 which can be made arguably cheaper than training a live solider. Good thing there's rescue bots and robot surgeons, cause they'll be cleaning up the devastation left by these robots of war.

06 May 2011

Surgery Preformed Mechanically via Da Vinci Robot

Opening scene from anime film Ghost in the Shell
Those of us who are fans of anime knew robotic surgery was right around the corner. Think ahead- wouldn't it be nice the know the surgery you are about to undergo was preformed on thousands by this same machine, yet contoured by sensors to your own size and frame. This procedure is not quite automatic and still under direct human operation through remote manipulation. While this contraption may look a bit intimidating, it's bark is bigger that it's bite.  The Da Vinci Surgical System from Intuitive utilizes the arms with tools and one endoscope for viewing the organs. The tools tips are the size of a finger and will leave less scar tissue later. It is the least evasive surgery meaning quicker healing and less time in the hospital. Even if the Doc has a nervous twitch, the Da Vinci features an integrated tremor filter and the ability for scaling down doctors movements.

Okay lets play out a senario here-- Now with the Da Vinci Robot here to save lives the possibility exists to be shot a wounded by an automatic weapon aboard the SWORDS Talon military robot, found injured in the field of battle and Rescued by a bot, and then laid on a table and sutured together by the Da Vinci surgical system. What a tangled web we weave.