Cool Tech Reviews

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April 1, 2006

A different kind of robot “battle”

Sean Alexander points to a different kind of robot “battle” at OhGizmo!:

While I enjoy your usual run-of-the-mill robot war TV show, I find the use of the word “robot” somewhat amusing. I mean, hey, yeah, those things are RC cars outfitted with armour, chainsaws and enough arsenal to maim an angry Tazmanian Devil… but, they’re hardly robots. At least, not in my interpretation of that word.

These guys, on the other hand, are just too cool for words. As part of the Robo-One 9 event held in Tokyo on March 18 and 19, a bunch of fully articulated mecha-ninjas got on the rink and beat the crap out of each other… in style.

No humming Kung-Fu Fighting while watching the video.

And as long as I am thinking about robots, Norimitsu Onishi reports for the NY Times that In a Wired South Korea, Robots Will Feel Right at Home:

South Korea, the world’s most wired country, is rushing to turn what sounds like science fiction into everyday life. The government, which succeeded in getting broadband Internet into 72 percent of all households in the last half decade, has marshaled an army of scientists and business leaders to make robots full members of society.

By 2007, networked robots that, say, relay messages to parents, teach children English and sing and dance for them when they are bored, are scheduled to enter mass production. Outside the home, they are expected to guide customers at post offices or patrol public areas, searching for intruders and transmitting images to monitoring centers.

If all goes according to plan, robots will be in every South Korean household between 2015 and 2020. That is the prediction, at least, of the Ministry of Information and Communication, which has grouped more than 30 companies, as well as 1,000 scientists from universities and research institutes, under its wing. Some want to move even faster.

“My personal goal is to put a robot in every home by 2010,” said Oh Sang Rok, manager of the ministry’s intelligent service robot project.

More by following the link, but I’m a little skeptical. It looks another variation on “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Posted at 5:21 pm. Filed under Robots

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February 6, 2006

Pleo dinosaur AI robot unveiled tomorrow

Chris Kirkham at PC World:

Furby creator Caleb Chung has emerged from five years of developing the next advancement in robotic technology: Pleo.

Scheduled to appear tomorrow at the DEMO technology conference in Phoenix, Pleo is a “life form” made by Ugobe, a Bay Area robotic technology group. Chung’s latest project is designed to resemble a one-week-old, long-neck dinosaur–a sauropod.

Pleo walks, Pleo listens, and Pleo feels–meaning Pleo has an advanced operating system that allows him to relate to humans through a wide range of emotions. If you startle Pleo, he will be surprised. If you play with Pleo, he will play back.

Equipped with 40 sensors and an advanced system of mobility, its makers say Pleo is a completely autonomous being that can interact with humans or simply react to the environment around him.

Pleo runs on a sophisticated operating system termed “LifeOS” by Christopher. Emotions are configured in an artificial intelligence engine using more than 50 algorithms to simulate hormones and sophisticated emotions. Christopher says Pleo has its own distinct personality–not quite dinosaur, not quite human.

The company has two target markets for Pleo, Christopher says. The first is kids ages 6 to 12 who will treat the product like a pet. The second is the 22-and-up crowd who are interested in customizing and adding to the base emotions of their Pleos.

Christopher says all the life forms made by Ugobe must obey three laws. They must feel and convey emotion, meaning they feel playful or angry and shows those emotions through either a cheerful or frustrated “squawk.” They also must be aware of themselves and their environment, so they know if they’re at the edge of a table and need to avoid falling. Third, they must evolve over time.

“Its voice might get deeper, it might learn new tricks on its own,” says Christopher. “It will evolve and adapt itself to the pet owner, and that’s where the AI [artificial intelligence] comes in.”

And then it takes over the world? Seriously, the full Ugobe press release is here.

Posted at 7:41 pm. Filed under Companies, Robots, Ugobe

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January 26, 2006

Sony drops AIBO and QRIO

Michael Santo at Alice Hill’s Real Tech News did a little sleuthing in Sony’s quarterly report and discovered that the AIBO robot pooch is being put to sleep at the end of Sony’s fiscal year in March and development has ended for the humanoid QRIO robot. Make has a photo retrospective.

If you do some more spelunking in the report, you’ll find that Sony also said that it would:

stop development and manufacturing of PDP (plasma display panel) televisions, and stop selling in-car entertainment products in Japan. It will also kill its Qualia line of pricey, high-specification products.

All of this is by way of getting Sony back on track and they did report the strongest quarterly earnings in several years.

Posted at 2:33 pm. Filed under Companies, Robots, Sony

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