Pioneering machine performance group Survival Research Laboratories are holding a rare full-scale performance in Los Angeles on December 22. If you're not familiar with SRL, the video above gives a short, sharp taste of their 34 years of robotic mayhem and black comedy. "Each performance consists of a unique set of ritualized interactions between machines, robots, and special effects devices, employed in developing themes of socio-political satire. Humans are present only as audience or operators." Survival Research Laboratories
The wirelessly remote-controlled Transform Robot took some ten years to develop, and includes wireless internet connected cameras for remote monitoring, and the ability to steer its arms and shoot little plastic darts from them.
As multiple researchers continue their efforts to make micro-robotic flying insects, Harvard's Robert Wood has made strides in self-assembling systems with the robobee above. Inspired by his child's pop-up books, Wood's device starts flat on a scaffold. More than 100 hinges enable the 3D structure to "pop up" into the robot seen here. This is only one of the Origami-like approaches that researchers at Harvard, MIT, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaig, and elsewhere are using to create small, complex objects at scale, from drug delivery systems to solar cells. Science News surveys the field. "Into the Fold"
Ryan Calo sends his call for papers for a Stanford Law School conference on robotics and the law.
"This is our second year---the first conference took place in Miami. This year's focus is on legal and policy issues surrounding the immediate commercial prospects of robotics, including personal robots, drones, driverless cars, telepresence, and robotic surgery. We're calling it 'We Robot: Getting Down To Business.'
The program committee, which consists of both law professors and roboticists, seeks submissions on a range of topics of relevance to the burgeoning robotics industry, as well as demos of robot prototypes or products. Legal scholars and technologists alike are warmly welcome to submit papers and/or attend. Hope to see you there!"
IEEE Spectrum just released a fun iPad app that's all about real robots! You can learn about 126 robots from 19 countries, hear interviews with roboticists, and, of course, watch videos of our future overlords in action. "Robots for iPad" (Thanks, Ken Goldberg!)
Here's a miraculous Radio Police Automaton from the May, 1924 issue of Hugo Gernsback's Science and Invention. It will be useful for dispersing mobs, and for war. Note the built-in tear-gas tank. Also the "loud-speaker used to shout orders to the mob." Mr Gernsback notes, "They will be well-nigh irresistible."
There's something decidedly pre-Ewok about this design and the bold claims of irresistibility.
The ETH Zurich quadcopter folks have added to their already impressive collection of videos of cooperative, autonomous quadcopters doing exciting things (previously) with this video of the adorable little gizmos throwing and catching balls together.
To toss the ball, the quadrocopters accelerate rapidly outward to stretch the net tight between them and launch the ball up. Notice in the video that the quadrocopters are then pulled forcefully inward by the tension in the elastic net, and must rapidly stabilize in order to avoid a collision. Once recovered, the quadrotors cooperatively position the net below the ball in order to catch it.
Because they are coupled to each other by the net, the quadrocopters experience complex forces that push the vehicles to the limits of their dynamic capabilities
Comics awesomecreator Faith Erin Hicks (Zombies Calling, Friends With Boys) is serializing a new comic online called "Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong," adapted from a Prudence Shen YA novel. When the serialization is done, the whole thing will be published between covers by the marvellous FirstSecond books. FirstSecond's Gina Gagliano describes it as "full of teenagers building homemade robots in their basement." Sounds like my kind of thing!
This is Toyota's new arm-wresting robot. Apparently, its other application is for "human support" such as assisting disabled people and caring for the elderly in their homes. The robot's body can raise up and down and its tablet head is well-suited for telepresence. Toyota's Human Support Robot(via IEEE Spectrum)
Here's a DARPA video showing a robotic pack-mule prototype. I think you're supposed to imagine this thing being on your side, but when I see videos like this, I always find myself imagining what it would be like to be crouching in the underbrush with a couple of terrified children, trying to keep them silent while this thing motors through the uncanny valley around us.
This video depicts field testing of the DARPA Legged Squad Support System (LS3). The goal of the LS3 program is to demonstrate that a legged robot can unburden dismounted squad members by carrying their gear, autonomously following them through rugged terrain, and interpreting verbal and visual commands.
Here's Katy Levinson's semi-drunken robotics tutorial from DEFCON XX in Vegas this past summer. To get a sense of Levinson's presentation style, imagine if Bill Hicks was a young, female roboticist. Watch this presentation and you will learn that four-way linkages are pimp, bolts are zinc-plated turds, and all robots should wear sunglasses. Levinson's last gig was designing an autonomous robot for the aborted US lunar mission, and now she works to save Hacker Dojo, the embattled hackspace in Mountain View that incubated Pinterest.
By popular demand, Defcon's angry little roboticist is back with more stories of robot designs gone awry that make practical lessons on making better robots. Drinking will happen: vodka-absconding scoundrels are not invited.
This talk will cover material assuming the average audience member is a relatively intelligent coder with a high-school physics/math background and has seen linear algebra/calculus before. The intent is to navigate people new to robotics around many lessons my teams and I learned the "hard way," and to introduce enough vocabulary for a self-teaching student to bridge the gap between amateur and novice professional robotics. It will not cover why your Arduino doesn't work when you plugged your USB tx into your RS232 tx.
[Video Link] Eric Weinhoffer says: "Boston Dynamics have improved their Cheetah bot. It can now run faster than 28 mph, and still doesn't have a head. They push it to the limit at the 55 second point."
Cui Runguan, a Beijing inventor and restaurateur, has created a "robot chef" for slicing noodles: it's basically an automated dough-shaving knife encased in a charming retro-robot shell with superfluous blinking eye-lights. Something about the combination appeals, and the enthusiastic diners in the news segment seem to treat the noodles as "hand-cut by a mechanical person" and not as "sliced by an industrial machine."