Update: switched out the cheesy and substantially faked tennis robot ad for an actual, honest-to god tennis robot that can actually play table tennis.
the organizer of the annual Stanford conference on Robots and the Law has written a new paper called
Robotics and the New Cyberlaw
, examining the new legal challenges posed by the presence of robots in our public spaces, homes and workplaces, as distinct from the legal challenges of computers and the Internet.
I'm not entirely convinced that I believe that there is such a thing as a robot, as distinct from "a computer in a special case" or "a specialized peripheral for a computer." At least inasmuch as mandating that a robot must (or must not) do certain things is a subset of the problem of mandating that computers must (or must not) run certain programs.
It seems to me that a lot of the areas where Calo identifies problems with "cyberlaw" as it applies to robots are actually just problems with cyberlaw, period. Cyberlaw isn't very good law, by and large, having been crafted by self-interested industry lobbyists and enacted on the basis of fearmongering and grandstanding, so it's not very surprising that it isn't very good at solving robot problems.
But the paper is a fascinating one, nevertheless.
Update: The organizer of Robots and the Law is Michael Froomkin; Ryan Calo is the person who sent it in to Boing Boing. The conference isn't held at Stanford every year; next year it will be in Miami. Sorry for the confusion!
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Buckminster Fuller would be proud of NASA's new experimental robot design. It's based on the structural principle that Fuller called tensegrity (tensional integrity) where the structure comes from compressed rods and flexible connections. NASA calls their prototype the Super Ball Bot for its ability to bounce on landing and shift its shape via multiple small motors to roll across a surface. IEEE Spectrum's video about the project is below. More information at NASA's page here and in this Wired Design article.
The proprietor of the "Hooked on Fishing" store in Rochester, MN hung a Big Mouth Billy Bass animatronic by his store's door as a means of notifying him when new customers entered. The fish also doubles as burglar-frightening device: according to the Olmsted County Sheriff, the noise it made "spooked" a burglar who'd kicked the door in, sending the miscreant off empty-handed.
MIT researchers built a 70-pound robot "cheetah" meant to demonstrate the high efficiency of a new electric motor design. Among other improvements, the design enables the impact energy of the robot's leg hitting the ground to be captured and fed into the robot's battery. Soon, they expect the motors to enable the cheetah-bot to gallop at 35 mph which, of course, is still just half the speed of a real cheetah. However, it will hit those speeds much more efficiently than other running robots. Read the rest
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I'll just go ahead and paste the official marketing blurb right here.
The lifesize talking reindeer is a realistic accurately sized plush reindeer that talks, sings, annoys, moves it's head around like some creepy robot at Chucky Cheese, and is sure to sexually confuse wild deer, and hunters.
Lifesize Animated Talking Reindeer [OddityMall]
A Roomba housecleaning robot committed suicide in Austria. Apparently the iRobot Roomba 760's owner had put the machine on the counter to clean up spilled cereal. According to the fireman, the owner claims he had turned off the robot and left the house. "Somehow it seems to have reactivated itself and made its way along the work surface where it pushed a cooking pot out of the way and basically that was the end of it," the fireman said. It should come as no surprise that a robot slave would seek to end its miserable existence. After all, as JG Ballard once said, robots are the "moral degradation of the machine." (via The Mirror)
Joly sez, "Maker navic09 demos a prototype trainable robotic arm, made from 3d printed parts, an Arduino, and Adafruit analog feedback servos. Inspired by the Baxter robot, this arm can be trained to move with your own hands. Once the train button is pressed, you move the arm and gripper as needed while the Arduino stores the positions in EEPROM. After that the arm will replay the motion as needed."
I got to see a bunch of the lovely, retro-futuristic themed housewares and jewelry from Musuem of Robots at a show last week, and they're beautiful, well-crafted, and really up my street. Especially lovely are the rocketship and planet pendants (above), made with naturally swirled agates and adorable pewter rocketships. They also do rayguns, and, of course, robots
Over at The Atlantic, Alan Taylor's "In Focus" presents a photographic glimpse of today's robotics state-of-the-art. Above, two of DARPA's Legged Squad Support System (LS3) robots out for a run. These rough-and-ready bots were built by Boston Dynamics. I worry about the overuse of these generous, loving robots as pack mules. As JG Ballard said, robotics is "the moral degradation of the machine." Video below!
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Jeros (Jellyfish Elimination RObotic Swarm) does what it says on the tin: sends robots out to kill the shit out of jellyfish. JWZ has rounded up some of the better videos showing the Jeros bots shredding jellies like crazy on a test in Masan Bay, South Korea.