Projection mapped animation on screens held by giant robot arms

This dramatic video from Bot and Dolly shows off their robotic camera systems by projection mapping a 3D animation onto two screens as they're waved around by one and a half ton robotic arms. In July, Boing Boing co-sponsored the Robot Film Festival held in their incredible studios. There I learned that while this film appears to be shot from a hand-held camera, it's probably made with a camera on a robot arm following a recorded path made by motion tracking a hand-held camera to a tenth-of-a-millimeter precision. Bot & Dolly had no comment on whether or not that's the case in this film.

Call for papers: Robots, Risks and Opportunities


Michael sez, "We Robot, the conference in which roboticists, lawyers, philosophers and many others meet to try to work out how robots will fit into the society of the future, will be meeting in the University of Miami School of Law in Coral Gables Florida Apri 4-5, 2014. The Call for Papers just went up, with abstracts due Nov. 4. This is the place where people go to discuss whether robot diagnosticians should be trusted even if we can't understand the reasons for their choices, what limits we should put on battlefield drones, and whether law enforcement can be mechanized. Last year's conference also featured a presentation from one of the creators of Futurama."

Call for Papers – We Robot 2014: Risks & Opportunities – April 4 & 5 in Coral Gables, FL (Thanks, Michael!)

Radio Man walks, talks, and yodels

It yodels because it is a Swiss radio man. (Via Magic Transistor)

No robot will ever...

Today's XKCD strip, Reassuring, wittily illustrates Kevin Kelly's Seven Stages of Robot Replacement, which start with "1. A robot/computer cannot possibly do the tasks I do" and heads toward "5. OK, it can have my old boring job, because it’s obvious that was not a job that humans were meant to do."

Be sure you go to the original for the tooltip punchline.

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Lego robot that strips DRM off Kindle books

Peter Purgathofer, an associate professor at Vienna University of Technology, built a Lego Mindstorms robot that presses "next page" on his Kindle repeatedly while it faces his laptop's webcam. The cam snaps a picture of each screen and saves it to a folder that is automatically processed through an online optical character recognition program. The result is an automated means of redigitizing DRM-crippled ebooks in a clear digital format. It's clunky compared to simply removing the DRM using common software, but unlike those DRM-circumvention tools, this setup does not violate the law.

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The Uncanny Valley might not actually exist

The Uncanny Valley is that point where something designed to look human gets too close to success, and ends up accidentally reminding us of the many, many ways that it also looks totally alien. The result: A one-way ticket to Creepoutsville.

Or, anyway, that's the hypothesis. See, despite the fact that we've long treated it as a given, the Uncanny Valley isn't a proven concept. In fact, writes Rose Eveleth at The BBC, the original 1970 paper that described the Uncanny Valley wasn't really based on research at all. It was more of an essay. An essay that nobody much questioned for 30 years. Since 2000, there's been some actual research on the subject, and the results are very mixed. Some studies can find evidence of the Uncanny Valley. In others, though, it appears to not exist at all.

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Why does Japan love giant robots so much?


Transforming pop culture: Giant robots, such as those in Guillermo del Toro's blockbuster 'Pacific Rim' (above), have been big in Japan for decades.

About this Japan Times article he wrote, Matt Alt in Tokyo tells Boing Boing, "I interviewed several anime industry legends and combined it with some of my own research. The upshot: it's all about the toys. Sort of. The illustration is by my pal Hideo Okamoto, whose designs grace everything from the Gundam series to Pokemon. Unfortunately the digital version has none of the glory of the paper!" But you can click here to see a scan of the print version.

Humans will befriend a stick — as long as it moves properly

Human emotions and social interaction have a lot to do with body language — how our faces express what we're thinking and feeling, how our gestures are read by other people, and how we invade (or retreat from) each other's personal space. In fact, those movements and behaviors are so important that, if you map them onto an otherwise completely non-human, non-animal form, we'll start interpreting it as engaging with us — even if that form is nothing more than a moving stick.

This video, clips from a study that was published in 2011 by computer scientists at the University of Calgary, shows what test subjects did and said when they were left alone in a room with a stick-like robot, and asked to just think out loud and interact with the robot in whatever ways felt natural. Some people made friends. Others tried to fight it. And a few tried to talk it out of wanting to fight them.

Video Link

Junkbot kinetic sculpture with mercury-activated action!


Sculptor Nemo Gould sez, "I just finished up a new large scale kinetic sculpture made from found materials called Armed and Dangerous. It is a giant, mulit-armed, multi-faced, dual-zombie-powered, mercury-activated, electro-mechanical monster!"

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Spider Tank RC robot kits on Kickstarter

Jaimie Mantzel, creator of the Attacknid hexapod robot toys, is kickstarting a kit version that you build and decorate yourself. It looks like a really fun project, and there's an optional toolkit with soldering iron, screwdrivers, etc. The final robot is an RC attack-bot with all kinds of shooting stuff (darts, balls, etc) as well as a custom crane that isn't available for Attacknids. He needs a minimum order of 5,000 robot kits at $77 (and up, depending on options) to get into production.

Mantzel has also built a full-size, working spider tank out of scrap metal.

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Acrobatic robot with parkour moves

The University of Pennsylvania's RHex robot is an all-terrain walker that has been in development for a decade. The robot's inventors have been programming obstacle-traversing strategies derived from parkour, getting it to do "double jumps, flips, and, through a combination of moves, even pull-ups:"

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Tomorrow: Robot Film Festival in San Francisco, co-sponsored by Boing Boing

Chorebot, one of my favorite RFF submissions

Boing Boing is proud to be a media sponsor of the Robot Film Festival's premier in San Francisco this weekend. Join us tomorrow at Bot & Dolly for a series of three film screenings, live performances, and the Botskers Award Ceremony. It's an all-day event starting at 11:30 with lunch and dinner included, so prepare for a massive overdose of robots!

Today is your last chance to get tickets. Check out the full schedule of events on the Robot Film Festival website. See you there!

Acrobatic robot backflip

This talented Japanese robot is able to do a multiple backflip off a wire with a completely amazing landing. I am increasingly convinced that humans are grossly inferior to machines in nearly every way.

Quadruple Backflip(NO.16) (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Auction: V.I.N.CENT robot prop from 1979's Black Hole

Zack sez, "For a starting bid of a mere $40,000, you can own the adorable Roddy McDowell-voiced robot from the eerie, somewhat incomprehensible 1979 Disney SF flick THE BLACK HOLE. The full-sized model includes lights, an internal motor to make the robot's head move, and a certificate of authenticity from the Disney Company. Sadly, there is no word on the availability of Old B.O.B. or Maximillian."

Lot 620: Full-size, screen-used V.I.N.CENT the robot hero from The Black Hole. (Thanks, Zack!)

Hospitalized kid's telepresence bot roams at home

When eight-year-old Grady Hoffman went into the hospital for a bone-marrow transplant and a two month recovery, he stayed in touch with his family by means of a telepresence robot that rolled around the house, feeding him video and audio from home and his siblings, and letting him talk to them. Cory 11