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."
[Video Link]. This parody music video debuted this week on a new YouTube channel called Satire, and mashes up LMFAO's hit “Sexy and I Know It” with the NASA Curiosity mission and abundant JPL-love.
"It comes complete with shout-outs to Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson," reports the Washington Post, which dug into the story behind its creation. Half a million views so far, huh? Best NASA PSA ever.
Randall "XKCD" Munroe's "What If?" site continues to shine -- and possibly even to outshine his most excellent webcomic. This week, Randall (whose background is in robotics), looks at what would happen in a robot uprising. He's rather sanguine about this, given the general uselessness of robots in the field.
Those robots lucky enough to have limbs that can operate a doorknob, or to have the door left open for them, would have to contend with deceptively tricky rubber thresholds before they could get into the hallway...
Hours later, most of them would be found in nearby bathrooms, trying desperately to exterminate what they have identified as a human overlord but is actually a paper towel dispenser...
Battlebots, on the face of it, seem like they’d be among the most dangerous robo-soldiers. But it’s hard to feel threatened by something that you can evade by sitting on the kitchen counter and destroy by letting the sink overflow.
vN, Madeline Ashby's debut novel, drops today. I'm an immense fan of Ashby's work (I actually published her first story) and vN did not disappoint. The novel is set in a medium-term future where a race of self-replicating robots ("von Neumanns" or vNs for short) have been engineered to act as servile helpmeets by an apocalyptic Christian cult that wanted to leave behind a kind of relief mission for the unbelievers and heretics who'd be left behind by the Rapture. The vNs are engineered with a "failsafe" so that they cannot harm humans or allow humans to be harmed (sound familiar?). Even being in the same room as a human who has cut himself can send them into catatonia, and sometimes it's permanent.
The failsafe turns vNs into pathetic servants, sex-slaves, and whipping-posts. A nascent robots' rights movement has legitimized marriage between humans and robots, but these relationships are fraught by their vast power-divide. Meanwhile, all robots must watch their diets -- once they eat enough, they automatically bud off copies of themselves. Vast, vagrant hordes of vNs from uncatalogued clades and variants roam the landscape, scouring dumpsters and junkyards for electronics to consume. The copies that emerge aren't perfect -- rather, these "iterations" are randomly varied next-generations, and evolution is fast emerging every imaginable kind of robot.
Amy, the protagonist of the story, is the "daughter" of a robot and a human. Iterated from her robot mother, she is kept on a near-starvation diet to prevent her from growing up too quickly, and is sent to a human kindergarten where she must be treated with kid gloves -- one schoolyard fight or scuffed knee and she could end up bluescreened, catatonic at the sight of a human in distress. Very early in the story, Amy is cast out on her own, in pursuit of the dark secret of her maternal grandmother, the vN that iterated her mother, a freak of nature who has the power to harm humans, a power Amy may have inherited herself.
Ashby's debut is a fantastic adventure story that carries a sly philosophical payload about power and privilege, gender and race. It is often profound, and it is never boring.
Researchers at UTokyo's Ishikawa Oku Lab have created an unbeatable Rock-Paper-Scissors robot that uses a computer vision system to analyze opponents' hand-shapes for precursors to their final move and form a winning response in a split second, so quickly that to the human eye, it appears that the robot has responded simultaneously:
It only takes a single millisecond for the robot to recognize what shape your hand is in, and just a few more for it to make the shape that beats you, but it all happens so fast that it's more or less impossible to tell that the robot is waiting until you commit yourself before it makes its move, allowing it to win 100% of the time. You might be thinking that you could fool the system by changing your mind halfway through, but my guess is that the hand and vision system are faster than your reflexes could ever be, and that it would be trivial for the robot to adapt to any creative moves that happens on the human end.
Engadget's Brian Heater visited the WobbleWorks folks at the Somerville, Mass. hackerspace, where animatronic dinosaurs and rabbit-ear hats are the order of the day. The WobbleWorkers sound like they have a hell of a time.
Dilworth flips three switches on the robo-dino's neck, firing it up. It looks around quizzically at first before its creator, manipulating knobs on a small block attached to the dinosaur with a thick wire, sends the robot on a clanking walk. The robot is roughly three or four years old, created as a museum piece, an attempt to bring life to lifeless exhibits made of fossil and bone. With a realistic silicone skin created by dinosaur exhibit giant Hall Train, the baby dino might someday become part of a robotic petting zone, wandering around the area with a certain level of autonomy, perpetually grazing in the museum hall.
...During our visit, the pair won't divulge too much about the projects they're prepping, even while many prototypes sit just behind them, atop of a couple of messy desks. They do happily show off a bipedal dinosaur, an early prototype of a future toy that they're looking to land in stores in the next year or so. It's not quite a museum-style protoceratops in every home, but perhaps the minimalist two-motor setup will make such products a little more widespread in a world that wasn't quite ready for Pleo. It's a small, off-white plastic contraption with two giant feet that lumber about. The company's also looking to branch out into four- and six-legged 'bots that share the two-legger's "natural gait," while maintaining a reasonable price point.
K0re on YouTube had a genuinely wonderful day in Switzerland that included the HR Giger museum, lashings of absinthe, and a good deal of time in the company of a machine that patiently rotates wheels of cheese.
I wanted to see the Giger Museum and Bar in Gruyeres about an hour away from Montreux.
The driver Pascal suggested the cheese factory and took me on a mini-tour of how they make gruyere and how the cows are treated, etc. after an afternoon of absinthe and grotesquerie.
A welder in Phoenix assembled a robot out of car and motorcycle parts that serves as a wine-rack. It weighs "Approx 1,000lbs," stands six feet high, holds 32 bottles of wine (or other beverage of choice) and is liberally wired up with glowing LEDs. Yours for a mere $7,000.00.
For the discerning individual who appreciates artwork and wine - you now have a great opportunity to meld those together into one piece of artwork that will display your bottle collection like no other wine rack. This will make you the talk of your wine club, HOA, alcoholics anonymous support group, etc...
There are only several times in one's life when one has the opportunity to purchase something that is RIDICULOUSLY COOL. This is one of those moments.
Need something unique? Sure, you could certainly go to the local Mercedes dealership and pick up a G55 or wait until next year's G63 comes out and yes, it would be unique, you'd be the talk of your friends, and ride around in style but it wouldn't be any different than the next G55 or G63 rolling around. Nooooo waaaaaaay man! Those suckers are mass produced!! You see those all over the place in Scottsdale!
What ya need is a one-off piece of artwork that you will not find anywhere else in the metropolitan area and likely - the entire state.
[Video Link] "The Guns & Gardens crew launches a new reality show called Doomsday Design. In this episode we test the remote hunter killer target drone. Can the drone track and shoot an intruder? Will the drone's armor plating stand up the our AR15, SKS, 12 Gauge, .45 and more?"
Chris writes, "The Anthromod Mk2 hand is a robotic hand where everything, apart from the tendons, are 3D printed. Unlike other printed hands the Mk2 requires minimal assembly, and is also available from the online 3D printers Shapeways. This is an ongoing project and later designs will plan to add greater functionality such as sensing. I'm also planning to start an Indiegogo campaign to help finance the next model."
The underlying hand is printed as a single, assembled piece with all mechanisms in place.
Matt sez, "Hey, it's Matt at the Disinformation Company, and I thought that you'd enjoy the lengthy interview I did with Warren Ellis for the DisinfoCast. We talk about aliens, space travel, the singularity and more. We even squeeze in a second or two for talk about comic books."
Annelise sez, "This is an episode of MakerBot TV which is all about making DIY Robots with MakerBots!"
The MakerBot design team is building a Robot Petting Zoo to bring to this year's Maker Faire. In this video you'll get a behind-the-scenes look at how they conceptualized, designed and created these amazing DIY robots!
Cymon (AKA Joe) won the Tinkercad Chess Set Design contest with his design for Action #Chess, whose pieces can be assembled into a Chess Giant. He's documenting the 3D output of his darling on his MakerBot blog.