Sony’s Aibo robo dog is back – and it’s cuter than ever

November 1, 2017 by  
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Remember Sony ‘s Aibo pet robot that debuted in 1999? Well, the company just launched a new-and-improved version in Japan today – and it uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to develop a personality over time. Sony designed the robo dog to form “an emotional bond with members of the household while providing them with love, affection and the joy of nurturing and raising a companion.” The robot can learn the layout of your house, respond to voice commands, and melt your heart with nuanced expressions. Aibo was redesigned to be as lifelike as possible. OLED eyes signal changes in expression, fisheye cameras see and recognize individual faces, and actuators allow its body to move smoothly along 22 axes. Over time, the robot learns what behaviors make its owner happy. Similar to a Roomba, the robot can avoid obstacles and accesses the most direct route between locations. Inside, there is built-in LTE and WiFi , a quad-core CPU, and sensors, motors, and gyroscopes. It takes three hours to charge the Aibo robot, and its battery lasts two hours. Pre-orders for the new bot will begin tonight through Sony’s online store in Japan . The Aibo robot costs 179,000 yen (approximately $1,739 USD) and shipments are expected to begin on January 11, 2018. Related: VIDEO: Sony’s new LED light bulb has another very unusual capability The Aibo robot is connected to the cloud, so customers are encouraged to purchase an Aibo Basic Plan that backs up the robot’s unique identity and allows them to access their robot via WiFi or a mobile connection. The plan costs approximately $27 per month; alternatively, a 3-year subscription can be purchased for 90,000 yen ($790 USD). This subscription pairs with the My Aibo app, which manages settings, provides access to photos and allows you to play with a virtual version of the dog. Expect other versions of the Aibo robot in the future. Previously, Sony said that it is “steadily advancing multiple other initiatives in the AI and Robotics field.” + Sony Via Engadget Images via Sony

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Sony’s Aibo robo dog is back – and it’s cuter than ever

This robotic "eel" hunts down the source of water pollution

July 27, 2017 by  
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Lake Geneva’s latest resident—all four feet of it—is neither man nor beast. Dubbed the Envirobot , the critter is a biomimetic robot designed by Swiss researchers to pinpoint the source of pollution in tainted waters. Bereft of fins or propellers, Envirobot slithers through water like an eel, leaving mud and aquatic life undisturbed. Just as stealthily, it uses sensors to gather data from various locations, which it transmits to a remote computer in near-instantaneous fashion. Even for an automaton, Envirobot is uncommonly clever. Besides its capacity to follow a preprogrammed path, it can also make its own decisions, independently sniffing out the origin of the contamination. Related: Fukushima robot finds lava-like deposits thought to be melted nuclear fuel “There are many advantages to using swimming robots,” said Auke Ijspeert, head of biorobotics at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne , in a statement . “They can take measurements and send us data in real-time—much faster than if we had measurement stations set up around the lake.” The serpentine design, which is supported by a series of small electric motors, has several advantages, as well. “Compared with conventional propeller-driven underwater robots, they are less likely to get stuck in algae or branches as they move around,” Ijspeert said. “What’s more, they produce less of a wake, so they don’t disperse pollutants as much.” Funded through a grant from Switzerland’s Nano-Tera program, Envirobot comprises several modules. Some of these contain conductivity and temperature sensors; others have miniaturized biological sensors that harbor bacteria, small crustacean, or fish cells that respond to water toxicity in different ways. The modular tack also makes it easy for engineers to change Envirobot’s composition or vary its length when the occasion calls for it. “The robot can be easily taken apart, transported to a remote water reservoir, for example, and put back together to begin testing,” said Behzad Bayat, another biorobotics scientist at EPFL. Already, Envirobot has taken several dips in Lake Geneva. It recently underwent a test that simulated water pollution by diffusing salt into a tiny area just off the shore, changing the water’s conductivity. The ersatz eel, researchers said, performed swimmingly. Although the ultimate goal is for Envirobot to pick up heavy metals and other pollutants, field tests for the “eel’s” biological components are trickier to carry out. “We obviously can’t contaminate a lake like we do the test water in our lab,” said Jan Roelof van der Meer, project coordinator and head of the department of fundamental microbiology at the University of Lausanne . “For now, we will continue using salt as the contaminant until the robot can easily find the source of the contamination. Then we will add biological sensors to the robot and carry out tests with toxic compounds.” + École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne [Via Techcrunch ]

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This robotic "eel" hunts down the source of water pollution

Adorable AI robot stolls the beach scribbling poems in the sand

July 4, 2017 by  
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Forget the beach balls and margaritas – nothing says relaxing day at the beach like robot-created poetry. Designer Yuxi Liu has created Poet on the Shore – an adorable AI-powered robot that rolls around the beach scribbling lines of poetic prose in the sand. Liu created the battery-powered robot for her Design Informatics thesis at the University of Edinburgh. The adorable mod cube uses four wheels on continuous tracks to easily and autonomously cruise over the sand. Equipped with an anemometer (a device that measures wind speed) as an antenna, the robot picks up on various environmental factors that are recorded into the machine’s data stream. Related: Meet Gita, an intelligent autonomous cargo robot that can carry your stuff Using artificial intelligence technology, the robot is able to piece together this data to create varying verses of poetry, which are imprinted in its tracks as it cruises over the sand. The robot’s vocabulary is programmed with general grammar and spelling conventions, but is free to arrange the words in any form it pleases. According to Liu, the robot “enjoys watching the sea, listening to the sound of waves lapping on the beach, the murmurs of the winds, children’s conversing, and the incessant din of seabirds. Most of the time, it roams alone to listen and feel. Sometimes, it writes verses into the sand, and watches the waves wash them away.” The Poet on the Shore is part of a series Liu created called, “I, Machine”, which explores the “sense, sociability and morality of machines.” + Poet on the Shore Via PSFK

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Adorable AI robot stolls the beach scribbling poems in the sand

MIT unveils new solar 3D printer that can build houses on other planets

April 27, 2017 by  
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Some people dismissed 3D-printing in its early days as a novelty, but these days the technology is coming into its own and researchers at MIT have just taken it to the next level. They’ve created a robot that can print the entire basic structure of a building. This is particularly exciting because it could change the way we construct buildings, making the process faster and less costly. Using the new technology, a builder could customize a structure to fit the desires and site requirements of any space. Along with allowing for a wider variety of materials and a variation in material density, it could mean that someday we can construct buildings that we wouldn’t be able to today using traditional methods. Related: A 10K tiny house 3D-printed in 24 hours The technology includes a vehicle with one large robotic arm with a second smaller, more precise arm at the end. The truck also has a scoop, so that the truck can help prepare the building area and pick up building materials on its own, meaning you could create rammed-earth walls using on-site materials with the same system that you use to print the structure. MIT says the system can be powered electrically with solar panels, which means it could be used in remote areas or even on other planets. MIT showed the technology off by building a 12-foot high, 50-foot wide dome out of foam-insulation framework. The entire structure was completed in just 14 hours. “The construction industry is still mostly doing things the way it has for hundreds of years,” said engineering graduate Steven Keating, who worked on the project. This robot is intended to move things into the future. + MIT

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MIT unveils new solar 3D printer that can build houses on other planets

This bike lane in Korea is topped with 20 miles of solar panels

April 27, 2017 by  
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Is this the greenest road ever? A highway in Korea features a stunning solar-powered bike lane running right down the middle. The lane is offset, protected by barriers, and sheltered by solar panels. The lane runs from Daejeon to Sejong, a distance of around 20 miles (32 km), which is a few hours’ drive from the capital city Seoul. It’s a fantastic idea that could pave the way for similar commuting-style bike lanes in the future. + Janbaz Salehi

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This bike lane in Korea is topped with 20 miles of solar panels

Tiny robot caterpillar can push objects ten times its size

August 23, 2016 by  
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Physics researchers at the University of Warsaw have created an innovative soft robot that packs a powerful punch for its size. Despite being only 15 millimeters long, this powerful machine can carry loads up to 10 times larger than itself. While soft robots inspired by caterpillars have been designed before, it’s been a challenge to build them at a natural scale due to the available parts simply being too large and inflexible. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wulyMNiakpU That’s where this robot is different. At first glance, it appears to simply be a thin, transparent piece of plastic. However, when exposed to light , the body contracts in a wave pattern which moves it forward. The secret to this motion is in the light-sensitive elastomer the robot is made of, which is aligned in a specific molecular pattern. Related: Robo Raven Robot Can Flap its Wings Like a Real Bird The researchers could even change the lighting conditions in order to made the robot perform a variety of different actions . Not only can it haul a cargo, but it can also crawl through small crevices and climb up slopes. The robot is further controlled with a spatially modulated laser beam . Using what they’ve learned of new fabrication techniques and design strategies, the Warsaw team hopes to further develop the technology and create soft robots capable of swimming and even flying. Their findings have been published in the journal Advanced Optical Materials . + Faculty of Physics University of Warsaw Via Engadget Images via FUW and coniferconifer

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Tiny robot caterpillar can push objects ten times its size

Tropical solar-powered home boasts spectacular views of the ocean and jungle

August 23, 2016 by  
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While sustainability is a key objective of the two-story Terrace House, the architects also strived to make the home as comfortable and beautiful as possible. The 300-square-meter building’s remote location on Puntarenas necessitated the design of semi-prefabricated steel members lightweight enough to be brought on-site and preassembled with local construction methods. The use of lightweight materials and careful placement of the house against the back of a steep hill helped minimize site disturbance . To minimize dependence on air conditioning despite the region’s hot and humid climate, the architects created computer models to analyze local wind patterns and the solar trajectory. That data informed an airy and open house layout that uses passive solar design and cross ventilation to stay naturally cool. Photovoltaic panels power the home’s electricity needs, while solar thermal technology heats the water. All appliances and fixtures in the house were chosen for their energy efficient features. Rainwater is collected from all roof structures and reused throughout the home. Related: Tropical Casa Flotanta Hovers Lightly Above the Pacific in Costa Rica The most open areas of the home are placed closest to the ocean and jungle views, while the bedrooms and bathrooms are tucked to the rear. “The result is a series of interwoven terraces that relate to each other in all dimensions creating not only an internal dynamic interaction between levels, but also varied and sometimes unexpected relationships between the inhabitants and the natural landscape,” write the architects. “In these interstitial terrace spaces, which are never truly inside or out, architecture comes to foster the relationship, enjoyment, and appreciation of the natural world by the inhabitants.” Most of the construction materials were locally and ethically sourced, such as the certified Melina wood, and assembled by local workers. + Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture Images via Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture , by Andres Garcia Lachner

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16-year-old wins Marvel’s STEM challenge with seeing eye robot

May 20, 2016 by  
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Seeing eye dogs make great companions for the visually impaired, but what if there was one that didn’t need to be fed or cleaned up after? Sixteen-year-old Maia Dua created one: a seeing eye robot  that can do everything a dog can, without the expensive and lengthy training. Her invention beat out a thousand other entries to win Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War — Girls Performing the Future Challenge . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AryhbCZqgYs The California high school student was inspired to create a robotic aid for the visually impaired after she heard about the high cost of raising and training seeing eye dogs . Compared to the $50,000 expense of breeding and training seeing eye dogs, and then connecting them with visually impaired owners, Dua’s invention costs just $600. She built her robot in four days, a tiny fraction of the time it takes to train a companion animal . Related: Teen wins $100,000 for new water purification system to remove Everglades pollutants The wheeled robot has a long handle and looks a bit like those non-electric carpet sweepers used at movie theaters. The device is equipped with a series of sensors that detect nearing objects and beeps to alert the user. The seeing eye robot can’t replace a trained animal companion, as it lacks the ability to scope out a situation and make decisions (such as at a crosswalk). However, in simple surroundings, the robot can give a hardworking dog a much needed break. The design competition, open only to girls aged 15 to 18 enrolled in 10th to 12th grades, awarded each participant with a $500 savings account from sponsor Synchrony Bank. Dua, the grand prize winner, won an internship at Marvel Studios. Although the contest backers advertised the challenge as a means to empower girls in STEM fields, critics say Marvel (a Disney-owned company) would have had a greater impact by simply putting more female characters in their movies. Via Yahoo Images via Marvel Studios and KCRA

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Apple unveils iPhone recycling robot and launches major Apple Renew initiative

March 21, 2016 by  
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There are around one billion Apple devices in use, and with that comes “significant responsibility,” according to Apple CEO Tim Cook. That’s why Apple just unveiled Liam, a robot that quickly and efficiently disassembles old iPhones so that their components can be reused for other products (like solar panels ). Apple’s VP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson unveiled Liam and announced plans to relaunch Apple’s recycling initiative during today’s keynote presentation. Read the rest of Apple unveils iPhone recycling robot and launches major Apple Renew initiative

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Artist creates thousands of urban birdhouses out of recycled scrap wood

March 21, 2016 by  
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