Saturday, September 26, 2009

L300 Automatic Robot Lawn Mower Demo Video

Auto Lawn Mow presents the new line L300 basic model of Auto Lawn mowers. As the top of the line model, this is a robotic auto lawn mower that can handle over three acres of grass. Clean, effective and fully automatic, you can do whatever you want to do while the robot mows the grass. To understand the power of our flagship auto lawn mower, explore the range of features and benefits of the L300. This beautiful robotic lawn mower is everything you ever wanted and more!

Controlling and programming the new top of the range L300 model couldn't be easier. Using a Bluetooth™ mobile phone set the days and times you want L300 to cut or use the simple control panel on the rear of the mower. The heavy duty wheel motors are ideal for 30° slopes.

Intelligent mowing technology, means where the grass is longer, the L300 Robotic Lawn Mower will perform a 'Smart Spiral' function. In shorter grass L300 will save power by slowing the blade down.

This really is the Rolls Royce of robot lawn mowing. It not only looks good on the outside, it is very high-tech on the inside.

Fully Autonomous - The L300 Robotic Lawn mower returns to the recharge base on its own when the battery gets low - You can go all season long without worry. Get up to 8 hours without having to re-charge.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Taiwan plans to build robot pandas

A CUTTING-EDGE lab in Taiwan aims to develop panda robots that are friendlier and more artistically endowed than their endangered real-life counterparts.

THE Centre for Intelligent Robots Research said its world-first panda robot was taking shape at the hands of an ambitious group of scientists hoping to add new dimensions to the island's reputation as a high-tech power.

"The panda robot will be very cute and more attracted to humans. Maybe the panda robot can be made to sing a panda song,'' the centre's 52-year-old director Jerry Lin said.

Day by day, the panda has evolved on the centre's computer screens and, if funding permitted, the robot would take its first steps by the end of the year.

"It's the first time we try to construct a quadrupedal robot," Jo Po-chia, a doctoral student who is in charge of the robot's design, said.

"We need to consider the balance problem."

The robo-panda was just one of many projects on the drawing board at the centre attached to the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology.

The Taipei-based centre also aimed to build robots that looked like popular singers, so exact replicas of world stars could perform in the comfort of their fans' homes.

"It could be a Madonna robot. It will be a completely different experience from just listening to audio,'' Mr Lin said.

Mr Lin and his team were also working on educational robots that acted as private tutors for children, teaching them vocabulary or telling them stories in foreign languages.

There is an obvious target market: China, with its tens of millions of middle-class parents doting on the one child they are allowed under strict population policies.

"Asian parents are prepared to spend a lot of money to teach their children languages,'' Mr Lin said.

Robots running amok were a fixture of popular literature but parents did not have to worry about leaving their children home alone with their artificial teachers, he said.

"A robot may hit you like a car or a motorbike might hit you," he said.

"But it won't suddenly lose control and get violent. Humans lose control, not robots. It's not like that.''

Mr Lin's long-term dream was to create a fully-functioning Robot Theatre of Taiwan, with an ensemble of life-like robots able to sing, dance and entertain.

Two robotic pioneers, Thomas and Janet, appeared before an audience in Taiwan in December, performing scenes from the Phantom of the Opera, but that was just the beginning, Mr Lin said.

"You can imagine a robot shooting down balloons, like in the wild west, using two revolvers, or three, but much faster than a person," Mr Lin said.

"Some things robots can do better than humans with the aid of technologies."

Robot prepares tea at CeBIT

Fair visitors look at the humanoid robotic system "Rollin' Justin" preparing a tea on March 2, 2009 at the world's biggest high-tech fair CeBIT in Hanover, central Germany.


A biomimetic underwater robot, named "RoboLobster", designed by Professor Joseph Ayers, is seen, Aug. 17, 2007, in Nahant, Massachusetts. RoboLobster is intended to be used to recognize changes in seawater and to locate and destroy underwater mines.

Let's talk about sex ... with robots

David Levy came to fame with chess programs, but now has ambitions to use his prize-winning chatbot software to spice up robots.

People often talk to machines, including computers and robots, and a growing number of AI (artificial intelligence) researchers are working to enable them to talk back. And soon, human-computer interactions may include having sex with them. That's the view of David Levy, who has just won the 2009 Loebner prize for the most human-like chatbot.

The annual competition, held last week in Brighton, is based on the "Turing test" inspired by a 1950 paper written by the British computer scientist Alan Turing: that when communicating only via a keyboard, a judge should have trouble distinguishing the software from a human being.

Turning predicted that by 2000, "an average interrogator will not have more than 70% chance of making the right identification after five minutes of questioning". Conversation programs are still a very long way from that, but Levy's Do-Much-More chatbot, developed at Intelligent Toys Ltd in London, has its charms. (An earlier version was called Do-A-Lot, after Eliza Doolittle in Shaw's play Pygmalion.) One Loebner conversation, for example, went as follows:

Judge-3: What do you do when you're not doing the Loebner prize?

Do-Much-More: Oh, I do much more than I intended to do at first. I got more interested in the job as I went along.

Judge-3: Is that difficult?

Do-Much-More: No, it isn't at all difficult. It is as peaceful as a platypus playing with a potato pudding.

Surprise win

Levy last won the competition when it was held in New York in 1997, so why did he wait so long to re-enter? It does, after all, carry a lot of prestige, and this year's cash prize was $3,000. "About 18 months ago, I was approached by an American startup, and I got involved with developing a chatbot for them. So I took some work I'd done after the last competition, and we extended it. I was quite pleased with it, and it occurred to me that the advances in chatbot quality since I first won the prize were really nothing to write home about. So, more as an experiment that anything else, I thought it would be interesting to see how I fared against the cream of the crop. I didn't enter with the idea that I was going to win. It surprised me a lot."

Levy has, of course, seen dramatic improvements in chess computers since "the Levy Challenge": in 1968, he bet £1,000 that no computer program would beat him in a chess match within 10 years. He didn't lose what had become a $5,000 challenge until 1989, and by 1997, a chess computer was capable of beating the world champion, Garry Kasparov. Chatbots started with Joseph Weizenbaum's Eliza "psychotherapist" in the 1960s: why haven't they made similar progress?

"It's a very difficult problem to solve, and to solve any of the major tasks in AI requires a huge amount of effort," says Levy. "One of the reasons computer chess progressed was that the subject was so interesting that there were hundreds of people all over the world working on chess programs, and on the hardware as well. I think that if the same effort was devoted to good conversational programs – if research institutes or governments or corporations threw enough money at it – the state of the art would advance even further."

Well, people nowadays often interact with artificial intelligences in games and on the web, so why aren't commercial needs already driving that investment?

"There are two things about the commercial world: one is to have the need, and the other is to have the confidence or the courage to invest significant resources," says Levy. Until recently there was justifiable doubt whether throwing a lot of money at the problem would produce something good enough to be used commercially. Now companies are probably beginning to realise that it might bring about the kind of advances they're looking for.

"For a program to be commercially successful in this field, it has to be interesting and entertaining over a long period. It's not enough to have someone conduct a conversation for two or three minutes and say, 'Oh, isn't that cute?' "

Of course, AI researchers have developed both chatbots and humanoid or at least pet-like robots, and it seems most likely the two will eventually converge. It's hard to imagine a good companion or carer robot that can't understand what people say, and that might also apply to sex robots. This is an area Levy got to know well through researching his 2007 book Love and Sex With Robots, which he then rewrote as a PhD thesis for Maastricht University in the Netherlands. It caused quite a stir.

"It did, yes, and I was very pleased about that," he replies. "I've done more interviews about Love and Sex With Robots than I have about computer chess!"

Almost human

But so far there hasn't been any commercial interest in adding conversation software to sex robots. "The state of the art is only a little further advanced than the Real Dolls of this world," he says. "There's a Japanese company that has a product called HoneyDoll, which has some electronic sensors. If the man strokes the nipples in the right way, the doll can make orgasmic sounds … There's also an engineer in Germany, Michael Harriman, who has developed a doll that has heating elements so most of the body is warm, apart from the feet."

There's also a lot of AI research going into artificial emotions and artificial personalities; into things such as artificial skin in the medical industries; and in Japan, into carer robots, which the Japanese government sees as the only way of caring for rapidly growing numbers of older people. All these should make it possible to produce far more sophisticated robot companions than Tamagotchi, Furby, Aibo and Robosapiens.

"I think the sex robot will happen fairly soon because the bottom is dropping out of the adult entertainment market, because there's so much sex available for nothing on the internet," says Levy. "I think the market was worth something like $12bn a year, and they aren't going to want to lose all their income, and this seems to me an obvious direction to go. The market must be vast, if you think of the number of vibrators that sell to women. I'm sure a male sex doll with a vibrating penis will sell better than sex dolls today. I'll be surprised if it's more than another three years or so before we see more advanced sex dolls with more electronics and electromechanics.

"There will be a huge amount of publicity when products like this hit the market. As soon as the media starts writing about 'My fantastic weekend with a sex doll', it will be like the iPhone all over again, but the queues will be longer.

"I am firmly convinced there will be a huge demand from people who have a void in their lives because they have no one to love, and no one who loves them. The world will be a much happier place because all those people who are now miserable will suddenly have someone. I think that will be a terrific service to mankind."

Twendy-One demonstrates robo-dexterity!

Twendy-One demonstrates its ability to hold delicate objects by manipulating a drinking straw between its fingers at the Department of Mechanical Engineering laboratory in Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009. The sophisticated robot has been developed by the university's team, led by Dr. Shigeki Sugano, in hope of supporting people in aging societies.

Driverless trucks and voice-activated pets could be commonplace by 2019

Driverless juggernauts could be on our roads within ten years, experts predict.

And these trucks look like being the forerunners of a robot revolution.

According to the Royal Academy of Engineering, artificially intelligent robots and computers capable of making life and death decisions will become more and more common in all aspects of life.

The academy wants a public debate about the social, legal and ethical issues raised by the increasing use of 'thinking' machines such as surgeons, soldiers, babysitters, therapists, carers for the old and even sex partners.

Their report, called Autonomous Systems, explains how the computer-directed trucks would use data from laser-radar, video cameras and sat-nav to steer through traffic and pedestrians.

Report co-author Professor Will Stewart, of Southampton University, said driverless lorries and cars would make motoring far safer.

'The machine is a perfectly safe object. It is not prone to some of the things that you and I are prone to,' he said. 'It can run 24 hours a day without getting tired and it will always do the same thing.'

He said the technology is already in place for driverless cars and robotic taxis that take passengers to any destination are likely within 20 years. Fully automated trains are already in use on London's Docklands Light Railway and a driverless taxi that can do 25mph on a network of narrow roads will be launched next year at Heathrow.

Professor Stewart said automated vehicles would be most useful for haulage, adding: 'I think in ten years 30 per cent of trucks could be machine-operated.' Their computers will be programmed to predict the behaviour of other road users, to slow down safely if other vehicles get too close and to learn from their mistakes.

If a lorry detected a mechanical or software fault it would pull over and radio for help.



Using laser-radar and cameras they will scan for traffic and build up a 3-D picture of the road around them. They will be programmed to anticipate dangers such as pedestrians crossing, other vehicles and debris. Driverless taxis are due to appear at Heathrow next year


Intelligent and responsive robot dogs, pets and birds that react to voice commands and seek out their owner's company. Can be fitted with sensors and alarms to alert relatives if their owner falls ill.


An autonomous robot was used in a kidney transplant in London in June. Initially designed for remote areas or battlefields, they could be fitted with 3-D ultrasound and video cameras and used for routine operations.


Primitive versions on sale in Japan can recognise faces, make conversation and keep track of babies. Later models could educate and entertain children and contact parents by phone or alarm if they get into trouble or fall ill.

Welcome to the robot revolution

Much like the then-fledgling PC industry in the late 1970s, the robotics industry is on the cusp of a revolution, contends the head of Microsoft Corp.'s robotics group.

Today's giant, budget-bending robots that are run by specialists in factories and on assembly floors are evolving into smaller, less-expensive and cuter machines that clean our carpets, entertain us and may someday take care of us as we grow old. The move is akin to the shift from the mainframe world of the 1970s to the personal computers that invaded our offices and homes over the past 20 to 25 years.

"The transition is starting," said Tandy Trower, general manager of Microsoft's 3-year-old robotics group. "It's like we're back in 1977 -- four years before the IBM PC came out. We were seeing very primitive but very useful machines that were foreshadowing what was to come. In many ways, they were like toys compared to what we have today. It's the same with robots now."

Trower said many countries are making significant investments in robotics, and advances are beginning to multiply. Robotic aids and companions -- some looking like an updated version of R2-D2 and others more humanoid -- will begin moving into our homes in three to five years as technology advances and prices drop, he predicted.

"Robots are really an evolution of the technology we have now," Trower said. "We're just adding to our PCs, really. We're letting them get up off our desks and move around. They're evolving into something you will engage with and will serve you in your life someway."

Some, experts though, are hesitant to talk of revolutions, especially in an industry that has seen many promises made that have yet to materialize.

James Kuffner, an associate professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, warns that any revolution could be lengthy, as robots likely won't soon be doing dishes and walking dogs for about 20 years.

"People ask me when they'll have a Jetsons-like robot walking around their house," Kuffner said. "I tell them the first gas-powered engine was built in 1885, but it took until 1915 before a large segment of the population could afford a car. When that happened, society was transformed. In the 1950s, the first computers were built, but it wasn't until the early '80s when the personal computer came on the scene. And, of course, it completely transformed society."

Kuffner said the he believes the robot revolution countdown should start in 1996 when Honda Motor Co. released the P2, a self-contained, life-size humanoid machine. Going by historical example, a good portion of the population could have a robot in the home by 2026, he said.

"The Roomba vacuum cleaner is often seen as the first successful home robot, but it's pretty limited," Kuffner added. "So, sure, you can say we have robots in our homes. But a humanoid robot like you see in Hollywood movies, designed to perform a large number of tasks without special programming or tuning? In about 20 years."

Neena Buck, an independent robotics analyst based in Cambridge, Mass., said agreed that the robotics business will take off, but that it will be some time before humanoid robots are washing cars or dancing. First, she said, there will be single-task robots for house cleaning and the like, and exoskeletal robots to help people with infirmities.

"A Jetsons robot -- I don't think that's how it will happen," she said. "Maybe people need to change their vision of a robot."

Trower told Computerworld that robotics has been slow to grow in recent years because of the lack of a standard software platform -- the very thing Microsoft Corp. mandated he create.

The Microsoft robotics group, which is tasked with generating profits within three to five years, is now updating its Robotics Studio software, which includes a tool set and a set of programming libraries that sit on top of Windows. The studio also includes a programming language and a simulator, so that developers can first try out programs in a virtual world. The latest version of the studio platform is slated to ship by the end of this year, according to Trower.

"The robotics industry needs portability," said Trower. "There's been no standard. We wanted to make it easy for the industry to bootstrap itself. I truly think software is holding the robotic industry back."

Software was definitely holding back graduate students at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in their quest to build a new version of the school's uBot robot.

Bryan Thibodeau and Patrick Deegan are both graduate students who have been building the fifth generation of uBot, dubbed uBot-5, a two-wheeled, two-armed robot that can maintain its balance.

The developers said they expect to save significant time during the development of uBot 6 due to the use of Robotics Studio in their current project. "We can transfer applications we've written before for this to other robots," said Deegan. "This is the fifth generation, and we had to write code from scratch every time. The next time, we won't. It'll save us tons of time -- probably six months minimum. Now, we can start from here and keep going."

During a demonstration of the uBot-5, Thibodeau said that the developers will spend a lot less time simply reinventing the wheel. "Now we can focus on doing more, instead of doing the same thing over again," he added.

Deegan and Thibodeau noted that they hope the uBot will eventually be used to help care for the growing elderly population, helping them stay in their homes longer and more safely.

With two arms that one day could open a door, two wheels to move it about a home, and a rotating torso and touch screen that could enable it to "look" about its environment, Trower called uBot-5 is a good example of what's likely the next generation of in-home robots.

"The idea of dexterous manipulation makes a difference," said Trower. "It would be able to interact with things in the home environment, load the dishwasher, fold clothes. Once it has two arms, it opens up a huge variety of possibilities."

A touch screen that sits on the uBot-5's shoulders could act, for example, as a sort of portal for an elderly woman living alone. If the woman fell and was unresponsive, the robot could be programmed to recognize the problem and alert emergency response services. Her doctor could access the robot through his computer, see what the robot sees and speak to the woman through the robot. His face could appear on the screen, making it more natural for the two to talk to each other, using the robot as the conduit.

Richard Doherty, research director at The Envisioneering Group, a market research firm n Seaford, N.Y., said progress in the robotics industry could be limited or slowed because people will be afraid of losing their jobs -- such as a home care assistant -- to robots.

"In this country, people are afraid for their jobs. They don't want to see a robotic coffee maker or robots that could change your oil … or take care of the elderly," said Doherty. "It's job inertia. … We need to see robots in a different light. We need people to understand that this machine could help care for their grandmother."

This is exactly the kind of aid and companionship that one artificial intelligence researcher expects to see from robots in the coming years. David Levy, a British artificial intelligence researcher whose book, Love and Sex with Robots, was released last November, said in a previous interview that robotics will make such dramatic advances in the coming years that humans will be marrying robots by the year 2050.

"Robots started out in factories making cars. There was no personal interaction," said Levy, who is also an international chess master who has been developing computer chess games for years. "Then people built mail-cart robots, and then robotic dogs. Now robots are being made to care for the elderly. In the last 20 years, we've been moving toward robots that have relationships with humans, and it will keep growing toward a more emotional relationship, a more loving one and a sexual one."

While iRobot Corp.'s Roomba may be a vacuum cleaner and not a companion, Trower noted that people who own the robots identify with them, often naming them, drawing faces on them and even insisting that broken ones be repaired rather than replaced with a new machine.

"This is part of the evolution," said Trower. "We now see robots coming into people's lives and living with us. It's sneaking in and saying, 'Aren't I cute?'"

Smart building

Think of it as home automation but on a far larger scale: The Small Robotics Building project is a joint undertaking by Shimizu Corp and Yasukawa Electric Corp in Japan.

Utilizing smart infrastructure technology and robotics, the companies are creating an automated living environment that can handle such duties as reception, deliveries, cleaning, and security, without the need for human intervention.

Instead of relying on individual robots to perform functions like human detection and device control, all this is handled by the building-wide network, which then dispatches robots to perform various tasks.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Nasa spacebot

NASA's Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot (LEMUR) is being designed as an inspection/maintenance robot for equipment in space. A scaled-up version of Lemur IIa, could help build large structures in space. The Lemur IIa pictured here is shown on a scale model of a segmented telescope.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cardio Home Automation System

The Cardio Home Automation System Designed and produced in 1992 by Secant, a Canadian company.
Home automation is one of those things that everyone was predicting was going to take off years ago but has never really eventuated for the masses.

Amigo intelligent home network

This is a video from the EU-IST funded Amigo project. The Amigo project develops an open service oriented middleware architecture for context-aware networked home environments. This video envisions a day in the life of a family living in such an intelligent home environment. It's a couple of years old, but still reasonably relevant.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Plasmobot: the slime mould robot

THOUGH not famed for their intellect, single-celled organisms have already demonstrated a surprising degree of intelligence. Now a team at the University of the West of England (UWE) has secured £228,000 in funding to turn these organisms into engineering robots.

In recent years, single-celled organisms have been used to control six-legged robots, but Andrew Adamatzky at UWE wants to go one step further by making a complete "robot" out of a plasmodium slime mould, Physarum polycephalum, a commonly occurring mould that moves towards food sources such as bacteria and fungi, and shies away from light.

Affectionately dubbed Plasmobot, it will be "programmed" using light and electromagnetic stimuli to trigger chemical reactions similar to a complex piece of chemistry called the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction, which Adamatzky previously used to build liquid logic gates for a synthetic brain.

By understanding and manipulating these reactions, says Adamatzky, it should be possible to program Plasmobot to move in certain ways, to "pick up" objects by engulfing them and even assemble them.

Initially, Plasmobot will work with and manipulate tiny pieces of foam, because they "easily float on the slime", says Adamatzky. The long-term aim is to use such robots to help assemble the components of micromachines, he says.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

next-gen exploration robots

Two All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer (ATHLETE) rovers traverse the desert terrain adjacent to Dumont Dunes, CA. The ATHLETE rovers are being built to be capable of rolling over Apollo-like undulating terrain and "walking" over extremely rough or steep terrain for future lunar missions.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Parasitic Robots Feed Off Stray Energy

A Mexican artist has created a series of robots as art forms that depict human life in a consumption based society.