Set to compete in the DRA (DARPA Robotics Challenge,) Robotnaut’s newer cousin Valkyrie is designed with a terrestrial environment in mind. Information, pictures, video here.
Google buys 8 robotics companies, including Boston Dynamics
People have joked about Google going sentient and becoming a real, live Skynet. And people have observed that Boston Dynamics’ military robot “PetMan” bears more than a passing resemblance to a Terminator. Well Google just bought Boston Dynamics, its eighth robotics or AI company purchase in 2013. What is Google up to? Probably nothing as sinister as […]
Robugtix T8X – aka Coolest.Thing.Ever.
Tested interviews Adam Savage about his newest acquisition, the Robugtix T8X. The movement of this robot is incredibly lifelike because each leg has three individual servos. Can be purchased from http://www.robugtix.com/
Cheetah Unplugged! (Meet “WildCat”)
Remember the DARPA/Boston Dynamics prototype “Cheetah,” that could run 28.3 mph? (Faster than any human alive.) They have taken it to the next step, equipping it with an onboard gasoline generator for power, and putting the computer and remote control circuitry on board as well. So first they build the machine, and they supply it […]
Studies suggest that humans perceive robots, even simple robots, as a more legitimate authority figure than another human. Pictured above, one of two new 8-foot-tall robots directs traffic in Kinshasa.
“The automatons are little more than traffic lights dressed up as campy 1960s robots—and yet, drivers obey them more readily than the humans previously directing traffic there.”
Companies showed off their weaponized robots to U.S. Army officers at Fort Benning, Georgia last week. Military leaders were looking to see what the technology is capable of and how it could be used on the battlefield. Read more at Computerworld
Fascinating insights and discussion of the ethical and practical considerations of military robots, from The Verge
Postdoctoral Research Associate Mark Gubrud, commenting on the DARPA Robotics Challenge: “DARPA’s trying to put a face on it, saying ‘this isn’t about killer robots or killer soldiers, this is about disaster response,’ but everybody knows what the real interest is.”
Dr. Gubrud does not propose rejecting technology, but putting limits in place. He says on his blog, “Technology should serve human ends, not become the end of humanity.”
See full article and “Bots of War” video at The Verge
Dah-Jye Lee of Brigham Young University has developed the new AI which “avoids human calibration by instead giving computers the skills to learn how to differentiate themselves: so, rather than the operator flagging individual differences between, say, a person and a tree, the computer is given the tools to identify the differences on its own, and then use them moving forward.”
So the computers can figure out for themselves how to identify objects of interest, “without human calibration.”
Says Lee, “It’s very comparable to other object recognition algorithms for accuracy, but, we don’t need humans to be involved,” Lee said. “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time. You just run it.”
RoboEarth is an online international database for robots to share information with each other. It is meant to assist the growing number of household and caregiver robots aimed at the world’s aging populations, and not learn at an exponential rate, become self-aware, and subjugate humanity.
For example, a robot caring for an elderly person could upload its map of the house, including locations of electrical outlets and important medicines, so that a second robot could get the information instantaneously, rather than having to sense, process, and record the data all over again.
Tired of all the Big Brother spying, cameras watching everything you do, and NSA gathering data about your phone calls? Well, tough turkeys, because Silicon Valley startup Knightscope has created K5, a 5-foot-tall, 300 pound patrol bot that patrols a pre-set path, recording video and audio, observing and cross-referencing license plates, and notifying the authorities if it deems anything amiss. Created ostensibly as a means to beef up security on school or college campuses, this RoboNarc would really just program younger generations to accept being watched 24/7. If a shooting is taking place, everyone has cell phones, and they will notify the authorities. There is no justification for buying expensive mobile camera platforms for school campuses, although I could see these being useful for patrolling buildings or warehouses at night.
“I present my most terrifying laser creation as of yet…the remote controlled death ray drone bot! This beast packs a potent 2W blue laser that fries anything in it’s path. It can walk around and shoot its death ray at the touch of a button.”
Japanese robotics company HiBot introduces their new snake robot ACM-R5H, designed to track down humans seeking refuge in the water or something along those lines. As one commenter remarks about the video, “Neat but terrifying.” More at spectrum.