Less than 100 years from now, robots will be friendly, useful participants in our homes and workplaces, predicts UBC mechanical engineering professor and robotics expert Elizabeth Croft. We will be living in a world of Wall-Es and Rosies, walking-and-talking avatars, smart driverless cars and automated medical assistants.
To design a gendered robot is a deception. Robots cannot have a gender in any meaningful sense. To impose a gender on a robot, either by design of its outward appearance, or programming some gender stereotypical behaviour, cannot be for reasons other than deception - to make humans believe that the robot has gender, or gender specific characteristics.
Should you always do what other people tell you to do? Clearly not. Everyone knows that. So should future robots always obey our commands? At first glance, you might think they should, simply because they are machines and that’s what they are designed to do. But then think of all the times you would not mindlessly carry out others’ instructions – and put robots into those situations.
In a new paper, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) present the first-ever technique for 3-D printing robots that involves printing solid and liquid materials at the same time.
Fellow Robots, in partnership with Lowes Hardware, today launched the OSHbot as a customer assistant robot at the Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Jose. Although the robot can only give information, this trial will help determine what sort of benefit a robot assistant can provide, both to customers and to store associates.
A large robot comes out of an office mailroom carrying a package marked “Urgent” to deliver to the boss upstairs. After navigating down the hall at maximum speed, it discovers someone is already waiting for the elevator. If they cannot both fit in the elevator, is it acceptable for the robot to ask this person to take the next elevator so it can fulfill its urgent delivery duty?
Three years after their successful Cubelets, Modular Robotics launched a new kickstarter today for Moss. It’s like Cubelets just got clever and maybe a little bit more fashionable too. Moss is a dynamic robot construction kit and by the time you read this, the kickstarter will be well over the target of $100,000. This is a loyalty and publicity kickstarter, not a plea for funding to get a prototype off the ground!
After receiving a $1million seed fund round from investors like Google Ventures, many of us have been waiting for Play-i to come out of stealth and show us their stuff. Play-i are a Silicon Valley based startup with a founding team from Amazon, Google, frog design and Apple; Vikas Gupta, Mikal Greaves, Saurabh Gupta and Imran Khan. Play-i aim to make programming simple and affordable for every child.
Didn’t get a robot entered in the DARPA grand robotics challenge (DRC)? Never mind, there are several robot design and business model competitions on at the moment, from social robots, to affordable robots, to open source humanoids. The International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR) is running a design competition for robot companions. RoboSavvy is running a design competition for an open source humanoid robot and the African Robotics Network (AFRON) is running their second annual “$10 robot design” challenge. Deadlines are approaching so get designing!
Dash is the first product to launch today on Dragon Innovation‘s new hardware crowdfunding site. Dragon Innovation was founded in 2009 by Scott Miller and Herman Pang, ex iRobot and Hasbro. Dragon are partnering with GE, Qualcomm and freescale to bring us this new hardware crowdfunding site, which seems to be nicely positioned to accelerate startups somewhere in between Quirky, IndieGogo and the nuts and bolts of real world accelerators. Of course, Dragon are also behind Bolt, Boston’s new hardware accelerator.
Crowdfunding is often cited as one of the mechanisms accelerating robot startups, alongside COTS, reduced costs, rapid prototyping, digital manufacturing, smart phones, connectivity etc. The entire premise of Chris Anderson’s new book “Makers: the new Industrial Revolution” is that we now live in a time when the barriers to hardware production are lower than they’ve ever been before and we are seeing a surge of hardware innovation. But while the general trend is that crowdfunding creates a flourishing environment for startups, is crowdfunding really derisking your robot startup?
While I love getting robots in the mail, crowdfunding sites are also good for supporting a whole range of robot related activities. The 3rd annual Robot Film Festival just launched a Kickstarter campaign to complement ticket sales on Eventbrite. This year, the Robot Film Festival is at Bot&Dolly studios in San Francisco on July 20-21, after very successful previous events in New York.