Archivio per aprile, 2008


giovedì, aprile 24th, 2008

Honda’s ASIMO robot to conduct Yo-Yo Ma and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

da Engadget di Joshua Topolsky

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One of our favorite bots, Honda’s versatile ASIMO,
will finally spread its wings and embrace the artistic future it’s
always hoped for. On May 13, the automaton will conduct the Detroit
Symphony Orchestra — and Yo-Yo Ma — in a performance of Impossible Dream.
The DSO and Honda have combined forces to bring music education to
children in Detroit, and ASIMO’s concert will be the launching point
for a number of projects the Japanese monolith will be sponsoring in
the industrial city. Sure, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a robot conducting an orchestra, but we’re fairly confident it will be the best… provided the little guy doesn’t take any bad steps.Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments



mercoledì, aprile 23rd, 2008

Fluidhand emerges, i-LIMB hides in shames

da Engadget di Paul Miller

Filed under: ,

After launching its world-beating i-LIMB prosthetic hand last year, Touch Bionics is taking things in a different direction with
feeling some competition from the "Fluidhand." The new hand uses
miniature hydraulics to flex the fingers, and can better interact with
objects — like grasping things with irregular surfaces — than the
five motor i-LIMB. Fludihand is also designed to have a more natural
feel than previous prosthetics, and gives feedback to the stump to let
the user sense the strength of the grip. Currently Fluidhand is just in
the prototype stage, with one patient so far testing both prosthetics
against each other in a battle to the death.

Update: Sorry for the confusion, Fluidhand was built by a some researchers in Karlsruhe, Germany, not by Touch Bionics.
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mercoledì, aprile 23rd, 2008

Honda to show off experimental "walking assist device"

da Engadget di Donald Melanson

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It’s far from the only strength-boosting exoskeleton
out there, but Honda’s so-called "walking assist device" is one of the
few that you can actually take for a test spin — if you happen to be
attending the Barrier Free 2008 trade show in Osaka, Japan next week,
that is. Apparently employing some of the same technology developed by
Honda for its ASIMO
robot, the walking assistant is able to obtain information from hip
angle sensors to help keep its wearer upright, with the device’s motors
also able to increase the wearer’s natural stride. That, Honda says,
should make the device ideal for the elderly or those with weakened leg
muscles, although we’re sure they could find at least a few other
buyers if it ever actually hits the market at a reasonable price.

[Via Autoblog]

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Jessica Rabbit “untooned”

martedì, aprile 22nd, 2008

Posted by David Pescovitz, April 21, 2008 8:18 AM


On the heels of the popular Mario and Homer "untooned" comes Jessica Rabbit. From the post at Pixeloo:

Perhaps "untoon" is the wrong word for this but the
exercise here was to take the exact cartoon proportions of Jessica and
create her with realistic lighting and textures. As was done with Homer
and Mario. I think because of her smooth skin the cartooniness
definitely still comes through a lot more than Homer.

Link (Thanks, Tony Persons!)

Duct tape saved Apollo 17 moonbuggy, while on the moon.

martedì, aprile 22nd, 2008

Posted by Xeni Jardin, April 21, 2008 1:00 PM


On the NASA website today, a tale in praise of the many merits of duct tape when one is on the moon with a busted buggy:

The date was Dec. 11, 1972. Astronauts Gene Cernan and
Jack Schmitt had just landed their lunar module Challenger in a
beautiful mountain-ringed valley named Taurus-Littrow on the edge of
the Sea of Serenity. (…)

"Okay. I can’t say I’m very adept at putting fenders
back on. But I sure don’t want to start without it. I’m just
going to put a couple of pieces of good old-fashioned American
gray tape on it…(and) see whether we can’t make sure it

spite of his thick gloves, Cernan managed to unroll and tear
off the needed pieces, but moondust foiled his first repair:

"…good old-fashioned gray tape doesn’t want to stick
very well." (At a post flight briefing he explained:
"Because there was dust on everything, once you got a
piece of tape off the roll, the first thing the tape stuck
to was dust; and then it didn’t stick to anything else.")

second attempt succeeded, however. "I am done!"
crowed Cernan. "If that fender stays on … I’d like
some sort of mending award." And with that, they were

Link. Image: The Apollo 17 moonbuggy fender repaired with duct tape.


giovedì, aprile 17th, 2008

FastForward, prova di rendering per il modello dell’Ufo per il film Afterville, 2008

Torino 50 anni nel futuro: the movie

frames of movie


props design

ufo design

un’anteprima nazionale assoluta aperta contemporaneamente alla stampa e
al pubblico. La presentazione del film costituirà il secondo
appuntamento della rassegna AFTERVILLE (dopo “Astronave Spaziale
Torino”, la mostra inaugurata al MIAAO lo scorso ottobre).
Torino, 2058. Le Rocce, le gigantesche astronavi di origine aliena che
da anni giacciono conficcate nel tessuto urbano, si sono risvegliate.

Il radiosegnale da loro emesso non è altro che un countdown
inarrestabile che corre verso il Grande Zero. Sam si sveglia come in
una giornata qualunque, pur sapendo che oggi non sarà una giornata
qualunque: la fine – per Torino e per il mondo – è arrivata. Rimangono
ancora poche ore per completare l’ultimo, lungo addio dell’umanità.
AFTERVILLE – THE MOVIE è il primo film di fantascienza dell’era
digitale interamente ambientato e girato a Torino ed è diretto dal duo
di registi milanesi Fabio Guaglione e Fabio Resinaro (già autori di
cortometraggi di fantascienza apprezzati e pluripremiati come “E:D:E:N”
e “The Silver Rope”).

Sarcos XOS exoskeleton

lunedì, aprile 14th, 2008

da Engadget di Donald Melanson

Filed under: ,

We were sold on (and slightly terrified of) the Sarcos XOS exoskeleton
from the moment we first saw it show off its superhuman capabilities on video
late last year, but if you just can’t get enough of it you’ll
definitely want to hit up the ever-dependable Popular Science, which
has now totally blown things out with the full story behind the suit,
complete with some great new pics of it. As if that wasn’t enough, the
piece also includes some tidbits about some of Sarcos’ future plans,
including word that the Army plans to begin field-testing the XOS by
2009, and that the company intends to kick off a new research program
this summer tasked with developing a new generator that’ll be capable
of powering the suit for "hours at a time." Of course, there’s plenty
more in the six-page feature that we’re unable to sum up here, so be
sure to hit up the link below for the full story.


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venerdì, aprile 11th, 2008

Steampunk Star Wars modded action figures

Posted by Cory Doctorow, April 10, 2008 10:54 PM


Sillof (he of the badass Justice League of America steampunk action figure mods) has just unveiled his latest: a deeply awesome range of steampunk Star Wars action figures.


(Thanks, Sillof!)

posted in:


Happy Mutants



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lunedì, aprile 7th, 2008

Japan Gears Up to Become a Full-On Robot Nation

Welcome back to MangoBot, a biweekly column about Asian futurism.
If you’ve noticed an unusually large number of utilitarian humanoids
hailing from Japan in the last few years, then you probably won’t be
surprised to hear about the country’s official robot initiative. Right
now, Japan is in the midst of executing a grand plan to make robots an
integrated part of everyday life. To compensate for the shortage of
young workers willing to do menial tasks, the Japan Robot Association,
the government, and several technology institutions drafted a formal
plan to create a society in which robots live side by side with humans
by the year 2010. Since 2010 is just a couple years away, I called up a
roboticist at the forefront of this movement to find out how it’s going.

But first, some background: In January, roboticists unleashed a
five-foot tall humanoid robot named Robovie in a trendy mall in
downtown Osaka. Robovie’s mission was to help lost shoppers find their
way to their destinations. Using 16 cameras, six laser range finders,
and nine RFID readers, Robovie judged the behavior of all shoppers, 20
at a time, approached those that looked disoriented, and pointed them
in the right direction. Then, as they hastily thanked him and walked
off, he rattled off a list of nearby restaurants in case they were

already see humanoid robots in Japan attending religious ceremonies,
making sushi, planting rice, answering phones in corporate offices,
subbing in as dance partners, and feeding old people whose motor skills
are starting to fail. Animal bots have been making a big breakthrough
too—from the digital Tamagochi to Paro the furry therapeutic seal,
Japanese people are experts at satiating their need for companionship
or assistance via low-maintenance mechanical friends. Monikers like
Robot Kingdom and Robot Nation, which have been used to describe Japan
since the 80s, are relevant now more than ever—with a shrinking labor
force, declining birth rate, and an aging population, the demand for
robotic help in hospitals, nursing homes, offices, and retail spaces is
sky high. Researchers in Japan are confident that, in a few years time,
humans and robots will coexist happily in a fully integrated
man-machine society.

So how exactly are these ambitious roboticists planning to do this?
And is it really going to happen the way they say it will? Takayuki
Furuta, the director of the Future of Robotics Technology Center in
Chiba, tells me that they’re right on track. He states that a primary
goal of the collaboration is to establish international standards for
humanoid robot software and hardware—in a similar manner to how techies
determined what nuts and bolts and basic programs would comprise a
standard computer so many years ago. Phase 1 (planning) and phase 2
(hardware) are complete as of March 2008; phase 3 (software) starts
this month. "We’re going to be the first country in the world with an
official robotics ministry," he says.

In the US, he explains, there’s a strong emphasis on developing
software, like artificial intelligence and programs for military tools
and weapons. But Japan doesn’t have a military, so robotics research
ends up going into applications for everyday life. And since Japan is a
densely populated country with small living quarters, developing
compact hardware for utilitarian humanoids becomes infinitely more

the most important reason why Japan is fit to become the first country
in the world with an official robot ministry is because the Japanese
aren’t afraid of robots. Since the 1950s, the idea of robots as friends
has been engrained in the national psyche through animated characters
like Astro Boy. "In America, you don’t have a very positive image of
humanoid robots," he says. "Look at the Terminator! In Japan, robots
are our friends. It’s part of our cultural background."

A survey conducted last year showed that 40% of Japanese women in
their 20s and 30s talk to their computers, while 10% give them names.
I’ll be the first to admit that the Japanese have a penchant for giving
life to otherwise inanimate objects. But most importantly, it’s not
considered weird at all. Several years ago, it was pretty much expected
that single women who lived alone would share their homes with a Furby.
More recently, families who couldn’t own dogs sought canine
companionship from their Aibos. When you look at it this way, it’s
almost natural that the next step would be full integration of robotics
in daily life on a mass scale.

The initiative doesn’t end in 2010, but that’s the benchmark year by
which they plan on having robots doing janitorial work, security, child
care, client liaison work and intelligent wheelchairs nationwide.
Roboduties will expand to everything else—driving cars, cooking dinner,
producing TV shows, marrying humans—by 2020.

MIT’s Nexi bot wants to be your friend

venerdì, aprile 4th, 2008

da Engadget di Paul Miller

Filed under:

MIT is
really taking its robotics program to a whole new level with its "MDS"
platform, which stands for Mobile, Dexterous and Social. The flagship
bot so far is Nexi, who certainly fits the bill, albeit with an extra
dab of creepy. The bot stands on a Segway-esque wheel base, has
articulated arms and hands, and can convey a wide range of emotion with
that pasty white face. Nexi has a computer on board to manage sensors
and instinctual responses, while it offloads the heavy duty AI work to
a stationary computer over the network. MIT’s eventual goal is to have
Nexi and others participate in Socially Situated Robot Learning —
observing and interacting with humans to figure out how best to
integrate with them. Don’t worry Nexi, we like you for you. Video is after the break.

[Via fresh creation]

Continue reading MIT’s Nexi bot wants to be your friend