oped to interact with human beings
(often the sick and elderly) and make
them feel emotionally attached to it.
According to the company, such
devices provide three basic therapeutic
effects: psychological (e.g., relaxation
and motivation), physiological
(improved vital signs), and social
(stimulating communication between
patients and caregivers). Going beyond
a common stuffed animal, Paro
incorporates tactile, light, audio, temperature, and posture sensors to comprehend people and its environment.
It recognizes light and dark and
gets sleepy at night. It blinks its eyes
and makes seal noises. It likes to be petted and tries to avoid you if you smack
it. Paro can even recognize words and
where your voice is coming from, and
you can tickle it by touching its whiskers.
Pretty clever. But with Paro’s
$3,200 price tag, a cat might be a
more cost-effective solution.
Don’t Eat the Yellow Ice
Yuki-taro, the snow-eating robot.
Photo courtesy of RDI.
Also more huggable than it needs
to be is Yuki-taro, from Research &
Development, Inc. (RDI,
www.rdi-japan.com), which has been described
as “a supercute robot that eats up
snow and poops ice blocks.” Developed
by a consortium in Japan’s snowy
Niigata Prefecture, it is self-guided via a
GPS system and cameras mounted in
his “eyes.” He measures 63 x 37 x 30 in
(160 x 95 x 75 cm), weighs in at 880 lb
(400 kg), and his droppings are 24 x 12
x 6 in (~ 60 x 30 x 15 cm) ice bricks.
Given the nature of his diet, you
probably won’t want to crush up the
bricks for your evening cocktail, but
the ice could be stored for refrigeration or air conditioning in summer
months. Yuki-taro isn’t ready for mass
production yet, but its inventors hope
to be selling them within five years.
The estimated price will be $9,000.
Report on Future Military
New report from the DoD outlines its
plans for future unmanned systems.
Photo courtesy of
US Department of Defense.
In its infinite wisdom, the US
Department of Defense (www.
defenselink.mil) has released a report
titled, “Unmanned Systems Roadmap
2007—2032,” which outlines how
the military intends to proceed in
developing, acquiring, and integrating
unmanned technology over the next
25 years. This should prove helpful to
inventors, defense contractors, hostile
governments, terrorists, and anyone
else who has an interest in such things.
The Roadmap covers not only
UAVs but land- and maritime-operated
systems, as well. The report is available
at a somewhat out-of-the-way corner
of the DoD website, or you can
download it at www.jkeckert.com/
Do-It-Yourself Earth Defense
Daniel Wilson’s latest book,
How to Build a Robot Army.
Photo courtesy of Bloomsbury USA.
Strangely, the DoD’s Roadmap
completely ignores the threat of aliens
from outer space, but Daniel H. Wilson,
Ph.D., has it covered in his latest book,
How to Build a Robot Army. Regardless
of whether you find yourself attacked
by aliens, ninjas, or zombies (or mum-mies or great white sharks or Godzilla),
you can get the better of your bloodthirsty adversaries using the techniques
outlined within. You can pick up the
paperback edition from amazon.com
for a paltry $11.16 as of this writing.
And may the farce be with you. SV
SERVO 03.2008 9