WORKING FOR PEANUTS
This is that elephant trunk robot arm thing from Festo.
Festo's design is actually a clever halfway house between a fully-articulated robot arm that mimics the musculo-skeletal structure of a
human arm and a basic rotating-joint robot arm like the kind you might
find currently in action welding car parts together on a production line.
It's intended to perform manipulator tasks like gripping objects off a production line and popping them into boxes, and it looks
to be more dextrous than a simple jointed arm, while also being more delicate and clever about gripping the objects it finds.
That would seem to make it ideal for manufacturing tasks that current robots might not be so suitable for, such as in the food
The Festo arm is based on an elephant's trunk anatomy with segmented parts that are made of lightweight rapid-prototyped plastic material and air pressure-driven "muscle" chambers.
LEAN, MEAN, HRP- 4 MACHINE
Kawada Industries and the National Institute of Advanced
Industrial Science and Technology (ASIT) have unveiled the latest
edition to their family of androids: the HRP- 4. HRP- 4 is designed “in
the image of a lean but well-muscled track-and-field athlete.” It is
pretty damn lean — at five feet tall, it only weighs 86 pounds and it
boasts increased flexibility of its 34 joints over its predecessors.
Despite its apparent lack of big fat heavy stuff like powerful motors,
computers, and batteries, it has no trouble doing all of the
important android basics.
HRP- 4 is designed to aid in the development of robots that
could replace humans in simple manual labor, specifically to address Japan’s impending labor shortage (due to an aging
population and low birthrate).
HRP- 4 will be available in 2011 for about $305,000.
This is a robot swan. A Swedish robot swan, in fact. This particular
Swedish robot swan has been taught to dance as part of a collaborative
project between the computer science and theater departments at
Mälardalen University. The actual choreography was done by professional
dancer Asa Unander-Scharin, who programmed movements into the swan’s
wings, neck, beak, and feet. Apparently, the performances move people to
tears, and spectators have described the experience as “touching,”
“fascinating,” and “beautiful.”
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