bots IN BRIEF
NEW ONE ARMED BANDIT
Willow Garage has announced the availability of an entirely new robot. Well,
maybe not an entirely new robot. The PR2 SE is essentially the same as a PR2,
except that (as you may have noticed from the picture) it's only got one arm.
Despite having only half the armament of the original PR2, the SE boasts the
same overall capabilities, along with an "updated sensor suite" that includes an
integrated Microsoft Kinect. Lack of an entire arm may seem like a fairly
significant issue for a robot, but many things that you can do with two arms you
can also do with one — it just may take longer or require a bit more creativity.
If you do end up desperately needing another arm for your SE, you can buy
one as an upgrade from Willlow Garage. Or, you can always build a slightly less
fancy version on your own. Taking a big chunk out of the robot also takes a big
chunk out of the price, which is the whole point of the SE version. The base price of the new PR2 SE is $285,000, and with
Willow's 30 percent open source discount award, that comes down to just under $200,000. This is half the price of the fully
armed and operational regular PR2 which costs $400,000 if you buy it straight up.
STOP WHILE YOU’RE AHEAD
Chyi-Yeu Lin and a team from the National Taiwan University of Science
and Technology in Taipei created an eerie head that photographs a musical
score with her camera/eyes, interprets the pitch, rhythm, and lyrics from an
algorithm, then turns it into her version of music via synthesizer. Designed
to someday be a restaurant receptionist, they need to perfect an equally
creepy body to go with that head.
KEEPON DOING GOOD
Keepon has been around for almost four years and in that
time, this bouncing bot has worked its magic into the hearts of
autistic children, as well as 2,500,000 You Tube users. Toys 'R Us
now has exclusive US rights and plans to bring him out to play in
Keepon’s story began about seven years ago with Hideki
Kozima, a Japanese expert in artificial intelligence and robotics at
the School of Project Design at Miyagi University. Kozima
theorized that an emotive robot could help autistic children —
To test his idea, Kozima then created Keepon — the fuzzy, mouthless robot packed with $30,000 worth of machinery,
sensors, and computer chips. (The name is a portmanteau of the Japanese word for yellow, kiiroi, and the onomatopoeia pon
for bounce.) In clinical use, a researcher in an observation room controls Keepon wirelessly, dictating its interactions with
children. While testing the gizmo in day-care centers, Kozima found that autistic children made more eye contact with the
robot than they did with people. Behaviors they rarely expressed toward humans — like touching and nurturing — became
more commonplace. Since then, dozens of research centers and universities have bought the fuzzy bot for therapeutic work.
22 SERVO 10.2011