bots IN BRIEF
The current generation of bicycle-riding robots is extremely
complicated, relying on giant gyroscopes and thick wheels to keep
themselves upright even while stationary. This is certainly a neat trick,
but it's not something that most humans can pull off. It's not a problem
that robots are better at something than we are, but there's something
to be said for human emulation, too.
It turns out that getting a robot to ride a bicycle doesn't need to
involve much more than a hobby level humanoid employing a relatively
simple gyroscope that sends steering commands to keep things generally
upright. This KHR3HV bipedal robot (which can be yours for about
$2,200) has a nifty custom bike that it got from somewhere, and it can
zip around under remote control at up to 10 kph, even making its own
starts and stops.
CAT GOT YOUR EAR?
Robots have ears. They're called microphones and you usually find
them just inside some tiny little hole somewhere. However, there are
good reasons why certain animals have large ears. Namely, big ears allow
animals to hear quieter sounds, and localize those sounds more
This is the idea behind "active soft pinnae" which is fancy roboticist speak for "ears that wiggle." The robotic ear in the
picture is a reasonably accurate reproduction of a kitty ear — including a fake fur covering on the back and the ability to both
rotate side to side and deform downwards. There's a microphone buried down inside the ear, of course, but the external
structure is the important part.
So, what good is it? Testing has shown that it's possible to pinpoint the direction (azimuth and elevation) to a sound with
just two wiggly ears instead of needing a complex microphone array. Furthermore, the ears can be used to localize sounds by
moving independently of the head or body of a robot which is a much more efficient approach. Of course, ears like these are
awfully cute, and with the addition of some touch sensors, you could give your robot that friendly scratching it deserves.
ROCK ‘EM SOCK ‘EM
That didn't take long ... There is
already an authorized Real Steel WRB
Built For Battle set. It includes a 12 x 12"
ring, Atom, Zeus, light up controls, and
sound effects from the film. It’s
recommended for those over six years
old. A Rock 'em Sock 'em by any other
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