bots IN BRIEF
Yep. There's a hexapod tucked away inside this transforming sphere.
Designed by Zenta, this little guy could do pretty well at a hexapod dance-off
competition or it could be armed and made operational with giant death
lasers. It’s not clear if it's ever going to be turned into a kit, but keep in mind
that it uses a wallet-busting 25 separate
servos, so you'd better start saving now.
And win the lottery.A few times. And, as
if transforming from a hexapod into a
sphere and back again wasn't enough,
there’s a plan to teach MorpHex how to
roll itself along the ground.
James and Rosie — a lovely robotic couple at the Technical
University of Munich — are well known for their delicious pancake and
sausage breakfast rituals. Now, their skills have expanded to include
both sandwiches and popcorn.
Recall that none of these steps are pre-programmed. The robots
are able to understand what steps go into something like making
popcorn, and break those steps down into actions. Kinda like TUM's
PR2 wasn't explicitly instructed to go turn the stove on and off; it just
knew that popcorn required using the stove, and that the stove needed
to be turned on. So, it did all the localization and navigation and
manipulation of the stove controls by itself.
The reason that this research is so important is that we don't want
to have to be endlessly providing robots with instructions for every last thing they're supposed to be doing. Giving robots the
ability to take a complex task and autonomously infer all the intermediate tasks that it can, then execute one at a time means
that you'll be able to say,"Make me a sandwich" or "Do my laundry" or "Clean the house" or "You know what, go get
everything done while I take a nap." This way, the robot will just go and do it, no questions asked.
DRAGON IN THE CLOUD
Kombusto — despite his extremely dragony appearance — doesn't have to exist in a beclawed corporeal body. Since he
lives in the Cloud — even without a fancy $1,000 robot — kids are still
able to have a dragony friend on their (Android) smartphone. The fancy
name for this is "blended reality," and it's a powerful tool for education
since it removes the traditional hardware constraints that come with
The other advantage of Cloud robotics is that every time
Kombusto gets smarter or learns something new, all of the other
incarnations of Kombusto in the hands of other kids can directly benefit
from the upgrades. While $1,000 may seem expensive to you (and it is
expensive), for an institutional research robot this is dirt cheap. But,
does he like to cuddle?
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