bots IN BRIEF
FLAP THIS WAY
Pioneer and iXS research have jointly developed a wacky-looking car navigation robot called “Carnaby.”
The robot guides the driver as to whether turn right or left
by movement of its wings as soon as it receives the navigational
instructions. As you come closer to the turning point, it flaps its
wings and its eyes glow.
They are continuing work on the robot to make it helpful for
older people, as well as for people with hearing disabilities.
These cute little blocks are called Cubelets. Each one is
a robot with unique programming, capabilities, and behaviors.
However, the magic happens when you stick the blocks
together and they cooperate to create an entirely new robot.
Each block communicates with its neighbors, so you know
that if two blocks are next to each other, they’re talking. If you
make a simple robot by connecting a Light Sensor block to a
Speaker block, they’ll start to talk, and when the light in the
room gets brighter, the Speaker will get louder. Actually, you’d
need a third block to make this work. Every robot needs a
Battery block to run.
Next, you could swap the Speaker for a Drive block, and
when the light gets brighter, the robot will drive faster. A third
category of blocks is the Think Blocks. Maybe you’d want to put
an Inverse block in between the Light Sensor and Drive blocks.
Then, the robot would drive slower as the light gets brighter.
This simple communication between adjacent blocks is what
gives the kit that magic.
The basic kit (which you can pre-order now for $300)
includes 20 Cubelets:
Action Blocks: 2 Drive, 1 Rotate, 1 Speaker, 1 Flashlight,
1 Bar Graph.
Sense Blocks: 1 Knob, 1 Brightness, 2 Distance,
Think/Utility Blocks: 2 Inverse, 1 Minimum, 1 Maximum,
1 Battery, 2 Passive, 2 Blocker.
There are no wires involved, and no programming, so
Cubelets are suitable for children as young as 5. Technically,
Cubelets are in beta testing, so it’ll be exciting to see some of
the combinations that people come up with.
LOST ... BUT NOT FOUND
After a hot air balloon went missing over the
Adriatic Sea near Italy, the Italian Coast Guard
utilized an underwater unit that employed a robot
to aid in the search. The balloon — carrying
Richard Abruzzo and Dr. Carol Rymer-Davis —
was equipped with a satellite phone, a radar
transponder,VHF radios, and two mobile phones,
at the time of print, the search has only come up
with small pieces of debris, unfortunately.
22 SERVO 12.2010