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• The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)

TDTESS-HeaderA classic sci-fi movie with strong anti-war themes made during the Cold War, updated for our own troubled times. Just replace the threat of all-out nuclear war  with climate change, ocean acidification, rainforest deforestation, and other depressing problems looming just around the corner.  Throw Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly into the mix and what could possibly go wrong?

A lot, apparently.  I’ve never seen the original but I’m familiar enough with it.  On paper, it seems like a great opportunity for a remake.  But that’s only if made to the high standards of say, Children of Men or Moon (the last truly intelligent and well executed sci-fi films that come to mind).  To say this movie falls short of its potential is a huge understatement.

• Robovie-nano


Today Vstone, the makers of the Robovie-X and the Robovie 2000, announced it will soon launch a new hobby humanoid robot kit called the Robovie-nano. As its name suggests, the ‘nano is smaller than typical hobby kits, standing only 23cm (9″) tall and weighing a scant 575g (1.26 lbs). Compare that to Kondo’s KHR-3HV or the Kyosho Manoi PF01, both of which are 40cm (15.7″) tall. The ‘nano can also sport an optional exterior body which gives it a bit more character, as well as grippers which allow it to pick up small objects.

The standard ‘nano has 15 degrees of freedom with a parallel link mechanism in its knees.  That adds up to 1 DOF for the head, 3 per arm, and 4 per leg.  The standard ‘nano costs just $510, making it one of the cheapest hobby robot kits available today, and comes with the same user-friendly software and controller board seen in their more expensive kits.  This makes the ‘nano a fantastic entry-level kit while still giving hobbyists the chance to experiment with add-ons, such as Vstone’s audio playback and LED options.  Shelling out an additional $150 USD will net you a stabilizing gyro sensor and controller.

[UPDATE] Impress Robot Watch has published an article with more details.  The servos used are VS-S020 which have a torque of 2.2kg per cm – which are powerful enough for this design, but probably won’t be much use if you wanted to incorporate them into a larger robot.  Still, at only 1,500 JPY a pop, the servos are an attractive option for people looking to make a small custom robot.  A speaker is also included in the standard set, which will allow you to add sound effects to your robot.   One of the demonstrations coupled a HMD with a camera mounted to the head of the robot (with its own 9V battery) which allowed you to see through the eyes of your robot.

Video and more photos after the break!

[source: Impress Robot Watch]

Video from Incheon World Festival 2009

Icheon2009-giraffeAs reported late last week, South Korea’s Incheon World Festival is now underway. Aving was there to score some video of the educational animatronic animals and insects at the Robotic Zoo pavilion.  There are also displays of some of the robots being developed in South Korea, such as Yujin Robot’s iRobi-Q household robot, and Robot Soccer events taking place.

The robots don’t appear to do too much, but they are certainly a strange attraction that is bound to excite the kids, and certainly worth checking out in the video below.  Mr.Suguira, the creator of Dynamizer, is also at the event and has posted some photos on his blog.

[source: Aving News Network]


Reem-A observes its surroundingsThe United Arab Emirates are equally known for their wealth and frivolous spending habits, with Dubai being home to the world’s tallest building.  It seems cutting-edge architecture is but one of their pursuits; with Abu Dhabi bankrolling Barcelona Spain’s PAL Technology Robotics lab to create humanoid robots to compete with those of other nations.

The REEM-A (named after an island off Abu Dhabi’s coast) is an advanced bipedal robot that can recognize people, walk around inside a building autonomously avoiding obstacles, recognize and pick up objects in its hands (eg. moving chess pieces around the board during a match), and has voice recognition/synthesis technology for taking verbal commands and responding.

• AIBO ERS-311 “Latte” & ERS-312 “Macaron”


SONY decided to appeal more to the female demographic with the ERS-311 and ERS-312, released in September 2001.  They have a distinctly comical pug-like appearance, a much rounder overall shape, and even feature a horn-like lamp for expressing emotions (similar to one of the early prototype conceptual models).  They’re the only AIBOs to be marketed as a pair, with Sony even giving them cute names (Latte and Macaron) for the ad campaign, and sometimes referred to as “LM” models.  Latte is said to have an “adorable” personality while Macaron is said to be “mischievous”.

• Jumping Flash!

developed by Exact, Ultra/published by SCEA/1995.04.28
1 Player/1 CD-ROM/SONY PlayStation 1/PSP/PS3 (download)


Exact is a fairly unknown Japanese game developer, having produced only 3 PlayStation titles (Jumping Flash! 1 & 2, Ghost in the Shell), but have made a name for themselves by always taking advantage of the 3D playfield in new or unique ways.  In Ghost in the Shell, it was the ability to crawl on any surface (including walls and ceilings), and in Jumping Flash! it was the ability to leap hundreds of meters high into the sky.

Celebrating 25 Years of Field Robotics


Carnegie Mellon University celebrates 25 years of field robotics with fascinating video lectures, freely available to the public via webcast.

Field robotics are for many reasons quite interesting, not the least of which because they must be practical! Don’t know which videos you might be interested in watching? Here’s a handy list describing their subjects. The presentations are streamable or downloadable from CMU’s website (files are between 150-250 MB each, and will require a flash player to view).

Taipei International Robot Show 2009

p19bTIROS runs from August 5th ~ 9th at the World Trade Center’s Nankang Exhibition Hall, where 91 companies and institutions are displaying their industrial manufacturing and service robots.  Other activities are robot competitions and panels where researchers can discuss their work.  The “Experience Robots” section is the only area open to children in the show. In this section, kids can play with different robots and participate in DIY activities and educational courses.

GeStream presented the latest version of their record-setting BeRobot, known as the World’s Smallest Humanoid Robot in Production (Guinness Book of World Records).  The new version cuts out joints in the legs and arms which makes it even smaller (9 cm) compared to the last one (15 cm).  However, by simply removing servos in the legs and arms the robot is now even less capable than it was before.  The BeRobot is also quite expensive given its capabilities (and compared to Takara Tomy’s I-Sobot) at a price of around $360 USD (ouch).  Videos of some of the robots after the break.

[source: China Post]