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Evolta sets New World Record at Le Mans 24hours!

Yesterday (August 5th) Evolta set another record officiated by the Guinness Book of World Records, for “The longest distance covered by a battery-operated remote-controlled model car“. 23.726 km (14.74 miles) to be exact – on 2 AA batteries!

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Many pictures after the break, but still waiting on video of the event…




NEC holds PaPeRo Workshop at Osaka’s “Robot Showroom”

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NEC held a PaPeRo workshop at Osaka’s “Robot Showroom” (August 4th ~ 9th), where a select group of kids got hands-on experience with the robot and its user-friendly programming software developed with the MIT Media Lab. Color-coded “scratch cards” were on hand with illustrations of sample programs (written on the back of each card) that were used to program short skits where PaPeRo sang a song, or performed dance-like motions.  The kids were divided into teams and had only 20 minutes to come up with a story and program it into the robot before presenting it to everyone.

Toshiba’s semi-autonomous shopping cart, guide

photo_8Toshiba and its subsidiary Toshibatec developed a pair of robots to assist elderly or disadvantaged shoppers, which they demonstrated during June’s ROBOMEC 2009 (Robotics Mechatronics Conference). The “Guidance robot” can guide you to the cashier or specific items (by product name) while the “Cart robot” carries your groceries for you. Using a system of 10 cameras throughout the store, the robots self-localize and maintain maps of the store and the contents of its aisles to dynamically generate the best paths and avoid running into other shoppers.

The “Guidance robot” has an omni-directional camera atop its “head” as well as front-mounted stereo cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and a laser range finder. Shoppers register themselves through the touch-screen interface, prompting the robot to record their individual shape and texture information (such as clothing) using its stereo cameras. This allows the robot to follow a specific person in a crowded environment. The touch-screen interface also provides information on goods and special sales.

• AIBO ERS-220

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The AIBO ERS-220 debuted in November 2001 (available also as an upgrade kit for the ERS-210).  With its multicolored 21 LED-laden head and antennae, this AIBO’s canine ancestry is barely recognizable.  The camera, which is normally hidden in the nose in other models, is prominently featured like the eye of a cyclops.  One of its most unusual features is its retractable head light, which pops up when it gets “excited”.  It could also understand 75 voice commands (as opposed to the ERS-210’s 50).  It’s not the most cuddly thing, but if high-tech is what you’re after then the ERS-220 delivers.  As they did with the ERS-110, SONY commissioned a famous artist to design it, this time getting Shoji Kawamori to do the honors.

2009 Incheon World City Festival coming soon!

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This Friday marks the beginning of 80 days (August 7th ~ October 25th, 2009) of festivities at South Korea’s Incheon World City Festival, held in Songdo International City. The festival focuses on 5 major areas: Culture, Environment, Urban Development, Robotics, and Advanced Technology.

Video: A look inside PINO

ZMP has posted a video that shows us the inside of PINO using its digital model, as well as some animations of what motions PINO could be programmed to do. Video after the break.

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Tatsuya Matsui’s thoughts on PINO

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The following is an excerpt from Tatsuya Matsui’s English homepage which is no longer available online.  I have reproduced it here for educational purposes, for those interested in the history of his wonderful robot, PINO, which he created with Hiroaki Kitano for JST ERATO.

• PINO

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We all know the tale of Pinocchio: the plight of a wooden marionette bestowed with life who dreams of becoming a real boy. In recent years films like Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Takashi Nakamura’s A Tree of Palme have underlined the common threads between that age-old yarn and mankind’s quest to create a thinking machine, which goes back at least as far as ancient Greece (see Galatea).  And so it is fitting that Hiroaki Kitano & Tatsuya Matsui (who would later form Flower Robotics) funded by JST ERATO (Japan Science & Technology Agency, Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology) decided to name their humanoid robot PINO.

PINO was originally envisioned as a standardized open platform for robotics in anticipation of the RoboCup Soccer Humanoid League. All of the details were freely available online (though the website has since closed), from its mechanical construction through to its processing system. The software was primarily Linux-based, and readily available PS2 controllers can be used for remote control.  The exterior shell was modeled on the computer and printed via a rapid-prototyping process called selective laser sintering.