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• AIBO ERS-210

ERS-210-headersmSONY’S 2nd AIBO was the ERS-210, which had smaller ears and a shorter tail.  Aesthetic differences aside, the ERS-210 had name imprinting and voice recognition capabilities which were absent in the ERS-110, allowing users to more naturally interact with it.  A “mature” ERS-210 could understand and react to 50 spoken commands.  What’s more, it had improved mobility (20 DOF instead of 18), more facial expression LEDs, and additional touch sensors in its chin and back (adding to the one on its head).  All of these extras came at a reduced cost, from $2500 for the ERS-110 down to $1500 for the ERS-210, and it was available both on the internet and in retail stores.

Some of the new features included the ability to take photos.  Simply telling the ERS-210 to “Take a photo” would cause it to take a snapshot of whatever it was looking at.  If you suggested “Let’s play!”, the ERS-220 would attempt to mimic the rise and fall of your voice in a round of copycat.  If you said “Let’s dance” it would perform a dance routine accompanied by its own light show and sounds.  Expected commands like “sit” and “lie down” were also accounted for.

• Service Type Robot

SERVICETYPE-headerFujitsu’s Service Type Robot is the ENON’s predecessor, developed in 2004.  It moves on 2 wheels at up to 3kph, allowing it to move over uneven surfaces and slopes, and pivot on the spot for navigating tight spaces.  It was designed to autonomously navigate in structured environments such as office buildings and shopping malls using pre-programmed maps, making it an ideal guide robot.  It avoids obstacles using 2 of its 8 CMOS cameras as well as 2 ultrasonic sensors and 2 proximity sensors.

One of the Service Type Robot’s main features is its connection to the internet.  Besides searching for relevant information and displaying it on its LCD touch screen or an external device, it can also be controlled remotely.  This functionality allows it to be used as a mobile security camera.  When low on power, it autonomously returns to a contact-less charging station for 24 hour service.

Metal Wolf Chaos (NSFW review)

developed by From Software/published by Microsoft/2004
1 player with online play/1 DVD-ROM/XBOX


The formerly awesome 1up crew takes a look at Metal Wolf Chaos, a hilarious mecha action game for the original XBOX that was released only in Japan, but features English voice acting.  You play the role of Michael Wilson, President of the United States, taking on a coup d’etat by your nemesis – Vice President Richard Hawk – from the cockpit of the titular giant robot. What more could you want? Language in the following video is NSFW but can’t be missed.

• The Legend of Zelda – Twilight Princess

developed & published by Nintendo/2006.11.17
1 Player/1 DVD-ROM/Nintendo Gamecube, Wii


Fans didn’t have to wait long to find out how Nintendo would top The Windwaker, as The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess was announced a year later at E3 2004 to standing ovations and reportedly reduced some fanboys to tears. This was largely due to the trailer’s more realistic Lord of the Rings-inspired look and overall bad-ass Link, sporting some chain-mail under his usual green digs and a fierce glint in his eyes.

Jaemi HUBO hits the gym

Jaemi-Drex-smallLooks like the robotics team at Drexel Autonomous Systems Lab, the same lab that acquired their very own version of KAIST’s latest robot earlier this year, have got it up and running (figuratively speaking).  Daniel M. Lofaro of Drexel University has just posted a video on Youtube which shows the robot walking on a treadmill without a hitch.  No word yet if Jaemi can run like his Japanese cousins Honda’s Asimo and Toyota’s bipedal partner robot, but I’m excited to see whatever it is he does next.

Jaemi HUBO is the American version of KAIST’s HUBO 2, which has been built by Drexel University thanks to a $5 million dollar, 5 year research initiative funded by the National Science Foundation.  The robot has already made appearances on ABC news and briefly at a local museum.  Video after the break.


A robot that automatically produces fun!

Years before the Odaiba Gundam statue, and the soon to be erected Tetsujin 28 monument, kids (in America, no less) were already having fun playing around giant robots.  From the advertisement:

A 19’6″, triple-decker robot gives children the thrill of their lives. Two tube slides give youngsters fast, safe and thrilling rides. Scooped ends slow down sliders and give them a lift thrill as they swoop off the end. Two-tiered robot “body” and lookout “head” have die-formed deck and steel bar walls for safety. Feet are designed with seat indentations so children can rest. The Giganta stands head and shoulders above most other playground equipment in size and popularity.

Ground Space: 19’6″ by 9’6″
Shipping Weight: 4400 pounds


hieronymus_bosch-HellNo offense to the designers, but if the play structure you’ve just designed looks like it would fit in perfectly in Hierynomus Bosch’s painting depicting Hell, you may want to go back to the drawing board.  It looks like it’s trampling a kid while reaching down to scoop up more with its hideous arms, only to devour them, locking them inside its grotesque, cage-like body.  Who had one of these in their neighborhood growing up?  This thing looks like a total deathtrap dream come true!

[Plaidstallion] via [WildWild]

• Driving Partner Robot

PIONEER-headerPioneer demonstrated a 15cm tall prototype robot at CEATEC Japan 2006 that sits on the dashboard of your car, envisioned as a driving partner to make driving safe and fun. The penguin-like robot has a camera inside its head which detects stop lights, street signs, and land marks and communicates with a larger system of sensors integrated into the vehicle, which send data to the robot.

When you get inside the driver’s seat, the robot performs a welcome song and dance by swiveling, moving its head, flapping its wings, and blinking its LEDs. When driving, the robot turns around to look at the road, and if it senses sudden braking, acceleration, or turning, it performs a gentle display with soothing blue LED lights. Some stops will send signals to the robot: the LEDs turn red when it detects a stop light, and blue when the stop light turns green. If a red light is ignored, the robot will swivel around and tweet to scold you.



Tatsuya Matsui & Hiroaki Kitano, with ties to SGI (Silicon Graphics Inc) both believe that a robot’s exterior appearance will dramatically affect how humans perceive and interact with them, including whether or not we will accept them at all.

SIG was never completed, but was designed with the rule of thirds in mind, an ancient artistic measurement which defines beauty. During SIG’s development, it was determined that the female body is roughly the right size for a robot to coexist with human beings. If a robot is too small, it will appear child-like which may betray its function. If a robot is too large, it will not be adopted by the public for fear of it overpowering the space it occupies. While SIG is destined to never leave the laboratory, she was instrumental in shaping Matsui-san’s philosophy. Since leaving SGI to form his own company, he has stressed the importance of outward beauty complementing the hidden inner complexity of his robots.  Had SIG been completed, it would have stood 168cm (5’5″) tall.