Tag: Robot

Not Quite Ready For The End Of The World

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
When I was a youth, the post-apocalypse was a relatively simple affair – all you needed were some football pads to wear and a few sheets of scrap metal to affix to your Pinto, and you were good to go.

Of course, as technology moves on, and as our tastes in Armageddon-chic evolve, so too must the vehicles we intend to ride across the barren wastes.

I feel it was just such a case that prompted London’s Mutoid Waste Company to develop Lrry-1, a half-motorcycle, half-dog, fire-breathing monster.

[youtube_sc url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8f7mKi3TLI]

Of course, it’s tough to picture the last hope of a dying Earth riding such a monstrosity – it seems much more likely that some future iteration of this beast would be the mount of choice for a ruthless Baron, ruling the desolation with an iron fist.

Who then will rise up to defend us from the imminent pack of flame dispensing robo-canines?

I nominate this lad:

[youtube_sc url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53MQP0Q-vDU]

Still, none of these post-cataclysmic conveyances are quite ready to conquer the badlands, so hopefully we’ve got a few more years yet.

Robotic Slap Fight


This is a bot out of the University of Pennsylvania, although they apparently received some insight from my favourite of the rock-star roboticist firms, Boston Dynamics.

It doesn’t look like it would last long if placed in a fighting arena against some of the Battlebots of yore, but you’ve got to keep in mind that, in the real world, combat doesn’t take place on a custom built, perfectly level, playing field.
BattlebotsMost of the comments I’ve seen related to this little beast have suggested that it would be useful as some sort of spying device – that wasn’t what popped into my mind at first viewing, however.

Remember that post I wrote regarding the use of trained dogs to attack tanks? This seems like a much simpler delivery system, and one that won’t be scared away by gunfire.

I have a theory that, once lasers reach a certain level of power and can be effectively used to keep our skies clean of aircraft, and once robot drones can be used to automagically take out heavily fortified vehicles, we’ll be back to the bad old days of World War I, cowering in ditches and hoping for trench-foot.

– or, maybe we’ll end up with giant snakes formed of Indian terminators that utilize AK-47s as a tongue:
(Hat tip to Warren Ellis for the clip.)

March Of The Tin Can Man


Just a quick clip of the little robot I built with the Eights – mostly as a test to see how difficult it is to get video from my phone to the internet.

Also, how is it feasible that my iPhone can supposedly generate HD video, and yet most security footage still looks like it was recorded on a hand cranked, black & white, Super-8 camera?

Hobie & The Robots

Robobaywatch, as found at popsci.comThe device above is actually a lifeguard, and the picture and quotes were taken from a popsci.com article.

This summer, EMILY (for EMergency Integrated Lifesaving lanYard) began patrolling Malibu’s dangerous Zuma Beach and will watch over about 25 more by December. Although lifeguards operate this version by remote control, next year’s model will autonomously save potential drowning victims as reliably as a human. Once a lifeguard tosses EMILY into the surf, its sonar device will scan for the underwater movements associated with swimmers in distress.

Usually I’m a huge fan of this sort of automation, but I’m not sure how I’d feel about having a red torpedo zipping at my face while I was busy panicking and sinking below the waterline.

The idea of it self-determining when someone needs saving is fantastic, but I do wonder how easy it is to differentiate between a drowning victim and a spastic child in the middle of a splash fight – and I’m unwilling to do any odd-making on how soon hooligan teenagers will be faking it out so they ride it around the beach.

Still, the fact that the current model is remote-controlled means that my years of console gaming may finally pay off in a sweet beach patrol gig.

Frankenstein's Weeping Monster

MarvinI understand the want, and need, to move away from testing weaponry on things that are actually alive, but, in some cases, what alternative do we have?

Enter robotics firm Midwest Research Institute (with a little assistance from our favourite terror-machine creators, Boston Dynamics).

From Polijam.com

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Nov. 18 (UPI) — A humanoid robotic mannequin for testing equipment against chemical warfare agents is being developed by Missouri’s Midwest Research Institute.

Great, some sort of robo-mannequin is a much better solution that gassing rabbits – right? At first this sounded, to me, like an advanced version of the crash test dummy, Buster, from Mythbusters.

“The IPEMS features a chemical-agent test facility — exposure chamber and supporting structures — and a free-standing, self-balancing robot that simulates human physiology,” said MRI Senior Vice President and Director of Research Operations Thomas M. Sack. “Once complete, the mannequin, dressed in IPE, can be tested using a variety of environmental conditions and simulated warfighter activities in the presence of chemical agent. – more

Something about the statement “free-standing, self-balancing robot that simulates human physiology” has me feeling a little weird about this experiment. How far do we need to go to replicate human physiology and reaction in case of chemical attack?

Will this mannequin’s nose run and eyes water when sarin gas hits its simulated face?

Will it provide verbal feedback as to its current situation? Will it ask you to “please stop”?

Would you be willing to push the “initiate test” button on something that could?

Westworld Poster Detail

Robots: The Great Capitalist Lie

Is the lead for this CNN article supposed to be pulling in people who’ve just stepped out of a viewing of Metropolis?


Are we really having to convince people that robots aren’t a figment of popular imagination like ghosts, aliens or bigfoot?

Maybe there are a group, like flat-Earthers or Moon landing nuts, of robot deniers who’ve carefully taken apart Short Circuit 1 & 2 frame by frame and can prove that robot technology simply isn’t possible.

(Side note: Did you know the constant cannibal-churn of Hollywood has brought us to the point where they’re actually in the process of re-making Short Circuit for 2011?)

(*I also kind of expected this to lead into an Old Glory Inusrance commercial.)