Even the name sounds like a supervillain...

Hey all,

We've been away for a bit... I'd blame the robots, but they'd only sentence me to the asteroid mines...

Was inspired by this article in the NY Times to post a bunch of things people had sent in recently. Maybe I can get the others posting again too. My favorite line: "A leader at Google X is Sebastian Thrun, one of the world’s top robotics and artificial intelligence experts..." So, Google has a secret mountain fortress where they're developing an army of robots... I'm sure that will turn out just fine.

Sometime poster Mr. Huge sent in this article about a robot with a "human face."

Then I believe it was Wife of Huge, who sent in this piece about robots being used to help autistic children. (Really, robots? Coming at us through the children? Is there no line?)

And finally, regrettably, because I was too slow, you just missed the World Robot Conference in Korea. No doubt the Robot World Secretariat (no, I'm not making that up) will have some announcements as to what came out of the conference soon.

Stay alert, Folks...


We're back!

Oh sorry, I dozed off for a bit there. But I'm back now!

Let's start with the ever-popular 'robots as animals' category. Because metal animals with glowing eyes are never creepy or evil.

First up, the robo-rat, called SCRATCHbot. The second link has a video of the thing in operation. I think it's weird that the creators went with whisker sense only - no visual input.

Second we have the robot hummingbird, created by our good friends DARPA. OK, right now it only works for 20 seconds, but they're working on that.

The next category is medicine. There's the plain old robot surgeons. And the popular method of distancing doctors from patients even more.

Finally, we round out our info with an update on the robot car. They've taught it to avoid running over pedestrians. Oh, did I mention it's name? T2 - because DARPA has such a wacky sense of humor!


Weird Science! -- Healing Goo and Flying cars

Well, it ain't robots, but here at Robot Doom we try to keep you aware of all the Mad and/or Weird Science...

So two quick stories:

1) Apparently a bunch of Dutch scientists have invented a sort of healing goo. But do they name it Bacta (from the Star Wars series), borg nano-cytes, or anything even remotely "geek chic?" Nope, they go with the worst name they can think of.

2) Flyin' cars -- I know, it's not really going to happen in my lifetime, but a fellow can dream...

More robot mayhem on the way.


Robots are learning

I don't like to link to videos, but this is kinda cool... this robot learns by touching and seeing.

Also, I learned something very disturbing. I have Google auto fill turned on, and when I typed in "robots learn" Google gave me... "robots learn to lie"

Yep, Google thinks the most common thing robots learn is to lie. Sometimes the auto fill is just excellent. For fun, do "Where is Chuck Norris" and use the I'm Feeling Lucky button. Those wacky Googlers.


Creating one cute robot at a time

Hanson - isn't that the name of some robot band? No wait, Hanson Robotics is creating a series of 'friendly super-intelligent robots.'
While some are very much in the uncanny valley, some are actually pretty cool.
For an example of freaky realism, look at the robot head Jules, saying goodbye before being packed up. I can't tell if the people in the video are acting sad, or are really upset to see him go. And, they made a robot pirate - the Yargh-bot!
Eva and Vera are both damn creepy - and not just because they're bald heads.
The most important robot has to be the Phillip K Dick robot (go 45 seconds in to see him chatting) - which uses an AI to create his personality. Yes, they're creating a robot that can mimic a person.

Pollution sensing robots

Well, robots that run around on their own, looking for pollution. It will report pollution using Wi-Fi but will work remotely, without human intervention. It's kinda creepy looking and I do wonder - since they made it look like a fish, what happens if a shark takes a bite?


Teaching robots to fear us

Teaching robots to fear? Not respect, or like. Nope, teach 'em that when people are mad, we're scary.
Right now it's just telling a roomba to avoid someone who is upset, which seems innocuous, but where does it go from there?

I think the University of Calgary should be checked out.


Killer robot cannons

So, the South African government has robot canons that are unreliable, and no one comments until it kills 9 people.
Yes, note the comments of one attendee:
During the shooting trials at Armscor's Alkantpan shooting range, “I personally saw a gun go out of control several times,” Young says. “They made a temporary rig consisting of two steel poles on each side of the weapon, with a rope in between to keep the weapon from swinging. The weapon eventually knocked the pol[e]s down.”
Yep, controlling a robot cannon with poles and rope. No stopping the test, no turning off the robot, or..say fixing it! Nope, just tie it up and keep going!

Well, at least it wasn't the US government.