Thursday, June 26, 2008

WALL-E and His Domestic Robot Friends

I watched Pixar's "WALL-E" last night at a special previewing. The movie is a great! Greater if you have kids (of all ages, including you) and/or anyone who loves robotics. WALL-E is a robotic cleaner that was left by the humans on Earth to clean up after them (similar to what our domestic robots do at home). Earth was abandoned by humans, for almost a millennium, because they have polluted it and used up all its resources. Not to give out the rest of the story, the movie does illustrate to how domestic robotics could play out in our daily lives to an extreme!
Colin Angle, CEO/Co-found of iRobot, should be jumping up and down with joy since the movie illustrates his view of future domestic robots being designed for specific tasks like his Roomba and Scooba. I think otherwise, the trend will be inclined to have domestic robots do more than one task AND will move towards fully humanoid (Honda's ASIMO, PAL's REEM B) and/or semi-humanoid (Anybot's Monty, Vecna Robotics HomeBEAR). Watch the movie and let me know your thoughts about future domestic robots, will they be task specific or multi-purpose?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Japanese Domestic Robotics Feel The Heat From Korea

This past week, four Japanese domestic robot companies held a press conference in Tokyo to announce their newly created federation. The reason you may ask? If you have been reading my posts you would already know! Japan domestic robotics industry is feeling South Korea's threat of becoming the world authority in domestic robotics within a decade. The South Korean government is embracing domestic robotics with wide open arms by aiming to put a robot in every home by 2020, creating two robot theme parks by 2013 and drafted the world first robotics ethics code in 2007. Why the rush? Both Japan and South Korea are faced with a population problem; populations are aging fast and birth rates are low so both need to create robots to care for the elderly. Japan has always been in the forefront within robotic technologies and it would be a dishonor for them to loose the title to someone else. It would be interesting to see what all of this leads to but one thing is for certain, all of us will enjoy the results! Where is Sony when Japan needs them the most?!

Monday, June 16, 2008

RobotCAM Your Next Domestic Robot?

Microrobot, creators of the UBot (showcased at CES 2007), are coming up with very interesting domestic robots. One such robot is the RobotCAM, it looks almost like a Roomba 500 series but much sexier. Don't let the good looks deceive you, it can clean your floors AND protect your home while you are away at work or enjoying a vacation! The RobotCAM has an integrated 1.3 Mega pixel camera (on the front bumper) from which it can be used remotely via a cell phone or web to check on your home and loved ones. The robot also has the ability to detect dangerous levels of toxic gases in your home. It has an integrated LCD to provide information and is able to let you know of issues with it with a human voice instead of beep or light codes. It uses Li-ION batteries instead of the NiMH standard in order to run the 60 W / 70 db vacuum to clean your floor well. The only bad thing seems to be that it can only be found in Korea at the moment. Hope to see more of Microrobot in America as well as in Europe, their products seem to be pushing limits of domestic robotics.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Dean Kamen's Robotic "Luke" Arm

It makes me happy just seeing how robotic technology is evolving to help those in need. Here is another example on how it can help those loved ones who were born without limbs or lost them in one form or other. Dean Kamen, inventor/creator of the Segway, was inspired from Luke Skywalker's robotic arm in the movie Star Wars and DARPA's prosthetic arm 2005 challenge. He came out with what you see in the picture and video, a raw version of what will become ordinary robotic technology in the very near future. The arm is controlled by certain sensors on the user's body but it will be a matter of processing power, miniaturization and time for it to be controlled by the mind.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

New iRobot Roomba Models Coming in 2008!

Per iRobot, there will be three new Roomba models coming out this year: Roomba Professional (US$499), Roomba 560 Pets (US$399) and a Roomba 530 Pets (US$349). The Professional will have a higher capacity dust bin and a 2 year warranty (instead of 1 yr.) and both Roomba Pets are just a 500 series version of the famous Roomba for Pets from the previous generation (brings 'special' brushes and themed paint job). Though nothing really to write home about they do show that iRobot still has their Domestic Robotics unit in mind. During their May 28, 2008 Investor and Analyst Day, Helen Greiner - iRobot Co-founder said the following interesting information:
"I can assure you that our Home Robot development team is looking at other applications for robots to help people around the house to achieve this vision of the iRobot home. That’s the home that takes care of itself."
So in a way it's good that no new products are coming out this year, it is a sign that iRobot engineers are coming up with new ideas to use robotics in our homes. I only hope it doesn't take long for it to come out, still waiting for a new version of the Scooba and Dirtdog!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Robotic Exoskeletons For Domestic Use

You may call me obsessive with robotic exoskeletons but it's because I see much potential for domestic use. As mentioned on previous posts, these devices can be used as assisted powered help around your home. Better uses will also be found in the medical field to assist people with disabilities, nurses & doctors that need to lift patients or the elderly as they were children. Watch these two videos showcasing Berkeley Bionics Human Exoskeleton and Cyberdyne HAL-5, you will be astonished! More on Bionics will be posted on this site since it holds much potential. Enjoy the future today.