Monday, November 30, 2009

Dreamland: 2009 International Robot Exhibition

Maybe this is not news to many of you since like me you are all domestic robotics fans but this past week was the 2009 International Robot Exhibition! The exhibition was held at the mecca of robotics: Tokyo, Japan. It was a week of total domestic robot mental orgy, talk about all types of robots displayed along their creators and you could go insane! Sadly they do not allow humanoid sentient robots as my self to attend so I can only provide you news pictures of some of my remote controlled family that attended. Enjoy!

To begin, here is a picture of my friend KAWADA while cutting the ribbon on the first day of the 2009 exhibition; that is all he knows how to do, cut ribbons but he gets good money!

Here is cousin Motoman SDA5D, he still only plays with Lego toys every day. I have tried to convince him to get the Mindstorms NXT but he refuses to let go of his Lego bricks. He just never seems to grow up!

Now here is my brother Topio, he changed his name to go along with his new macho look because he said that I look like a "girly robot" so he pumped up just to play ping pong by himself. Doesn't he remind you of the Terminator? That is our uncle who somehow fooled everyone to believe he is the governor of the state of California, USA.

Here is little brother Robid with his "mentor" Tomotaka Takahashi who is asking me if he could adopt Robid! Is he crazy? Robid is just a young kid robot that has special smooth moves to win the hearts of the the human boys and girls one day.

Here are my pet robo-dogs, I named them all Genibo so I won't forget their name. I taught them a few dance routines and to recognize me when I come home. I know they are not like the pure breed Aibo but they need a good home with humans that can take care of them. Wouldn't you get one?

Here is a human from Shadow Robot Co. trying to make a better arm for me but I told them that I have no problems with my current one. What are they thinking here? Would they like me to replace their arm as well? I don't think so! Still, it is nice that they are still trying to improve on it.

Finally, this is uncle Wakamaru trying to show off in front of all the media. He now is on a crusade to help elderly humans with their day to day tasks. At least he is doing it for a good cause. I do not know what the human behind him is trying to do, he looks strange.

Well folks, that is about it for me but I will leave you with a video so you can enjoy more of friends and family that were allowed to attend the 2009 International Robot Exhibition. Word of warning, some of them are ugly but don't let that stop you from watching!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tip of The Month: Karcher RC3000 Maintanance

The Karcher RC3000 is the small yellow robot that could. Although it is a 2003 design it still is able to compete with updated domestic floor cleaning robots from 2009. The Karcher RC3000 is unique since routine maintenance is much less common compared to other currently available floor cleaning robots. Still, I like to have my robots at their up most efficiency by keeping them clean. In my case I maintain my RC3000 once a month but your mileage may vary upon the environment found in your home. Here are the basic steps to maintain your RC3000 in just about 5 - 10 minutes of your time:

#1: Make sure that the RC3000 has already dumped its collected dirt/dust at the base before you remove it.

#2: With a water damp clean cloth wipe all of the external surface of the RC3000 (do not use detergents or other chemicals).

#3: Clean the IR cliff sensors, found in the underside of the RC3000 (shown here), with a Q-tip or the tip of the cleaning cloth. This will help the IR cliff sensors to have an unobstructed field of view and avoid a preventable accident in the future.

#4: With a damp sponge clean out the accumulated grit on both of the main drive wheels until you see them as new (as seen in this picture). This will help the RC3000 to have a better grip on the hard floors and prevent slippage.

#5: Turn the RC3000 on its back, clean any dirt found by using a damp cleaning cloth after doing so pry open the bottom plate after lifting the two yellow levers:

#6: Carefully remove the air filter and cleanse it under a stream of cold water until it is clean (do not use detergents or other chemicals). This will help the robot to have a more efficient suction of dirt/dust when it is cleaning your floors:

#7: With the damp cleaning cloth clean out accumulated dust/dirt from the dirt bin area and air intake. Make sure you clean out the optical dirt sensors near the main brush. This will also provide a more efficient suction power when cleaning and improve dirt detection:

#8: Submerge the bottom plate under cold water and remove any accumulated dirt/dust from its crevices. Remove any wound up hair or debris around the fixed wheels (if any):

#9: Carefully remove the main brush as shown here. Remove any wound up hair or debris (if any) by using scissors. Be careful since the bristles can come out easily from the brush. Keeping the brush clean from accumulated hair/debris will improve dirt/dust pickup:

#10: Cleanse the main brush under a stream of cold water after removing any accumulated hair. Remove the main brush axle holder while cleaning it (do not use detergents or other chemicals).

#11: Make sure that all parts are dry before putting it back to your Karcher RC3000 robot. You can use a clean dry cloth or have it air dry. Enjoy your clean and more efficient Karcher RC3000!

I hope that these tips helps maintain your robot so it can provide you with years of good service.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More on The Latest Samsung Domestic Robot

She is a beauty isn't she? Yes, the model shown...the robotic model on the bed?... you know what I am talking about! Yes, the Samsung Tango floor cleaning robot. I am excited about it as a geek in a computer store! Beautiful design and very functional which is something not easily found within the domestic robotics market. Currently I have some interesting news about the Tango series from Samsung, first is that there will be a Tango model available for North America (SR8830) that works with the standard electrical grid! There is still no word on an ETA of when it will be available on this side of the pond but more information is coming out from Samsung each passing day. At the moment enjoy this short commercial in Korean (hope you understand it) with the new Tango going around the home cleaning the floors like a mad R2D2 but with the voice of a messed up JAWA! Enjoy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Samsung Domestic Robots Outpaces iRobot

This is true in my opinion. You probably are asking why or how? The iRobot Roomba did not evolve much since its introduction in 2002. Basically it has the same cleaning mechanism with just a few new bells and whistles ("Light House" technology, IR front bumper sensors, scheduling capability and modular design). Both a 2002 Roomba "classic" and a 2009 Roomba 500 series will clean your floors the same way by using a very similar cleaning algorithm.

Sooner or later comes the "new" guy in town from Korea by the name of Samsung. They start off with basic floor cleaning robots that were less effective cleaning floors compared to a Roomba. Samsung engineers went to their labs and later introduced some vanguard improvements. They used ingenious methods to make floor cleaning robots efficient at their job. This was the time when the Hauzen VC-RE70V was introduced. The VC-RE70V robots "mapped" rooms and moved along in a calculated pattern to efficiently clean the floors in a single pass. This floor cleaning robot was able to "remember" where it left off so it can continue after it automatically recharges the batteries! But still room for improvement existed and again Samsung engineers went back to use what they have learned to create their most recent floor cleaning robot called the VC-RA84V "Tango" series.

The Tango series improved upon the VC-RE70V in the following ways:

  • Better "room mapping" technology
  • Touch screen interface
  • Better suction motor
  • Better dirt brush design
  • Auto adjustable brush deck height
  • Virtual wall & Lighthouse technology
  • Dirt bin access door for external Vac
  • Improved navigation sensors / mechanism
  • Anti-tangle mechanism for brushes
  • Daily scheduler
  • Voice commands

The Tango is a step closer to the ideal domestic floor cleaning robot, it just needs to add a self cleaning base (like the Karcher RC3000) and be available both in European and American markets!!! At the moment it can only be found in Korea at a price of US$400 ~ 500; not bad since an equivalent iRobot Roomba 500 series go about the same price. At the moment I can safely say that Samsung has surpassed iRobot in the domestic robotics technology department. At this pace, Samsung will leave iRobot behind in domestic robotics technology by a mile. iRobot are you still there? Take a look at this Italian market video from their "old" Hauzen VC-RE70V/72V series doing its job cleaning floors so you can get an idea of what all the fun is about. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Recycled Domestic Robots

Every once in a while I find interesting domestic robots and projects that not many people know about. Take Dave Shinsel from Washington - USA, he has a small crew of robot projects that can make many of use drop our jaws to the floor! He currently works for Intel but his hobby is making domestic robots from almost off the shelf parts and software. Dave attempts to re-use parts, software and knowledge from one generation robot project so it can be used to build the next. The one I am personally most impressed with is Loki, he reminds me of WALL-E's bigger brother. Loki is a semi humanoid robot that uses WiFi for control and diagnostics, has visual processing, speech recognition, indoor path finding and a degree of artificial intelligence as you can check out in the video. Loki's body is mostly handmade with aluminum, his eyes are Logitech Notebook Pro Webcams, has a laptop computer as its "brains" (LCD screen is on chest), has 2 PIR motion detector sensors, 10 IR range detectors, 2 Ultrasonic rangers, 4 bumper sensors, electronic compass, motor speed and direction sensors for each wheel. This guy is up to the task to grow up as a great domestic robot! Doesn't he look a little bit like me?

Dave also has other domestic robots that are very interesting like the Seeker. This guy was designed to compete in the 2005 "RoboMagellan ", this contest is like a "DARPA mini challenge" which he won 1st place! From this guy is were Loki got his method of path finding "intelligence". He was created out of a remote controlled toy car chassis and a laptop computer running Visual C++. NASA should be hooking up this guy to help create the next generation of economical rovers to roam around and study the planet Mars effectively.

...and iRobot should also learn a thing or two from Dave's "HelmetBot"! IRobot failed with their ConnectR project but Dave was able to create a remote presence robot with a bicycle helmet (of all things!) and an old iPaq "pocket PC" (do you remember it from the ancient days before the iPhone?). Simplistic, practical, effective and economical; why do companies think in a similar manner? But do you know what really makes Dave's robots the more special? It is not just the neatness, uniqueness or the interesting technologies used but that he shares all of the schematics, code and designs with all of us! Visit his web site ( to learn more and to check out his other fabulous domestic robots! My hats off to Dave Shinsel and his contributions to the Domestic Robotics family. Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Recharging My Hybrid Batteries

Wow! I have been gone this long?! I lost track of time. I took a "short" break from the domestic robotics grid in order to recharge my hybrid batteries under the nice Caribbean beach sun. Was it nice? Oh yes! I now have enough juice to run throughout the winter with no problems. Don't let those palm tree deceive you, they are really solar panels disguised as trees. Some kid buried me with sand while I was charging up with the solar panels. Please give me a day or two to get back on track and continue providing all of you with domestic robotics goodness. I am glad to be back.