Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Build your own obstacle-avoiding beetle robot

Why not build a capable little beetle robot that can scurry about and avoid obstacles? The really cool thing about it is that the behavior is all hard-wired and/or mechanical -- no computer or programming required. The parts are easy to find too!

Here's a link to the Instructable on How to Build The BeetleBot.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex on sale

Animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex
This remote control Tyrannosaurus Rex was selling for $199.95 and is now $129.95. It has some pretty cool features.

From the toy description:
This is the animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex that responds to noise or touch with over 100 different sounds and expressions, providing children with an interactive prehistoric pet. An internal system of servos, gears, and sensors form a biomechanical skeleton that delivers natural movements under a realistic reptilian skin. T. rex's eyes move, his tail wags, and he takes lifelike strides as he autonomously explores his environment. If he walks into a wall or furniture he will backtrack and growl at the impediment. Petting the back of the dinosaur's head elicits a grateful roar and calling his name prompts him to turn his head and walk toward the noise. A bone-shaped remote control has an "attack" button that prompts him to lunge forward and growl; pressing "guard" turns him into a sentry that scans a room for intruders and erupts with a hearty roar; pressing "prank" might cause him to release an ear-ringing belch.

Here the link for this Animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

More cute wind-up robots that do unlikely things

wind-up robot salt and pepper shakers
Recently, we featured a little wind-up robot that serves as a pencil sharpener. A trend is emerging. Here are more wind-up robots with a utilitarian purpose: they dispense salt and pepper. So, if someone asks for the salt at dinner -- and they are very patient -- you can wind the appropriate robot up and send it walking over to them. I suppose it would be fun to do to an unsuspecting guest.

Here's a link to the wind-up robot salt and pepper shakers

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The cutest little impaled robot pencil sharpener

For the record, I am pro-robot. As such, I am not sure how I feel about the fact that to use this pencil sharpener you need to drive the pencil straight into the chest of this cute little robot. I guess it's OK because the act of turning the pencil winds the robot up so that it can then walk a little. I suppose it's more like 'adding fuel' than 'impaling'. I can live with that, though, it still doesn't seem quite right.

Here's a link to the walking robot pencil sharpener.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Remake of classic Robert the Robot toy by Ideal

Robert the Robot toy by Ideal
Robert the Robot was the first plastic toy robot introduced in 1954. This is a modern recreation now being sold.

From the item description:
As the first plastic toy robot introduced to the American Public, he not only walked but included the "sensational new patented talking device, better known today as phonographic record. Recreated from the original Ideal molds, this golden anniversary edition includes: An authentic numbered Robert the Robot, Numbered Certificate of Authenticity, Collector's Manual covering Robert the Robot's history and other exciting details. This is not a toy. It is a fine collectible to be enjoyed by adults. This is a new toy.

Here's an Amazon link to Robert the Robot by Ideal Toy

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Hex Bug Crab - micro robotic creature

Hex Bug Crab - micro robotic creature
The Hex Bug Crab is a small robot with some simple autonomous behavior. The Hex Bug crab will seek out dark places to hide, and change its direction at the sound of a loud noise (such as a hand clap).

Here's the link to the Hex Bug Crab

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Scarab beetle robot kit avoids obstacles

Scarab beetle robot kit avoids obstacles
Here's a kit for making a nifty obstacle-avoiding insect-like robot.

From the product description
It comes with two touch sensors that look like insect antennas, and when they detect an obstacle, the Scarab will first step back and then automatically execute a two-step maneuver to avoid the obstacle. The maneuver is a combination of "left turn", "right turn", "reverse" or "stop". The Scarab Robot can be configured with different sets of movements. Easy assembly allows you to learn electronics, robotics and mechanical design. The kit comes complete with 2 sets of differently designed legs, which move in their own distinct way.

Here is the link for the Scarab Beetle Robot Kit

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Doodling robot / Vibro-bot mechanical kit

Doodling robot mechanical kit
This kit allows you to build a simple robot with pen for feet. Doodle robot's motor makes it shake, rattle, and spin which results in a variety of patterns being drawn on the paper below it. You can also remove the pens to transform it into a classic little vibro-robot that slides across smooth floors, tables, and countertops.

Here's the link for the Doodling Robot kit.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The utimate rubber-band firing wooden robot

Osamu Kanda has created many interesting automata, but this creation is something else entirely! He's made a ride-on, wooden robot with remote controlled-arms with working fingers and a chest that opens up to reveal a series of Gatling-style rubber-band guns. You wouldn't want to get into a rubber-band war with this man!

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Friday, June 05, 2009

The Hand of Man - Giant Robotic Hand

By far the most impressive mechanical sculpture I witnessed at this years Maker Faire 2009, was Christian Ristow's piece called Hand of Man. The giant hand is HUGE and fully functional via a haptic interface. It's hard to describe such a familiar thing when it is seen on such a massive and powerful scale. Check out this video for an idea of what I am talking about.

Learn more about the artist, Christian Ristow, on his web site.

[ Found via a post on the Make Magazine Blog ]

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Robotic woodpecker simulator sound sculptures

Here is a short video on a innovative kinetic sculpture that uses sound to great effect. A set of motorized robots mounted in trees effectively simulate the sound of woodpeckers tapping on trees. Very clever.

[ Thanks Falk! ]

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Husqvarna's semi-automomous sleath Automower

Husqvarna's semi-automomous sleath Automower
In case you missed this over on the BoingBoing Gadgets blog the other day, you've got to check out the latest totally stealth-looking autonomous robotic lawn mower from Husqvarna. I wonder if it can be detected by radar.

From the product description
The Automower 260 ACX is designed for semi-professional use in business or public environments as well as for demanding consumers. Like all Husqvarna's robotic mowers, it charges and operates itself without need for supervision. Should anything disturb the operation, 260 ACX sends a text message to your mobile phone. Thanks to 6000 sq. meter (1.4 acre) capacity, low noise level and no requirement of labour, Automower 260 ACX is perfectly suited for use in quiet environments such as hospitals, hotels and leisure facilities, and office locations. Day or night, rain or shine, it simply gets on with the mowing, leaving you free to get on with managing your business.

Here is a link for more info on the Husqvarna Automower.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Robo-Q tiny remote control robot - UPDATE!

Robo-Q tiny remote control robot
Recently, we posted a video about this REALLY small remote-control robot toy. Some additional information is now available by way of ThinkGeek, who is now also offering these robots for sale.

From the product page:
* Amazingly small robots can avoid obstacles and play soccer
* Control your robot directly through the remote
* Two autonomous modes: chase the included ball, or avoid obstacles
* Full control with three walking speeds and right or left turns
* Magnetic charging coupler on remote
* Robot is powered by built-in rechargeable LI battery, charges from remote
* 20 minutes charge time, 5 minutes continuous run time
* Robot stores inside remote
* Remote requires 4 x AA batteries (not included)
* Includes Robot, Remote, Soccer Ball, and Manual (in Japanese)
* Four different robot varieties to choose from. Each is on a different channel.
* Imported from Japan
* Robot height: 3.4cm / 1.33in

Here's a link to more information, photos, and a video of the Robo-Q Tiny Remote Control Robot.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Teeny, tiny little remote-control robot with AI

Teeny, tiny little remote-control robot
In case you missed this over at the other day, you've got to check out this teeny, tiny little remote-control robot!

From the product description:
The World Smallest RC Robot with Artificial Intelligence (AI)!
The all-around control, you may never experience it! The 6 directions control plus 3 speed levels. Also the Robot can be controlled via Artificial Intelligence (AI) after you press the AUTO button, then the Robot can detect-and-escape from the barriers. What's more, after you press the AUTO button and Direction button, the Robot can detect-and-trace the objects. In the Trace mode, the Robot can be charged and run to the controller automatically! The controller as a Robot Station can be stored a Robot inside.

Here's a link to the product page with more images, varieties, and a somewhat hyper-active video of The World Smallest RC Robot with Artificial Intelligence.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Semi-automomous household robots store

Semi-automomous household robots store
It is now the year 2009. We may not have flying cars or ray-guns, but -- at long last -- we have personal robots that can actually do some useful things. They can vacuum your carpet, scrub your floor, clean you gutters, empty the cat litter, and monitor your home.

Take a look at a bunch of the household robots that are currently available. The future has finally arrived!

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

SRV-1 Blackfin Mobile Surveillance Robot

SRV-1 Blackfin Mobile Surveillance Robot
The SRV-1 Mobile Robot is a palm-sized treaded robot sporting a mini video camera. This means you can control the robot via console software or remotely via web browser! The system appears to be very open, allowing advanced hackers/programmers/secret-agents to modify and enhance it.

From the product description:
Using 802.11b/g wi-fi, the SRV-1 connects wirelessly to a computer. The Java-based console software includes a built-in web server to monitor and control the SRV-1 via a web browser from anywhere in the world, as well as archive video feeds on demand or on a scheduled basis. Get programming with fully open-source software for robot and host computer.

Check out the extensive details on the SRV-1 Blackfin Mobile Surveillance Robot.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Insultabotz toy robot kit - a robot with attitude

Now here is a good comedic use of robot technology: the Insultabotz. The Insultabotz kit is easily built with common hand tools.

The Insultabotz moves forward on six insect-like legs. When its infrared eye detects an obstacle in its way, it will stop, reverse direction and then play any message you have prerecorded into the on-board re-recordable voice chip. I'm thinking I would want to record something like: "What the?!? Who put this thing here?!?"

Here is the link for Insultabotz toy robot kit.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Brachiating solar robot orangutan kit by OWI

Brachiating solar robot orangutan kit by OWIYou will need a screwdriver and about 20 minutes of time to assemble this solar powered brachiating orangutan. Robot Orangutan climbs hand-over-hand across a horizontally mounted string when exposed to light (either the sun itself or a strong light bulb).

At right, is a photograph of the kit's various pieces. The kit includes the climbing string, but will you will need to provide the screwdriver. No batteries required -- a favorite phrase of mine.

Here is the link for the climbing solar robot orangutan.

This kit, known as OWI-MSK675 can also be ordered from The Automata / Automaton Store.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Edge Robotic Arm Kit

Edge Robotic Arm Kit
You will need about two hours to assemble the Edge Robotic Arm Kit. No soldering is required.

The robotic arm features five axes of motion that you control via a wired remote. The gripper will open and close, the wrist twists, elbow bends through a range of 300 degrees, and the base rotates 180 degrees. The arm has a vertical reach of 15 inches, and horizontal reach of 12.6 inches.

Here's a page with more info and video of the Edge Robotic Arm Kit at

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bionic Robotic Hand Kit

Bionic Robotic Hand Kit
The folks over at Edmund Scientifics offer this cool-looking hand kit.

From the product description:
This customizable kit allows you to construct a moving, life-size, robotic hand. Using simple tools, you can enjoy every step of the building process.

No soldering or electronic skill is required. Once completed, your hand will be able to open and close at the touch of a button and even grasp items.

Decorate your hand with a glove and jewelry or leave it bare to watch the mechanisms inside. However you choose to use your Bionic Hand, it will be an enjoyable project and intriguing conversation piece for years to come!

Includes an illustrated assembly manual with step-by-step instructions and an AA battery. Requires, but does not include, a screwdriver, small pliers, wire cutter, and drill for assembling the model.

This and many cool robots and kits may be found at Edmund Scientifics.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Sumo wrestler robot with wind-up generator

Sumo Wrestler Robot with Wind Up Generator
An attached wind-up generator allows you to create electricity to power this Sumo wrestler robot. No batteries needed, just some cranking.

Forward and reverse walking actions are controlled by which direction the generator's handle is turned. The faster you crank, the faster it moves.

While its a neat kit on its own, the real fun comes from testing your Sumo-bot against another. A flurry of cranking robot action!

Sumo Wrestler Robot Match
Here's a link for the Sumo Wrestler Robot with Wind Up Generator by Tamiya

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Rovio: personal tele-presence robot by WowWee

Rovio:  personal tele-presence robot by WowWee
Robotic toy-makers WowWee venture into the fully-adult world of robotics with their relatively new tele-presence robot dubbed, Rovio.

Marketed as a home sentry, they may have overstated its capabilities a bit. While it may not be stopping any intruders, it is an intriguing robot nevertheless.

You'll need a full-fledged computer with a broadband internet connection and wireless at the location where Rovio is to be used. The robot can then be controlled by any remote internet-enabled device.

The Rovio sends back both audio and tv-resolution video streamed in MPEG4 format. It has a two-way speaker/microphone setup that allows you to "talk" with entities on the robot-end of the arrangement. It can also take snap-shots and find its own way back to its recharging base. Not bad for $300.

Now...what to do with it? The stand-in for business meeting, "Say goodnight to daddy", and pet-soother all seem a bit of a stretch to me. I think it's best to assume, that you can use the Rovio to take a look around your place (one flat level of it anyway) when you are not there. While a more modest goal, that could truly be useful.

Here's a page with a full description and video of the Rovio robot.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Chinese master of junk robots

A Chinese master of junk robotsBack in 2007, an amazing story circulated around the blogsphere about a man in China who -- with no formal engineering education -- has created a menagerie of robotic creations out of junk. Among the most impressive is a robot-powered rickshaw (shown here) that can pull a passenger along.

Here is a link to a video of Mr. Woo, the Chinese Robot Farmer on

Note: If you want to make some junkbots of your own, I've got to recommend the book JunkBots, Bugbots, and Bots on Wheels.

[ Thanks Charles! ]

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Monday, January 12, 2009

A new kinetic robot sculpture from Nemo Gould

The Performer kinetic robot sculpture from Nemo Gould
Artist Nemo Gould has a new piece to share. Shown here is the new sculpture, entitled 'Performer #2'. Details about the piece are now posted on his site and the sculpture itself will be on display later this month at the Sonoma County Museum in Santa Rosa CA.

Here is a link to the Performer #2 page on Nemo Gould's Site.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

WowWee's Tribot talking companion robot toy

WowWee's Tribot talking companion robot toyTribot is one of the latest from robot toy makers WowWee (of Robosapien fame). Tribot has a number of different modes, some of which (like guard mode), are semi-autonomous. Tribot can also be controlled via remote. The standout features of this robot toy are the slick omni-directional wheels and very quick remote-control response.

From the product description
Tribot is one of the latest in the line of personal robots from WowWee. This innovative talking companion is more than just your average robot -- Tribot is fresh off the robot assembly line and is ready to interact with you whether it is playing with his built-in games or telling you jokes. Remember though, he's only a young robot so he will need help from you to give him commands using the remote controller. Requires eight "AA" and three "AAA" batteries, not included. Measures 9"L x 8.5"W x 15"H.

Here's a more complete product overview of the WowWee Tribot Talking Companion.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Diminutive R2D2 Astromech Droid Robot

Diminutive R2D2 Astromech Droid Robot
Hasbro's new R2D2 toy give me "a new hope" that we are not too many years away from having ACTUAL R2 units helping us out. This smaller robotic toy has some pretty impressive features.

R2D2 responds to voice commands when you alert the droid by saying "Hey, R2!" This is then followed by one of 40 voice commands it understands.The droid can also move along on his own, follow you, play music, and act as a room sentry with an alarm.

For a toy, we are off to a good start. I expect fully functional R2D2 Droids in the next thirty years.

Here is more info on Hasbro's Interactive R2D2 Astromech Droid Robot.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Simple motorized robotic duck kit

This looks like a simple, fun mechanical toy kit that allows you to build a waddling bipedal robot.

Here the link to the Robot Duck kit.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Animatronic singing and talking Elvis bust

Animatronic singing and talking Elvis bust
This animatronic Elvis bust depicts The King in his 1968 Comeback Special glory -- leather jack, sideburns, and all. The robot moves its mouth, eyes, and head as it sings eight Elvis tunes including 'Love Me Tender', 'Hound Dog' and 'Jail house Rock'.

It has something of a watchdog feature too. Infrared sensors hidden in the jacket detect motion, and trigger animatronic Elvis to speak famous catch-phrases when someone passes by. Put this in a dark room and you could really freak somebody out with this thing. I'm freaked out just writing about it.

Here is where you can learn more about the Animatronic Singing and Talking Elvis.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

WowWee's FemiSapien Humanoid Robot

WowWee's FemiSapien Humanoid Robot
Femisapien is WowWee's latetst humanoid robot. Femisapien has 3 functional modes that may be engaged by tilting the robot's head in one of three a specific positions:

Attentive Mode: Femisapien interacts directly with the user.

Learning Mode: allows you to program Femisapien to do a sequence of movements up to 80 steps long.

Responsive Mode: The robot's main autonomous walking mode. Femisapien can interact with sounds, detect objects, and stop when something is in her path.

Learn more about all of the capacities of the FemiSapien Humanoid Robot by WowWee Toys.

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