robots

This could be the ‘social companion robot’ you didn’t know you needed

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Enabot's slogan for the Ebo Air and Ebo SE robots is
Enabot's slogan for the Ebo Air and Ebo SE robots is "always together."
Photo: Enabot

Talk of artificially intelligent personal robots may make some people think of Terminator and “the rise of the machines,” but relax, there’s likely plenty of time before they take over. All nervous kidding aside, in the meantime, companies like Enabot are putting out affordable robots with practical uses. The company launched one on Tuesday.

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the company released its Ebo Air “social companion robot.” The little rolling orb is designed to keep the home safe and loved ones entertained and connected, from pets to kids to grandparents, the company said.

Stay sanitary with a Roomba for bacteria [Deals]

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Rockubot
This robot uses UVC-light and ultrasonic waves to kill 99.9% of bacteria, germs and viruses.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Did you know that ultraviolet light can kill germs? It can, and that’s good news, because it means there are better ways of sanitizing your home than constantly spraying and wiping it down with chemicals. With this tool, keeping a sanitary space is as simple as powering up a little Roomba-style robot.

Apple Camp now taking reservations for summer fun

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Apple Camp
This summer camp will teach you to create music, video stories and control robots the Apple way.
Photo: Apple

Sign-ups began today for Apple Camp, a free three-day summer program for kids at Apple Stores across the globe.

The camps, designed to expose kids to the many ways to get creative with Apple products, run July 9 through 27. Reservations tend to fill up fast.

Swift Playgrounds adds new robots for budding coders

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Swift Playgrounds
Dive into coding with Swift Playgrounds.
Photo: Apple

Swift Playgrounds, Apple’s code-learning app aimed at youngsters, got a huge update today with the biggest new set of features sent the app came out in 2016.

With the Swift Playgrounds 2.0 update, coders get access to a host of new robots, as well as the ability to subscribe to third-party level creators so you can find and download new levels faster.

Catch the weird, wonderful and wacky gadgets of CES 2018, on The CultCast

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Forephus
This ping pong machine is part cyborg, part Forrest Gump.
Photo: Engadget

This week, on a jam-packed, tech-tastic episode of The CultCast: We’ll tell you the weirdest, wackiest and most wonderful products revealed at CES 2018, the world’s craziest consumer electronics show. We’ve dug deep to bring you some strange ones!

Our thanks to Casper for supporting this episode. Learn why Casper makes the internet’s favorite mattress, and save $50 off your order at casper.com/cultcast.

Watch a robot perfectly fit an iPhone screen protector

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Air bubbles? There's a bot for that!
Photo: ITMedia

Virtually everyone’s had the experience of trying to affix an adhesive screen protector to their new iPhone, only to screw up and put it on at a jaunty angle, or with unwanted air bubbles showing on the surface.

Fortunately, Kawasaki has created a dual-arm manufacturing robot, called “duAro,” that’s able to do the job better than we could ever hope to.

Check out the weirdly hypnotic video below to see the robot in action.

Robotic assistant makes you glad Siri is just a voice

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Nadine robotic assistant
Robotic assistant Nadine has the kind of face we can imagine only half-covering a soulless, plastic endoskeleton after the explosion failed to kill her.
Photo: Nanyang Technical University

Anyone who’s been wringing their hands in anticipation of the day we’ll each have a physical, robotic assistant to schedule our days and keep us company should be careful what they wish for because the future is here, and it is creepy.

“Nadine” comes from scientists at Nanyang Technical University in Singapore, and its face looks very similar to its creator’s, Professor Nadia Thalmann. But its terrifying, pruny hands come from somewhere else, like the nightmares we had when we were eight and watched director David Cronenberg’s version of The Fly even though our parents specifically told us not to.

You can see Nadine in action in the video below.

Robo-dog Santa sleigh will haunt your Christmas

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Ho, ho, horrifying?
Ho, ho, horrifying?
Photo: Boston Dynamics/YouTube

Robots are cool, but there are some things visionary engineers in the robotics field should not mess with – like eight tiny reindeer.

Boston Dynamics put their famous robotic dogs through another test – harnessing three Spot bots to a sleigh, pulling a waving Santa-like figure (not the real Santa, but a real person dressed as Mrs. Claus). The Google-owned company posted a video on YouTube of the prancing robo dogs, apparently showing the world once again that even the job of Rudolph can be replaced by a robot.

Japanese helper-bot is as adorable as it is ridiculous

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This guy has traded in his smartphone for a RoBoHon.
This guy has traded in his smartphone for a RoBoHon.
Photo: Sharp/YouTube

Now if Cupertino really wanted to make Siri something special, they would give her a head, arms and legs, and make her dance when she plays music.

Sharp Electronics has either jumped ahead of Apple or jumped the shark tank with an animated robotic smartphone called RoBoHon. It does everything your current smartphone does but with moving appendages, an adorable, futuristic face and a sweet voice to make it a very personable sidekick.

Architects behind Apple’s spaceship campus set their sights on Mars

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Foster + Partners want to take on Mars.
Foster + Partners want to take on Mars.
Photo: Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners is currently making a name for itself by designing Apple’s new spaceship campus and flagship stores, but once it’s done taking over Earth, the London-based architecture firm wants to help NASA create human colonies on Mars.

Norman Foster’s firm revealed its plans for a 93-square meter habitat that would be 3D printed from the loose soil and rocks on the the martian surface. The firm’s designs were shortlisted as a finalist for the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge hosted by NASA and America Makes.

This is the same architecture firm that designed Apple’s spaceship in Cupertino as well as most of the flagship Apple Store. While the structures presented in the Mars plan are vastly different from what Apple uses, it shows the kind of crazy ideas that go into modern architecture, some of which can be implemented in one way or another here on Earth.

Here’s how the firm says it would put 4 astronauts on the red planet:

Computer engineer wins 1,000 Twitter contests with Python script

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twitter-bot-contest-winnings
A simple Python script later, Hunter Scott was entered into 165,000 Twitter contests.
Photo: Hunter Scott

Computer engineer Hunter Scott wrote a Python script to enter virtually every Twitter contest started over the span of nine months. The bot ended up entering him in about 165,000 different “RT to win” contests and more importantly, he won close to 1,000. On average, he won four contests per day every day.

Woz and other big thinkers call for ban on AI weapons

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Starting a Terminator-style AI arms race is a bad idea.
Starting a Terminator-style AI arms race is a bad idea.
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Autonomous weapons that have the power to track and kill targets with Terminator-like efficiency aren’t just a Hollywood fantasy anymore.

Steve Wozniak, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and hundreds of AI and robotics researchers say the technology to build autonomous weapons that select and engage targets without human intervention is feasible within years, not decades. And we need to ban it now.

Meet the robot that will assemble your future iPhones – and everything else

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Legos and pre-school toys today, your iPhone tomorrow.
Legos and pre-school toys today, your iPhone tomorrow.
Photo: UC Berkeley Robot Learning Lab

UC Berkley researchers have hit a major milestone in the creation of usable AI. They’ve created a new set of algorithms that will allow robots to learn through trial and error — much like humans learn new tasks.

With this kind of educated automaton, there’s nothing they won’t be able to do. Think of mechanical beings assembling your next iPhone, building skyscrapers, or exploring Mars.

Is this where we see the first inklings of the robot apocalypse?

This is what new Star Wars droid BB-8 would look like in space gray

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What if Jony Ive designed BB-8? Photo: Martin Hajek
What if Jony Ive designed BB-8? Photo: Martin Hajek

With its roly-poly looks and infectious personality, new droid BB-8 looks primed to be a real scene-stealer when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters at the end of the year.

And now we know what the ballsy little bot would look like if Jony Ive replaced its orange-and-white color scheme with something a little more subtle.

Once-famous robot lives quietly away from limelight

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Robot
Elektro, a robot built by Westinghouse in 1937, was a star at the World's Fair in 1939-40. Photo: Courtesy of Scott Schaut/Mansfield Memorial Museum
Photo: Scott Schaut/Mansfield Memorial Museum

America’s oldest surviving robot no longer smokes cigarettes.

Long lines of people no longer wait to see him, topless women haven’t danced around him in years and his legs have been broken since that amusement park gig.

But Elektro is home now, his head reunited with his body, cared for by a man named Scott Schaut, who is so fiercely protective that museum requests to borrow the gold robot usually end with him replying “over my dead body.”

Google’s 160-pound robot dog will scare the bejesus out of you

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running-dog-1

Google-owned robotics firm Boston Dynamics is no stranger to creating robotic beasts that can do freakish feats, but their latest robotic quadruped — a 160-pound doglike machine named Spot — takes the crazy factor to an all new level with a smaller, nimbler, more-kickable form factor.

To be perfectly honest, Spot scares the hell out of me. When Elon Musk warned about the possibility of humans becoming slaves to AI, this is what I imagined — legions of weird-looking robots that can go anywhere to hunt you down and put you in your place. Spot doesn’t feature any futuristic weapons to punish his human masters, but the cybernetic canine has some serious skills when it comes to exploring difficult terrain and balancing.

If you don’t think the robot threat is real, here are six GIFs of Spot in action that might change your mind:

Foxconn CEO unimpressed by his iPhone-building robot army

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Irobot
Photo: 20th Century Fox

It looks like Apple manufacturer Foxconn may not be entirely ready to displace its human workforce in favor of robots just yet.

According to a new report coming out of the Taiwanese media, Foxconn’s CEO Terry Gou is disappointed by the company’s current generation of so-called “Foxbots,” which supposedly fell short of expectations in terms of both proficiency and flexibility.

Gritty Automata trailer makes the robot uprising seem inevitable

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automata2

Gabe Ibañez directs and Antonio Banderas stars in this gritty, realistic near-future sci-fi flick, Automata.

The premise is that, in 2004, robots have found a way to circumvent built-in Protocols against harming human beings or self-altering their own physical form.

The award-winning film looks to be a fantastic take on the robots-gone-wild sub-genre, and it’s got Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) as a rogue killer robot and Melanie Griffith as a scheming politician; what’s not to like?

Foxconn’s army of robots will only ‘support’ humans… for now

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iRobot_G_08

Yesterday, we reported that Foxconn CEO Terry Gou had promised shareholders that the Chinese iPhone manufacturer was ready to deploy an army of 10,000 robots to help build the iPhone 6.

But while that report seems accurate, don’t expect these so-called Foxbots to completely replace humans on the assembly line. As it turns out, the iPhone 6 is going to require way too much finesse to assemble for a mere robot to do it all.

Foxconn is ready to release an army of robots to build the iPhone 6

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iRobot_G_08

For years now, Foxconn has been expressing its interest in replacing its workers with robots, raising the possibility that future iPhones could be built with machines. In fact, in December of 2012, Foxconn quietly began testing a program to replace human workers with iPhone-building robots.

But now, it appears that Foxconn is hitting the accelerator on the program. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou has just told shareholders that they will be deploying some 10,000 “Foxbots” to start building iPhones soon.

12 things we hope get funded on Kickstarter

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This comic book project is set on a horror island of solitude, billed as
This comic book project is set on a horror island of solitude, billed as "Lovecraftian inspired by Japanese folklore."

As warmer weather hits even San Francisco, we’re pooling our beer money for a robot bartender. And some wasabi-flavored toothpicks. Our ever-expanding crew could use some of these modular Modos bookshelves and stools, too. There are so many things on Kickstarter that we want — jeans, maps, comic books — that we’re sharing our wish list with you.

Even cranky futurist Jaron Lanier supports Kickstarter — it “turns consumers into a priori funders of innovation” and we’re pretty sure that translates into robotic cocktails for everyone.

Anki Shows Off How iOS Devices Can Be The Brains For Real-World Robots [WWDC 2013]

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Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 1.15.32 PM

Tim Cook just did something odd: he allowed another company to take the stage right off the bat to explain cool things people can do with iOS devices, artificial intelligence and robotics.

Boris Sofman, founder of ANKI, showed off ANKI Drive, remote control cars that connect to your iPhone via Bluetooth 4.0 and can drive themselves around a course while automatically detecting the other drivers, motions of the track, etc.

Kind of like Google’s self-driving cars, but for children. The reaction from the audience wasn’t that great, and the demo sort of failed, but you can see the possibility: iOS devices acting as the brains for real life robots.

It’s a small, fun demo, but it’s more about the possibilities here. Everything you love about video games imbued in real objects, or artificial intelligences being powered by iPhones.