colinneagle writes "Researchers at Chiba University in Japan have developed a robot that could frustrate teenagers worldwide with its impressive air hockey skills. What's remarkable about this air hockey-playing robot, which is not the first of its kind, is that it can sense human opponents' playing styles and adapt to defend against them. The key is how the computer controlling the robot views its opponent — at a speed of 500 frames per second. From there, the robot uses a three-layer control system to determine motion control, when it should hit the puck, defend its goal or stay still, and a third that determines how it should react to its opponent's playing style."
Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.
This is our second video starring Backyard Brains (Motto: "Neuroscience for Everyone!"). The first one was pretty lab-oriented, with a twitching roach leg here and there. This one has more roaches, with most of them crawling on command. Will the DoD see this and decide to make cockroach soldiers? Or roboroach bomb detectors and defusers? Or cockroach drone pilots? Anything's possible these days. But meanwhile, relax and enjoy learning about roboroaches and watching how, with little circuit boards on their little backs, they scurry hither and yon under control of their human masters. WARNING: Excessively squeamish people should not watch this video, but should stick to the transcript.
sweetpea86 writes "Cisco has teamed up with robotics firm iRobot to create their own enterprise version of the 'Sheldonbot' from US comedy series The Big Bang Theory. The robot, known as Ava 500, brings together iRobot's autonomous navigation with Cisco's TelePresence system to enable a remote worker sitting in front of a video collaboration system to meet with colleagues in an office setting or take part in a facility tour."
WoodenKnight writes "Indian DRDO chief Avinash Chander has told reporters that development of robotic soldiers would be one of his 'priority thrust areas', saying that 'unmanned warfare in land and air is the future of warfare.' He foresees robotic soldiers assisting human soldiers initially but, he hinted at forward-position deployment of such robots. He gave a timeline of at least a decade for the project to see any practical use but said a number of labs in India are now working on this."
theodp writes "It was the best of movies; it was the worst of movies. GeekWire reports that The Internship — the new comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as two 40-something guys who get internships at Google — is getting high praise from Googlers but low marks from movie critics. Google CEO Larry Page called the movie 'a lot of fun' in his Google+ post, while fellow Google exec Vic Gundotra gushed, 'I laughed a lot while watching this movie!' After screening a sneak preview with Google companions, Wired's Steven Levy wrote, 'From Google's point of view, the movie could not possibly be better.' USA Today's take, on the other hand, is that 'Google has never looked lamer thanks to The Internship.' And the NY Daily News calls the movie 'an unfunny valentine to Google.' But perhaps the unkindest cut of all comes from the NY Post, who suggests that 'maybe The Internship was secretly funded by Bing.' Ouch." Update: 06/07 20:02 GMT by T : Peter Wayner saw the movie (a "harmless bit of summer fluff"), and his full-length take below takes on some of the tech-company misconceptions that the film-makers gleefully adopted as script material.
Newly released footage, writes reader Wowsers, shows that in 2004 "A German drone aircraft was within meters of bringing down a passenger aircraft with 100 people on board. The link shows stills from onboard the drone. The incident had been hushed up for nine years, and is creating waves in Germany now the footage has been leaked out."
aesoteric writes "A man's backyard beer fridge in Australia has been busted interfering with the cellular network of major carrier Telstra. Engineers used an internally-developed software 'robot' to crawl log files from the network and sent a field team out to pinpoint the cause of the interference."
judgecorp writes "IBM is using robots based on iRobot Create, a customizable version of the Roomba vacuum cleaner, to measure temperature and humidity in data centers. The robot looks for cold zones (where cold air may be going to waste instead of being directed to the servers) and hotspots (where the air circulation may be breaking down. IBM is putting the robots to commercial use at partners — while EMC is at an early stage on a strikingly similar project."
First time accepted submitter nedko.m writes "I would describe myself as more of a 'software guy' rather than somebody who likes to play with hardware much, but I've wanted to start doing basic robotics projects as a hobby for quite a while now. However, I was never sure where to start from and what the very first steps should be in order to get more familiar with the hardware aspects of robotics. For instance, I would like to start off with a simple soccer robot. Any suggestions on what low-budget parts should I obtain, which would provide me, subsequently, extensibility to a bit more elaborate projects?"
CowboyRobot writes "This week NASA kicks off its second Sample Return Robot Challenge, in which teams compete for a chance to win $1.5 million. Participants must demonstrate a self-operated robot capable of locating and collecting geologic samples from diverse terrain. Eleven teams from the U.S. and overseas gather for the challenge from June 5 through 7 at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass. The Sample Return Robot competition is part of NASA's Centennial Challenges program launched by the Space Technology Mission Directorate, which develops and tests hardware for use in NASA's future missions. NASA said the goal of the challenge is to encourage innovation in autonomous navigation and robotics technologies, which the agency could potentially use to explore a "variety of destinations in space" and in "industries and applications on Earth.""
First time accepted submitter khb writes "It seems that the UN has started a debate on whether to place limits or bans on robots that can kill without manual supervision. It seems that bombs are viewed as 'kinder' than robots which might be programmed to achieve specific ends (e.g. destroy that bridge, kill anyone carrying a gun, etc.)."
Zothecula writes "Researchers at Stanford University have developed a small 'aircraft' that resembles a flying fish which can jump and glide over a greater distance than an equivalent jumping robot. Using a carbon fiber spring to take off, the jumpglider has a pivoting wing that stays out of the way during ascent, but which locks into place to glide farther on the way down."
We're not talking cheap here; Willow Garage PR2 robots list for $280,000 with the academic discount, $400,000 without. Still, spokesman Ryan points out that it can take a PhD candidate two or more years to build a robot chassis and create new software equivalent to Willow Garage's open source robotware. The thought, too, is that if a university buys the robot a lot of students can share it. Sounds good, doesn't it? But much though we might want a robot, it's probably a good thing Slashdot doesn't have one because we'd probably spend all day fighting over who got to use it next.
Zothecula writes "Robots are getting down to the size of insects, so it seems only natural that they should be getting insect eyes. A consortium of European researchers has developed the artificial Curved Artificial Compound Eye (CurvACE) which reproduces the architecture of the eyes of insects and other arthropods. The aim isn't just to provide machines with an unnerving bug-eyed stare, but to create a new class of sensors that exploit the wide field of vision and motion detecting properties of the compound eye."
garymortimer writes "Google has acquired a US company that generates power using turbines mounted on tethered kites or wings. Makani Power will become part of Google X – the secretive research and development arm of the search giant. The deal comes as Makani carries out the first fully autonomous flights of robot kites bearing its power-generating propellers. Google has not said how much it paid to acquire Makani, but it has invested $15m (£9.9m) in the company previously."
astroengine writes "In a recent batch of images beamed back to Earth from Mars rover Curiosity's MAHLI camera, obvious signs of wear and tear could be seen in the 'skin' of the robot's wheels. Considering Curiosity is only 281 sols (Mars days) into its mission and roved less than a kilometer after landing, surely this doesn't bode well? Fortunately, there's good news. 'The wear in the wheels is expected,' Matt Heverly, lead rover driver for the MSL mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told Discovery News. 'We will continue to characterize the wheels both on Mars and in the Marsyard, but we don't expect the wear to impact our ability to get to Mt. Sharp.'"
1sockchuck writes "Robotics are beginning to be integrated into data center management, creating the potential for a fully automated, robot-driven data center. What might a robot-controlled 'lights-out' data center look like? The racks will be taller, as robotics systems can reach higher to manage servers. Robotic equipment would be mounted on rails that allow them to find and move hardware. Early examples of this are seen in tape libraries, but the concepts could be applied to other data center equipment. Amazon and Google are said to be among those looking at ways to create a fully automated data center. AOL says it has already built an unmanned data center. Data Center Knowledge looks at the challenges and opportunities in robot-controlled data centers, including how staff roles would evolve."
mikejuk writes "The new Arduino robot looks a bit like a robot vacuum cleaner, but it has a lot more going for it and it certainly doesn't suck — well not unless you add an air pump to it. As always, the Arduino Robot is completely open source and comes as an easy to assemble kit involving no soldering, just some plugging in of components. It consists of two circular boards, 19cm in diameter, each with its own Arduino controller. They fit together to create a stack about 10cm tall. The bottom board has two wheels and motors which allow it to move in any direction. The top board contains lots of sensors and a central display. The two communicate via a serial connection. There is also a lot of space for expansion. There is a new library which can be downloaded to help write programs for this fairly sophisticated robot. There is only one big problem with the Arduino robot — you can't buy one at the moment. If you really can't wait, until early July when they should start shipping from the Arduino shop and from distributors, then you will have to get to the Maker Faire San Mateo (May 17-19) where they are being demonstrated and sold."
astroengine writes "After nine years of hard Mars roving, Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity has broken a 40-year-old extraterrestrial distance record. On Thursday, the tenacious six-wheeled robot drove 80 meters (263 feet), nudging the total distance traveled since landing on the red planet in 2004 to 35.760 kilometers (22.220 miles). NASA's previous distance record was held by Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt when, in December 1972, they drove their Lunar Roving Vehicle 35.744 kilometers (22.210 miles) over the lunar surface. Although it's broken the NASA distance record, it hasn't surpassed the international record, yet. The Soviet Lunokhod 2 remote-controlled moon rover roved 37 kilometers (23 miles) across the lunar surface and, so far, remains the undisputed champion of distance driving on an extraterrestrial surface."
First time accepted submitter Sabine Hauert writes in with news about a robotic bartending system called Makr Shakr. "You're at a busy bar. You order your personalized cocktail through a smart phone app; a drink dispenser measures out the beverage according to your instructions and a Kuka robotic arm give it a shake (or stir), while another garnishes it with a slice of lemon; the made-to-order concoction is delivered to your waiting hand via a slick little ten-lane conveyor belt. The 'mixology system' tracks your order from start to finish: a large display behind the bar shows you the number of drinks ahead of yours in the queue, the current wait time, and lets you know when your drink is ready to be picked up. It also shows you what's popular to drink tonight among both the ladies and the gents in the crowd, and lets you influence drinking trends in real-time by incorporating your suggested tweaks on popular recipes."