iRobot Ember Ushers in Era of Military Microbots

Check out the following article from Robot Stock News on a new small and potentially disposable robot for use by the military.  This continues the development of military robots that will be partners with soldiers on the battlefield.  An excerpt from the article follows below and there is a link to the full article at the bottom of the page.

iRobot Corp. has developed a new microbot for military applications — the paperback-sized iRobot Ember!  This hot new bot, still in the prototype stage, is featured on iRobot's new Facebook page for its PackBot family. As you can tell from the photos iRobot posted on the page, Ember resembles a miniaturized PackBot, complete with iRobot's flipper technology allowing it to right itself and climb over obstacles.

The iRobot Ember was developed under DARPA's LANdroids program, which is intended to create teams of tiny robots for military applications, including, as the name implies, setting up an ad-hoc network of hotspots. The robots are intended to be about 1 pound each, be smart enough to detect and navigate around obstacles and ultimately cheap enough to be considered disposable.

 iRobot Ember Ushers in Era of Military Microbots
thorn_stevens (
Sun, 17 May 2009 11:36:00 GMT

Nature Inspired Robots

This has been a recurring theme of post here on RobotNext.  See Snakebots in a Building  as an example of robot design from nature.  Also, take a look at a more recent post that deals with a futuristic application from the world of spiders.

Robotics researchers are increasingly turning to nature for inspiration. Watch a robotic salamander that moves from water to land, a water strider robot, mechanical cockroaches, and some cool self-configuring robots.
TFOT – The Future Of Things –

Nature Inspired Robots
Sarah Gingichashvili
Sat, 16 May 2009 22:53:53 GMT

I Want Robot Taxis

This may be the future of public transit.  You can imagine jumping in one at any point in the city and then traveling to the location of your choice.  Sort of gives you the feel of a private car, even if it is public transportation.  Go to the article link below to see a series of photos of the concept vehicle.

This morning the L line was halted in NYC—my roommate and hundreds of desperate Williamsburg hipsters couldn't get into Manhattan. And while the subway is still great*, I wish we had Robot Taxis.

These are just a concept by Czech firm Kubik Design. Their Robot Taxis are a (pretty) variation of something that has been in science-fiction novels and the trippy brains of those who have suffered and enjoyed the pain and advantages of public transportation forever.

From Gizmoto and [Kubik Design via Ecodrive]

I Want Robot Taxis [Transportation]
Jesus Diaz
Wed, 13 May 2009 19:40:00 GMT

Robots Can Have Many Applications Besides Military

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Satellite Center at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel will be established by a $5 million donation.  Arnold Goldstein, a New York businessman and philanthropist, is providing the funding.  Although robotics can have a military application, he sees the medical and humanitarian purposes also.

Robots To Help Humans
The Jewish Week,  USA
Goldstein said the center would be working with robots that could be used for warfare as well as for medical and humanitarian purposes. “They have a snake-like robot that can go into rubble looking for earthquake victims,” he said.

Robots To Help Humans – The Jewish Week
Wed, 13 May 2009 05:12:04 GMT

Robot takes over Tokyo classroom

Saya, is the name of a life-like female robot that began her career as a robot receptionist.  Then “she” was re-programmed to teach.  Saya gave a lesson to fifth-graders at Tokyo's Kudan Elementary School.  The purpose of the demonstration teaching is more to showcase the technology for students than to attempt to replace human educators.  The students carbon-based teacher had her own opinion about the robotic teacher.

"On the one hand I am impressed that they've got robots to go this far, but on the other hand they still have a long way to research before they create a truly robotic teacher," …

Robot takes over Tokyo classroom
Tue, 12 May 2009 18:34:28 GMT

Human teachers should not fear for their jobs just yet.  This robot had to be carried to the front of the classroom for her presentation of the lesson.

Robotic Da Vinci Tickles Walls

This is one of the most elegant robot designs I have ever seen, even if it is a spider!  The following post from details the story about this very interesting robot.

The year is 2058 and you’re bored of your home's drab walls. The emotion is sensed by a strange spider-like robot hiding in the corner. He comes to life and dances across your wall. As you watch, a beautiful rendition of the Mona Lisa begins to appear. He returns as quick as he appeared and you're left with a new view and attitude. This robotic Da Vinci is named xirrou, and brought to you by concept designer Christian Gumpold.

There is a great series of photos at Yanko Design and NachoFoto Gallery.

Robotic Da Vinci Tickles Walls
Mon, 11 May 2009 14:01:20 GMT

Must-have toys teach a must-have message – Roanoke Times

After posting articles on the dark side of robotics, this one is a much more positive one.  Although the story from yesterday about the roboskin robot certainly shows something that has been created for a human need, it has the potential for a dark side.  The robots here were created for the express purpose of only saving lives.  Plus, these robots are something that one could see marketed as next year’s Christmas gifts.  After you read the excerpt below, follow the link to see the complete article.

Sparky, the Blacksburg Fire Department's "talking" Dalmatian, captures the attention of children during an open house in 2006. Photo courtesy of the Dublin Fire Department Addie Crigger gives the Dublin Fire Department's Patches, a robotic Dalmatian …

Must-have toys teach a must-have message – Roanoke Times
Sun, 10 May 2009 05:34:00 GMT

New Robot With Artificial Skin To Improve Human Communication

So, in light of robots that can jump and robots that can kill, where does a robot that can feel fit in?  Doesn’t this make you think about the possibility of killer robots with the sense of touch?  Of course, this roboskin robot is being developed for a noble purpose, but technology does not know good from evil.  I have always believed in technology as a way for humanity to improve itself and I don’t think all the articles on the military applications of robots will change my mind about that.  However, it does make you think!

Work is beginning on a robot with artificial skin to be used to investigate how robots can help children with autism learn about social interaction.  Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn and her team at the University’s School of Computer Science are part of a European consortium, which is working on the three-year Roboskin project to develop a robot with skin and embedded tactile sensors.

The researchers will work on Kaspar (, a child-sized humanoid robot developed by the Adaptive Systems research group at the University.


New Robot With Artificial Skin To Improve Human Communication
Sun, 10 May 2009 03:00:00 GMT

The Hexbug Change

Hexbug So I found this little project on Hack a Day , which is very interesting. Applied Inspirations put together a nice hack on the robot hexbug.

"The Hexbug is a very cleverly designed, tiny toy robot bug. Once removed from its package and switched on, it marches forward until its antennae bump an obstacle. It then does a reverse-right turn, and continues forward again until the next obstacle."

Well, they decided to take the bug apart and see how it worked. Then they added a different board and microcontroller to do more with it such as adding, ’’Motor Off , Piezo-buzzer, Blinkable ‘Eye’, Low battery detection, Light level detection."  Perhaps later other sensors can be added.The webpage is set up very nicely and gives good instructions of the hexbug and how to change it up.

You can turn your $10.00 "insect" hexbug into a $35.00 "smart robot" hexbug!