Archive for the 'Robots' Category

Robots Vs Music

Nigel Stanford‘s AUTOMATICA, a superb Robots Vs. Music video demonstrating that robotic arms are good for more than just automotive assembly lines.

Mesmerising to watch full screen, especially the pair of arms on the piano and then the keyboard solo (from 2:47).

Get the album here and watch the behind the scenes testing here.

Endless Loop

Wow this might be the longest period of time without a blog post in the last few years – 6 weeks!  Both work and personal life has been incredibly busy and so apologies to those of you eager for more Inspirational Geek!

I’ll ease back into it gently with a simple but utterly mesmerising GIF of a robotic arm and a toy train.  Don’t worry if you have a pang of mild panic each time the train looks to run out of track – you’re not alone.

And if that isn’t enough then there’s a 10 minute (higher quality) video version of the endless loop here from its creator Christian Schürch.



You’ve all heard of Liam, right?

No, not Gallagher.  Or Payne.  Or even Neeson.  But Apple’s Liam.

A 29 arm robot which can disassemble over a million iPhones a year when they are ready to be recycled.  Here’s a snippet of it in action.

Whether you’re a fan of Apple or not, it’s great to see such innovation in committing to meeting the full life cycle of the consumer product.

Keep up the good work, Liam.  More information here.

Origami Robot

Origami and Robots – two things that I love.

Put them together and we seem to be on the verge of having our very own real life transformers (my preference resides with the original, not Michael Bay’s modern day efforts).

Ok, not quite as spectacular as Optimus Prime, nor does it function as much other than a flat sheet when not in robot form, but we now have something that can not only assemble itself but then walk away to do its job… without any human input!

Origami can produce stunningly complex shapes and geometry from a single sheet of paper, it’s even used more often than you might realise in science such as arranging sensors or amplifiers in particularly tight spaces, or understanding 6-dimensional spaces in Cosmology.

Inspired by the 1980s hit toy Shrinky Dinks (I remember making numerous keyrings and magnets) that, when heated, shrink to a hard finish without altering their colour or shape, scientists from Harvard and MIT now have a full electro-mechanical system.

The system consists of a flat polystyrene sheet, a flexible circuit board across each carefully designed hinge, two motors, a microcontroller and two batteries.  The microcontroller instructs the circuits to heat up which folds up the sheet, then, once cooled, the polystyrene hardens and the robot crawls off as tasked.

origami robot

The team from Harvard believes that future versions of this could help with activities from the mundane in helping people sweep leaves off their driveway to launching flat pack satelites that self-assemble into space.

Time and transport costs could also soon cost a fraction of what they are now if functional products can be shipped around as flat sheets and auto-assembled on site (a shelter for disaster zones is a perfect example).

In emergency situations or hard-to-reach places—under a crevice or pile of rubble, let’s say—the ability to deploy a compact robot that can then rearrange itself into a functional one could be a godsend.

There are still many obstacles to overcome, such as the frequency with which these prototypes catch fire due to the heat generated in folding, or the fact that the assembly alone completely drains the battery, but the future holds almost unlimited possibilities for these little guys, and all for materials that cost less than $100 (~£60).

A flat sheet of material is still a long way away from a 1967 Camaro SS or a Western Star truck cab, but given how those films usually end up that’s probably a good thing.

Read the full scientific journal here.





Robo Rainbow

This is simply a really lovely way to start the week.

Robo Rainbow is an “instrument of mass destruction” from mudlevel that, via an entirely necessary technical solution of motors and gears, aides simple acts of vandalism in a beautiful manner.


Human Gadgets

Technology and gadgets are ever increasing and getting smarter, and we all know that one day robots will rise up against us and take over the world.  Though judging by the recent robot world cup football, that time is still way off in the future.  So, for now, we’ll just have to settle for some gadgets getting clever-er, and reacting to external stimuli with a somewhat human-esque quality.

Making gadgets more personal means that they are something that we can relate to a bit more.  We react to weather, temperature, and of course each other.  The following gadgets have had an injection of anthropomorphism that is just this, implemented in both a cheeky and playful manner.

Design firm Chambers Judd has explored incorporating humanised behaviour into products to “accomplish practical, if unexpected tasks”.  Ah, yes, the most human of traits.  The results are a group of elements from the fictional Attenborough Design Group, which includes

The Gusendheit Radio which sneezes periodically to expel dust:

Floppy Legs, the disk drive which doesn’t like to get wet:leggy-diskdrive

and the AntiTouch Lamp which, well, doesn’t like to be touched:

“Intelligent autonomy” is gradually being bred into gadgets so that they are able to react to external cues, translating them into purposeful reactions.

You really cannot help but smile when you see them in action!

The Gesundheit Radio is so charming in its actions which looks the part as much as it acts, Floppy Legs’ ability to evade liquid with such a reaction is something most adults would probably be proud of, and AntiTouch’s sensitive halogen lamp really just speaks for itself.  Looking forward to seeing much more like this!


Following a recent post from the Guardian Technology Team it seems that a world dominated by robots is creeping ever closer.  This is a prime example of how a robot,  although designed by us,  far excels mere humans in terms of accuracy and speed.  The video is quite incredible, especially the catching of an off-centred ball.

A selection of robots from Boston’s The Big Picture earlier this year shows the tremendous array of robots available, being tested and put to use in the world at the moment.  However, I can’t help but feel that the robots we are sending out for military warfare seem a tad more visually appealing and loveable than the kinda clunky and creepy ones that seem intent on inhabiting our homes.


How long before we have a battlefield of cute robots destroying each other!

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