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Oodles of Noodles, Chinese Noodle-Slicing Robot

Noodles, noodles, everywhere. One of the more common foods in China is noodles, lots of them. You can find them around almost every corner, each with a different style. What’s more, they are lots of different varieties, like lamian or udon. And one of the most common forms of noodles is freshly sliced noodles. That means that with one blob of dough, and one knife, a chef gets a lot of noodles after a tiring chopping session. In larger restaurants, this is a customary job.

Well, the robots will be taking over now. A restaurant-owner named Cui Runguan decided to make his own robot to take over the job of a noodle-slicing chef.

The robot itself is relatively simple. It has two basic motions: slice back and forth (like a windshield wiper) and dump the noodles into a pot of boiling water. This simplicity, however, is also key to its appeal. At a stunning $2,000, this noodle-slicing robot costs less than half of the annual wages of the average chef. To the owner of a restaurant, this is very convenient, but prospective chefs, this could be devastating. However, slicing noodles is one of the jobs in the restaurant that is often considered tedious, because it’s tiring. So that means in reality, it won’t have a large impact on the jobs market, but rather will just remove one more arduous task.

So at this point, you might be wondering: are the noodles any different? Well, customers say that there is very little difference in quality between man-made noodles and those made by this robot. What’s more, they “look better,” according to one patron of the restaurant that made this robot. The noodles are made faster and more uniformly, so it’s clear that this robot is quite useful.

Of course, there have also been some jokes that equipping robots with razor-sharp knives isn’t the best way to prevent the robot apocalypse. But whatever. Human noodle cutters? Nah. I want my noodles robotic.

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The Team of Three: The Unicorn, the MARE, and the Aqua

How do you make a robot to monitor things while still at home? You make a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), an ASV (Autonomous Surface Vehicle), or an AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) . But what if you need to monitor three areas at once, like from the sky, the surface, and underwater, what do you do? You make a UAV, an ASV, and an AUV.

And this is what this trio does. Used to monitor coral reefs, the trio consists of Unicorn UAV, MARE ASV, and Aqua AUV. They work together to accurately monitor the coral reefs. But how do they do this?

First, Unicorn UAV scans the surface. It provides up-to-date, high quality images of the surface of the ocean to the scientists who control it from afar. Then, scientists specify important areas. The Unicorn UAV then sends this data to the other two robots and continues to monitor the area.

Next, we have the MARE ASV. This has one main purpose, which is to communicate with Unicorn UAV and Aqua AUV. It caches all messages that the Unicorn UAV sends to it. This is important because the Aqua AUV can only receive info when it surfaces, but the Unicorn UAV has limited battery life and cannot wait around to send data to the Aqua AUV.

And finally, we have the Aqua AUV. The Aqua AUV takes the really important details like close-up photography and analysis. It surfaces to send and receive data.

We see that together, this trio of robots makes the ultimate research tool. Scientists can use them together from a very far distance, making it almost unnecessary to even visit the area in person. What’s more, they work fast, much faster than using conventional research methods. And field tests have shown that they can be using in application and are robust enough to withstand whatever the ocean throws at them.

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A printer that can fit in your pocket

Most of us have been there; struggling to finish that paper right before class just to realize that you have nowhere to print it. Fortunately, PocketPrinter can change all that. Designed by ZUtA Labs, based in Jerusalem, Isreal, the PocketPrinter can be plugged into any device (smartphone, tablet, or laptop), and can print on any-sized paper.

The PocketPrinter is essentially a print-head on a tiny set of wheels, whose design allows it to race across the page, making it truly the smallest a printer can be. The printer is also fitted for everyday use; it has a rechargeable battery with an on/off switch, and can connect directly to and charge from any device via USB. The printer can run for an hour straight on a full charge, and the inkjet lasts for over 1,000 printed pages.

Although this version of the printer does not yet have stabilizing sensors, it was designed in such a comprehensive manner so that the user can place the printer on the top of the page and guarantee an accurate outcome. The printer achieves this by using its omni-directional wheelbase.

Currently on Kickstarter, the PocketPrinter looks to roll out orders of the new device in January of 2015.


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Robot Janitorial Submarine

One of the biggest problems with our environment today is the buildup of trash. Not many of you may realize that 14 billion pounds of garbage are dumped into the ocean annually. However, all of this is hidden in the murky depths of any water source. And so someone made a robot to clean it up.

Now, if you were to ask the Little Green Men from Toy Story, they would probably sit at the bottom of the ocean, and say, in a mystical voice, “the Claw…” However, as simple as this robot is, it serves a very vital function. This robot has been dragging trash from the Chicago River, and the results are pretty dramatic.

The majority of the trash is just simple trash. However, there have been very random, like the objects in the video: a chair, a jug of moonshine, and an anchor. But what these objects reveal is that there is a lot more trash in the water systems that people don’t realize.

Using this robot, hopefully more people will realize just how much trash is in our waterways, and take incentive to clean it out. It’s a small robot, but the purpose it serves is one that will be no easy feat. Let’s just hope we can get all of that trash out!

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Thermite, Robot Firefighter

Firefighting is one of the most dangerous jobs out there. Every year, tens of hundreds of firefighters lose their lives putting out fires, and still there are many who suffer greatly from unsuccessful firefighting.

The first robot firefighter is trying to solve or alleviate this issue. Called Thermite and made by Howe and Howe Technologies, this robot can put out fires in a hurry.

Thermite is pretty big, almost 4.5 feet in height, and can pump out 600 gallons of liquid per minute. What’s more, it’s incredibly versatile, and can control water flow very well, deal with chemical, nuclear, or just regular fires, and can be remotely operated from over a quarter of a mile away. That first makes firefighting a safer job, and second deals with fire in an efficient way.

So Thermites main goal is to decrease exposure to fire. It may cost significantly, as many things do, and it may not be as intelligent as the next human over, but it makes the world safer and that’s what counts.

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