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The Popinator, Revolutionary Snack Machine

Have you ever tossed a piece of popcorn or candy upwards and failed epicly at catching it with your mouth? Well say no more!

Popcorn Indiana's 'Popinator' popcorn-shooting robot

Meet the Popinator. It is exactly what it looks like. It shoots popcorn into your mouth. And here’s the selling point. It’s voice activated.

Simply say “Pop,” and the robotic popcorn machine senses your voice, matches an X and Y coordinate using its LED sensors, and fires away. Some would find it pointless, but most would agree that this machine is pretty cool. First, you don’t have to get your fingers dirty; second, you don’t even need to move. And even though it’s not perfect (popcorn isn’t uniformly shaped, after all), it’s nearly there.

The Popinator was made by Popcorn Indiana, and is currently not for sale. “‘But maybe one day.’”

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Gangnam Style, Bioloid Style

And now for a unique visit. In early 2009, a robotics kit under the name Bioloid came out. It was easy to program with a variety of different motions.

And so, what do people let the Bioloid robots do?

This is a slightly more relaxed video than usual, so enjoy!

Sigh. If only the robots could perfect the horse-riding move. That would be perfect.

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Baxter, the Robot with Common Sense

Recently, Rethink Robotics created a revolutionary robot called Baxter.

The reasons why Baxter is so useful are many. First, Baxter can actually work next to humans, with its design specific for safety. All of its limbs are encased in plastic, and so there are no extruding parts. This solves a lot of problems and also allows for people to regulate and work together with Baxter.

Baxter also has a monitor that alerts when it acknowledges people around it, or doesn’t know what to do, which allows any regular person to figure out what’s going on. This also helps increase the human feel, because it uses its eyes to sort of show what exactly its thinking, looking at, or doing.

Finally, Baxter is unique in that it doesn’t require complex programming; anyone can teach Baxter how to work just by guiding its arms and telling it what objects to target. This sort of learning algorithm simplifies its use considerably, so that, once again, anyone can operate it.

Reportedly, Baxter was created to compete with cheap foreign labor. It holds this purpose, and states that all of its parts are “Made in America.” Baxter costs $22,000, which, if you consider its efficiency, ease of use, and relatively low cost compared to an average income, Baxter will change the way that manufacturing works.

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Robotic Insects… Attack!

Here we are to talk about the recent popularity of robotic insects. I know some of you won’t be too psyched by the fact that people are imitating robot behavior using robots, but you also have to admit that insects hold certain advantages as well, some including efficient and stable flight, ability to hide quickly, to suck blood, etc. So let’s jump right in.

Robot Cockroaches

“What in the world was that?” you might be asking. Well, this video showcases how cockroaches (and geckos) are especially good at escaping. Why is this important? Well, obviously, if the robot ever gets caught and almost destroyed with a newspaper, of course it makes sense for it to escape from danger.

This robot cockroaches is called DASH (Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod).  It can survive almost 92 foot drops simply with a bit of Velcro. This has huge potential, especially in search and rescue operations.

And now for another kind of cockroach robot.

Picture of a remote-controlled cockroach beside a quarter

It’s a cyborg cockroach, with a lightweight robotic suit for a living cockroach. It looks like a backpack, and is attached into the antennae internally through surgical means. This allows a controller to stimulate the roach’s antennae with an impulse, making it feel like there is something in front of it, and it will shift its direction.

One of the main reasons why they used real cockroaches instead of making a whole new robot like the one above is that real cockroaches have both a locomotive system and a run-away system already in place. This is more useful in volatile situations where it’s necessary for the cockroach to escape detection in the real world.

Scientists believe that the cyborg cockroach can be used to rescue earthquake survivors. Literally anything lightweight can be attached to the cockroach’s back, including cameras, and because of its wireless properties, the robotic backpack also transmits signals and cries for help no matter where it is.

The only hindrance is to find a controller who wants to move a robotic cockroach around, and who can always be within range of the wireless signal. But that shouldn’t be a problem for long.

Cyborg Cockroach

Mobee, Bee Robot

robot bee

What is this, you ask? It’s a new nanobot, called Mobee.

Mobee is probably very similar to a lot of other nanobots that we’ve seen; it can fly in formation, has wings that allow efficient flight, etc. But that’s not the point here.

It’s a really special robot, not because of what it can do, but how it’s made.  Mobee is unique in that it can be mass-produced extremely quickly.

You see, Mobee’s creation was modeled after a pop-up book. First, construction shapes are made using a laser, and many parts are put together. When the actual robot is created, it pops-up almost instantaneously. It’s really cool!

And if you want a more detailed video, here!

Hovering Ornithopter

This cool robot is a flying helicopter insect-like robot. Similar to the previous robot, this robot is unique not in that it flies, but in how it was made.

Traditionally, the wings of such an ornithopter have been notoriously difficult to manufacture. However, this time, by using 3-D printing, a team of roboticists at Cornell were able to perfect them. This also increases the convenience of making robots; it takes only a few minutes to produce such complex wings perfectly.

So far, the robot can fly untethered for around 85 seconds, and requires stabilizer sails above and below the wings as well. But the possibilities can really go any direction. This robot shows that with 3-D printing, we can go farther than ever before, with more precise and complex parts, building up to much larger robots.

And here is the end for our spread today! Don’t let all these creepy crawlies scare you though. Be glad that we can utilize all the benefits of insects without having to deal with them personally.

Sorry for all of you who have entomophobia, though.


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Traditional sprinklers simply spread water over an area, which leads to lots of water wasted and uneven watering. Droplet wants to change all that with its eponymous robot. Instead of blindly spraying water around like Bill & Lance with a Spread gun, Droplet knows where your plants are and aims at them like Mr. Mundy in Doublecross.

When you get a Droplet, you’ll go to a web app to specify the type and location of your plants, and can go through it on a computer or a mobile device in just a few minutes. In addition to that data, Droplet will also supposedly tap into the United States’ weather station and soil sample data to gauge when and how much water to spray. One Droplet should be able to tend to a 2700sq.ft. area.

Now even gardeners have robotic competition. Sorry guys.



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