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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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Walking Lanterns

You know what’s missing from your garden or lawn right now?

Of course, robots! Your garden is absolutely missing robots. Especially the sort with lots of legs and big lights on their heads.

People often have to get down on all fours to move lamps and lanterns from one spot on their garden to another. The Toro-bots get rid of the dirty work because they’ll get up and walk to your desired location with a few flicks of the remote control. They’re also equipped with infrared rangefinders that allows them to detect when someone is nearby (they’ll step off to the side if they sense they’re in someone’s way.) This means that eventually they can be given some level of centralized autonomous control.

Built on PhantomX quadrupeds, and each has been programmed with its own unique behavior and can reconfigure itself depending on the season, the presence or absence of a human observers — that develops structure in a generative way, creating a dynamic conversation between the elements in the garden. That just goes to show that even robots can have a green thumb!

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Robot Lumberjack

With conspiracy theorists teeming with excitement over Google’s potential Skynet plot (buying Schaft, Boston Dynamics, self driving cars…what gives?), roboticists Yasuhiko Ishigure, Katsuyuki Hirai, and Haruhisa Kawasaki, are adding to the fray, with this  lumberjack bot.

This chainsaw bot is not only capable of climbing up and down trees, but can also dismember them without human interaction. The robot can spiral its way up tree trunks ranging from 2.3 to 9.8 inches in diameter, and easily lops of limbs up to about two inches in diameter without a second thought…actually, without a thought at all.

Behold, the ”Pruning Robot With a Power-Saving Chainsaw Drive.”

It doesn’t matter how much smooth jazz you play as it tears up the tree, slicing off branches, it’s still a deadly machine. While the machine could definitely reduce the need for human labor, the fact that it can climb and slice limbs seems like a horror movie waiting to happen. Imagine what this thing could do if it latched onto your leg. Eesh.

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