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In Robots Podcast episode #95 David Lane, Professor of Autonomous Systems Engineering and affiliated with the Heriot-Watt University Ocean Systems Laboratory (Edinburgh), talks with interviewer Per Sjoborg about his journey from research to business and back. He tells about how he got started first in offshore work then in robotics research, developing control software for autonomous underwater vehicles. He also tells how frustration with the lack of utilization of his work led he and his associates to start the company SeeByte, to commercialize it, and how having the U.S. Navy as their first customer proved very helpful towards the company's success. (Dr. Lane has much to say about the value of customer funding and customer focus for a startup.) Finally, he tells about his return to academia after finding the right person to take over the day-to-day details of running SeeByte, and how his experience in industry finds its way into his academic work.
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CES is nearly over, but we have a few more items to share. The Inventist SoloWheel, shown above, was panned by The Verge as having
zero chance of making it to the mainstream. As may be, pending further development, but the company provides an assortment of videos on its website. Without having tried it myself, I doubt it requires more skill than rollerblades. NEC showed its Communication Robot PaPeRo, a research prototype, not yet for sale, along with an Android app that allows users to control the robot remotely. There were Dancing Cats and Baby Seals, and a robotic vacuum cleaner that entertains while it works, and is itself cleaned out each time it docks. And last, but far from least, TechCrunch interviewed Bre Pettis of Makerbot about their new Replicator model, and the future of 3D printing.
You've probably already heard about the event wherein Justin Bieber was enlisted to introduce TOSY's new mRobo at CES, but you may not have learned much about the device itself or the company that makes it. mRobo is a combination music player and dancing robot. It can store 2 gigabytes worth of music in its own memory, or stream it via bluetooth, or simply listen. In any case, when there's music playing, it sprouts a head, arms, and legs and begins to dance in time to the beat. The price is set at $199, and you won't be able to get one until later this year.
The video above shows iRobot's Ava telepresence platform paying a visit to the crew of The Verge, in their trailer at CES. Other exhibitors of interest include Parrot, showing their AR.Drone 2.0, and Sphero, with their iPhone-controlled ball. More to come.
The video above is an informal (always with Cali Lewis), very upbeat interview with Gary Shapiro, CEO of the CEA, sponsors of CES. Besides Cali and crew, The Verge and Engadget are also prowling the floor at CES 2012, and IEEE Spectrum is also covering the event. All four sometimes talk about robots, and we know there are robots there, so we're hoping for decent coverage, the best of which we'll be passing along.
Robots figure more prominently at this year's CES than ever before. Among the many presenters are Modular Robotics, whose Cubelets are shown above, and XYBOTYX, developers of the XYBOT, a small two-wheeled balancing device that turns an iPhone into a telepresence robot.
This video shows observations of a lizard jumping, followed by application of the techniques for use of a tail for stabilization to robots. (Via Automaton)
The mailbox has been filling up with interesting stories lately, like a pair of conflicting papers from the Current Directions in Psychological Science journal. One claims that Darwin was wrong to suggest that facial expressions have innate connections to particular emotions, while the other supports the idea that facial expressions evolved to communicate emotional states, playing a crucial role in survival. There's also new evidence that chimps have a theory of mind, which has implications for the development of language. If all this talk of mind and emotion is too boring, Hank Pellissier over at IEET, wrote a piece Sexbots for Women, pondering why only males are assumed likely to desire sex with androids. The Swirling Brain noticed a Huffington Post story on Google's cloud robotics initiative. Know any other robot news, gossip, or amazing facts we should report? Send 'em our way please. And don't forget to follow us on twitter.
The Robot Film Festival will soon begin accepting submissions for the 2012 competition.
2012 Top 10 Robot Christmas Gift Ideas
DARPA Robotics Challenge Kick Off
2012 ASABE Robot Contest Photos
Interview with David L. Heiserman
David Anderson on Subsumption Robots
Review: Apocalyptic AI by Robert M. Geraci
Raspberry Pi Interview with Eben Upton
2012 VEX Robotics World Championship
Giant Dallas Robot Cited as Best Public Art
There's More Than One Way to Skin a Robot
Day of the Androids at Hanson Robotics