Fiction Robots in Space: Captain Future's Grag

Today we will take a look at the robot Grag, part of the Space Opera Captain Future. Space Opera - what a lovely term. On Wikipedia it reads:

Perhaps the most significant trait of space opera is that settings, characters, battles, powers, and themes tend to be very large-scale.

Captain Future is the brainchild of the science fiction writer Edward Hamilton. They were first published as stories and after Hamilton's death were filmed as a Manga TV series, translated and broadcasted in many countries and languages and gained overall success - maybe because of this stunning outer-space atmosphere and great soundtrack (at least in Germany).

Inside the series Curtis Newton, orphaned while their parents died, fights named as Captain Future the evil with his own intelligent robot called Greg and a shape-shifting android Otho. His father build those two robots with the scientists professor Simon Wright, who survived his body as brain in a tub. The brain had to be carried around in its glass-container and later got autonomous control mechanisms. What a cool background story! For more details look at

The robot Grag was built from pure metal parts, that gave him incredible strength compared to human. It was the first successful experiment in building an artificial intelligence robot by Captain Futures father. Greg's modular body design allows various enhancements like drills and lasers, which he hides in his steely chest. At least this clearly can be identified on all tin-robots I've seen so far!

Grag is grey, tall, dark, friendly and supportive. He is not such a talker like Otho is, he is more like someone who does. A totally reliable partner in the team. At least very clever, but not that smart like the professors brain Simon is.

Greg, Simon, Captain Future

I also found five maps form the early Caption Future books and if you search on YouTube for Capitan Future Grag, you likely will find some video footage.

Tags: tin-robot, humanoid, space, classic, tv
Feb_25:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

278 Miniature E-Puck Robots is a swarm robotic project that comes close to the simulation of swarms you will find in software. It's from Switzerland. The video here shows a huge mass of robots, exactly 278, that unveil and show swarm behavior. I think they have to other chance, than doing so n that case.

The robots are relative small and you can even buy them, unfortunately for a relative high cost for about 500 Euro. It seems to me, that there is also an invisible culture of hacking the e-puck robot. See for example the magnetic extensions for e-puck or other videos in YouTube, tagged e-puck.

Tags: swarm, open-source, get-one
Feb_23:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Artificial Symbiont - Organic Concept in-between Nanorobotics and Architecture

Zbynek Krulich explored a concept that he calls Artificial Symbiont. The term symbiont is derived from biology and defines the smaller part of two, that form a symbiosis. The artful concept of is more a thinking-concept, than a robotic-project, involving multiple scales and free morphing of structures.

Similarly to natural living systems, Artificial Symbiont interacts with its surroundings. It alters and changes its form according to its own needs and the needs of the living systems in its presence. With some of them (human beings in particular), it has developed symbiotic relationship.

The described behaviour seems to me like a form of Stigmergy, a principle used by ants where they transform the environment to exchange information and to communicate. Related to architecture I would put this project into the line of "Plug-In City" from around the group Archigram and the flexible, dynamic and also computer-based architectonic visions that followed up on this.

Archigram - Plug-In City

Tags: architecture, nanobots, swarm, emergence, art
Feb_22:2008 .020200 Comments(1)

Swarm Bots Work Together and Lift A Heavy Thing

From the awesome swarm-bots project I found this video, where the swarm-bots must cooperate and work together, to lift and a heavy object. The bots work together somehow state-based, or other told: it seems more like having a cooperate behavior, than classical emergent behavior from swarms following simple rules, like you have in an ant-village or a swarm of birds. The bots are programmed to start the so-called "self-assembly" (to connect each other) by the red light. It is the indicator to go there, while avoiding the blue light. Once a connection is established the color ring of the own bot turns into red, indication its own state and giving signals to the other bots.

Cooperative Swarm-Bots

What is swarm about this swarm is, that you have many equal robots, that run the same program with the same set of rules and properties and how they relate to each other. I wonder how the programming of the goal state is done and if they got a central unit, that monitors if all bot are red to start action and get into the groove of moving action. See explanation and code examples at the swarm-bots website.

Tags: swarm, control, cooperate
Feb_21:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Gene Pool - Simulation of Artificial Life

Gene Pool is a software-toy, that kept me going like maybe the last time Sim City 2000. It is an Artificial Life Simulation, where you set up the environment, can clone and move biological lifeforms and then watch them eat, mate and die. The colorful graphics and sinus-movements of the creatures, as well as the pool of data are really fun. Let it rest and come back some hours later to see how the pool has developed.


Tags: play, swarm, toy, software, artificial-life
Feb_20:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Sleep Waking - Let the Robot Replay Your Dreams

Fernando Orellana and Brendan Burns made a robot, that records brainwave activity of your sleep at night makes its own interpretation on it on the next morning, by replaying the data. They want it to be like making the old dream of 'taking pictures' of dreams get a little closer.

The robot Sleep Waking records eye movement during the REM-phase of sleep. The other set of data that the robot receives are EEG-Data (as you can see, this is still an lab-setting, otherwise I wonder how the robot will look like, recording EEG at sleep or wandering around in the dark room, just to get a good position to have a tracking on you). After awakening the robot 'plays' the data. The head represent the eye-tracking, while the body movements are preset patterns, derived from EEG-patterns.

Robots observing our sleep? Will the robots at this point know more about us, than we do? At least at this point I figured out, that I find pet-size humanoid robots so cute and would definitely get them a go. Go and read an interview with Fernando Orellana at we-make-money-not-art.


Tags: home, play, humanoid, art, roboethics, dream
Feb_19:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Little Spiderbots in Space

Derived from soccer playing robots, smart little spiderbots are used to assist astronauts in the zero-gravity zone.

The idea is to spread a large net in space between four satellites in order to harness solar energy. The mini-robots will climb across this mesh to fix photovoltaic cells in place.

Cute in space

Here is a video from the European Space Agency that shows how this tiny bots capture this subtle net with their fine limbs.

The mini robots have several different software levels. The first level is the strategy level which defines the position and role of a robot, telling it to defend the goal for example, while the next level controls the complex motion functions.

Tags: space, outdoor, artificial intelligence
Feb_18:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

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