Gazillion Bird Swarms in England

This documentary explains the natural phenomena of a huge swarm of Starlings seems that you can see in some regions of the UK. One of the reason, why the birds do it, is to make themself warm throughout the winter. On another video of this swarm phenomena the maker of the film notices at the YouTube site:

The film can't get anywhere close to portraying the beauty and enormity of this sight. You can feel the air push around you as the flock whooshes overhead.

There are however also pictures available from this session at flickr, as well as a pool of starling pictures for the biological interested.

Tags: swarm, nature, outdoor, play
Mar_07:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

The ReadyBot keeps your Kitchen clean!

ReadyBot doing work

Don't we all have this silent wish? Coming home and someone did the cleanup and the laundry? Finally there is a homebrew-project, that take some steps to get closer to this vision. ReadyBot was established by senior AI-developers from the Silicon Valley and they are totally dedicated to building a kitchen robot. They see, that this project could bring a change into the field of robotics. In search of the kitchen robot, they do not use specialized parts, but only things that are mass produced and available in stores. The ReadyBot is really not at the high sophisticated level in terms of a pofessional level. Instead it can be rebuild in small labs or at home "quite easily" by anyone. At least that's the goal of the ReadyBot. Building homebrew is a fundamental part of their self-understanding.

The ReadyBot project also claims responsibility for a social change.

Many countries, especially Japan and parts of Europe, face a significant demographic challenge. Because of changes in birthrates, there are not enough new workers entering the market. Over the next few decades, tens of millions of robots, capable of performing menial and repetitive work, will be required to keep those economies afloat and competitive.

While governments and academics have poured effort into research and made great progress, to this day there is still no "general purpose" or mass-production

The robot comes out of its place, when no one is in the kitchen, so that he can do his work undisturbed. Isn't it a good feeling to have such a robot doing autonomous work if you're away?

If the future of home robotics will be so cute and clumsy... then everything will be okay. Cleaning take some time, but when you're not at home, well, than speed doesn't matter. Just linger a little at the ReadyBot webpage webpage. The FAQ is great.

Tags: home, homebrew, helper, indie-labs
Feb_29:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Blubber Bots - Intelligent Creatures in the Landscape

The Blubber Bots are semi-autonomous creatures, that float through the air in search of light and cellphone signals. They are do-it-yourself robotic inflatables, balloons filled helium that graze the landscape and are an evolution of the "ALAV", the Autonomous Light Air Vessels.

Concept Sketch of the Blubber Bot

Together with the Hoggets Roam, they form the beginning of the series of Transitional Species.

Transitional Species is a group of networked objects that interact with their environment, people and each other. Being semi-domesticated in nature they curiously become your companions.

Keep on following there. That special touch of species in-between landscape and technology, inhabitant and ecology, and autonomous robots and roaming wanderers is highly adorable.

Check out that according flickr-groups for the Blubber and the Hoggets.

Tags: outside, play, floating, species, architecture, do-it-yourself, homebrew, indie-labs
Feb_27:2008 .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)

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)

Head-Mounted Robot Control - Call it Telepresence

The military DARPA figured out a system to control a robot remotely. The way this works is but somehow like a virtual avatar. There is a camera stuck in the robot and this camera is connected to a head-mounted display, that you wear like glasses on your head. The motions of the head are like "hardwired" to the robot-cam via wireless connection. The head-mounted display provide the vision of the robot-camera. When I think about it, it's not that hard to manufacture if you have the components ready.

Model-tank in the office

Yes, the military likes to play. The most obscure scene in this video is this one, where a head-mounted controlled model of a tank drives through the rooms of the offices.

Let's think away the military look and replace it with some cool robot. If you take this imagine cool toy fights and other ways of fun, like exploring your neighborhood from home or peeking around in the city to see what will happen. People will think of an autonomous bot.

The head-mounted control we talk about here is that one in the middle.


Tags: remote, telepresence, outdoor, play
Feb_13:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

Tarim Machine from Gerrit van Bakel

Tarim Machine is the title of a piece of art from 1982 made by Dutch artisr Gerrit van Bakel. It once again raises, at least for me, the question, where does a robot begin?

Moves 18mm a day.

Maybe I am completely wrong here. (My Dutch isn't the best and the Google translation more confused me than everything, but maybe this what this art is about).
If I see it right, the Tarim Machine slowly wanders towards the land to a certain area in Tibet. The machine moves with a speed of 18mm a day and is somehow a counterpart of a rocket going there.

The Tarim Basin is an area north of Tibet, almost as large as Europe, and nobody knows that too. It is more than 1100 kilometers long, so those rocket goes there in an hour cross through it and my machine does more than 30 million years. So, imagine that the Tarim basin remains intact and that grandfather in his hut to his grandson says: You see there that machine, which is coming. You must say to your grandson that the hut what he builds, something has to be put to the left, otherwise the machine runs sprinkled over.

If I get the concept this a robot? Some works on the border of art and installation raise interesting questions to discover new ways of doing robotics.


Tags: art, outdoor, giving-birth
Feb_06:2008 .020200 Comments(0)

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