Posts Tagged: ‘robotics’

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Boston Dynamics’s DARPA-funded BigDog robot quadruped is an amazing machine and allows us to imagine a future in which robotic walkers provide support on our streets and out on the battlefield.I mean, just watch the first clip from Boston Dynamics and imagine one of these things outfitted with […]

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Step right up and behold a marvel of 18th century robotics! See the Jacques de Vaucanson’s fabulous digesting duck, the clockwork miracle capable of reproducing the biological miracles of ingestion, digestion and defecation! In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I dive into the history books for more on how the pooping duck may have worked and just what it’s creator was thinking. Plus, you’ll learn about the nightmarish cloaca bot.

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Radiolab’s recent “A Clockwork Miracle” episode concerns a sixteenth-century mechanical monk, but Jad also briefly mentions the wonders of a robotic pooping duck from the 1700s. Yep, you read that right: a centuries-old automaton designed to digest food and poop it out like a duck.

The fabulous digesting duck was the handiwork of Jacques de Vaucanson, a French engineer who excelled in the creation of automatons — specifically “philosophical toys” (curios that combined science and amusement) composed of clockwork gears and moving parts. Here are just two of his creations leading up to the duck:

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As doctors, scientists and engineers build better robotic prosthetics, some tricky ethical questions arise. One of those questions can be worded this way: Is it ethical to amputate a limb in order to replace it with a robotic prosthesis? Some people won’t raise an eyebrow to such a question. Others might feel that choosing to lose a flesh-and-blood limb in order to gain a robotic one is wrong. In fact, those arguments are taking place in the real world right now.

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Anyone who has ever played “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots” knows that artificially intelligent machines exist to punch the bejesus out of each other for our viewing enjoyment.

Really, what other uses would we have for one of humanity’s greatest scientific accomplishments? Sure, saving lives and cleaning up nuclear disaster zones is great, but how are we supposed to bet on that?

First, let’s look at a few examples from our sci-fi pop culture. Up first? The trailer for the upcoming film “Real Steel,” which apparently features Hugh Jackman, Kate from “Lost” and Liz Lemon’s dentist in supporting roles opposite a bunch of punching machines.

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This robot is called Geminoid DK and looks remarkably realistic: This is from the first test of the Geminoid. The first hint of a smile triggers immediate response. The people laughing in the background are the designers, who at this point have worked on the robot for months, and here see it operated for the […]

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It’s no secret I love Microsoft Kinect hacks — I’ve posted videos of some on here in previous blog entries. Now I’d like to include a pair I discovered while browsing other tech sites. The first I learned about on CNET. It’s a video of a Roomba robot following gesture commands given by a human using the Kinect device as a camera. Click through to see the video.

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Like most males of my demographic, I’ve been playing a lot of “Red Dead Redemption” of late on the old Xbox 360 and am suffering from a severe hankering to use excessive cowboy speak at work. So I’ll go ahead and say it: If you kind folks wanna catch an earful about worms, dirt and some right clever tin cans, then I reckon these here podcasts will suit ‘ya fine as cream gravy.

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Did you know that some high schools give out a varsity letter in robotics these days? And that some schools send off their robotics teams to matches with a hearty pep rally? You get what you celebrate, says FIRST President Paul Gudonis, who was kind enough to talk with us the weekend of the FIRST Championship, held here in Atlanta, about a month ago. And this podcast, we were celebrating the sport of competitive robot building.

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Yes, if the prospect of corpse-eating warbots wasn’t enough, Swiss engineers are keeping the dream of a horrifying and ghoulish robotic future alive with Virtobot, which will “not only study dead bodies virtually, but create a digital copy of the cadaver so that it might be studied years down the line.” What’s not to love?

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