A Fun Little Robot

The Victor crew came across this cute little mini-bot. It is a Minitaur™ by Ghost Robotics. It is a small, agile, lightweight robot used as an unmanned ground vehicle.

It can bounce, run, flip, climb, go up and down stairs, and even open doors!

Robot Guards

A company based in Singapore, Oneberry Technologies, has developed RoboGuard. If you need surveillance, you can get a robot to do it. You would still have to man the system and watch whatever the robot found but this is an interesting concept in robotics and in surveillance.

Pepper the Robot

Pepper is a humanoid robot. It is able to recognize emotions and interact with you. Pepper can move around, recognize your face, speak to you conversationally. Whether you dance or chat, Pepper is ready for you. Pepper is 1.2 meters tall.

Pepper is capable of performing customer service. He can interact with customers, help with appointments, direct to where they need to go.

Pepper is a product of SoftBank Robotics. He says she was born in Paris. SoftBank Robotics has offices in Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco and Shanghai. They also have previously developed a smaller robot called NAO about 58cm high.

With its open SDK you can enhance him as well.

Here is Tech Insider’s experience with him:

Here is SoftBank’s promo:

Find out more


“It’s robot fighting time!” That’s what you hear at the of BattleBots. People make robots and fight each other in an arena.

The show started on Comedy Central in 2000 and ran for five seasons ending in December 2002. It was briefly revived in 2015 for six episodes on ABC. It ran for a seventh season in 2016. It then found itself on both Discovery Channel and Science channel for its eighth season just this month.

Many of the robots are back again. They are run by engineers, MIT students, plumbers, just to name a few. BattleBots is an offshoot of Robot Wars. When Robot Wars disappeared, some of the robot builders left behind started BattleBots, Inc.

Just like other matches, there are weight classes. Lightweight is about 60 pounds, Middleweight is 120 pounds, Heavyweight is 220 pounds, and Superheavyweight is 340 pounds. They last three minutes per round and are done in a 48′ x 48′ glass box. Not only do the robots battle each other but there are a few obstacles in the arena as well such as a sledgehammer in the corner, spinners and spike strips and in floor, augurs that roll around on the sides that opponents try to push the robots into.

Some contestants have mini-bots that roam around too. Sometimes you will see sparks, flames, smoking, or even tears (from the drivers.) It’s a fun watch so try to see it sometime.

Tasting robots

Back in the olden days, a king would have a cup-bearer to make sure his wine or food wasn’t poisoned. If it was poisoned, well, then the king would have to find a new one. If there wasn’t enough poison to kill him, he’d at least make sure it tasted the way it should as well.

Enter the 21st century. Not testing for poison, but rather that the recipes are uniform, Thailand has developed 2 robots (so far) that will taste-test recipes for Pad Thai and other dishes to make sure there is not more deviation than 5-10% from the recipes approved by Thailand’s government and it’s “Thai Delicious Committee”. They hope to develop 100 or more robots to make sure the recipes are uniform the world over.

Other countries are starting to join suit. In Spain, they have developed and “electric tongue” to differentiate between varieties of beer. In Denmark, they’ve developed a nano-sensor to evaluate wine’s quality.

Jody Victor

Rockstar Drones

There has been a lot of talk about drones in past weeks. Stories of Amazon using them to deliver packages, and of course we know they are used by the military. But here is a new use: music! KMel Robotics, known for building aerial video/photography solutions has a drone rock band.

You can watch their close to 4 minute video as they play 3 songs: Star Wars Theme, Carol of the Bells, and the National Anthem.

Jody Victor

Need a Robot?

There are a few types of robots you can get as a consumer. Willow Garage has a few offerings:
PR2 – a one-armed robot powered by ROS (Robot Operating System). You can watch a few videos of what it can do here, like play pool, fetch beer, clean up empty cans.

Turtle Bot – a small robot also powered by ROS. It can explore your house on its own, build 3D pictures, bring you food, and more. You can get a complete kit for $1,399.00 to build your own or $1,995.00 built for you from I Heart Engineering. You can also get it fully built for $1599.00 or the kit for $999.00 from Clearpath Robotics (not everything is included and it is currently sold out.)

~ Jody Victor