robots

The Drones Are Here, and They Brought Presents

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 3.13.56 PM

Does anyone love their work more than the folks who work on robots? As a nod to the holiday season (and a fun way to showboat) the team at Autonomous Systems Lab has taken a few of their creations and rigged up a veritable Santa’s workshop. In this video (via Make) a neatly wrapped package is passed from a “ballbot” to a drone to a quadruped styled to resemble a reindeer–all to the jazzy strains of “Jingle Bells.” Read More

the robots are coming

If We’re All Getting Robot Chauffeurs, We Need Robot Ethics

(Source: Steve Jurvetson via Wikipedia)

Get ready for the day when you sip mimosas and curl your eyelashes as you commute, because the driverless car revolution is upon us. These futuristic machines are now legal in three states, and Google’s working hell-for-leather to make them part of regular life. But, as this essay in the New Yorker points out, such a technology raises thorny implications.

When we turn our shiny metal death machines over to computers, how are they going to make the right decisions? Read More

Linkages

Booting Up: Fake Press Releases Edition

(Photo: Twitter)

Nintendo is releasing a Wii Mini on December 7th, just in time for the holidays. [The Verge]

Startup incubator Y Combinator has announced a VC program, allowing YC students access to guidance and an $80,000 investment from firms like Andreessen Horowitz and General Catalyst. The program will replace the Start Fund. [Y Combinator]

First we worried that tech sites were turning into press release regurgitation factories; now it turns out some of those press releases aren’t even true. Here’s how PRWeb helps distribute fake and sketchy press releases. [Search Engine Land]

Tumblr has broken into the top 10 sites in the U.S. with a worldwide audience of 170 million people. [Tumblr]

Don’t worry: the Pentagon says a human will always decide if a robot kills you. Feel better now? [Wired]

Kickstarter is being sued for patent infringement over a $3 million 3D printing project. [The Daily Dot]

XXX in Tech

Regular Orgasms Are for Mortals; All the Cool Kids Are Having ‘Longevity Orgasms’

Sexy robot. (Photo: Dragon Painting)

If you’re already following the advice of your longevity coach and working to live as long as humanly possible (until the Singularity comes and your being is finally merged with that of a robot), then you’re probably ready to take your training to the next level. Self-quantifying via sleep tracking apps and the Nike Fuel Band will only get you so far, and unless you’re Peter Thiel, hyperbaric chambers are rather expensive. Luckily, the next step towards total transhumanism is much more pleasurable: buying a sex robot and having longevity orgasms. Read More

the robots are coming

Georgia Tech Team Working on a ‘MacGyver’ Bot; Hijinks Sure to Ensue

More like ActionHeroBot, right? (Photo: Georgia Tech)

They might be able to make burritos and rescue the drowning, but robots are still lacking in some basic functionality. Namely: The ability to do very much with tools. Those of you who’ve seen Planet of the Apes and/or ever attempted to jimmy the cap off a beer bottle will surely recognize that this is an important part of our special sauce as a species, and one that our mechanical brethren can’t quite yet replicate. Hence, as per the MAKE blog, a team of researchers at Georgia Tech are working on that.

Specifically, they would like to build a robot MacGyver.

As this Georgia Tech announcement points out, we’re increasingly deploying robots in dangerous situations and hard-to-get-to places (hello, Mars rover!), but they lack human abilities to interact with their environment. If they lose their keys, they can’t root through their purse and find something to pick the lock:  Read More

The Future Will See You Now

Driverless Cars Are One Step Closer to Cruising on California Public Roads

(Photo: The Star)

What’s a thousand-pound steel monster controlled entirely by a computer, no human required? It’s a driverless car! And it’s one step closer to legally operating on public roads. The Singularity is nigh, friends.

According to Ars Technica, the California State Senate officially passed SB 1289, which–following the creation of standards and performance requirements by the DMV–would allow robot cars to hit the open road. Read More

Get Smart(Phones)

A Robot Assistant To Finally Do What You’ve Always Wanted: Compliment You

(Photo: Happiness Engine)

What if your boyfriend was really sweet and helpful and you could shrink him into a tiny cyborg that lives inside your phone? Regardless of what Honey I Shrunk the Kids taught you, we don’t have the technology to do that–yet. But luckily there are Happiness Engines, little bots made by a startup in San Francisco that help make using your smartphone a little bit easier. Read More