Robot News Roundup-March 31st, 2013

31 Mar

Romance for robots?

It seems a mite premature to me, but this Japanese university at Osaka is suggesting there is a need to manufacture a perfect android (PA) to function as a romantic partner. In this report, the PA is ‘female’ – in looks, that is (whether there is a need for the ‘male’ variety is not disclosed). This is probably a strange idea for many in the West, but as the chief engineer of the project says, “In Japan, we believe that everything has a soul and therefore we don’t hesitate to create human-like robots.”

To be fair to the chief engineer, the reason for such development is, essentially, to “to learn more about the human race.” Still, it takes all kinds to make a world, I guess…

The complete robot – or is it?

 DLR Robotics of Germany is very much in the business of developing full bipedal mobility for robots. So the company’s thrust is aligned, to some extent, with some of the work of Boston Dynamics, famous for Big Dog and Atlas. Although, in the words of the director, Mr Christian Ott, “This is not intended to create a perfect walking robot, but to be a continuous source of new knowledge.” Germans are pretty good at engineering, as we all know, so this is worth watching some more.

Fully robotic self-construction with 4D printing (no, not 3D printing)

 This will knock your sox off, maybe: materials under development at MIT that self-construct (yes, you read that right). Still much in the experimental stage, this report and videos give a tantalizing look at what will be available in the near future. It’s jaw-dropping, cutting edge technology: makes you kind of want to ask, “What will they think of next?” Try this: I just wonder if that technology will, in a century or so, provide the means for robots to self-replicate easily.

That’s a speculative idea, of course; but, it’s not a pleasant thought at all, is it?


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