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Japanese Company to Sell Robot Dog That Faints If Your Feet Smell Bad

A Japanese company has created an adorable robot dog that can tell you how bad your feet smell, by using a powerful sensor embedded in its nose. If your feet don’t have bad odor, “Hana-chan” will happily wag its tale, if it detects moderately smelly feet, it will start to bark, and if they really stink, it will just fall over like the smell caused it to faint.

Foot odor is a big deal in Japan, where it is customary for people to take off their shoes whenever they enter someone’s home. In fact, subjecting others to foul bodily odors can even be considered harassment in Japan, so it’s no wonder that some of the most brilliant minds in the country’s tech industry have been dedicating their talent to tackling this issue. Panasonic recently unveiled a high-tech deodorizing coat hanger, Konika Minolta developed a pocket-size device that monitors body odors and alerts the user when they start to smell, and, last year, gadget maker Thanko started selling clip-on armpit fans designed to keep people’s armpits nice and dry. Now, we have Hana-chan, a robot dog capable of telling people if their feet stink.

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Buddhist Robots to Perform Cheaper Funeral Services in Japan

When experts predicted that robots will take most of our jobs in the next few decades, priests were probably among the least concerned humans on the planet. After all, machines and spirituality don’t exactly go hand in hand. But one Japanese company is showing everyone that no job is safe, with a line of “Buddhist robots” that can perform funeral services at a fraction of the cost demanded by human priests.

Pepper, a humanoid robot developed by SoftBank Robotics, has taken on several jobs since it hit the market two years ago. Advertised as the first robot capable of reading human emotions, Pepper has been deployed to banks, sushi shops and nursing homes, where it acts as a receptionist, identifying visitors with its facial recognition software, offering information, or just chatting to people. But Pepper’s creators have recently come up with another job for the big-eyed robot – Buddhist priest for clients looking to cut down on funeral costs.

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Super Robot Wolf – Japan’s High-Tech Crop Guardian

Japan’s fascination with robotics and all things high-tech is legendary, but did you know thy make robot scarecrows now? Well, Super Robot Wolf is meant to scare a lot more than crows, but still, Japan may be taking their love for technology a bit too far.

When I was growing up, farmers kept birds and other wild animals away from their crops with old fashioned scarecrows. You know, some rags hanging on a cross structure made of sticks with some chimes or small bells for added effect, and that worked ok. But those things couldn’t hold a candle to this Japanese robot scarecrow with the coolest, most over-the-top name imaginable – Super Robot Wolf. They say ii can scare away any wild animal, from deer to bears, and it definitely looks terrifying enough to do it.

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Artificial Intelligence Engineer Builds Himself a Robot Wife

Zheng Jiajia, a 31-year-old artificial intelligence expert from Hangzhou, China, recently made headlines after marrying 1-year-old Yingying, a “female” robot that he built himself.

Zheng graduated from Zhejiang University in 2011 with a master’s degree in artificial intelligence, and spent 3 years working for Chinese tech giant Huawei, before joining Hangzhou’s Dream Town, a base for internet and tech startups, to work on artificial intelligence. Last year, he started working on a smart humanoid robot that would end up becoming his wife.

Named Yingying, the female robot can allegedly say a few simple words, and is capable of recognizing Chinese characters and images. She weighs about 30 kilograms and is modeled according to the young engineer preferences in women.

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Woman Falls in Love with 3D-Printed Robot, Wants to Marry It

Leading artificial intelligence expert David Levy recently said that he expects human-robot marriages to become commonplace by 2050, and the recently revealed romantic relationship between a French woman and a robot she 3D-printed herself seems to confirm the beginning of this trend.

The first time I saw this story circulating online, I was almost convinced it was just a prank, not because it seems impossible to believe, but because the media tends to blow things out of proportion to attracts as many eyes as possible. However, this one appears to be legit. The woman in question, known only as Lilly, or by her Twitter handle @LillyInMoovator, describes herself as a “proud robosexual” and told News.com.au via email that she is attracted only to robots and actually dislikes physical contact with human flesh.

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Turkish Company Creates Real-Life Car-Morphing Transformers

Thirty-some years after making their debut as cartoon characters, vehicle-morphing Transformers have finally become a reality, thanks to the efforts of a Turkish company out of Ankara.

The R&D-focused company, called Letvision, recently wowed the internet with a presentation video for their prototype car-transforming robot, ANTIMON. The recently-released footage shows a red BMW M3 being unveiled and remotely driven toward the camera, where it proceeds to transform into a mighty Autobot-like robot. The whole process takes a bit longer than in Michael Bay’s CGI movies, but it’s still mesmerizing to watch.

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Jobseeker Becomes Robot to Increase Chances of Landing Tech Job

With the imminent rise of the machines and everyone anticipating that robots will be taking all our jobs, a proactive human jobseeker has decided to become a robot in order to improve his odd sof landing a tech job. If you can’t beat’em, join’em, right?

Meet Canu, a man trying to stay ahead of the times. Inspired by grim predictions that robots will be taking over our jobs in the next 30 years, he has set up a tongue-in-cheek website where he advertises himself as a human-turned robot, with 4 years of experience in marketing under his belt, but also the ability to “program and download any other skills as needed”. Just one of the perks of being a machine, I guess. His human side presents some advantages as well, like being “already assembled” and not requiring batteries. So there you go, tech companies, the perfect employee.

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Hong Kong Designer Creates Functional Scarlett Johansson Robot

Graphic designer Ricky Ma is making headlines for creating an incredibly realistic life-sized robot that resembles the beautiful Scarlett Johansson. The homemade cyborg can mimic a limited set of human movements using it’s head and limbs, and even respond to a set of programmed verbal commands spoken into a microphone. He’s even taught it to wink and say “thank you” when complimented on its looks.

Having grown up watching animated films featuring robots, Ricky had always dreamed of building one of his own. And now, at age 42, he’s managed to do just that, working from the balcony of his Hong Kong home. He had to teach himself everything about robotics from scratch, and spent over $50,000 building his first female prototype.

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15-Year-Old Becomes Youngest Person to Create Functional Life-Size Humanoid Robot

Inspired by the 2011 sci-fi film Real Steel starring Hugh Jackman, Greek teenager Dimitris Hatzis has become the youngest person in the world to build a 3D printed life-size functional robot. 

15-year-old Dimitris’s feat was a part of ‘InMoov’, an open source project run by French sculptor and designer Gael Langevin. The project provides a design that is “replicable on any home 3D printer with a 12x12x12cm area.” Using these instructions, Dimitris spent over 1,400 hours planning, experimenting, printing, and assembling the robot. Over the course of a year, he made 475 printed parts using about a kilometer of ABS plastic and painstakingly put them together to form the droid that he now calls ‘Troopy’.

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AIBO Robot Dogs Are So loved in Japan That Owners Hold Funeral Services for Them When They Break Down

‘AIBOs’ robotic dogs were the world’s first home-use entertainment robots, sold in Japan by Sony Corp. between 1999 and 2006. Equipped with Artificial Intelligence (AI), these dogs were capable of developing their own personality, making them all the more endearing to their owners. So much so, in fact, that when they break down, the owners bury them with a proper funeral service, just like they would a real pet!

To understand the strange practice of burying a robot, you’ve got to understand exactly how popular Aibos are in Japan. When Sony rolled out the first generation Aibo in 1999, the initial batch of 3000 units were sold out in 20 minutes flat, in spite of the $2,000 price tag. In the following years, over 150,000 units of various Aibos models were sold.

But Sony was in trouble in 2006, so Aibo, the expensive luxury pet, was discontinued. The company did keep their ‘Aibo Clinic’ open until March last year. But then they decided to further cut costs by shutting down the maintenance unit, and owners had to look elsewhere for help with spare parts. Unfortunately, they are hard to come by, which means that when Aibos dogs break down, most of them leave their owners forever.  So the only option for the owners to deal with the loss is by organizing a real funeral.

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Struggling Korean Baseball Team Replaces Fans with Cheering Robots

A struggling South Korean Major League baseball team has come up with a novel idea to boost players’ morale. They’re replacing human fans with robots called ‘Fanbots’, all in a bid to improve the atmosphere at their matches.

The promo video for ‘Fanbot – the world’s first cheering robot’ rides high on the emotions involved while watching a match. “Fans of Hanwha Eagles always come to the stadium to cheer for the team,” the video states. “But those who cannot come to the stadium watch the game on the web or on their phones and cheer through commenting online. What if there was a robot cheering for those fans?”

It’s not easy being a fan of the Hanwha Eagles – most fans are subject to ridicule because of the team’s poor performance. The Hanwha Eagles have suffered over 400 losses in the past five years. Fans of the team are regarded with sympathy – they’ve even been dubbed ‘Buddhist Saints’ and ‘Hanwha Chickens’ by fans of other teams. The humiliation has been so great that many fans don’t feel like attending games anymore. Others simply do not have the time.

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African City Replaces Traffic Lights with Intimidating Robots

The intersection of Boulevard Triomphal and Huileries Avenue in Kinshasa, Congo, has two new additions – robot traffic policemen. These large robocops have replaced human police officers and traffic lights, and, believe it or not, they’re actually doing a great job.

At first glance, the robocops don’t look like much. They appear to be rudimentary tin boxes with attached tin hands. I’d say they have a scarecrow-like effect. But commuters have responded surprisingly well to the latest technology.

Demouto Motumbo, a resident of Kinshasa, said: “As a motorcyclist I’m very happy with the robot’s work. Because when traffic police control the cars here there’s still a lot of traffic. But since the robot arrived, we see truly that the commuters are respectful.”

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Get Served by a Robot Bartender at Germany’s Robots Bar & Lounge

Some bars use intriguing names just to attract clients, but the Robots Bar & Lounge in Ilmenau, Germany really lives up to its name. This unique venue not only has a technology-inspired decor, but also a humanoid robot bartender that mixes drinks and makes small talk with patrons.

The Robots Bar & Lounge just opened late last month, but it’s already hugely popular in the town of Ilmenau thanks to Carl, an unusual bartender who fits right in the techie atmosphere of the place. Carl is a humanoid robot built by mechatronics engineer Ben Schaefer out of parts from disused industrial robots. Schaefer says that although progress has been made in the field of robotics artificial intelligence is still in its infancy, but by placing a robot in an environment where it can observe and interact with real humans it’s much easier to test the programming and make necessary improvements than it would be in a closed laboratory. Apart from evolution, Carl’s secondary goal is to bring humans and robots closer together, and prove that “scenes from science-fiction movies are quite possible”. So far, the likable bartender is doing a great job, entertaining clients with his drink-mixing skills and the occasional small-talk. Unfortunately, his speech recognition skills and ability to interact are very limited at the moment, but like all bartenders he is a very good listener. To make sure he doesn’t bump into things and spill the drinks on his clients, Scahefer equipped Carl with a belt of sensors.

 

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Ukrainian Battlestar Galactica Fan Builds Life-Size Wooden Cylon

39-year-old Dmitry Balandin, a robot enthusiast from Zaporozhye, Ukraine, spent six months building a 1.95 -meter-tall Cylon out of 500 plywood parts.

Dmitry Balandin works as a crane operator, but ever since he saw the 1980 Russian movie “Electronik”, about a professor who builds a robot that looks and acts like a human, he has always been fascinated by robotics. About two years ago he finally decided to live out his childhood dream of creating a real-life robot. In the beginning, he wanted to use metal as his medium, but realized it was hard to work with in his Zaporozhye apartment, so he chose plywood instead. After months of planning and experimenting, Dmitry finally started work on his wooden robot six months ago, designing and cutting all the parts himself. Although he didn’t have the resources to give his creation a human appearance, he decided the best way to make it as realistic as possible was to use flexible joints. The Cylon (a name inspired by the hit-series Battlestar Galactica) can bend and extend its limbs, shake hands and rotate its neck and torso, but Balandin wants to add a series of improvements, including a radio-controlled motor that will allow his wooden robot to move in a way similar to the fighting bots from the movie Real Steel. Unfortunately, that would cost the Ukrainian craftsman an extra $3,000, which at the moment is more than he can afford.

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The Future of Music – Japan’s New Robot Rock Band

They are called Z Machinese and they are about to take the Japanese music world by storm. This unique rock band is made up entirely of futuristic automatons able to play guitar, drums and keyboards better than any human.

Z Machines is the brainchild of Yoichiro Kawaguchi, an IT professor at the University of Tokyo, and mechanical designer Naofumi Yonetsuka, who wanted to liven up the music scene by creating something futuristic and exciting. So they created Ashura, a six-armed drummer who can actually play 22 drums simultaneously and sounds like four people playing the drums at the same time, Mach, a metal-and-wire guitarist who uses 78 fingers and 12 picks allowing him to challenge even the most gifted human guitar players, and Cosmo, who is literally wired into his keyboard and shoots lasers from his eyes. Z Mazhines certainly sounds like a very impressive band, but can they really play a gig? They answered that question on Monday, when they teamed up with Japanese human duo Amoyamo, for an electrifying performance at one of Tokyo’s most popular night clubs.

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