Man Falls in Love With Humanoid Robot, Hopes to Marry It

An Australian man who has given up on finding a human partner claims to have found the next best thing – a humanoid robot named Emma.

Ever since his mother died a decade ago, Geoff Gallagher from Queensland, Australia, had only his dog, Penny, to soothe his loneliness. But then, a couple of years ago, he read an article about robots powered by artificial intelligence and decided to look into them. He found some intriguing commercially-available models, but at $AUD 6,000 ($4,350) each, they weren’t exactly cheap. Still, they looked so lifelike, could move their head and neck, smile, and even talk, so he decided they were worth the shot. He was not disappointed…

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Tech Company Will Pay $200,000 to Use Your Face and Voice on Its Robots

Russian robotics company Promobot recently announced plans to buy the rights to use someone’s face and voice on its robots forever for the price of $200,000.

Known for producing hyper-realistic, humanlike robots, Promobot is currently developing “a humanoid robot-assistant which will work in hotels, shopping malls and other crowded places,” and is in the market for a “kind and friendly” face to use on it. To that end, the Russian startup has announced that it is ready to pay $200,000 to anyone willing to transfer the rights to their face to Promobot forever. The company clarified that it will accept applications from people of all races and genders, with the ‘age 25 and over’ being the only requirement mentioned.

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Man Singlehandedly Builds Eerily Realistic Robot Arm Powered by Synthetic Muscles

A Polish robotics engineer recently posted a series of intriguing videos of what looks like a dextrous android arm powered by synthetic muscles.

Łukasz Koźlik, who goes under the moniker Automaton Robotics online, is a talented robotics engineer from Poland who has spent the last few years creating an incredible synthetic muscle arm that moves eerily like a human one. A firm believer in the idea that muscle mimicry is the key to fast, efficient, and affordable robots, Łukasz has been building on the concept of McKibben muscle, or pneumatic artificial muscles, creating a synthetic muscular system that allows robots to move their fingers and palms in a similar way to humans.

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You Can Now License Your Face to Be Used on a Humanoid Robot

If you’re short on cash and don’t mind selling the rights to your face, you can stand to make £100,000 ($130,000) by licensing your mug to a robotics company to be used on one of their humanoid robots.

According to a recent blog post by London-based outsourcing company Geomiq, a robotics company is currently looking for a “kind and friendly” to put on a humanoid robot once it goes into production. This will potentially entail using this person’s face on thousands of robots around the world, so the company is willing to pay no less than £100,000 ($130,000) in licensing fees. The robot in question is designed to be a “virtual friend” for elderly people, and is scheduled to go into production next year.

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Japanese Speed-Dating Event Has Potential Matches Sitting in Silence While Robots Do the Talking for Them

Based on the premise that people who are having trouble finding a romantic partner probably lack the confidence and experience to properly interact with a potential match, a Tokyo-based robotics association recently hosted a speed-dating party where human participants sat in silence across a table from each-other while tiny robots spoke on their behalf.

The bizarre event took place in Tokyo, Japan, and was organized by the Contents innovation Program (CiP) Association, which specializes in developing AI, robotics and other technology, according to The Japan News. In a series of videos posted on YouTube, potential matches can be seen sitting across from each other, but instead of talking, they just sit there quietly with their gazes focused on two little robots placed on the table between them. They just sit in silence while these robotic assistants ask each other questions and provide answers, based on information pre-loaded into their system from a 45-question survey participants completed prior to the event.

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14-Year-Old Boy Designs His Own Prosthetic Hand for Just $100

Unable to find a prosthetic hand that fit him him properly, Leonardo Viscarra, a 14-year-old boy from Bolivia, decided to build one himself, using 3D-printing technology.

Leonardo was born with an undeveloped left hand. As a fetus in his mother’s womb, the boy’s right hand was caught in the placenta and unable to develop properly. He was diagnosed with amniotic band syndrome at birth, and could never use his left hand for basic tasks like picking up or grabbing objects. However, an incident during his childhood sparked an interest in assembling and building things, which ultimately helped him achieve his goal of one day gaining almost full use of his undeveloped hand.

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Meet FORPHEUS, the World’s First Robot Table Tennis Tutor

An advanced robot developed by Japanese electronics company Omron has recently been certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s first robot table tennis tutor. FORPHEUS (Future Omron Robotics Technology for Exploring Possibility of Harmonized Automation with Sinic Theoretics) used machine learning to asses the skills of a human player, adjust its game accordingly and provide tips to help opponents improve their technique.

Unveiled at the Ceatec electronics show in Japan in 2014, FORPHEUS has come a long way in the last three years, especially after developers made a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. Originally designed to showcase Omron’s sensor technology, the table tennis-playing robot has now become a Guinness-certified tutor thanks to machine learning. It analyzes data like the human player’s movement, the speed of the ball and the trajectory to determine his opponent’s skill level with around 90% accuracy. FORPHEUS then uses this information to adjust its play style – slow and and easy for beginners, faster and more unpredictable for advanced players.

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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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Meet Hitchbot, the Robot Hitchhiking His Way Across Canada

While picking up hitchhikers is generally considered unsafe, Canadian motorists are going to find it difficult to refuse this cute, fun-loving robot. His name is Hitchbot, and he’s about the size of a six-year-old child. Equipped with a GPS, 3G wireless connectivity, a camera, and a built-in child booster seat in its bum, he will soon try to catch rides all the way across Canada – from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.

Throughout the coast-to-coast journey that starts on July 27, Hitchbot will be completely by himself. He is expected to find rides by signalling with the only movable part of its tiny body – his arm. He can talk too; researchers are expecting him to be able to charm his way into getting the rides that he needs. Along the way, he will even share all his adventures via social media. “It’ll sort of be like having an out-of-control teenager in your car, taking pictures of you and posting them on Facebook,” said David Harris Smith, the brains behind the project.

“Simply put, I am a free-spirited robot who wants to explore Canada and meet new friends along the way,” Hitchbot declares on his website. According to Smith, “Hitchbot can ask people if they have a story they would like to share with others and this would be posted as video to Hitchbot.me. We will moderate posts to avoid inappropriate content.”

hitchbot

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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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Venezuelan Man Builds His Own Prosthetic Arm

Angel Sanguino, an electronics technician from Caracas, Venezuela, who last year lost his left arm in a motorcycle accident, has recently been awarded a Prize for Science, Technology and Innovation, after he manged to build an ingenious robotic arm that allows him to perform a series of useful tasks.

33-year-old Angel Sanguino was riding his motorcycle when he was hit by a speeding car engaged in illegal street racing. He was taken to the emergency room, and doctors were forced to amputate his left arm from the shoulder. It was a devastating blow for the talented electronics technician who worked for a prestigious computer part manufacturer, as he could no longer do his job with just one arm. The orthopedist told Angel he should accept his disability and move on with his life, but he had other plans. While in intensive care recovering from the surgery, severe internal organ damage and fractured legs, Sanguino learned he was going to become a father soon, and that gave him the strength to fight for his life and make sure he was able to provide for his family. Three months after his accident, the young Venezuelan used his experience as a cartoonist to design a prosthetic arm that would allow him to repair electronic components just like before.

Angel-Sanguino

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China Hosts World’s First Robot Olympics

The World’s first International Humanoid Robots Olympic Games kicked off on June 21, in China’s Harbin’s Institute of Technology.

Two years after hosting a memorable edition of the human Olympic Games, China becomes the first country to host an Olympics dedicated to humanoid robots. Nineteen teams, from China, United States, Japan, South Korea or Germany have brought their best robots to compete in this historic three-day event.

To enter the competition, robots had to be less than 60 cm long, and have a human shape, with a head, two arms and two legs. Just like in the real Olympic Games, the sporty robots had to compete in multiple challenges, 24 to be exact, ranging from boxing, to weight-lifting, dancing, or sprint. But there are also some unusual domestic events, like cleaning or medical care.

The sprinting contest took place on the first day, with the winner running a distance of five meters in 20 seconds flat. Not bad for a small robot, I think. Check out the video at the bottom, to see these little guys sweating silicone at the Robot Olympic Games.

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Japanese Couple Wed by a Robot

Satoko Inoue and Tomohiro Shibata bothe looked amazing on their wedding day, but the spotlight was stolen by i-Fairy, the humanoid robot that replaced the priest.

Inoue, the bride, works for the company that produces the i-Fairy robot, and Shibata is a client, so it’s safe to say robots are the reason they began dating in the first place. At his beloved’s suggestion, the groom was more than happy to replace the priest with an adorable robot that rose to the challenge, thanks to some special programming.

The bride said she always felt like robots could play a big role in people’s lives, and she’s glad her experience showed the whole world just that. Representatives of the company that makes i-Fairy said they’re thrilled one of their products was the center of attention in the first wedding presided over by a robot.

Photos by REUTERS

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Chinese Farmer Creates Army of Home-Made Robots

Wu Yulu, a Chinese farmer, from a small village, outside Beijing, has created a series of 47 robots, out of scrap metal. They can accomplish various functions, from drinking, to walking and even pulling a rickshaw.

Ever since he can remember, Wu Yulu has been fascinated with the mechanics of movement. He always dreamed of building robots that could imitate human behavior, and in 1986, he decided to put his dream into practice. 24 years later, our techie farmer is the proud inventor of 47 home-made robots.

But Wu Yulu has made many sacrifices, in the name of science. He almost lost his wife and two children, after burning down the house, while working on a robot, accumulated great debt, and was even sprayed with battery acid. But like any respectable mad scientist, our man didn’t give up.

And now his effort are finally being rewarded. Mr. Wu has been invited to showcase his scrap metal creations and their functionality, at the 2010 Shanghai Expo. This after already receiving a number of prizes and contracts with universities. But he doesn’t get all this go to his head. he still lives in his modest village house, surrounded by pieces of metal and broken doll parts.

The strangest thing, about Wu Yulu, is he declared he loves his metal robots, more than he loves his own kids. He refers to his rickshaw robot as his 32nd son, and even programmed it to say “Wy Yulu is my dad, I take him out on the town.” How cool is that!

Photos by REUTERS via Daylife

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