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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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Chinese DIY Wiz Builds His Very Own Scrap-Part Robot

Tao Xiangli, a 37-year-old inventor from Beijing, China, has spent over 150,000 yuan ($25,000) and more than 11 months building a functional robot made of scrap parts and wires bought from second-hand markets.

In China, Tao Xiangli is known as a DIY genius, with a collection of amazing home-made creations under his belt. Three years ago, he made headlines in international media after building a submarine all by himself, and today he’s back to with another impressive achievement – a 496lb (225kg) robot he pieced together in his small Beijing apartment. “He’s ugly, but he’s kind of awesome,” Tao said about the  2.1-meter-tall metal behemoth  that can apparently perform simple movements and even mimic human actions by using infrared rays. It can turn its neck, raise its legs and even shake hands at the flick of a switch on the board located on its back. Instead of crating a humanoid casing for his robot, Tao Xiangli decided to leave it “naked”so viewers could see every one of the over 110 scrap parts and 3,000 lengths of wiring required to make it work. To make it easier on the eyes, the young Chinese inventor fitted his robots with strips of bright neon cabling.

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Robot Band Compressorhead Puts the “Metal” in Heavy Metal

Compressorhead is not your usual heavy-metal rock group. The band’s three members are all robots, but they’ve proven they can cover hits by rock legends like Motorhead or AC/DC honorably. They’re even scheduled to play alongside The Chili Peppers and The Killers, at the Big Day Out Festival, in Australia, this summer.

Assembling, cooking, waiting tables, even horse riding; robots have proven capable of doing all of these jobs, but until now, musicians seemed like they had nothing to fear. Well, not anymore – introducing Compressorhead, a rock band made up of three real metal heads: Fingers, Bones and Stickboy. They are robots that can be programmed to cover hits by pretty much any rock group that ever existed, but so far they seem to prefer heavyweights like Black Sabbath, Pantera or Led Zeppelin. They’re a bit lacking in the creative department, but I’m sure they’ll improve on that as they go along. The robot group hail from Germany and hope to conquer human kind with their music, instead of Terminator-like force. Let’s meet the boys:

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Get Your Very Own 13-Foot Functional Robot for Just $1.35 Million

Just when you though it was safe to go out of the house, Japanese company Suidobashi Heavy Industry has officially announced their awesome boardable mecha, the KURATS, is now available for purchase. And it costs only $1.35 million.

I know it sounds like a lot of money, but we’re talking about the world’s first consumer mecha, which means you can buy it and use it to take your shot at world domination or just scare the hell out of your neighbors by riding in it on the street. If you’re a fan of Gundam or Armored Core, this thing is exactly what you’ve been dreaming of for years. It’s a 4,500-kilogram-robot that you can control and interact with using Microsoft Kinect motion sensors. You can either step into the built-in one person cockpit, or remotely control its actions with your smartphone, via 3G internet. RocketNews24 first reported on the KURATAS in May, but back then it was just a cool prototype. Now, its makers have announced their personal mecha is going into production and can be bought for ¥100 million ($1,35 million).

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KABUTOM RX-03 – Japan’s Giant Rhinoceros Beetle Robot

Created by Japanese engineer Hitoshi Takahashi, the KABUTOM RX-03 is an 11-meter-long, 17-tonne-heavy robot shaped like a rhinoceros beetle. The impressive mecha can walk with its six legs, blows smoke from its nose and always gets Japanese crowds raddled when it makes an appearance.

The KABUTOM RX-03 is definitely one of the most impressive functional robots unveiled in recent years, especially since it was designed and built by one man, 60-year-old tech-wiz Hitoshi Takahashi. The Japanese engineer started working on his personal giant robot in 1997, as a hobby, and 11 years later, in 2008, he unveiled his creation to all of Japan, during a popular television show. The KABUTOM RX-03 was an instant hit and ever since then, Takahashi and his giant beetle mecha have been performing at events all over the country. We’ve seen big, cool-looking robots from Japan before, like the life-size RX87 Gundam or the Tetsujin 28-go aka Gigantor, but unlike them, this one actually works.

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Geeky Fan Builds Real-Life Wall-E Robot

Mike Senna, a computer programmer from Orange County, California, has spent the last two and a half years building a real-life Wall-E robot, from scratch. It moves around, rolls and talks, but he doesn’t collect trash.

In 2009, shortly after the movie Wall-E was launched, we featured some photos of cool Wall-E computer case mod, but that feat simply pales in comparison to Mike Senna’s awesome achievement. The robot aficionado spend between 3,200 and 3,800 man hours building his very own version of the adorable Pixar trash-collecting hero. His computer programming skills definitely came in handy, but seeing as there were no Wall-E parts available anywhere on this planet, he had to construct the whole thing from scratch. He worked on it about 25 hours a week, after his day job, but all the hard work certainly paid off.

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The Future Is Now – China Opens Robot-Operated Restaurant

Well, it’s not exactly as advanced as you’re used to seeing in sci-fi movies, but China’s colorful robot-themed restaurant can be a sign of things to come.

They’re probably going to render us extinct one day, so we might as well enjoy their servitude, while it lasts. A unique restaurant, in Harbin, China’s Heilongjiang Province, has 18 different robots doing all kinds of jobs, from ushering in guests to waiting tables and cooking various dishes. All the robots were designed and created by the Harbin Haohai Robot Company. Chief Engineer Liu Hasheng, they invested around 5 million yuan ($790,000) in the restaurant, with each robot costing 200,000 to 300,000 yuan ($31,500 – $47,000). With an average cost per dinner of between $6 and $10, they won’t be recovering their investment anytime soon, but it is great advertisement for what the robot company can create.

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India’s Fascinating Fortune-Telling Robots

Indians have long since been passionate about predicting the future. Horoscopes are created with the help of an astrologer on the very day a child is born and these documents are consulted from time to time during major milestones of a person’s life. Especially when a match is made as a part of an arranged marriage, an astrologer is duly consulted to make sure the horoscopes of the bride and groom are compatible with each other.

While all this may seem very strange to an outsider, for Indians it’s a part of normal and natural life. In fact , progress in terms of fortune-telling technology has been made too. In several homes, local astrologers have been replaced by computer software that serves the same purpose. One simply needs to enter their name and time/date of birth to receive a complete report of their past, present and future.

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Wacky Business Owner Runs Company via Robot Proxy

Richard Garriot, the owner of a Austin, Texas-based video-game development company, has found the perfect way to keep an eye on his employees when he’s out of office – a $15,000 robot called QB60.

Garriott, who founded Origin Systems back in the 1980s, a company best known for creating the Ultima franchise (which led to the popular MMO “Ultima Online”), first discovered his robot stand-in last year, when he and the woman of his dreams got married in a 500-year-old chateau in France. He wanted his mother to be by his side one one of the most important days in his life, but the wasn’t in the best shape for such a long flight, so he had to figure out a way to have her there, without having her fly. The solution came from a California company called Anybots Inc., which specializes in making avatar-like robots that can be controlled via computer. The futuristic gizmo looks a lot like a balancing segway, but it’s actually a lot more: an ever-present telepresence equipped with two cameras, a microphone and a speaker that can be operated from anywhere using a broadband Internet connection.

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Robot Restaurant Opened in Jiang, China

They weren’t born to serve you but they were definitely built to do just that, and where else if not in China.

Located in Jiang, China’s Shandong Province, the Dalu Rebot Restaurant opened on the 5th of December and can cater to about 100 customers, featuring two robot receptionists and a “staff” of six robot-waitresses. Two of them serve drinks, two serve small tables and another two tend to the big one. It seems that more “hiring” will be made in the near future as owners expect the restaurant will become quite a hit.

As all the waiting is done by robots, the tables were set in a circular pattern so that the robots can follow an exact route. Not all the work in the restaurant is done by them though, there are also people working there, especially in the kitchen, but some were also hired to welcome customers into the restaurant.

The concept belongs to The Shandong Dalu Science and Technology Company, who isn’t planning to stop here, as they want to further develop this idea and ultimately have a staff of 40 robots. Seems logical enough, considering that business really took off when the people heard about these unusual waiters.

 

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Life-Size Gundam Is Back to Protect Tokyo

Remember that 60-foot RX78 Gundam mech that showed up in Tokyo’s Shiokaze Park? Well, the guys at Bandai pieced it together once more, this time in Shizuoka.

The truth is I missed the awesome-looking RX78, and I couldn’t understand why they had to take it down in the first place. But that’s not important anymore, because the Gundam statue is back, and this time it’s brought a cool saber that shines at night. The newly assembled Gundam will be officially inaugurated on July 24 and it will remain in Shizuoka until January 10 2011.

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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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The Adorable Adoptabots of Brian Marshall

Adoptabots are cute little sculptress, created by Delaware-based artist, Brian Marshall, using various discarded objects.

Brian Marshall is a middle-school teacher, from Delaware, who creates these lovely Adoptabots, in his spare time. The fact that he’s not even a full-time artist makes his work even more impressive. Instead of leaving old kitchen utensils, cameras, and all kinds of other stuff rot at the landfill, this talented artist decided to offer them a second chance at life, by transforming them into Adoptabots. Now they live happily in his workshop, and can be viewed on Brian’s Flickr stream, or bought adopted from his Etsy shop.

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