Forget the football World Cup. It's not as if England are ever going to win it again after all. No, the only World Cup worth caring about is Tech Digest's Robot World Cup, where we're pitching 64 of the planet's best bots into a knockout competition to find out who's best.
The robotic lawnmower concept is terrific in all directions -- they're electric, so they don't generate ghastly diesel emissions, they tend to mow daily and mulch the clippings so the lawn is healthier and there's no clumps of grass to dispose of, and they spare your precious time. However, they do still involve heavy duty spinning blades and require caution, as demonstrated in Denmark recently when a municipal worker was killed by a robotic lawnmower. The mower became unbalanced, tipped over, and fell onto the worker, killing him instantly with a blade to the head. Video of the mower itself, the Spider ILD 01, after the jump. [GT]
Robots rule. Well, they don't yet, thankfully, because us humans have cleverly neglected to teach them about battle tactics, gun-handling or human-frying laser technology. But what I mean to say is: they're pretty cool. But which is the coolest?
Kansei, from Meji University in Japan, is a robot face capable of 36 expressions that vary according to emotional interpretations of words it hears. When Kansei hears a word, it uses software to access a database of 500,000 keywords, create word associations and determine an emotion — ranging from happiness to sadness, anger and fear — which is expressed by a system of 19 actuators under its silicone skin. Sometimes the reaction is extremely expressive, as here with the word "bomb", sometimes very subtle. (The question arises, would it have the same expression if it was given the sentence "The party was the bomb"?) Video after the jump shows its interesting reaction to the word "president".(via Pink Tentacle)
Cows tend to over-graze a certain area because it's convenient, and moving them over to juicier pastures requires, until now, determined humans. Now, with the Voyager robotic fence, it could be as simple as programming a schedule and an area to cover, and letting it take care of the rest. The fence physically moves inward according to a program, forcing the cows to move along to avoid it, so the cows end up with more consistent nutrition and yield better milk. It's better for the fields, too, since they're cropped more evenly and don't suffer the root damage of overly determined bovines. [GT]