Japanese disaster recovery robot

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A coffin with tank treads. That’s what this thing looks like. Japanese city Yokohama’s disaster recovery department has come up with it as a way to ferry people from danger zones back to safety.

Basically, you stuff an injured person in the tube, and he can then be moved around remotely thanks to the onboard infrared camera. It’ll monitor the patient’s blood flow and vital signs, but I can’t help but think that it doesn’t look terribly cushioned, and there’s a good chance that the occupant might slide out if the robot goes up too steep an incline.

If you were lying in a disaster area with two broken legs, a concussion and a dislocated shoulder, would you get in this thing? Or would you rather walk? I know which I’d pick.

VIDEO: Japanese exoskeleton suit called "HAL".

There’s a long comic book tradition of people going slightly doo-lally, building massive robot suits in their garage, and then stomping all over their enemies. Well, the Japanese just did it. They’ve built HAL, who looks like he’ll stomp all over you in an instant.

HAL is worn over your arms and legs, and uses eight motors to attached to your shoulders, elbows, knees and waist to control your movements. Let just hope that whoever’s controlling it has the same ideas about what you want to do as you do. Still, longer term, this could be an incredible help for the disabled.

(via WeirdAsiaNews)

VIDEO: Tmsuk T-34 security robot hits the net

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Yet more proof that the Japanese rule the world when it comes to hilarious and slightly sweet robots. The latest purports to be a security robot, but I suspect that you’re more likely to be incapacitated with laughter at this dinky machine than genuinely caught.

It travels at 10kph, has microphones and body heat sensors, and it’s controlled by an external operator. It’ll catch your thief, but you’ll need a real person on the scene before the person can make it out of the net. It’ll be available in a couple of years, and will cost ¥800,000 (£6,700 or so). For a video of it in action, click over the jump.

Ballroom-dancing robots attempt "YMCA", get stuck at "C"

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Just when you thought it was safe to come out from behind your sofa now that Strictly Come Dancing is over for another season, along come some pesky robot-programming software from Q4 Technology that could see our metallic companions take to the dance floor.

Go-Robo Choreographer and Go-Robo Studio are creative and educational software titles allowing enthusiasts to teach WowWee robots to do more important things than farting about in dangerous locations pretending to do useful stuff.

Much better to dress them up in gowns and get them dancing…

CES 2009: WowWee Cinemin Pico Projectors – candybar, swivel and dock

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Last time we heard from WowWee, they showed Ashley a robot at last year’s CES. I guess they decided that there’s not much money in robots, because this year they’ve got a bunch of cheap, tiny, but remarkably attractive projectors instead.

From left to right, there’s the “Stick”, which takes SD cards, but also has some internal memory, the “Station”, which lets you both dock your iPod and display its contents, and the “Swivel” which has a 90° hinge, letting you project your videos skyward. It also packs a three-hour battery life, for those long sessions of lying on your back. No pricing or availability yet, beyond “2009”.

Find more CES coverage here. Tempted? I sure am.

Related posts: Optoma Pico portable projector – pack 60 inches in your pocket | Toshiba pico projector – nice tech but is it totally useless?

Like Japanese food? Get the Motoman industrial robot to cook it for you

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Visitors to the International Next-Generation Robot Fair in Osaka who get a bit peckish can head over to the stand where the Motoman SDA10 robot has demonstrated its culinary abilities.

This two-armed robot can do a range of things, and cooking okonomiyaki is just one thing on its impressive resumé. It’s even more impressive because it can take orders from customers using speech recognition technology and then create the dish using standard kitchen utensils. It even flips the pancake-like dish…