Today we release ROBOTICA: Mechanical Marvels and Mind-Melting Machines of the Past, Present, and Future. The crazy world of robots moves pretty fast, so here are some breaking robot news stories that hadn’t broken when we sent the book to the printers.
Jerry Richardson Stadium opened in fall 2013 as the home field for the University of North Carolina, Charlotte football team. With the new field came a mandate from the college: it would be a zero-waste facility, meaning all trash generated by the stadium had to be recycled or composted. To get football fans aware of the initiative, the school’s engineering department built a robot called RecycleBot. The three-and-a-half-foot-tall robot resembles a crate on wheels (or a rectangular Dalek from Doctor Who). Here’s how it works: you approach RecycleBot with a piece of trash, and it responds, “Hello! I’m RecycleBot. I was developed by Charlotte Green Initiative and a bunch of amazing engineers. Please help me keep your city clean.” The trash is placed on the robot’s fold-down platform. It RB thinks the waste is recyclable, a green LED light glows; if it’s compostable, a red light grows. Then the platform tilts back and deposits the waste into one of two onboard bins: one for recycling and one for composting.
Martine Rothblatt has been responsible for a lot of technological advances. After helping launch the satellite communications industry as an attorney in the early ’80s, she found Sirius Radio, helped develop the Human Genome Project, started a biotech company, and is now exploring the blurred lines between technology and biology with the Terasem Movement. With the ultimate end of creating immortal humans via the uploading of brains to robots, she consulted with Hanson Robotics to build BINA48. It’s a lifelike, robotic representation (and possibly future home of the consciousness of) Rothblatt’s wife, Bina.
Japanese telecom company SoftBank has introduced a new home robot named Pepper. This automaton is programmed with voice recognition and facial recognition software, allowing it to analyzes subtle clues in its human masters. Why? Because if Pepper senses unhappiness, it is the robot’s job to make you happy, by making a joke, singing a song, or dancing a little dance. SoftBank thinks Pepper would make an ideal babysitter, or to look after elderly people in nursing homes…provided nobody is put off by a creepy, all-white robot with two black camera-dots for eyes.
All hail the robots? Click here to order ROBOTICA!