Hang Chu is working toward his Ph.D. in robotics at the University of Toronto. He’s especially keen on the relationship between robots and music, as he thinks it speaks volumes on how robots absorb and interpret the data they’re given. So Chu fed a neural network, a robotic computer system that mimics the human, a bunch of Christmas songs. The network then synthesized all that “data,” and then processed it into new music. One layer of the network developed the melody, another did the chords, and another the lyrics. Behold: The first Christmas carol ever written by a robot.
Your days of having to pass the butter, or getting someone to pass the butter to you, are over: There’s a robot for that now, thanks to TV. Rick & Morty is an animated science-fiction comedy that airs on Cartoon Network. It’s about a mad scientist (Rick) who’s always doing something bizarre, such as in a 2014 episode when he builds a robot that can do only two things: “pass the butter” (or slide a butter dish across a table) and verbally lament that the point of his existence is only to pass the butter. A fan on the show identified only as Andredotcom on the online community Reddit made that TV robot a real robot. He made the body of the robot out of 3-D printed materials, while the actual robot machinery is made from a radio-controlled car that can be directed with a smartphone app.
Simone Giertz of Sweden is one part artist, one part roboticist, devoted to bringing the world silly, single-purpose robots. Some of her past work: a beer-helmet inspired robot that shovels popcorn into the user’s mouth, a robotic arm that pours cereal and milk into a bowl, and a “peanut butter sandwich” robot. But what really got Uncle John’s attention is her latest creation: It’s supposed to help a person, uh, clean up, after using the bathroom. The robot consists mainly of a robotically-controlled hand drill, upon which a roll of toilet paper is placed…and then it spins wildly out of control.