A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

Various personal interests and public info, gesture, signs, language, social robotics, healthcare, innovation, music, publications, etc.

Category: Robots Page 3 of 5

Spykee, Robotic Eyes and Ears

Spykee is a fairly new robot by Meccano, which explains why you need to assemble it from a bunch of plastic and metal parts. AvB describes the assembly quite well on his blog


Does Spykee actually ‘do’ anything of its own? 

For me, it is a bit weird to see that somehow Meccano managed to transform the idea of a robot as a toy or a thing that ‘does stuff’ and respond in various ways to you, to a silly RC WIFI-controlled extension of the owner. The camera only relays the video to the owner, the sound is relayed, and even his master’s voice is relayed through the speakers.

It does not seem to have a voice of it’s own. I cannot even imagine facial expressions. And what of gestures? Spykee does have hands, which is an important requisite for gesturing. But they don’t do much yet, it appears. Perhaps this is where their ‘open source’ policy comes in. Maybe they expect me, or you, to program all sort of interesting gestures for Spykee. A little bit like making gestures for Second Life. Hmmm, maybe the gesture databases for Second Life could somehow be ported to Spykee?

There is an interesting comparison here between Spykee and Rovio. Rovio is even worse at gesture, since it does not even have anything that could be interpreted as hands or arms. But it does have more autonomous navigation.

Rent a Robosaurus

This time the robot, Robosaurus, is not from WowWee, nor is it cute, small and safe. There are quite a few robots that you can rent for shows or trade fairs and such. Honda’s Asimo, Titan (Cyberstein), Mico … feel free to add what you know here.

There is a small company called rentarobot. But their robots are quite dull, it appears. You can also rent a robot here, for $750 to $1500 a day (operator included). This company called entertainment robots is also in the rental business. They have quite a good collection and build custom robots for you.

Robopanda walkthrough

A walk thru of the recently announced Robopanda robot from WowWee at the CES 2008. Quite a talkative little panda robot he is. “Scratch my tummy if you want me to tell you a story, touch my hand if you want to teach me a new trick”. Sounds a bit like “press 1 for this, press 2 for that”.

Emotional Response to Robot Child


Endearing or scary?

This video generated a lot of interesting response on YouTube. Most people find it quite disturbing. It reminded me of my little kid who can also be scared by toy robots. Could it be the case that, as we grow older, we are not so easily scared because we can analyse the toy robots. And if we then encounter one that we cannot analyse we freak out? Hmmm, it seems to be a much more direct emotional response. What is it about these robots that approach human-like features.

The Uncanny Valley
Mori’s Uncanny Valley.

It seems to be a clear cut example of what Mori described: The uncanny valley is a hypothesis that when robots and other facsimiles of humans look and act almost like actual humans, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. The “valley” in question is a dip in a proposed graph of the positivity of human reaction as a function of a robot’s lifelikeness (source wikipedia).

Bear in mind that the uncanny valley has not been ‘proven’ scientifically, but since it is philosophically impossible to prove a scientific hypothesis, it is more important that it has not been disproven, yet. Bartneck wrote two papers about it, see the refs in wikipedia.

Tokyo Toy Show 2008


Impression of the Tokyo Toy Show

Couple of highlights:
Stuff from Takara Tomy: Eve and Wall-E robots, i-Sobot customizations
Light Sabre fencing from Bandai.


Sega’s love robot E.M.A. at the Tokyo Toy Show 2008?
Looks exactly like WowWee’s Femisapien to me… Give us a kiss then, little one 🙂

SF: Philips RobotSkin Shaving Lady

Here is how I wake up every morning…
in my dreams, right before I actually wake up

Shaving as an affectionate gesture
and a symbol of dedication

Read more a RobotSkin (just the graphics are already worth a visit)

Robot competitions

Here are a few examples of robot competitions that are quite entertaining:


The ROBO ONE competition is ‘biped robot entertainment’ (official site). It highlights agility, balance and motion. They are remote controlled but to some extent, in the microcontrol of the movement, autonomous.


12th KondoCup Robot Soccer competition (Source: Robots Dreams). These robots also feature in the ROBO ONE competition.


The Micromouse competition: speed, accuracy, search algorithms, navigation. They get a first run to explore the maze and then ‘speed runs’ to set their best time for the fastest route they found.

David Calkins explains Humanoid Robots

Here are two robot guys, Patrick Norton and David Calkins, discussing the reasons behind the competitions with biped humanoid robots (Source: Robots Dreams). It is a bit long but it is a good overview of the important issues. They also discuss proprioception which ties into the discussions about robots and embodied cognition.

Robot Man: Marcel Heerink at HvA

Another interesting author on social robotics is Marcel Heerinkk, who works at the HvA, Instituut voor Information Engineering. He has been doing PhD work on robotics and elderly people. Practically all his publications are together with three UvA people: Ben Kröse (IS lab), Bob Wielinga, and Vanessa Evers (both HCS lab). Kröse is also lector at the HvA, lectorate Digital Life. They have done research with iCat.

Robot Man: Christoph Bartneck at TU/e

Another strong author on robotics in the Netherlands is Christoph Bartneck. He works at the TU/e, faculty of Industrial Design, sub-department Designed Intelligence (which is only slightly less scary than intelligent design). His list of publications on robotics is very impressive. Recently, there are a couple together with Mathias Rauterberg, the prof who heads the DI group, but these are not specifically about robots.

Through his publications, I found out there is a conference called ACM/IEEE international conference on Human robot interaction (yearly since 2006). Proceedings here. Quite a lot of interesting papers there.

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