This Finned Robot Can Maneuver Over Land and Through Water

Scientists often use nature as a guide when creating new robots, making machines that mimic the behavior and movements of animals. But if you are copying a fish, that won’t do any good on land. Just like a robot based on a lizard won’t do you any good in the water. So why not build a bot with the best of both worlds?

This unique amphibious robot was created by an engineering firm called Pliant Energy Systems, and has a pair of long, flexible fins powered by eight actuators. These fins let it travel across land-based and through water environments with ease.

While on land, the fins of the Velox robot are like treads, allowing the robot to easily take on all kinds of difficult terrain -even ice. In water, the fins mimic that of a fish, moving through the water like a stingray. The robot can also handle snow and sand, by combining both movement sets.

Right now the robot is a prototype, but I think we can expect to see more of this drivetrain system in the future, maybe even in future vehicles for both land and sea.

[via New Atlas via Gizmodo]

This Vending Machine Serves Up Fried Chicken

Food dispensed from a machine is usually not the freshest, but what if we’re talking about a vending machine that serves up fresh fried chicken? That’s what the Lawson Karaage-kun robot does. Naturally, the machine looks like a chicken too, because Japan. A chicken serving chicken? That just seems wrong.

Japanese convenience chain Lawson Inc. is testing out the machine right now at an outlet in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo. The machine has “state-of-the-art” technology that allows it to fry chicken in a little over a minute. Basically, fried chicken is prepared and kept warm until someone orders it. That’s not my definition of “fresh,” but to each their own.

If the machine proves successful, the company may adapt it to dish out other types of fried foods. Hell, maybe we will see this chicken-faced machine at KFC soon. I hope not because it looks a bit terrifying if you ask me. The trial will only operate during the daytime from now until December 28, 2018, so if you happen to be in Tokyo, you might want to go check it out.

[via The Japan Times via Mike Shouts]

NVIDIA’s $1,100 AI brain for robots goes on sale

NVIDIA's plan to power autonomous robots has kicked off in earnest. The company has released a Jetson AGX Xavier Module that gives robots and other intelligent machines the processing oomph they need for their AI 'brains.' You're not about to buy one...

Walmart’s Industrial Floor Cleaning Robot Doesn’t Make $15 An Hour

Walmart is always looking for ways to save, and with its $15 an hour minimum wage, it should come as no surprise that some workers are due to be replaced by automation. The first replacements were cashiers, with most Walmart locations now offering self-checkout lanes where you don’t have to listen to the cashier talk when all you want to do is pay and leave.

Now it’s the custodians that are being replaced with a ride-on floor scrubber that no longer needs a person to operate it. The robot is powered by BrainOS and has sensors to allow it to drive around the store, and to safely clean around customers.

Already more than 100 of the floor cleaning bots are in stores around the country. The retail giant plans to add 360 autonomous floor-scrubbing ‘bots to stores nationwide by January. The announcement was made jointly with Brain Corp, the company who makes the OS for the robot.

[via NBC News]

This Toilet Scrubbing Robot Is The Hero We Need

Household chores suck. If you ask me, the worst chore is scrubbing toilets. We all dread it. If only there were a robot that would do the job for us. Well, there is. A team of researchers from the University of Koblenz-Landau have created a robot that specializes in the dirty job.

This toilet-scrubbing bot can detect people, objects, and the toilet seat, and even has a microphone for speech recognition, as well as a mobile base for moving around. It can approach a toilet, clean the seat and even the floor around the toilet. It will even pick up stray pieces of toilet paper and toilet rolls. It’s not the sexiest looking robot, but it gets the job done – albeit very slowly.

Sadly, it will be a while until we see this bot in our homes, so until then stop peeing everywhere, will ya? And when it does arrive, it will hit public areas like malls and airports first. But maybe soon after we can get this in our homes, so that robots can do what they were made to do – get down on their robo-knees and clean our toilets. Please don’t kill me future robots. I was just kidding.

The toilet scrubbing robot may just be the single most important robotic development yet. Mankind thanks you researchers. You are creating beautiful things now instead of things that will kill us all.

[via Digital Trends via Mike Shouts]