Robot dad: I built a smartphone bot to spend time with my kids

Divorce can be a painful experience, especially when it means one parent doesn’t see as much of their kids as they used to.

When divorcee Matt Walker met his future second wife in the US, he knew things would only get worse for him spending time with his two boys, Jarvis, 9 and Maxi, 7.

That’s why he built the RambleBot.


Matt Walker is Robot Dad. Photo: Matt Walker

It looks like a miniature white tank but instead of a cannon it has an arm with a gripper. There’s a smartphone holder at the top where Matt’s face appears.

From his home in San Jose, California — where he lives with his current wife and seven-month-old son Jack — Matt logs into the RambleBot that lives at his ex wife’s house 11,410 kilometres away in Brisbane, Australia, and hangs out with his sons, controlling the robot with an app and talking via Skype. He’s done this every other day for the last three years.

The robot has a big battery which lasts about two days. The smartphone battery runs out faster, so Matt adds a battery extender case. When the RambleBot is plugged in, it will charge the phone.


Matt Walker Skyping his son Jarvis as the RambleBot. Photo: Matt Walker

Matt acknowledges the unusual set-up may have its critics because it’s essentially parenting at a distance.

“What’s he [my son] going to tell his psychoanalyst in the future — my father was a tiny little robot?” Matt jokes.

“Telepresence will never be as good as being there in real life. READ MORE.


Robotic Toy ‘Leka’ Designed for Kids with Autism

The rolling robot BB-8 captivated moviegoers as it helped save the day in the 2016 film “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” — though even the most die-hard fan would admit that we aren’t likely to see a real-world robot quite like that in the near future.

Meet Leka, a rolling robot that can be programmed to engage with children that have developmental disabilities. Credit: Leka

Meet Leka, a rolling robot that can be programmed to engage with children that have developmental disabilities.
Credit: Leka

However, there’s another spherical, programmable, rolling robot currently in development that’s capable of doing important work to engage children with special needs, particularly children on the autism spectrum.

Described by its designers as “a robotic companion,” the roly-poly Leka robot is shaped like a ball, has an endearing “face” that changes expressions, and uses sound, light and colors to interact with users through customizable games that improve cognitive and motor skills. Caregivers and educators can program the toy to guide children with developmental disabilities through a range of activities, helping them to improve communication and learn to connect with their environment and with others around them. Read More.


First-ever 3-D printed robots made of both solids and liquids

This 3-D hexapod robot moves via a single motor, which spins a crankshaft that pumps fluid to the robot’s legs. Besides the motor and battery, every component is printed in a single step with no assembly required. Among the robot’s key parts are several sets of “bellows” 3-D printed directly into its body. To propel the robot, the bellows uses fluid pressure that is translated into a mechanical force. (As an alternative to the bellows, the team also demonstrated they could 3-D print a gear pump that can produce continuous fluid flow.) Read More.

Cool new tech gadgets at CES 2016

Smart Mobile Theater system

The latest gadgets and technology are unveiled at CES, the year’s biggest consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.

In this photo, Eric Yu of Royole models the company’s foldable Smart Mobile Theater system during “CES Unveiled,” a preview event of the 2016 International CES trade show, in Las Vegas, Jan. 4, 2016. The $700.00 system has noise-canceling headphones and a viewing system that is vision correctable so you don’t need to wear your glasses, Yu said. Read  more