Lego’s new robotics set lets kids program a cat to play the harmonica

|An article by Adi Robertson|

 

Lots of people are already familiar with Mindstorms, the Lego robotics platform capable of building clever tools like this automatic card-signing machine. Some might also remember Lego WeDo, the simpler educational tool for teaching kids coding basics. This year at CES, Lego is bridging the gap with Boost, a basic robotics- and programming-oriented kit that’s supposed to be more playful than didactic.

Boost is built around a motorized block called a Move Hub, powered by six AAA batteries and equipped with a tilt sensor. The $159.99 Boost kit includes another motor and a combination color and distance sensor, plus 843 more traditional Lego parts. One of the most important pieces, though, isn’t included: an iOS or Android tablet for using the accompanying app, which is both a building guide and a drag-and-drop programming tool.

 

The Autobuilder (left), Guitar 4000, Vernie the Robot, and Frankie the Cat

Once kids have launched the app, they can pick from five major building projects. The most complex is a foot-high anthropomorphic robot called Vernie, but there’s also a slightly terrifying mechanical cat named Frankie; a colorful guitar; a rugged, tractor-like vehicle; and the “Autobuilder,” a 3D printer-like machine that can be programmed to put Lego together.

During the construction process, the app introduces builders to the simple programming interface: a series of puzzle pieces representing different actions, which can be chained together and triggered by a tap of the screen or a real-world action. This works a lot like Lego WeDo, but it’s specifically meant to feel like a toy. “The goal isn’t to teach them anything,” says Lego design lead Simon Kent. “But they will actually learn just by tinkering with it.”

You can program Vernie, for example, to dance and shake maracas (which can be built with parts in the set), to shoot a small projectile at a target, or to hold a conversation using preset lines. It can’t recognize what you’re saying, but it can tell when sound is coming through the iPad microphone.

Vernie’s facial expressions are programmable

Some of these interactions get complex enough that they’re almost games in themselves. Frankie “plays” a Lego harmonica by detecting when different colors hit the sensor over its mouth, then playing a sound that’s linked to that color, including recorded audio. This same method, this time with a slider that moves over different-colored frets, makes the Lego guitar playable. We’ve tried both these things, and they’re weirdly entertaining, even for adults. The Autobuilder is an actual manufacturing device composed in miniature, although it didn’t work perfectly when we tried it. Since Lego bricks are pretty easy to pull apart, it also feels unsurprisingly fragile.

The programming options we saw are heavily geared toward getting kids to play with specific objects in specific ways, not come up with their own robots. But there’s a more open-ended app feature that shows them how to make the skeleton of a vehicle, a four-legged animal, or a building. They can then use these frames to build whatever they want, using either the included Lego or their own sets.

 

A four-legged walking animal frame

Boost isn’t meant to take Mindstorms’ place, but it’s an approachable toy for younger Lego fans — and seriously, the guitar is pretty cool. The set is going on sale in the second half of 2017, and it’ll be on display at CES later this week.

source: https://www.theverge.com/ces/2017/1/4/13920762/lego-boost-robotics-programming-set-robot-cat-guitar


Interview With The Lifelike Hot Robot Named Sophia (Full) | CNBC

CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin interviews Sophia, a humanoid robot, about the future of artificial intelligence at a Future Investment Institute panel in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
» Subscribe to CNBC: http://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC

More on Sofia:

To Anyone who wonders who is the “hippie” on stage. According to Wiki, this amazing human is called Ben Goertzel (born December 8, 1966 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) is Chief Scientist of financial prediction firm Aidyia Holdings and robotics firm Hanson Robotics; Chairman of AI software company Novamente LLC, which is a privately held software company; Chairman of the Artificial General Intelligence Society and the OpenCog Foundation; Vice Chairman of futurist nonprofit Humanity+; Scientific Advisor of biopharma firm Genescient Corp.; Advisor to the Singularity University; Research Professor in the Fujian Key Lab for Brain-Like Intelligent Systems at Xiamen University, China; and general Chair of the Artificial General Intelligence conference series, an American author and researcher in the field of artificial intelligence. He was the Director of Research of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (formerly the Singularity Institute).

 

Jimmy Fallon demos amazing new robots from all over the world, including an eerily human robot named Sophia that plays rock-paper-scissors.


October Event @ Little Botz Academy : Spooktacular Halloween Escapade part 1

Our special event to celebrate Halloween was planned along the second half of October starting from 16th to 31st October 2017. The first part was held on 16th-19th October in conjunction with the school holiday . Approximately 20 students had participate in the event. The children were exposed to LEGO Mindstorm EV3 with specially designed theme related to Halloween.

 

The event are still ongoing at Little Botz Academy, Atria Shopping Gallery until 31st October. Come and bring your kids to experience something wonderful for this year’s Halloween. To register, go to https://tinyurl.com/ydcp9f8t

or contact us directly at 012-9691230 | 03-77322373


How Do You Make a Likable Robot? Program It to Make Mistakes

Which robot do you find easier to like — “Iron Man” Tony Stark’s efficient helper J.A.R.V.I.S., or the error-prone Dummy, which fumbled with kitchen equipment and sprayed an exasperated Stark with fire-extinguishing foam?

You might think a robot would be more likely to win people over if it were good at its job. But according to a recent study, people find imperfect robots more likable.

The researchers found that people liked the error-prone robot more than the error-free one, and that they responded to the robot’s mistakes with social signals that robots could possibly be trained to recognize, in order to modify future behavior.

For the study, 45 human subjects — 25 men and 20 women — were paired with a robot that was programmed to perform two tasks: ask interview questions, and direct several simple Lego brick assemblies.

For 24 of the users, the robot behaved flawlessly. It posed questions and waited for their responses, and then instructed them to sort the Lego bricks and build towers, bridges and “something creative,” ending the exercise by having the person arrange Legos into a facial expression to show a current emotional state, according to the study.

But for 21 people in the study, the robot’s performance was less than stellar. Some of the mistakes were technical glitches, such as failing to grasp Lego bricks or repeating a question six times. And some of the mistakes were so-called “social norm violations,” such as interrupting while their human partner was answering a question or telling them to throw the Lego bricks on the floor.

The scientists observed the interactions from a nearby station. They tracked how people reacted when the robots made a mistake, gauging their head and body movements, their expressions, the angle of their gaze, and whether they laughed, smiled or said something in response to the error. After the tasks were done, they gave participants a questionnaire to rate how much they liked the robot, and how smart and human-like they thought it was, on a scale from 1 to 5.

How do you like me now? People rated robots as more likable if the 'bots made mistakes.

How do you like me now? People rated robots as more likable if the ‘bots made mistakes.

Credit: Center for Human-Computer Interaction

The researchers found that the participants responded more positively to the bumbling robot in their behavior and body language, and they said they liked it “significantly more” than the people liked the robot that made no mistakes at all.

However, the subjects who found the error-prone robot more likable didn’t see it as more intelligent or more human-like than the robot that made fewer mistakes, the researchers found.

Their results suggest that robots in social settings would probably benefit from small imperfections; if that makes the bots more likable, the robots could possibly be more successful in tasks meant to serve people, the study authors wrote.

And by understanding how people respond when robots make mistakes, programmers can develop ways for robots to read those social cues and learn from them, and thereby avoid making problematic mistakes in the future, the scientists added.

“Future research should be targeted at making a robot understand the signals and make sense of them,” the researchers wrote in the study.

“A robot that can understand its human interaction partner’s social signals will be a better interaction partner itself, and the overall user experience will improve,” they concluded.

The findings were published online May 31 in the journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI.

source: www.livescience.com


OCTOBER 2016 SCHOOL BREAK WORKSHOP

October School Holiday Workshop is next!.Fill your children’s school holiday by exploring robotic world using Edutainment concept with Little Botz Academy.

To book/enquiry kindly call/sms/whatAapps : +6018 358 0232 / 03 7732 2373 or email us at atria@littlebotz.com

Check out our previous workshop photo album.

workshop-oct-2016

 


rero Robot’s Got Talent Online Competition

RERO POSTER

To get more info please follow this link: rero official website

Who can take part?

This competition is open to ALL rero Robot Makers. You can enter your personal project OR form a team (max 3 members) to participate in this competition.

How many entries can I submit?

You may submit multiple entries but each participant is only eligible to win ONE prize.

Is there a registration fee?

No, participation is FREE.

How to take part?

It’s simple – basically you build a rero robot and show the rest of the world what your robot can do!

Step 1: Build and program a robot.

i. You can design any type of robot you like using rero Robotics Kit.

ii. You are encouraged to use 3D-printed and/or LEGO parts and/or other materials to add to the robot’s aesthetic value. However, rero parts must remain as the main building and controlling elements for the robot.

iii. NO size and weight limits.

Step 2: Share your project on rero Portal: http://rero.io/portal/project

i. You will need to register an account first in order to submit a project. Registration is FREE.

ii. You will need to share images of your creation, as well as a video to showcase what your robot can do. The video length should not exceed 90 seconds.

Step 3: Register your submission by filling this online form. Once accepted, your robot video will be uploaded torero FB Page.

Step 4: Get your FANS and SUPPORTERS to like your robot video.

*Guidelines and tips to help you WIN. Read here.

What are the judging criteria?

30% will be based on FB users’ response to your robot video, whereby 1 LIKE = 1 point and 1 SHARE = 3 points.

Final date for voting on FB is 7th October 2016 at 12.00pm (noon). Accumulated points will be converted to 30%.

70% will be awarded by the Panel of Judges based on the following criteria:

i. Creativity and Innovation (25%)

ii. Engineering Design (25%)

iii. Programming (25%), and

iv. Video Presentation (25%).

Points awarded by the Panel of Judges will be converted to 70%.

What are the prizes?

Top 10 Finalists will receive RM500 and the Grand Prize Winner will receive RM2500.

Important Dates

Closing Date for Project Submission: 30th September 2016, 12.00pm (noon)

Final Date for Voting on FB: 7th October 2016, 12.00pm (noon)

Announcement of Winners: 21st October 2016


SCHOOL HOLIDAY PROGRAM 2016

SHW---Official-Poster-2016

Welcome to the future of robotics education. Little Botz Academy  has developed a unique Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEAM) curriculum that uses robotics as a vehicle to foster the inventor within each child.  Our mission is to prepare our children for the competitive robotics environment they will face in the global economy, giving them the knowledge and tools necessary to become the next  inventor.Give us a call  or Whatsapp: +6018-358 0232  or email us at info@littlebotz.com.
Age requirements: 7 y/o and above.


OKAY, PLEASE SIGN ME UP!


Mother’s Day Special at Little Botz™ Academy

Mother’s Day is observed the second Sunday in May. It is a time to honor mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers for their contribution to family and society. Since it is not a federal holiday, businesses may be open or closed as any other Sunday ; as for us, we would like to invite every family to come and visit our branch this Mother’s Day and why not get the whole family together for some cool  fun- robotic adventure? We will be waiting for you!

Date: 7th and 8th May 2016
Time 10AM-10PM
Venue: Atria Shopping Gallery, Damansara

TEASER

 


The 6 Strangest Robots Ever Created

Whether or not you welcome our future robot overlords, there are some pretty bizarre machines that are already strutting their stuff. From a robotic snake that can slither or swim, to a giant Transformers-style contraption with “machine guns” for arms, here are some of the strangest robots that have ever been created.
e9acfc1772a7f856ae9c6afcb8b9ca0d

Snake Bot

The ACM-R5 is a snakelike robot that can crawl around on dry ground or swim through water. The amphibious bot, created by Japanese company HiBot, is equal parts fascinating and terrifying as it deftly twists and turns underwater.
kuratas-mobile-suit-mecha-robot-you-can-actually-ride

Kurata Robot

In the world of robotics, some inventions are stranger than fiction. The massive Kurata robot could easily be mistaken for the made-believe machines in such Hollywood blockbusters as “Transformers” and “Real Steel.”

The Japanese robot, made by Suidobashi Heavy Industry, stands a menacing 13-feet-tall (4 meters), and is equipped with “machine guns” and “rocket launchers” in its arms (they’re actually BB Guns and fireworks, which are still dangerous). These huge humanoid machines can be piloted manually from a cockpit inside the robot, or they can be controlled remotely using a smartphone.

Want your very own Kurata robot? These custom-built machines can be purchased for more than $1.35 million.

 

Nao robot

French company Aldebaran Robotics, headquartered in Paris, developed an autonomous and programmable robot named Nao. This interactive bot is equipped with cutting-edge motion, vision and audio capabilities.

The Nao robot can walk on different surfaces, track and recognize faces and objects, express and understand emotions, and react to touch or voice commands. And if that’s not enough, the robot can also do the Gangnam Style dance (yes, really).

 

BigDog_ClimbRubble

BigDog

In 2005, the whizzes at Boston Dynamics created a four-legged robot, called BigDog, to serve as a robotic pack mule for the military. The project was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the branch of the U.S. Department of Defense tasked with developing new technologies for the military.

BigDog walks on four sturdy legs, and it can accompany soldiers across terrain deemed too rough for vehicles. The robot can lug 340 pounds (150 kilograms) of cargo and is capable of keeping up a pace of 4 mph (6.4 km/h).

 

h1n1-robot-620x264

Flu Robot

It may not be what typically comes to mind when people think of “robots,” but this humanlike contraption was designed to simulate the symptoms of the H1N1 (swine) flu to help train Japanese doctors. The robot, which is covered in material resembling human skin, can sweat, cry and even convulse. If the robots do not receive proper treatment, their symptoms gradually get worse, and in some cases, they can even stop breathing and “die.”

 

octavia

Octavia

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Octavia robot is a humanoid machine with perhaps some of the creepiest facial features. Octavia is a firefighting robot designed to help engineers test new technologies to assist members of the U.S. Naval Fleet.

Octavia is designed to interact with humans, and engineers are trying to develop ways for the robot to identify and track people, understand what humans say, and recognize any gestures they make. Eventually, scientists hope Octavia will be able to work shoulder-to-shoulder with human teammates, with sophisticated speech and visual recognition capabilities.

Source: http://www.livescience.com