6 October 2005

Robot Love

The Buzz Log - Search Spikes and Trends

Wednesday October 05, 2005 3:00AM PT

For those of us who grew up in television's nurturing light, it seemed that the future of automated servants, robot defenders, and cyborg pals was just around the corner. But all these years later we still find ourselves cooking our own dinners, fending off telemarketers alone, and waiting to discuss electric sheep with sleepy androids.

So when "i, robot" more than doubled in Buzz yesterday, we seized on it as evidence that we're not the only ones watching for the droids to trundle over the horizon. We surveyed robot interest in Search, and we weren't surprised to see that the Japanese have this market covered: "japanese robot," "sony robot," "asimo robot," and "robot dog" abound. Woof!

Those looking for more fun ("robosapien," "toy robots"), help with housework ("robot vacuum cleaner," "robot litter box"), and a trip down memory lane ("lost in space robot") also pushed up the mechanical men at the Search box. (Danger Will Robinson!) Searchers got serious with "industrial robots," "military robots," and "history of robotics," but settled back down with "cartoon robots."

Finally, we applaud the do-it-yourselfers: "How to build a robot" and "robot kit" marched up high in the ranks. We may not yet live in a world George Jetson would recognize, but maybe we're inching closer. After all, we just heard of the mechanized bike-riding boy.


Robot that can ride bike unveiled

Sci/TechLast Updated: Tuesday October 04 2005 16:46 GMT

Scientists in Japan have developed a tiny robot that can ride a bicycle.

Murata Boy, which weighs just 5kg and is 20cm tall, can travel at 76 cm per second and is controlled by a wireless computer link.

Engineers said the most difficult part of the design process was getting Murata Boy to balance on the bike.

They solved the problem by installing special sensors on the robot, which allows it to judge its angle and speed, and then make balance adjustments.

"The whole point of developing the robot which rides a bicycle is to show the technology of balancing in the environment, where keeping your balance is tough," said project engineer, Shigeki Fukunaga.

Murata Manufacturing revealed their new robot at the 2005 Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technology near Tokyo on Tuesday.