Posts Tagged ‘Robots’

Where Science Meets Imagination in Chicago

Bonnie Burton | September 28, 2007

Explore the space fantasy technologies depicted in the Star Wars films, the real science behind them, and the current research that may someday lead to remarkable real-life versions of these technologies at the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibit, now at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry from Oct. 5, 2007 – January 6, 2008!

Some of the cool things you can do at the exhibit include:

  • Jump to lightspeed and tour the galaxy in a full-size replica of the Millennium Falcon cockpit.
  • Experience the feeling of riding in a personal hovercraft, while learning about what transit of the future might be like.
  • Help build a spaceport and discover how to create a successful collaborative environment.
  • Experiment with magnetic levitation and robotics.
  • Test your own speeder and droid.

See more than 80 props, models and costumes from the Star Wars movies and extensive video interviews with filmmakers, scientists and engineers.

Get more information about the exhibit here.

Send R2-D2 to the Moon?

Bonnie Burton | September 13, 2007

According to a recent post on Wired News:

Google will award $20 million to the first private team to put a robot on the moon, the company and the X Prize Foundation announced at Wired NextFest in Los Angeles Thursday. Members of the public will also get the chance to send digital mementos to the moon. In this advance from the October issue of Wired magazine, contributing editor Spencer Reiss explains what’s behind the Google Lunar X Prize, and what it will take to win it.

Read all about it here:
Google Sponsors Lunar X PRIZE to Create a Space Race for a New Generation

I’m looking at you R2 Builders! HINT HINT

Wired News,,

C-3PO and R2-D2 = Wimpy Robots? Team | September 12, 2007

Pop culture mag Giant Robot took a look at Asian vs. Western robots and came up with an interesting list of who they deem to be the 10 wimpiest robots.

Sadly, our very own C-3PO (duh) and R2-D2 (hey, no way!) make the list, along with Twiki (“Buck Rogers”), Roboz (“Riptide”), H.E.R.B.I.E. (not the car, but a robot from the Marvel Universe), Muffit the Daggit (old school “Battlestar Galactica”), Johnny 5 (Short Circuit), Vicki (“Small Wonder”), David (A.I.), and V.I.N.CENT (The Black Hole).

Here’s what they had to say:

R2-D2: The Kurosawa-inspired droid is an important character in both Star Wars trilogies, but is still a virtual trashcan, drink cooler and mailbox.

C-3PO: R2-D2′s pal can beat a Wookiee at chess and speak many languages, but is in essencean English butler who walks funny.

Personally, I would have replaced R2-D2 with a mouse droid, or Marvin (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) or Huey and Dewey (Silent Running). Even Data from “Star Trek: Next Gen” was kinda wimpy (though his brother Lore was all kinds of strong). What about singing Tin Man from Wizard of Oz? Lucifer from old school “Battlestar Galactica” was such a wimp too — he even wore a red glittery cape!

Who would you have put on the list?

Build Your Own Gonk Droid

Bonnie Burton | September 10, 2007

Some fans say Gonk the Power Droid is an out-dated, useless hunk of metal, I say he’s the unsung hero of the saga. Either way, now you have a chance to make your own Gonk to sit around the house or keep you company as you work at your desk.

Total construction time was about 8 hours. My Gonk has working lights in the faceplate. I used Radio Shack switches and lights. I worked on the wiring while the paint was drying. I will include what I did to get the lights to work but you don’t need to do that for yours. This was a very easy and fun project.

Check out the DIY Gonk instructions here.

Star Wars Robots Make the Movie List Team | July 31, 2007

To coincide with the release of Transformers, the London Times rate the most celebrated “artificial people” in cinema. They selected the 50 most-memorable robots in film and rated them in four different categories:

  • Plausibility (meaning how likely it would be that, with advances on currently existing technology, such a device could be built)
  • Coolness (just how well designed, shiny or generally well-appointed the robot appeared to be)
  • Dangerousness (scoring not only on built-in weaponry, but the robot’s eagerness to use it)
  • Comedy Value (how effective the robot is at providing light relief in the film in which it appears)

Along with robots from such films as Batteries Not Included, Metropolis, Aliens, Terminator and Austin Powers, it should come as no surprise that the metal movie stars from the Star Wars saga and THX 1138 made the cut.

Here are the results:

11: R2-D2 (Star Wars)
“Your droids! We don’t serve their kind here!”
Plausibility:5 Coolness:10 Dangerousness:2 Comedy Value:10

12: Droideka Droids (Star Wars)
The Droideka can fire up to 240 dual blasts a minute (unless their blaster arms get too hot)
Plausibility:8 Coolness:8 Dangerousness:10 Comedy Value:0

31: Battle Droids (Star Wars)
“Roger, roger”
Plausibility:0 Coolness:8 Dangerousness:4 Comedy Value:8

36: Robot police force (THX 1138)
“Everything will be all right. You are in my hands. I am here to protect you. You have nowhere to go. You have nowhere to go”
Plausibility:7 Coolness:6 Dangerousness:7 Comedy Value:0

45: C-3PO (Star Wars)
C-3PO gets his name from the map grid reference of George Lucas’ local Post Office
Plausibility:3 Coolness:3 Dangerousness:0 Comedy Value:9

Read the entire list here:
The 50 best movie robots
Times Online

More Scenes from Comic-Con Team | July 26, 2007

While many fans can’t make it to San Diego Comic-Con International, the Official Blog is there to put you right where the action is. Whether it’s seeing the behind-the-scenes images of set-up, or sneak peeks at Indiana Jones displays, we’re there.

Today as even more fans filter into the convention center, it’s obvious which droid is getting the most love — R2-KT (named “KT” after Katie Johnson, a very special Star Wars fan who tragically passed away from brain cancer in 2005 at the age of seven).

Other popular displays getting plenty of traffic today include Hasbro’s Star Wars Transformers mashup toys, The Vader Project, the impressive LEGO Death Star display, Wii fun at the LucasArts booth and so much more.

So stay tuned for daily coverage on this blog, as well as exciting Comic-Con snapshots here.

Creating R2-S2 (Steampunk R2-D2)

Bonnie Burton | July 5, 2007

When artist and animator I-Wei Huang builds robots he likes to mix his curiosity for electronics with his appreciation for the burgeoning genre of Steampunk. So when he recently unveiled his Steampunk R2-D2 known as R2-S2 (R2 Steam Too), fans and droid builders wanted to know more.’s own Bonnie Burton tracked him down and picked his brain on how to turn everyone’s favorite astromech into a Victorian-inspired machine.

How do your skills as an animator help when you make these cool creations?

Being an animator, you tend to see things in a different way, and can’t help but notice subtle details of how things move and work, especially in motion of humans and animals. To be an animator these days, you sort of have to have a balance between being artsy-fartsy and techy-geeky. I like seeing mechanical things work, because it’s visual. You can watch and study the transfer of power, and figure out how one thing drives another. When it comes to non-visual things, like electronics, I have a hard time grasping concepts of how everything work together.

Being an artist also makes you want to do something different and unusual. I just enjoy coming up with silly ideas that no one is dumb enough to try. I try to make steam contraptions that perform well mechanically, but are also aesthetic pleasing to the eye. Part of the draw of the Victorian steam technology for me is the attention given to making machines beautiful. Just because it has to serve a function, doesn’t mean that it has to be ugly. I also gravitate towards making steam machines that resemble things in nature, in particular arthropods, or things with carapaces, shells or armor.


Artoo & Threepio Top EW’s ‘Hot ‘Bots’ List

| June 28, 2007


Entertainment Weekly’s online site,, posts their top ten favorite robots of all time as the world braces for the release of Transformers on July 3. Threepio’s design inspiration, Metropolis’ Maria, counts in at #8.

Read the full story here (that’s a rare image of the droid duo from the set of The Making of Star Wars special in 1977).

Thanks to for the link.

R2-D2 Wireless Webcam

Bonnie Burton | June 26, 2007

We all know about the cool R2-D2 trashcans and media players, but now fans will have the chance to get R2-D2 in a form of a 628 x 528 pixel Wireless Web Camera.

This camera has worldwide remote access capabilities which will allow you to control R2-D2’s movements and access the web camera from a laptop or a PC anywhere in the world. By using a lightsaber-shaped remote control you can prompt the droid to move forward, backward, left, and right. This web camera can take digital photos and snapshots and it also has a voice recording function, zoom, and tilt functions. The R2-D2 can say 11 different phrases and sounds from the original Star Wars soundtrack.

The possibilities for roommate pranks are endless considering you don’t have to be around to operate R2-D2. Or perhaps you’ll just use the trusty astromech to follow around your dog at home so you can check up on his activities throughout your work day. Either way, R2-D2 is here to assist.

SOURCE: Product Reviews Net

DIY Teeny Tiny Solar Insect Robots Team | June 20, 2007

You don’t have to have droid making skills like Anakin Skywalker to create your own tiny droid. It’s easy with tips and tricks from Make magazine’s Bre Pettis, host of the “Weekend Projects” series. In his regular DIY video podcast, he explains the science behind all kinds of cool projects, making it fun for you to learn while crafting! Recently, Pettis gave viewers the lowdown on how to construct solar-powered insect robots.

“One of the great things about these little bots is that you can make them from scavenged materials,” Pettis says. “Use parts from broken electronics and bring them back to life as little robots!”

These tiny robots fall under the category of BEAM (Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, Mechanics) robots and are powered by the sun. Using his own robot-building expertise and pointers from the book JunkBots, Bugbots, and Bots on Wheels: Building Simple Robots With BEAM Technology by David Hrynkiw and Mark Tilden, Pettis offers a step-by-step guide on making your own little mechanical friend.

Watch his video podcast here.

SIDE NOTE: There’s a cool remix to music of his BEAMbots podcast here.