Archive by category | Robotics

Blade Runner 2049: a dystopian masterwork

Blade Runner 2049: a dystopian masterwork

If director Denis Villeneuve was daunted by creating a sequel to the 1982 cult noir Blade Runner, it doesn’t show. The themes running through his Blade Runner 2049 feel more poignant than ever, the Los Angeles rain falls even harder, and it packs as much of a cinematic punch.  Read more

Artist of the animatronic

The Last Supper, Giles Walker's art installation at the London Science Museum's Robots show (multimedia).

Not all roboticists are scientists or engineers. Giles Walker, an artist in Brixton, south London, specialises in turning scrap metal into animatronic sculptures — ‘art robots’ that do not involve AI. Walker uses low-tech, unashamedly cheap technologies to animate artbots: car windscreen wiper motors for big clumsy movements, radio-control servos for delicate ones, coordinated via a communications protocol used in theatre lighting. His replica of the 1928 talking tin man Eric is a star of the London Science Museum’s Robots exhibition (reviewed here). Another of Walker’s works on display there, The Last Supper, enters darker territory. This animatronic ‘ensemble piece’ involves 12 mechanical figures sitting around a table.  Read more

Robots I have known

Trading places with Abbie the robot arm at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

You remember your first robot – at least, if you are as fixated on them as I am. A recent review of three books that explore the implications of artificial intelligence took me back to 2006 — and the machine that lit my obsession. It wasn’t pretty or even cute, though many automatons are. It was creepy: a four-legged metal crawler that could figure out how to limp if one of its legs was shortened.  Read more