Tag Archives: home robot

Life-sized Planet Robots made in the UK

Shawcraft_LogoAndy Shaw makes fantastic ‘life-sized’ robot replicas which are inspired by 1950s Japanese toy robots. His company, Shawcraft, also makes replica petrol pumps for your classic garage, games room or living room which can be used as storage cabinets, or even a cocktail bar!

Shawcraft_SAM_1408His robots are produced from purpose-built moulds and are designed for strength and simplicity. Where possible pigmented gelcoat is used, making the robots durable and resistant to scrapes and knocks.

The ‘Planet Robots’ are stunning, standing five foot eight inches tall, in gleaming black and red – just like the original Japanese tin toys. The original toys were made by Yoshia KO of Japan in the late 1950′s and were an unlicensed copy of Robby the Robot, star of the 1956 MGM film Forbidden Planet.

Shawcraft_WalkTalkToyThe toys were made in several colours and versions, the most popular being black and red with clockwork walking action and sparks shooting around the interior visible through acetate ‘windows’.

The Shawcraft Planet Robots can be supplied in any colour combination although only the black/red version is pigmented gelcoat. They can be specified with either three fingered hand or replica claw.

Just like the original the chest plate and face grill are finished then added to the robot giving a crisp, clean joint. All arm and leg joints are well defined so the robot looks real.

Shawcraft_T4They can be supplied as a static prop or with flashing lights in the dome ‘ears’. They can also be ordered with a voice, activated by passers-by, and with intermittent head-turn and flashing ‘voice light’. A radio-controlled walking version is also available.

I asked Andy when his interest in robots arose. “At four years old, back in 1967 when my Gran gave me a black and red clockwork Planet Robot.”

When he was 11, he wrote to the BBC for a copy of their Dr Who Dalek plans, which had been printed in the Radio Times. He began building a Dalek immediately then realised the plans were wrong. So he used the Dalek neck section as the torso of his first large robot.

Shawcraft_build1It takes a couple of weeks to build a Planet Robot and they are in great demand. I have occasionally seen them for sale on eBay, so I asked Andy if he has many in stock, he said, “yes, I build them for stock, but they always go before I can make a second!”

If you would like to see his robots out in the real world, they can be seen at a travelling exhibition called ‘Robot’, and they are often seen at art galleries and universities. They’re also at Randy’s Toy Shop, USA*; Metropolis Toys, Burton on Trent; Celestial Toy Store; a barber shop in Essex; Uncle Sam’s diner.

AdventuresInScienceFictionLate next year they will be at Neil Coles Adventures in Science Fiction, a new science fiction museum opening in Allendale, Northumberland.

Finally, I asked Andy how long he thinks it will be before we have domestic servant robots, or robot butlers, in our homes … and would he want one?

“Domestic robots are just about seven years away I reckon. I think they’d have been here now if the global economy hadn’t been shafted by the greedy useless parasitic financiers. I embarked, at four years old, to develop and build a domestic robot for myself. Oh yes, I want one.”

You can contact Andy Shaw by email or visit his website to see more examples of his work.

See also Pikore page.

*If you have an original Japanese Planet Robot toy with missing parts, Randy’s Toy Shop specialise in making replacements. They’re not cheap, but how else are you going to repair one of those rare toys? Prices from their catalogue (click here for website) Antenna, $55; Hands $35 each; Roller wheels $25 each.

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For Sale: Boston Dynamics

bd_logoI was sad to read that Google is selling Boston Dynamics, the robotics company they purchased in 2013. It seems that progress has not been quick enough for Google who were hoping to produce a marketable robot in the next few years.

Boston Dynamic’s recent video, showing the amazing balance capability of their Atlas robot, apparently upset Google HQ because of the rather negative response it attracted. (See the video here.)

According to the Guardian, potential buyers include Amazon and Toyota. Atlas would be an obvious choice for Amazon’s massive warehouses, but could they be thinking of producing a home robot of some kind? Popular Science said “Last fall, Toyota announced it was investing $1 billion into robotics in Silicon Valley, under the tutelage of a former DARPA program manager. Toyota’s quietly been in the robotics business since the 1970s, designing robots for everything from manufacturing to personal assistance.”

Here is a video from 2012 showing Toyota’s “robot quartet”!

If Google really has lost interest in Boston Dynamics, perhaps to spend more Dollars on their self driving cars, then it will be good for a new company to give Atlas the confidence he needs to make his way in the world … and please stop hitting him with a hockey stick!

Robots: Why are humans worried?

David-Hanson-brings-robots-to-life

David Hanson

David Hanson, robotics designer at Hanson Robotics, believes that in 20 years time robots will be indistinguishable from humans, and will walk among us. Robots will help us, play with us and teach us, he predicts that they will be our friends.

But if you read comments on YouTube (which I wish I wasn’t so tempted to do), nearly everyone commenting worries about robots killing us and taking over the planet.

People are also concerned about robot’s “dead eyes”, however I have to say that Hanson’s newest robot, Sophia, shown in the following video, is not quite as creepy as many of the others I have seen. After watching the video a few times I am getting used to her look and think that after an initial freaked-out reaction, I could get used to working with this machine. Sophia must be fairly realistic because it seems strange to call “her” a machine. Watch the video and see what you think . . .