Fun Reading About Robots

While Mike and the rest of the gang in our Santa Monica headquarters were getting to have some fun with robots running around the office, the rest of us had to content ourselves and soothe our jealousy by simply reading about them.

Thankfully, in addition to Mike's words and videos, the Wall Street Journal was there to help out.

Long time readers of the Journal may have worried about the fate of the paper when Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation took over late last year; I've never been a subscriber, so it was largely off my radar screen. However, I've long been a fan of the paper's famed "A-hed," a quirky, off-beat story always featured among the mainstream news of the day on the front page of the paper. Thankfully, the A-hed survived the transition. (Side note: there was a great article about Murdoch's take-over and the fate of some of the WSJ's idiosyncrasies in a recent edition of the Atlantic Monthly.)

And it's a great thing it did! Yesterday's A-hed, "Pittsburgh Puts Robots to Work, And Some Can Even Be Eaten" was a great example of the genre, and mentioned Google Lunar X PRIZE team Astrobotic as a nice side benefit.

The key section:

The yearlong program, called Robot 250, coincides with the city's 250th birthday. Teachers fanned out to 13 neighborhoods, providing materials, instruction and troubleshooting. "We wanted to put technology into the hands of as many people as possible," says Illah Nourbakhsh, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, who came up with the idea.

Often working in teams, participants built about 75 robots, ranging from small paper flowers whose buds opened and closed, to a working wooden roller coaster. Most of the robots reacted to simple inputs, like noise, light or movement.

Now, I already had a couple of reasons to like Pittsurgh (especially this and this). But cool programs where CEOs and students design awesome robots side by side is certainly something extra to add to the appeal of a city!

Despite not featuring Red Rover, this video that accompanied the article was pretty cool:

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