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Toyota's Trumpet Playing Robot Showcased 356

Posted by simoniker
from the dedication's-what-you-need dept.
fsharp writes "The New York Times has an article discussing the first public showing of Toyota's new humanoid robot. During a demonstration, the biped robot played trumpet together with a rolling robot. Most telling about the article was the whole philosophy towards R&D: 'Toyota acknowledges that it is unlikely to turn a profit building robots anytime soon, but the program highlights its engineering-oriented culture and willingness to invest in projects that may not pay off for decades.' How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?"
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Toyota's Trumpet Playing Robot Showcased

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  • Very cool, but.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mr.henry (618818) * on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:22PM (#8570181) Journal
    It pisses me off that no American company today would ever do something like this. Our leaders have sold our technological infrastructure out for quick $$$. The boobs may have T-shirts -- made in China, no doubt -- that say "America is #1", but it hasn't been for a long time. Japan and the other Asian countries do all the cool stuff now. Come on, could you see Ford or GM doing this?
    • by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:26PM (#8570235)
      Well in all fairness, the US does have 2 autonomous robots exploring the surface of another planet. Though I agree a Trumpet playing robot would make a cooler party gimmick
    • Re:Very cool, but.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Brento (26177) * <brento @ b r e n t o z a r .com> on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:27PM (#8570250) Homepage
      That kind of culture explains why Toyota was first to market with a profitable hybrid car, and why they're so far ahead that Ford's licensing hybrid technology from them.

      Here's the missing link that doesn't get publicized: automakers are ahead of the curve on robots because they use robotics extensively in assembly. The more accurately their robots move, the more accurately they assemble cars. Next time you wonder why Japanese cars have a reputation for being so well-built, think of projects like these.
    • by Kenja (541830) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:27PM (#8570251)
      "Come on, could you see Ford or GM doing this?"

      I can see GM doing a robotic nose flute or kazoo.

      • While Toyota's creations are coordinating on a brassy number, GM's robots are sitting in a circle like a group of Ralph Wiggums, playing rubber-band shoebox, wax-paper kazoo, and triangle.
        • While Toyota's creations are coordinating on a brassy number, GM's robots are sitting in a circle like a group of Ralph Wiggums, playing rubber-band shoebox, wax-paper kazoo, and triangle.

          Needs more cowbell.
    • by lionchild (581331) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:28PM (#8570265) Journal
      Something to consider about Japan and their rise in technology, is that since the end of WWII, they haven't had a military to take up financing, (or resources, or R&D, etc..) thus leaving the government, and the culture as a whole, to focus on something else...like business and technology.
      • by Mateito (746185) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:43PM (#8570446) Homepage
        | Japan and their rise in technology, is that
        | since the end of WWII, they haven't had a
        | military to take up financing, (or resources, or
        | R&D, etc..)

        True, but the huge amount that the US spends on Military is largely by choice.

        Is it really necessary to have sufficient armaments to destroy the planet seven times over? Is it really necessary to have sufficient firepower to independantly forcibly take over any other country/contitent on the planet?

        And are these things more important than education, health care etc etc.

        Every country sets its own agenda. The US wants to be the untouchable goliath of military power. If the US wanted to be the world leader in non-military research and development, they could be.

        • by lionchild (581331) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:49PM (#8570518) Journal
          Every country sets its own agenda. The US wants to be the untouchable goliath of military power. If the US wanted to be the world leader in non-military research and development, they could be.

          Very, very true. But, it just wouldn't be The American Way if we didn't have the ability to police the world. However, if you pay close attention to the history of how the US became involved in various wars,[read: WWI, WWII] you'll see we re-acted to outside influences. Had those not come along, the US may never have invested so heavily in a war machine. (Just my $0.02.)
      • Re:Very cool, but.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Have Blue (616) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:53PM (#8570567) Homepage
        And they had an advantage that Europe also got after WW2: Their manufacturing infrastructure was completely destroyed, so they had a chance to start from scratch with cutting-edge (at the time_) technology throughout the entire process. The US was (and is) still trying to maintain their much older and less capable facilities, since that was still less expensive than starting over and there was no carpet-bombing to force them into it.
      • Re:Very cool, but.. (Score:5, Informative)

        by BZ (40346) on Monday March 15, 2004 @04:06PM (#8571292)
        1998 figures on military budgets (from http://www.cdi.org/issues/wme/spend.html):

        US $265 billion
        Russia $48 billion
        Japan $45 billion
        France $38 billion
        UK $33 billion
        Germany $32 billion
        China $32 billion

        Yeah. No military to take up financing. Just 1.5 times the military budget of the UK.

        Japan has one of the largest and best-equipped armies in the world, in fact . It's just called a defence force and theoretically prohibited from taking offensive action by the Japanese constitution.
        • Japan's military budget is huge, but it's so oriented toward providing jobs for key voters and corporate welfare that it makes the US look like a lean mean efficiency machine by comparison. Of that huge defence budget, less than half goes on things with any direct connection to actual fighting -- and even what is spent on maintaining combat units is mainly a matter of keeping Japanese people out of the unemployment office at high (ie Japanese) wages.

          Really, military spending is not the same as budget figu
    • by swordboy (472941) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:31PM (#8570305) Journal
      It pisses me off that no American company today would ever do something like this.

      That is because Wall Street is so concerned with short-term profits. Gasoline is at an all-time high while Toyota/Honda are the only companies that had the patience to develop a profitable solution [ljworld.com] to the problem. In 1997 when Toyota introduced the hybrid, they were losing lots of money on every unit sold. Now, they are selling that same technology to US-based companies [iht.com].

      Now, Ford isn't buying Toyota technology because it makes environmental sense. Rather, they are doing it because it makes sense for short-term profits - the same mindset that got them into this situation in the first place. This mentality will catch up to the US sooner or later. And where is solar energy?
      • Re:Very cool, but.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by drinkypoo (153816)
        The scary part is that it's really not that hard. Even radio-controlled cars do regenerative braking. And, it's easy (relatively speaking of course) to build a small displacement, high compression engine which runs very efficiently in a short powerband, and combine it with a motor/generator system with a regenerating anti-lock electric braking system (plus electrically-pumped ABS friction brakes, since at low RPMs the motors will not work as brakes and will require an unacceptable expenditure of energy to s
      • That is because Wall Street is so concerned with short-term profits.

        The entirety of American business ideology is skewed toward haste at the expense of good judgement. Just watch the Apprentice. Last week, George (one of The Donald's henchman) got sore because a cast member would not hurry up and blurt out quickly enough who should get "fired." The cast member wanted to reason out loud, but George shot him down saying that an executive has to make tough decisions quickly, on the spot, go with his "gut
    • by bwy (726112) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:39PM (#8570394)
      Ford and GM don't have to innovate because the prices of Japanese cars are artifically high in the U.S. due to taxes on imports designed to "level the playing field."

      We don't need to have all these tariffs on products imported from countries that have the same standard of living that we do. The Japanese work hard, yes, but they are paid first world salaries so if the prices of their automobiles is low, it is because they are damn good at building cars and if they want to work a little harder than us to do it, more power to them.

      On the other hand cars imported from Mexico (like the VW I drive) are produced at the expense of some Mexican making 70 cents an hour. We can't have free trade in this scenerio or we'll all be living in cardboard lean-tos just like our counterparts south of the border.
      • Re:Very cool, but.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Tiro (19535)
        Has more to do with devaluation of the dollar than import tariffs.

        As far as your second point, the part about us not being able to sustain free trade with the Third World/Global South, it remains to be seen whether the West will be able to sustain extracting the surplus wealth produced in the Third World/Global South as it has for the past several hundred years. Those who take Marx's position believe such surplus wealth extraction is possible in the long term (although resistance and collapse would eventual

      • Free Trade... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ian_Bailey (469273)
        On the subject of so-called foreign cars:

        Firstly, import taxes in general have been greatly reduced since the 80's when foreign cars were first becoming popular in the US. Secondly, an increasing proportion of so-called "foreign cars" are being manufactured within in US (or at least North America). Thirdly, an increasing number of "domestic" cars and parts are being manufactured outside of North America. All of this is due to the increasing globalization and reduction of tariffs in all directions.

        On the s
    • by Belsical (238668) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:41PM (#8570420) Homepage
      Come on, could you see Ford or GM doing this?

      Sure, if you wanted the robot to play a half-tone flat for half an hour and then fall on its face...

      Ben
    • Re:Look at IBM (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kryocore (629960) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:41PM (#8570423) Homepage
      IBM is a US company, who has invested billions into technology that is not in use. They were the 1rst company to arrange individual atoms (spelling IBM). They made a processor that uses atoms as transistors. They don't use any of it in production, but probably will some day. I think that you underestimate many US companies with your statement.
    • Re:Very cool, but.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zulux (112259)
      WTF???

      Japan has a *lot* of cool consuer gadgets that we don't, but as far as technological superiortiy - we have some kick ass things ourselves:

      Pills that can give you a four-hour bonner.
      A day's worth of calories for $1 at McDonalds.
      Internet-enabled vote rigging with new touch-pad voting machines.

      all kidding aside, to this day nobody can touch the SR-71 Blackbird - and that fucker is OLD.

      When the Japanese put one of their "trumpeting joy-bots" on the moon, I might be impreseed.
    • Re:Very cool, but.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nakito (702386) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:43PM (#8570438)
      It sounds as if it may be cool, but I wonder if these robotic lips are really as advanced as the article suggests, or if instead some kind of shortcut was taken. I was a music major and I played a brass instrument (french horn). Brass instruments do not have a reed or any other artificial source of vibrations. Instead, the performer's own lips are the source of the vibrations. The performer essentially generates a highly-controlled "raspberry" by constricting the muscles that surround the mouth and buzzing the lips while pressed against the mouthpiece (so the sound of a brass instrument is really just an amplified raspberry, artfully done). This is hard enough to do by itself, but it's made even harder by the fact that brass instruments embody the open harmonic series, which means that the peformer can play many notes without changing the valve settings just by adjusting the tension in the mouth (think of a bugle). One of the things that makes a brass player competent is the ability to hit the correct harmonic without cracking the note (also known as a "clam"). It's very hard to get it right consistently. If this robot is really doing all of this, plus pressing the valves, plus articulating the correct attacks and rhythm, and doing all of it well enough to play "Trumpeter's Holiday," I'm impressed!
    • by palutke (58340)
      It pisses me off that no American company today would ever do something like this.

      Here's your solution:

      1. Start a company.
      2. Be successful enough that you have enough cash to fund this type of effort.
      3. Fund this type of effort.

      If you don't like how existing companies are run, too bad. Unless you're a big shareholder (or a big customer, I suppose), they don't have any incentive to do things because they're 'very cool'.

      Is that management philosophy shirt-sighted? Yes, of course it is. But that's
    • Re:Very cool, but.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by arivanov (12034)
      Well, you are right to be pissed off but for the wrong reason:

      This marketoid shit has nothing to do with Toyota R&D because in fact Toyota R&D is done by companies in Toyota group which operate under a different brand name.

      Example: Toyota engine research is done largely by Daihatsu. As a result for the 1.3 VVTi engine. Toyota: 170+g CO2/mile, Diahatsu (60% owned by Toyota and in fact manufacturing all the engines): 135-g CO2/mile, Toyota: 87 bhp, Diahatsu: 106 bhp.

      Another example - hybrid vehicle
  • by bc90021 (43730) * <bc90021@bc9002 1 . net> on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:22PM (#8570187) Homepage
    ...it's called R&D. What won't make money today, will be "necessity" tomorrow, and then that's when you get people to pay.

    Furthermore, even if the technology itself doesn't automatically pan out (ie, humanoid robots), it may still have profitable applications in other areas (ie, prosthetics).
  • Alternative Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by luxis (240935) * on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:22PM (#8570191)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:23PM (#8570195)
    When are the goddamn SexBots going to be released?! My lifeless real doll ain't cutting it!
  • One answer. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bad enema (745446) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:23PM (#8570203)
    "How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?"

    The kind that is already doing very well financially and wants to solidify a reputation of innovation. Similar to Microsoft's $1 billion donation to Africa.
  • by The I Shing (700142) * on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:23PM (#8570208) Journal
    Presenters of the music-playing machine found themselves being unmercifully heckled by a man calling himself Mssr. Jacques de Vaucanson, who proclaimed loudly that he had accomplished robotic music more than two hundred years prior to this demonstration.

    When the presenters pointed out that Mssr. Vaucanson would have to be long dead as of this late date, the suddenly horrified heckler collapsed into a pile of dust, and the remainder of the presentation was conducted without further interruption.
    • by curtisk (191737) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:29PM (#8570276) Homepage Journal
      seriously MOD PARENT UP!, that guy made a flute playing "automaton" [wikipedia.org]that had about 12 songs back in 1737
      • by Cecil (37810) on Monday March 15, 2004 @03:59PM (#8571207) Homepage
        No offense intended to flute players out there, but speaking as someone who has played both instruments, it would be several orders of magnitude harder for a robot to play a trumpet than a flute.

        Woodwind instruments in general tend to prize consistent, solid airflow to make their music. This is ridiculously easy for a machine to do and do exceptionally well. The design or the reed is what does the conversion from airflow into sound.

        Brass instruments are an entirely different animal. 90% of playing a brass instrument is in the lips. If you blow straight through a trumpet, nothing happens. You get a whooshy air sound coming out the other end. If you don't buzz your lips together to get a note, you get basically no sound at all. You tighten the lips to go up to a higher note.

        It is significantly more impressive that a set of robotic lips have the articulation and control to be able to play the trumpet.
        • by curtisk (191737) on Monday March 15, 2004 @04:17PM (#8571453) Homepage Journal
          It is significantly more impressive that a set of robotic lips have the articulation and control to be able to play the trumpet.

          I hear you on the technical aspects, but I think its just as impressive that a robot was built nearly 270 years ago that could play a flute. And hell, the guy made a robotic duck that could eat,drink,quack and deficate as well! Where's your shitting robot Toyota?!?! :D

  • Reg-Free Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by _bug_ (112702) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:24PM (#8570210) Journal
    Registration free link [nytimes.com]

    I wish article authors would at least put up some effort to find and use reg-free links when possible.
  • Smart Move (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LordDax (703437)
    Why not invest in the technology now? In a few years someone will say, "Hey do you remember that thing we did a few years ago? Well i got a new idea for it" Its far easier to create something out of something than trying to create it out of nothing. Look at Big Billy. He created an empire out of a program Xerox was about to discard. A robot that can play music is one step closer to creating a robot that can do abstraction. Imagine the possiblities...not to mention the future military application....::stroke
  • by BillFarber (641417) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:24PM (#8570214)
    How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?"

    How about most drug companies.

    • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:35PM (#8570342) Journal
      But of course if a drug company spends 7 years developing a drug and starts trying to recoup some of that cost over the next few years everyone will forget the R&D and point out how the drug costs nothing to make and so the company is ripping everyone off. When I worked at a pharmaceutical company there were cases when it took so long to develop a drug that it wasn't worth bringing it to market because the patent would almost have expired by time it was ready for release. (The patent needs to be filed right at the beginning of the testing process.)
    • drug companies turn a profit almost instantly thanks to insanely inflated retail pricing, combined with the fact they they control health care policy in the US Gov'ment
  • by Gunsmithy (554829) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:24PM (#8570215) Homepage
    ...dear god, think of the possibilities. A robot with the ability to play a trumpet constantly...endlessly. The annoyance will be legendary.
  • by jakedata (585566) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:26PM (#8570242)
    I for one can see several applications that might directly appeal to this crowd.

  • by Tenfish (748408) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:27PM (#8570249)
    Good News! Toyota announces a robot that can play the trumpet!

    Still working on the cure for the common cold, world peace, and an end to poverty.

  • How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?

    I don't know... quakka.com sure comes to mind though. ;)
  • BBC article (Score:3, Informative)

    by g-to-the-o-to-the-g (705721) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:28PM (#8570268) Homepage Journal
    Heres a link [bbc.co.uk] to the BBC article.
  • In addition to Toyota's trumpet player, both Sony and Honda have developed robots that run/dance/etc., that they have no hope of immediately recooping the expenses on. And look at the DARPA Grand Challenge that happened this weekend, several of the teams were run directly or indirectly through tech companies (and you can be sure they weren't in it for the $1M). Even the non-corporate teams received tons of donations of equipment, sensors, vehicles, etc to support the crazy dream of driverless car in the de
  • by glenrm (640773)
    How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?
    Went out of style in the 90's.
  • sound clips? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chocolatetrumpet (73058) <slashdotNO@SPAMjonathanfilbert.com> on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:30PM (#8570290) Homepage Journal
    I am a trumpet player and I really want to hear this thing!

    Imagine if typing was so challenging that you spent 90% of your computer time refining and keeping your typing skills adequate, so you could spend 10% of the time programming...

    Anyone have any sound clips?
  • see it walk (Score:2, Informative)

    by omar.sahal (687649) *
    See it walk here [toyota.co.jp]
  • by ClockChaos (758432) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:30PM (#8570296)
    "How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?" Check out the MIT Media Lab's list of sponsors: http://www.media.mit.edu/sponsors/sponsors.html Many of these companies have been giving money for years. All so crazy grad students (and profs) can go out and try the "what-ifs" without the companies worrying about reputations being on the line. ;)
  • by Akai (11434) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:31PM (#8570299) Homepage Journal
    Welcome our new, jazzier, robot overlords....

    (sorry someone had to)
  • Drug companies invest hundreds of millions into researching new medications that may never make it to market. The ones that do take years to research and develop, then they spend many more years testing and then they have to wait for FDA approval.

    U.S. auto makers have been testing and developing electric cars for decades. None have ever made a profit from them.

    Millions were spent by our government and by companies in researching some far out idea to network computers across the country. That took d
  • It would... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BJZQ8 (644168) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:31PM (#8570304) Homepage Journal
    It would behoove many companies to invest more in R&D and less in padding executives pocketbooks with $100's. HP, for example, has gutted their engineering ranks while simultaneously buying jets for the higher-ups. Closer to my region of the country, Caterpillar has outsourced waves of R&D people...and their executives are getting ever-higher bonuses.
  • But is it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sulli (195030) * on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:32PM (#8570309) Journal
    3 Laws Safe? [irobotnow.com]

    If not, no deal.

  • The thing is as a car manufacturer you can't really afford NOT to invest in it, can't afford not to have any of the related patents. Automobility is strongly related to robotics and for those that will have the knowhow and the patents this is going to pay off huge. Japan is ahead of the rest of the pack in showing off cute models but a good bet is that the rest of them are not sitting on their hands either.
  • How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?"

    Apparently Toyota. Also, Microsoft's Home and Entertainment division lost, what, $34 billion in the past few years?...
  • I, for one, (Score:2, Funny)

    by nineoneone (748675)
    welcome our new musical android overlords.

  • which companies? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slide-rule (153968) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:34PM (#8570329)
    > How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?"

    Aerospace, for one. Working at one of the companies that makes commercial (and military) aircraft engines, it is jokingly quoted that: "A decision to launch a new engine program is a calculated risk to go into the hole for about 20 years" (Meaning it takes about that long to "turn profit" off all the years of design, development, testing, and certication processes.) Imagine how many times the market flops around responding to other market pressures in that length of time.

    As an interesting aside for many of you, aircraft engines have historically been sold on the razor/blades business model, so its an interesting business balance between a quality engine that airline customers will buy and the need to sell spares to eventually make money on FAR down the road.
  • by MalaclypseTheYounger (726934) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:34PM (#8570334) Journal
    "This one time, at band camp... I got a BJ from a trumpet playing robot!"

    sorry...

  • How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?

    GE [boston.com] for one.
  • by rtphokie (518490) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:36PM (#8570362)
    Seriously. Why are these things coming out of automotive companies? First Honda and now Toyota. What do they plan to do with these technologies? Spin off a company to manufacture and market them? License the intellecual property? They certainly aren't dumping money into these projects for the fun of it. Technology for technology's sake exists only on university campuses and hobbiest garages.
    • Publicity. Prestige. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by JMZero (449047) on Monday March 15, 2004 @03:28PM (#8570918) Homepage
      The prestige that comes from this sort of accomplishment is important for marketing - especially in Japan. As a bonus, they get advances that may make their way into production vehicles. They also attract better caliber engineers by maintaining a reputation as an industry leader.
    • Why do they build trumpet-playing humanoid robots? For publicity. Why do they invest R&D money in robotics? Because that's how you build a car these days.
    • by pavon (30274) on Monday March 15, 2004 @03:34PM (#8570976)
      Don't you know? In Japan all cars transform into fighting robots! Being able to pilot a fighting robot is required of everyone who gets a drivers licence. My friend Mark once saw this giant moth just think about attacking his town and Fighting Robots chopped it head off just like that! I mean, with the restrictions on their official military, it's either that or have you country taken over giant monsters. It's an easy choice in my opinion.
  • by Matey-O (518004) *
    The meta-information on the word document they sent out had a slightly different flavor:

    At Toyota, we're R&Ding a robot to walk and play trumpet because Honda has been R&Ding asimo for YEARS and we don't wanna look like we're not paying attention. (We also don't want to be too far behind when Honda releases a car with legs instead of wheels)
  • by MouseR (3264) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:37PM (#8570376) Homepage
    How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?

    Judging from the Windows market share, I'd say a lot.
  • Many companies... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kryocore (629960)
    How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?

    IBM for example, holds the record for the last few years in patents. They made a processor where atoms funtion as transistors, the smallest form ever. Will they use this in the next 10 years? maybe, but probably not. But when it is used, they will make a lot of money on it and be consulted 1rst most likely.
  • by nicephore (762440)
    There's one problem with this story: the author doesn't give any evidence that this is a real robot. A robot, by definition, can perform tasks autonomously. This machine was probably programmed to go out on stage and start blowing into the trumpet. Likewise, it doesn't "play" the trumpet. It merely pushes air into the trumpet according to what the code tells it to do. The day that Toyota designs a machine that hits a wrong note is the day that it built a real robot.
  • by glassware (195317) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:42PM (#8570436) Homepage Journal
    As I recall, the US Army was suffering from a shortage of bugle players to play taps for the passing generation of soldiers. They developed a digital bugle [geek.com] that can play taps even if the bugler is incompetent, drunk, or both.

    Since Toyota has now developed a vastly more complicated technology that can be used to solve the same problem as the slightly complicated one above, I look forward to future Pentagon procurement hearings.

    Note to self: Sarcasm in this post often results in massive retribution.
  • Asimo... (Score:2, Funny)

    by wicka_wicka (679279)
    I still think Asimo serv3s (hehe) that thing. Both are completely useless, but at least Asimo can wave when you throw him a newspaper.
  • How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?

    Well, I know of at least one other: Honda. There was a story on NPR last week about how they were testing the waters for lightweight jet engines. The story indicated that any profits would be decades away. I found an online story [nwsource.com] about it that also addresses Toyota's (!) advances into the market. While I could not find the exact quote I heard on the radio, this one is equally telling:

  • I, Robot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DigitalDragon (194314) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:47PM (#8570500)
    On other news.. I, Robot trailer [apple.com] is now finally available.. Coincidence? I think not.
  • Why music/dancing? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by morzel (62033) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:51PM (#8570543)
    Is there a special reason why robots marketed in Japan (or Asia?) feature either musical skills, or ar able to [slashdot.org] dance [slashdot.org]?

    It seems that almost everytime there is a message here about a new robot coming from Japan, the feature list includes some kind of dancing/singing. Anybody knows why?

    Boggles my mind :-)

  • by donniejones18 (749882) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:58PM (#8570624) Homepage
    EETimes article [eetimes.com]

    Each robot uses a Pentium III processor as the main CPU along with a Real Time Linux OS. NEC supplied a customized lithium ion battery, which powers the biped robot for about 30 minutes.

  • by Embedded Geek (532893) on Monday March 15, 2004 @02:59PM (#8570630) Homepage
    How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?

    I read this and couldn't help thinking about something from Harry Turtledove's Worldwar [amazon.com] series. In it, the Earth is invaded by a race of aliens who are accustomed to thinking in terms of millenia, with every undertaking planned generations in advance. The stories mention a formal, court-martial offense whose title translates into English as "Lack of Foresight."

    While I do not advocate the stratified, stagnant mentality that Turtledove's invaders, I have to wonder if dragging a few U.S. CEOs in front of a tribunal on charges of "Lack of Foresight" might not be a good idea for American business.

    (And, no, passive, placid boards to not count as a "tirbunal" here)

  • by Damek (515688) <adamNO@SPAMdamek.org> on Monday March 15, 2004 @03:14PM (#8570775) Homepage
    From this article [iafrica.com]:


    In 2000, its rival Honda Motor Co. Ltd. unveiled ASIMO, the world's first two-legged walking robot, and Sony Corp. revealed its QRIO, the world's first jogging robot, in December.

    Earlier this week QRIO appeared for a photo opportunity conducting the Tokyo Phiharmonic Orchestra as it performed part of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.



    And now we have a trumpet playing robot...

    Oh, I see, I get it - here's the secret evil Japanese plan to take over the world - they're going to create a robotic marching band!
  • by antdude (79039) on Monday March 15, 2004 @03:14PM (#8570779) Homepage Journal
    Honda's AISMO robots can conduct music. See these two articles: #1 [honda.ca], #2 [andante.com] , and #3 [latimes.com] (registration required). It played Beethoven's Fifth Symphony to the public). I would like to see Toyota's trumpet players in the next concert!

    BTW, does anyone have video clips of AISMO conducting? I cannot find any. :(
  • by guacamolefoo (577448) on Monday March 15, 2004 @03:21PM (#8570844) Homepage Journal
    Toyota's robot site is here [toyota.co.jp]. It has movies of the robot. Evidently, they won't put out one with the sound because of copyright issues. I was really interested to hear it play, since I play the trumpet myself.

    GF.
  • An Answer To: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mikkeles (698461) on Monday March 15, 2004 @03:25PM (#8570889)
    'How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?'

    Those that want to still be in existence in many years.

    They'll be ready to deploy when the time is right; the others will have to play catchup and most likely decline (or whine about how unfair it is).

  • waiting (Score:3, Funny)

    by mabu (178417) on Monday March 15, 2004 @03:28PM (#8570919)
    I'm waiting for the robot that will expose its breast plate during the Supahbowl.
  • by rdmiller3 (29465) on Monday March 15, 2004 @04:26PM (#8571559) Journal
    "How many companies these days are willing to drop money into some technology that may not turn a profit for many years?"

    "Willing" isn't enough. Too many companies don't make adequate plans for preserving the technologies which they develop for the urgent needs of today's market. Four years from now, half the team is gone and nobody knows what happened to the source code archive much less any design documents.

    A company has to first have a strategy for conserving the technologies they develop, as they are developed, before developing anything which may not be marketable for five or ten years. They'd also have to slow down their employee turn-over rate.

  • by superyooser (100462) on Monday March 15, 2004 @04:56PM (#8571933) Homepage Journal
    Remember this story [slashdot.org]?
    Computers Replace Musicians In West End Musical
    Posted by timothy on 10:03 AM -- Saturday February 14 2004

    Albanach writes "The Scotsman newspaper is reporting [scotsman.com] that despite opposition [musiciansunion.org.uk] from the Musician's Union, Sir Cameron Mackintosh will proceed with his plan to replace one half of the musicians in his musical Les Miserables [lesmis.com] with a computer synthesiser. The Times claims [timesonline.co.uk] that using Sinfonia [rms.biz] will allow the show, the third longest running musical in history, to replace 11 musicians saving 5,000 GBP ($9,450 US) per week. Sinfonia consisits of 2 PCs, one master and one backup, controlled by an trained operator using a musical keyboard."

    Could this be touted as a compromise? Live instruments, but non-live players. The audience might be placated somewhat, but the musicians would still be out of jobs.

"The medium is the message." -- Marshall McLuhan

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