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Let’s stalk some delivery robots together.

A couple weeks ago, I flew out to Hollywood to check out Serve Robotics, a company that’s using a fleet of shopping cart-sized robots to make Uber Eats deliveries. We spoke to the people who are working behind-the-scenes to make robot delivery happen, including supervisors, field agents, and even the CEO. We even interviewed the guy behind the viral TikTok account where he just yells at the robots.

The real friends were the robots we met along the way.

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Amazon/iRobot decision pushed to Valentine’s Day.

EU regulators have set a February 14th deadline to decide on the $1.7 billion deal first announced over a year ago. The previous deadline was December 13th. Amazon wants to acquire the robotic vacuum company that can map the inside of your home to help make ambient intelligence a reality. So far, the EU doesn’t seem to love the idea.

“Avoid all robots until further notice.”

At about noon local time, Oregon State University warned the campus of a bomb threat targeting Starship autonomous food delivery robots. About an hour later, officials gave the all-clear.

Starship Technologies temporarily suspended service before saying the threat came from a student who claimed it was a joke and a prank, while the Associated Press reports the person who made the threat has been arrested.

Screenshot of posts from October 24th as Oregon State University warned of a bomb threat regarding food delivery robots, that was cleared about an hour later.
Yes, this really happened.
Image: / Oregon State University
Don’t worry, this little robot’s not going to replace 1 million Amazon warehouse jobs.

Here’s how Amazon described its test of Agility Robotics’ bi-pedal Digit robot in a press release yesterday:

Digit can move, grasp, and handle items in spaces and corners of warehouses in novel ways. Its size and shape are well suited for buildings that are designed for humans, and we believe that there is a big opportunity to scale a mobile manipulator solution, such as Digit, which can work collaboratively with employees.

Scale usage, but somehow not replace any human workers at newly cost-conscious and union-hating Amazon? Sure.


These little droids could cause a lot of trouble.

Disney recently showed off bipedal droids that look exactly like something you’d see in a Star Wars movie, and now Disney’s Imagineers are testing the droids at Disneyland, as reported by Disneyland News Today. I love them!!

$3 million for a mech? Bargain!

Anybody have some money they can lend me for this? I’ll pay you back after I save the galaxy over the course of 49 episodes.

Tesla’s Bot is doing basic bot things.

A new video shows off the company’s Optimus robot running through some calibration cycles for its limbs before successfully putting matching colored blocks with their corresponding trays. It’s a menial task that the Tesla Bot has done before, but this time a human tries to confuse it. The bot then relieves stress with some yoga poses. You know, bot stuff.

The robovacs are coming, and they’re edgier than ever

The IFA 2023 trade show floor was overrun by robot vacuums on a quest to clean your floors. From one that does the splits with its mops to the return of the square robot, these robots are coming for those corners.

‘Hey robot, mow the lawn.’

The Dreame Roboticmower A1, a new robot lawnmower, can tackle yards as large as half an acre, which is good news for us Americans with big yards.

These electric autonomous grass-cutting devices have struggled to take off in the US due to range issues, complexity, and high costs.

While Dreame’s bot may cost as much as $2,000 (pricing isn't finalized) it uses lidar mapping so there’s no need for clunky beacons or fiddly guide wire.

This robot lawnmower could take one more chore off your To Do.
This robot lawnmower could take one more chore off your To Do.
Photo by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge
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You can now make TARS, the snarky robot from ‘Interstellar’, with a Raspberry Pi.

Developer Charlie Diaz has created a miniature prototype complete with functional robotic arms. His guide uses a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, an 8BitDo bluetooth remote, and a 3D printer. Diaz originally tried a full-sized costume, but found that its legs “contacted the ground and got stuck, preventing the walking motion”.

If you have built one of these and now have it walking around your house, please send me a video immediately.

Muppet my way downtown...

Today I learned there’s a piano-playing animatronic puppet that’s been roaming around San Francisco serenading the locals with Vanessa Carlton’s hit single A Thousand Miles.

Aerospace engineer Ben Howard used iPhone lipsync recordings and a former autonomous food delivery robot to create the project. Carlton herself says that he nailed recreating the fishtail braids she was rocking back in 2002.

Artificial intelligence has taken more than everyone’s jobs in The Creator’s new trailer.

At a time when two of Hollywood’s three big labor unions are striking overamong other things — the proliferation of artificial intelligence tools that stand to threaten their livelihoods, the latest trailer for Gareth Edwards’ The Creator just hits... you know, different.

YouTuber Allen Pan “armed” himself with an arm-wrestling exoskeleton and challenged a bunch of people at muscle beach.

After lingering too long in arm wrestling YouTube, so now the site’s algorithm now thinks it’s all I care about. As an unironic fan of Over the Top, a sweaty Sylvester Stallone film about a truck driver who joins an arm-wrestling tournament to win the love of his son, I’m not sure it’s wrong.

Anyway, Pan made a janky exoskeleton with an electric winch and some other junk, and it... worked?

I want a retro-futuristic robot with a TV for a mouth, too.

Last week, Will Cogley published a video showing how he fused a vintage TV with animatronics and Alexa to create something infinitely more charming than Amazon’s Astro.

It looks so cool, but I’m not sure I want Alexa making eye contact with me as it continues with, “by the way...” For what it’s worth, Cogley says at the end he wants to change that, too:

The big change that I would like to see — you guys have probably been yelling at the screen this whole time — is that we need to dump the Alexa platform and adopt a GPT AI platform because as far as interactivity goes, it would be so much more powerful.

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Wearable robot, why not?

Researchers at the University of Maryland’s Small Artifacts Lab are working on a “wearable robot” called Calico. It appears that you sew a magnetic track onto your clothing, which Calico uses to run up and down your body.

The most obvious use case here seems to be fitness — Calico can count reps, track your heart rate and water consumption, and check your form during workouts. So, you know, you could work out with a smart watch, or you could work out with a tiny metal thing scurrying all over you. To each their own.

It is ridiculously cute, though.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is the start of something big, but it’s a terrible Beast Wars movie

Paramount’s new Transformers feature barely capitalizes on Beast Wars’ Maximals, but the action-packed movie has a couple of surprises sure to please a certain kind of fan.

Engineered Arts plugged its lifelike robot into ChatGPT.

When we wrote about Engineered Arts’ Ameca android last year, the company said it wants to integrate chatbot functionality, and since then it has done so, using one of the most prominent chatbots, ChatGPT-3 (GPT-4 was too slow). In his conversation with The Verge, Engineered Arts CEO Will Jackson said:

It’s amazing the simple things you can do to make a machine look sentient.

The most human-like trick from the video below was not so much its response, but its double-take after being told “you stink.”

Alphabet’s robotics company announced its first product.

Intrinsic revealed Intrinsic Flowstate on Monday, which it describes as “an intuitive, web-based developer environment to build robotic applications from concept to deployment.” You can watch Intrinsic’s product keynote, which explains more about Flowstate, right here.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts might peak here, honestly.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts seems it’s going to be busy as hell trying to give Beast Wars stans what they want, but this new clip of the Autobots and Maximals squaring off in the jungle could honestly be the whole movie, and it’d be incredible.

Amazon Astro robot price hike!

Amazon’s Astro is now $1,599 and still requires an invite; the company originally said it’d go from $999 to $1,449 once the invite-only period was over.

But hey, act now and you can get it for the low, low price of $66.67 a month for 24 months! Sigh. Here’s our Astro review.