Global (TV) Frequency

The rumors have been confirmed (by the man himself): Street Tech’s fave comics writer, Warren Ellis, confirmed today that the WB has bought the rights to his Global Frequency comic series. In Warren’s Bad Signal e-list, he writes:

I forget all the details and I’m freezing bloody cold in the pub, but as I remember the deal comes with a script commitment — my friend the screenwriter John Rogers is writing and developing — and I’m on as a consultant and producer. There will, of course, be necessary adaptations to the TV medium — that’s just the nature of the beast — but John is nailing the tone of the series admirably.

For those who aren’t familiar with GF, it’s a cool concept: a smart mob of far-flung agents are called, via cell phones, to do some piece of a secret agent job — it’s distributed crime fighting!

Sony’s Same Old New Robot

Sony has finally "released" it’s long-hyped SDR-4X, now renamed Qrio. They have a fairly decent website for the bot, with basic explanations of the tech, interviews with developers, some short videos, etc.

Even tho the site treats the robot like a domestic appliance (with lots of info about how safe it is around children and housepets, etc.), don’t expect to see one under the plastic Christmas tree anytime soon. It’s still billed as a "technical prototype." It is now making the rounds at computer, electronics, and other show circuits.

Awesome 3-Sensor Mini-Sumo Robot!

Check out this incredible teeny robot I saw on RobotCafe. The builder managed to cram three sensor systems (line-following light sensors, sonar, and vision) onto a bot that’s miniscule. To give you an idea of the size, that’s a 9-volt battery above the sonar unit. The camera is hacked from the GameBoy camera add-on. It can even pan, thanks to a micro-servo motor. There are three servo motors on this thing: two standard HiTec servos for the drive wheels, and one mini for the camera. The controller is the 68332-based Mini Robo-Mind, programmed in GNU C.

I’m hoping to contact the builder to get more details. I’d love to know more about the control program he coded, and especially, how he uses the camera data.

BTW: If you’ve read my book, all of the above should make perfect sense to you. If you haven’t read my book, what the heck is wrong with you? Buy it, read it, act like you know what you’re talking about (just like I do!).

Are Social Structures Emergent Behavior?

Fascinating press release from Arizona State University about a biologist’s studies in emergent behavior among social insects (ants, bees, termites) and humans. The reigning theory is that these complex social organizations (in insects and in humans) arise from evolutionary processes and natural section, but the incredible simplicity and individual stupidity of individual insects (er…and humans?) argues for some other mechanism. Jennifer Fewell, author of the study, believes that it is network dynamics that can create extremely complex social structures built upon very simple connections between individuals. The release states:

Though social networks are commonly thought of as evolutionary adaptations, Fewell turns this idea on its head by proposing that the network forms first, following the logic and pattern of group connections, then adaptation follows to strengthen the pattern. Social organization, seen in this light, is essentially an emergent property that comes from the network’s geometry – a natural pattern to which organisms adapt.

50% Robot Price Drop

Evolution Robotics, makers of the innovative ER1 robot, have now dropped the price of this kit by 50%. The ER1, assembled and with the ER1 software bundle, is now only US$249.

For those unfamiliar with the ER1, it uses a really cool tinker toy-like extruded aluminum building system to create the bot. Besides the building components, the kit comes with wheels, two stepper motors, a Web cam, a recharcheable power pack and a motor controller. The brains for the ER1 are provided by your laptop computer, which docks onto the bot.

Part of Half Life 2 Source Stolen

Vivendi Universal announced today that Half Life 2 won’t be released for the holidays ’03 ’cause a third of the source code had been stolen by hackers. Apparently a hacker managed to “introduce software” via the company’s email system that enabled the theft.

Two questions spring to mind: 1) Ah…no back-up copy? and 2) who the hell at a game company would be stupid enough to open an attached executable that could suck away part of such an important product’s source code? (assuming that’s what happened).

His and Hers Robots

Street Tech pal Xeni writes on bOING bOING:

In this year’s holiday catalog from upscale retailer Neiman Marcus: his and hers robots, six feet tall, engineered at International Robotics. The pair will set you back a cool $400 grand, though. Heck, for that sum — *I’ll* carry your groceries and respond empathetically!

Link to the catalog page.