[AI] Now, a self-do-it yourself robot
nik31 at rediffmail.com
Sun May 13 00:33:17 CDT 2007
Now, a do-it-yourself robot
Humanoid makers ask delegates to teach him new tricks
Photo: Anand Parthasarathy
ROBOSAPIEN: This is one humanoid robot you can buy, then programme to do new tasks. Robosapien went on sale at a conference in San Francisco, recently.
Bangalore: After homo sapiens, robo sapiens? The Hong Kong-based WowWee Robotics seems to think so. The two-decade-old research and manufacturing company
specialising in consumer robotics, has just unveiled RS (short for robo sapien) Media a human-like robot that allows lay users to enjoy its considerable
skills even as more `geeky' customers can write short programmes to make the half-metre-high RS move and perform virtually any way they like. It is arguably
the first do-it-your-self humanoid robot and it was the centre of attraction at the week-long JavaOne developer's conference that ended here on Friday.
The makers had a special reason for unveiling their brainy boy at the world's largest annual gathering of software whiz-kids: RS runs on Java so if you
are a Java-freak, you can write your own code to teach him new tasks. His articulated waist, shoulders, wrists and hands allow him to pick up, drop and
throw objects; sit, twist from side to side, bend, lie down, sit up and stand up again.
He can also see and hear. His long-range and close-range infrared vision allows him to see objects both close and far away. If he hears a sound directly
in front of him, he will walk towards the sound, and he may throw an object at the source. When not doing these clever things, he is a complete entertainment
centre with a chest-mounted liquid crystal screen, a woofer speaker on his back and tweeters in his hands. His camera eyes can take still and moving
pictures and display them on the screen.
Like any PC-based tool, he comes with a Universal Serial Bus (USB) connector so that you can link him to a PC to control him or run new programmes you
have written to make him do special chores.
RS is embedded with Linux software and comes with 40 MB of memory which you can expand to 1GB by adding a digital camera-type Flash memory card.
At JavaOne last week, he was on sale at a special programmers price of $ 269 about Rs.12,000 and the small numbers available were quickly snapped up
by software geeks who wanted to teach RS a trick or two of their own invention. The robot will be available shortly, worldwide at $329.
Details are available at
the company web page.
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