Friday, July 25, 2008

24 inch Humanoid Robot

Here is some news from ArXiv blog. It's interesting, but not clear if this device can do any "real" work. Can it use those arms to pick up objects or hold tools? If not, then this doesn't fit the classification (in my mind) of a "service robot". Looking forward to learning more about it!

The French start up Aldebaran-Robotics based in Paris has high hopes for its humanoid robot called NAO. The device is 57 cm high and weighs 4.5 kilograms (about the size of a 6 month old baby) and you may be about to see a lot more of it. The company has sent a simplified version to 16 teams playing in the Robocup humanoid football league this year.

NAO looks an impressive device, judging by the design, which the company has posted on the arXiv today. And others clearly agree. Earlier this year, the company picked up Euros 5 million in venture capital funding to help commercialise the device. The target market is university research labs involved in developing the next generation of software and hardware for robotics.

That’s a smart move because it could make NAO a de facto standard. NAO doesn’t come cheap, however. A single robot will set you back Euros 10K but that is significantly cheaper than most other humanoids. Fujitsu’s HOAP costs $50K, for instance, and Honda hasn’t been able to put price on Asimo.

The company hopes that economies of scale will bring down the price as production scales up. Eventually it hopes to sell NAO to the public for Euros 4K each.

Better start saving.

Ref: The NAO Humanoid: A Combination of Performance and Affordability

Friday, July 11, 2008

Care-o-bot robot, from Germany

Here is yet another entry into the Service Robotics space...from ZDNet...

Care-O-Bot, your future robotic butler by ZDNet's Roland Piquepaille -- German researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute have introduced their third generation of household robots, the Care-O-Bot 3. The previous generations of this mobile robot assistant were designed to assist elderly or handicapped people in daily life activities. But now, this new 1.45 meter-high robot is intended to be an artificial assistant always at your service, even if you're young and in good health. It moves on 4 spherical wheels in any direction and has a large array of sensors to ensure it will never hurt you. With it 3-finger hand, it can handle a bottle of apple juice or champagne put on its front tray. It will then wait until you ask it to pour a glass for you. Sorry, I don't know when it becomes commercially available. But read more...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Best 169 words you'll ever read about robotics

This article from Wired is short, but if you want to understand the behind-the-scenes deal with the robotics industry, you can do no better:

Why Things Suck: Robots
By Thomas Hayden
Wired Magazine
Automatons work pretty well — if you're looking to weld thousands of cars exactly the same way. But what we really want is C-3P0: a robot that looks, acts, and responds like a human, except is easier to boss around. So why don't we have one?

Well, despite sophisticated mathematics and years of experimentation, we still aren't very good at modeling life... (read more...)