Friday, June 03, 2011

One more personal robot

Another personal robot, similar to the Turtlebot, but with a simple arm and gripper.

The price is $1200, so this is an affordable machine which anyone could buy and start developing software for. Having a somewhat standardised and affordable PC based robotics platform on which to do research and development, in the style of early home computers, has been something which was aspired to for the last couple of decades, but is only now a realistic proposition. The only drawback is the timing of its introduction - something which Ray Kurzweil talks about in regards to the appropriateness of inventions - isn't very optimal since there aren't currently many people with much disposable income. As a consequence it's possible that new products like this may fail simply because of the ambient economic conditions, but the longer term prospects look good.


Mentifex said...

Once again the computer vision expert Motters has said something very important here, and I have taken the liberty of linking to this blogpost from the comp.robotics.misc newsgroup on Usenet.

Bob Mottram said...

Well as a blog post I don't think it's all that important, but we do seem to have reached what may be a turning point in the evolution of robotics, where it becomes much easier for anyone with programming skills to become a roboticist without also needing to be an electrical or mechanical engineer or polymath.

For the last couple of decades hobbyists have built robots using PCs, but these have been very ad-hoc inventions which were difficult to repeat and where the software was usually written from scratch in isolation and wasn't transferable or shareable with other machines. With the introduction of low cost PC based robots like the above, and the ROS software, that situation changes. It means that anyone with a passing interest and hobbyist level funding can do robotics stuff in a short amount of time, and with a degree of sophistication similar to that which you would previously only find in academic research.

Bob Mottram said...

Another advantage of PC based robots which have a common hardware and software base is that it will help to turn robotics into more of a science than it currently is. So you can potentially devise elaborate algorithms utilising the full potential of a PC architecture, and then compare those in a quantitative way to see which perform best under different conditions.