Archive for October 6th, 2006

Build Your very own interactive AI robot

Friday, October 6th, 2006

Wowwee - CHIMPANZEE Head

The New Wowwee Chimpanzee Head is available and we carry it here.

I’m excited about this product because I’m looking forward to the low cost animatronics it offers for people interested in this area. Never before has something with this level of articulation been available for so cheap. For $140 you get a head which can articulate all of the following:
* Entire head can look left, right, up and down
* The eyes can also look left, right, up, and down
* The eyes can also blink closed
* The eyebrows raise
* The nose can scrunch in
* The mouth can open and close

That’s a lot of movement for a cheap $140 people. There are also many sensors such as touch sensors on the chin and back of head as well as some motion sensors in the eyes and microphones in the ears.

Like a bunch of giddy school children we hacked open a Chimp head the day they arrived. Opening up the head to get to the inner workings was very easy to do without causing any serious damage to the robot. If you have a morbid sense of humor like us you can peal the scalp and face off while the chimp is still turned on. We tried telling him in soft tones that it wouldn’t hurt, but he just freaked out on us as we cut away. Chimpanzees are such babies.

We have talked with a robotics partner about creating a custom USB controller board with API for controlling the Chimp Head. Stay tuned while we cross our fingers and see if we can produce such a product for everyone. Until then making your own hacked version of the head is something anyone can try. The robot is built with small DC motors and can be driven by various DC motor controllers.

We encourage people to tackle this project. An idea we have had in mind for a long time is for someone to use one of the many online chatbots to give the chimp head a personality. Free text to speech software can be used to turn the chatbot responses into spoken words while moving the chimp’s mouth. Add in a speech recognition layer which can listen to people talk, convert it into text and then send it to the chatbot for a response and you have yourself a totally interactive AI robot!

Do I hear a contest brewing? With enough response we would be happy to host one.

Matt Trossen

The Segway Robotic Mobility Platform

Friday, October 6th, 2006 robotic mobility platform

For those robotic developers out there with deep pockets or government grant money I wanted to mention the high end Segway Robotic Mobility Platform I discovered at the latest RoboBusiness show.

The Segway company is offering a version of their famous two wheel balancing personal transporter as a robotics platform. They actually carry a few models, pictured above is the RMP 200.

From their site:
“The Segway RMP 200 utilizes dynamic stabilization to balance and overcome obstacles, can carry up to 200 lbs / 91 kg and can travel at speeds up to 8 mph / 13 kmh”

For those of you who are curious, yes, I tried to get them to let us carry them on our website, but the gentleman just laughed barely taking me serious. I guess not everyone can see our vision of selling high end robotics online. We still plan to open a high end robotics division one day, but I guess we will have to wait a little longer :) Until then you can call the Segway people direct and ask for one. Just remember to tell them who sent you :)

Matt Trossen