Robot Fever – What's Next?
We've had a lot of fun with the original Robosapien, fooled and scared our dog with the Roboraptor, and just this week our Robopet arrived and will keep us busy for the next month or so. But what's next on our wish list? The Robosapien V2 is one option, but there are other interesting robot choices facing us.
"Didn't you order the V2?"
Before I get too far into this post, let me make it clear that I did have a Robosapien V2 on order, and I may eventually buy one. The V2 has a lot going for it. But, it's not clear when I will actually be able to get my hot little hands on one. When I placed my order the Amazon webpage said 2-3 day deliveries were typical, but in actual fact, as I quickly discovered, 2-3 day deliveries were typos. My order was suddenly forecasted to ship around October of 2006! I let the order stand for a few days hoping that there was just a system problem on their end, then I finally cancelled it when other people reported the same problems. I resigned myself to reading the online reports and experiences of the lucky few that were able to actually get delivery already. That turned out to be a good thing, at least for me.
"V2 = V1 Robosapien on steroids?"
Although a lot of the early V2 reports were very positive, I began to detect a common underlying message. The V2, from everyone's comments, is very much like the original V1 taken just a little further. A lot of the features and functions have been improved, but so has the price. So, I'm wondering, is the new functionality worth it, or do I want to spend a little (okay - a lot) more and get something that has a lot more functionality, expand-ability, and hack-ability? In all honesty, I'm not sure which way I eventually will go. Right now I'm just considering the alternatives.
"The Next Generation Robot?"
One very viable alternative I'm considering is the new RoboNova robot from Hitec. It's a new, very improved, version of the KHR-1 platform based Robo-One battle robots. From everything I've seen so far, it addresses all of the first generation short comings, improves the overall functionality, and provides a very interesting software environment with lots of expand-ability.
It's more expensive than the V2. On the other hand, the V2's play and expansion potential seems to be rather limited while the RoboNova has almost unlimited expansion capability. The way it moves - or can be programmed to move - is just like robot ballet - it's that good. And, Hitec is making noises that indicate they plan on selling RoboNova outside of Japan, and they have English language documentation and promotional material.
"Even better than the RoboNova robot?"
Then, the next step up in performance, expand-ability, and corresponding price, are robots like Robofie that not only perform, they even look sexy just standing still. It's almost like they walked right out of the pages of your favorite SF manga. They do everything that the RoboNova does, and they look incredibly cool doing it.
Of course, they cost more as well. And, at least at this point, the VOLKS/Robofie website doesn't give any hint that they might consider selling and supporting this line in English. So, if I go down this path I'll have to struggle through with my limited Japanese language ability.
So, what can they do that has me so jazzed about spending $$$?
Well, how about -
- Getting up off the floor balanced on one foot.
- Picking up objects with both hands.
- A two handed over the head toss behind itself.
- Matrix/Neo type body moves.
- Kicks, balancing, walking, running.
The list goes on and on. If you want to see them in action, then scroll down the Robofie webpage (see link below) to the video section that looks like this-
Then, click on any of the images to watch or download the videoclips.
Most important - they make the plain-Jane Robo-One robots look like walking can-openers.
Robofie VOLKS Website - Includes technical specifications, photos and video clips.