Joining other Korean companies like Robotis/Bioloid and Hitec/Robonova-1, TAEJON_D2E Robotics - a start-up based in South Korea, has announced plans to market a new bipedal walker robot called the D2V-ZN.
According to an article in today's edition of The Korea Times, the primary advantage of the new robot as it enters the rapidly expanding hobby robot market is it's programmability and on-board intelligence.
The article quotes the company's CEO, Chung Kee-chull, as stating, ``D2V-ZN can identify its owner with an embedded camera and take some pre-set orders after recognizing voices. It will arguably be the smartest robot in the market."’
The article, and Chung Kee-chull, go on to make several direct comparisons between the new D2V-ZN robot and the well known Robosapien robot first introduced by WowWee Robotics a few years ago.
The original Robosapien, as you might recall, turned out to be a huge hit and according to most accepted market estimates sold around 3 million units worldwide. While it set new sales records, and was the best selling robot ever, it only offered limited user programmability. An owner of the original Robosapien model could setup a sequence of commands for the robot to execute, and could have some routines triggered by the robots built-in sensors. A few venturesome robot hackers, including ourselves, were able to expand the robots capability by controlling it from their PC, or in some cases grafting a PDA onto the robot to replace it's original CPU.
The new Korean startup plans to overcome this limitation by designing their new 30 cm (11.8 inch) tall robot to be user programmable from the beginning. Mr. Chung stated, " In addition, users can add new motions or functions to the model on their PCs with easy-to-use, customized graphic software. This is a programmable robot."
Their initial market target price is just over 700,000 won (USD$732), but they hope to be able to drop that by half as the robots popularity and volumes ramp.
While we're definitely curious about the robot, and it's chance for success, we would really like to see more data, specifications, and direct comparisons with other robots and robot kits that are sold into the same market.
For example, WowWee is already committed to shipping the latest Robosapien model, the RS Media, in time for the Christmas buying season - at least in some geographies, though perhaps not in South Korea. According to online reports and presentations the RS Media will also be user programmable and will have a similar price point.
Tomy-Takara already announced plans to market a USD$300 humanoid robot early next year. And the prices for higher end humanoids have been dropping with the Kondo KHR-2HV selling for street prices of approximately USD$850 in Japan.
It will definitely be interesting to see how the market evolves, which companies are able to survive and thrive, and which companies fall by the wayside. It's very much like what we experienced in the late 1970's and '80s as personal computers started to blossom.
Korea to Unveil Programmable Robot (English)