After RoboGames wrapped up, Noriko Kageki, who publishes the excellent Getrobo.com set of weblogs, invited us to join several other friends for a visit to the Anybots labs in Mountain View. We're really glad that she did, because the work being done at Anybots is extremely encouraging, as they demonstrated for us in the video clip below.
In addition to the photos and video, there's another post about one of their other robots that will go live soon. Also, a full page article on Anybots.com will appear in the Fall 2007 issue of Robot Magazine, on sale in stores at the end of July.
Early Thursday morning we caught the CalTrain express from the San Francisco terminal down to Mountain View - about a 40 minute or so ride.
Contrary to our expectations, the train was clean, very modern, and well maintained.
The inside of the train did look a little like something out of Blade Runner or one of the Mad Max movies. Nevertheless, we enjoyed it a lot and will take it again when we have the chance.
The guru's at Anybots currently have two major robotic projects going - Monty the wheeled robot shown above and Dexter, a humanoid that's teaching himself how to walk just like a human infant does. We'll post more about Dexter in another article soon since he is impressive enough to deserve his own forum.
Monty has two "hands" - one (shown above) that's fully articulated and shows surprising dexterity, and another hand that serves primarily as a gripper - at least at this point.
Monty's gripper grasping a small ball. During the demonstration (see the video below) Monty picked up a heavy briefcase from the floor and then set it down on the work table.
Monty's controlled by an operator using a special harness and custom display control console. The display handles and merges views 16 different camera angles, including several from cameras mounted in key positions on the robot itself.
Local processing of the operator harness signals is handled by portable electronics inside the operators backpack.
Unlike Dexter, Monty gets around using two wheels in a way that's somewhat similar to a Segway.
Monty's orange ears serve a dual purpose. First, they help to give Monty a unique character and personality. Second, they are actually car airbags, and can be immediately actuated to prevent unexpected damager.
Most of the actuators used in Monty's current version are standard commercial prducts, and lots of them.
This must be where the AnyBots designers go for their inpiration.
The Anybots mobility wall. Before designing Monty the Anybots founders taught themselves how to ride unicycles for the first time.
Here's what Monty is currently capable of -