Mike Overstreet, aka 'Gort' and aka "Boomer's father", got the chance to examine the new RoboPhilo entry level humanoid robot at the iHobby Expo 2007 show in Chicago last weekend. Although he had some concerns before he actually saw the working units, he came away very impressed and positive about the robot. We've included his detailed report of the encounter below.
Mike and Boomer at RoboGames 2007 earlier this year
Here are Mike's unedited first impressions of RoboPhilo:
"When I first heard about RoboPhilo and it's price of only 499.00 for the RTW and 399.00 for the kit, I thought it could only be a more expensive version of the I-sobot. The I-sobot is cool but it’s not a true humanoid Robo/One robot.
I then saw it at the I-Hobby-Expo and was blown away. I think the RoboBrothers have struck a good balance between cost and capability. The only two problems I saw were the light weight plastic construction and the low torque analog servos. I partially changed my mind about both of these concerns after talking to one of the RoboBrothers.
They said they could not keep the price down with a metal frame and digital servos. That makes sense because the cost of each one of the Robonova-1 servos is around 50.00 dollars. After some quick math of 20 servos times the cost of a digital servo upgrade, you would easily see a cost of 1000.00 dollars or more per robot.
The light weight frame makes more sense because of the low torque of the servos. This made me think. What if you could buy the robot now and then upgrade the servos and the brackets at a later date? That is when I realized that this was a Robonova-1 dressed in a cheap disguise.
Yes it has some limitations but for an entry level robot you can't beat the price. I was told they are working on upgrades for the robot. The biggest was setting the robot up to handle digital servos. The others were gyro, different types of sensors, and a camera for the head.
Upgrading the plastic brackets with carbon fiber brackets could be an awesome improvement for this robot. The Robot has 8 open I/O ports and 4 open servo channels, so you have plenty of expansion room. The robot has an easy to use GUI programming interface and is upgradeable to a C programming SDK. I think the programming stand is also a plus. You also have the ability to run up to 4 robots at a time for a soccer team. This robot also comes with servo wire protection which all other robots kits are lacking!
Don’t get me wrong, you can’t buy this robot and hope to compete against other humanoids at the Robogames or Chibots events. However, if enough people buy the RoboPhilo maybe they will add events specially design for the RoboPhilo only. I think that would be a great way to get more people involved in humanoid robotics.
This robot in my mind is almost a perfect entry level robot. I think it would be great in schools and clubs as an educational robot for kids. I think the key to this robots success relies on the RoboBrothers ability to improve on and follow up on a sound design."