Okay, we admit it. We're absolute suckers for anything robotic. That's why we never keep money in our wallets when we go to trade shows. If we had any spending cash it would literally burn a hole in our pocket. So, late last year, when we attended the IREX show (International Robot Exhibition) with almost no money on us, we thought we were totally safe from temptation.
But, Gakken, the well known manufacturer of popular Japanese educational kits, must have seen us coming. They were showing off their latest creation, the Co-Robot (see video below), a humanoid robot kit that lists at 2,171 yen. That meant that it would be available on the open market here for under USD$20.
Needless to say, we walked out of the trade show with our wallet a little lighter, and a new Co-Robot box tucked neatly under our arm.
Unfortunately, due to our work and personal commitments, the Co-Robot box went on the shelf for a while. Then, earlier today, when we were trying to select a project to post about, the Co-Robot seemed a natural choice.
We should mention up front that the Co-Robot is not a full blown humanoid robot like the Kondo KHR-2HV or Hitec Robonova-1. But, at the same time, it sells for just a small fraction of their price and for under 10% of the i-SOBOT list price.
The Co-Robot comes packaged in an attractive box with the multi-page assembly and education manual built into the box cover.
The step by step assembly instructions included great photos, and were very easy to follow. The total assembly process took us less than five minutes. Surprisingly the robot worked perfectly when we first powered it up.
The robot has three operating modes:
- Walking mode
- Somersault mode
- Dance mode
All the robots body parts are injection molded plastic, and snap together easily. The single small electric motor draws its power from batteries installed in each foot.
All the robot motions, including being able to swing its arms in the air, are driven by the centrally located motor through a series of gears and linkages. Passive mechanical sensors are used to tell the robot when it is laying down so that it can automatically right itself. Several pages in the manual are devoted to an explanation of the gears and linkages.
For a ultra-low-cost robot 'toy', the Co-Robot packs a lot of character and personality. Of course, it can't win a head-to-head spec against any of its predecessors, but we still feel that it provides excellent price/performance.
Here's our first Co-Robot test drive, right after the assembly was completed: