Here's a robot video that I found interesting:
This is a demonstration of PC based remote control for the original Robosapien humanoid robot that was really popular about eight years ago. The video was taken back in 2005 here in our labs in Chiba Japan.
The robot used an IR interface and had a large library of built-in moves that could be controlled. Using a USB IR interface board with a Windows PC, we developed an application that supported triggering each of the possible robot moves from a graphic control panel.
Once the application was debugged, it was fairly simple to expand it to include the ability to record and playback a series of movements. In this particular test, we had the robot lean over, open its hand and pick up the bucket, straighten up, and throw the bucket in the air.
The application was never intended to be commercialized, though we did receive numerous requests for it. The problem was that a reasonably priced and easily available USB IR interface wasn't available at that time. And, we didn't want to deal with all the support and enhancements requests that would have been submitted once the application was released to the market.
Keeping in mind that it was 2005, the application was written in Visual Basic -- something we would never think twice about doing today. The robot is still alive and well, and is guarding the picture window in the work room upstairs.
Mark Tilden's work in designing the original Robosapien was pretty amazing. It's hard to believe how much functionality and performance he built into the robot while keeping it easy to manufacture and the cost quite low. It's even more surprising when you realize that unlike almost all other humanoid robot designs, Tilden decided that the robot implement non-orthogonal joints and a much more natural/organic structure.
Most humanoid robots utilize Cartesian/orthogonal design principles, so almost all of the angles are square. In contrast, Tilden used a design approach that has almost no right angles. That seems to come from his background in BEAM robotics. In fact, the robot is so well balance and designed that you can actually stand it on one of its grippers with its legs extended up in the air and it will balance perfectly without falling, even with the power off.
The Robosapien was wildly popular and sold millions of units. Without a doubt it succeeded in setting a record for humanoid robot toy sales that will stand for a long long time. Unfortunately, follow-up versions of the robot diverged from Tilden's basic design principles. As a result they had to depend on cute, or novelty features to attract customers. And they suffered from higher manufacturing and retail costs.
You can read more about this fascinating robot on Robots Dreams: http://www.robots-dreams.com