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• NUVO

NUVO-headerZMP, The Education & Entertainment Robot Company has been actively working on robots for some time like PINO, Morph3, and various other projects (such as the Miuro, a robotic mp3 player that looks like the mother of SONY’s Rolly). One of their longest running projects is the NUVO, which is the first humanoid they have commercially released. NUVO is a household robot that responds to 40 voice commands as well as a remote control. It takes its name from the Italian ”nuovo” (lit. “new”).  It made TIME’s list of best inventions 2005.

NUVO stands 39cm tall, weighs 2.5kg, and has 15 DOF. It can get up and walk around, do a handstand, and tumbles to and fro. It plays music through its two speakers (located on its chest), which it downloads wirelessly from your PC. Like SONY’s Aibo, it can take photos with its cyclopean eye and send them to your cellphone. It comes with 40 odd preprogrammed routines designed to entertain you. And best of all, if you’re so inclined you can deck out your NUVO in custom-made shoes, vests, and head protectors made by sportswear giant Mizuno.

While the legs seem based on the same principles as the Morph3, the arms only swivel at the shoulder, that’s it.  This was likely a cost-cutting measure, but it adversely affects the overall design. The robot’s designer Ken Okuyama has worked on the Ferrari Rossa, Ferrari Enzo, Maserati Quattroporte and perhaps most famously the Honda NSX.

Finally – and this is a bit of a kicker – there’s the little issue of its price tag.  NUVO will set you back a solid $5600 for the standard edition, and $10,000 for the gold-lacquered Japanism version, both of which are functionally identical.  So if the NUVO didn’t exactly knock your socks off, its pretty safe to assume the price will.  For what it is, it can’t be that expensive to produce, but they’re being manufactured by Seiko so if you’re an expensive watch collector type, go nuts.

In August of 2008, ZMP announced a dramatic price cut down to $2500 which includes the developer’s kit (the program source code and API).  This program is open not only to universities and research organizations, but individuals.   The deal includes access to proprietary N2CORE and middleware such as Microsoft Robotics Studio 2008.

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Image credits:
ZMP | Impress Robot Watch