Vstone and ATR unveiled the Robovie-PC today, a new hobby humanoid robot kit that merges some of the features of their high end RoboCup Soccer robots (VisiON 4G) with their standard Robovie-X platform. As its name suggests, the kit comes with an embedded PC (Intel’s Atom Z530 1.6 GHz) which is highly scalable, can connect to the internet, and can be programmed to take advantage of the included 1.3 megapixel CMOS camera (which comes standard). The chip measures only 100mm x 72mm and has VGA outs for connecting to a monitor, USB ports for mouse and keyboard, wireless LAN card, and is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and Linux operating systems (Windows 7 planned).
Standing 39cm (15″) tall and weighing 2.2kg (4.8 lbs), the Robovie-PC comes preassembled with 20 degrees of freedom and is powered by a 7.2V NiMH battery. Its legs use the gear interlock parallel link mechanism to provide a good degree of flexibility and stability. A 3 axis accelerometer and two 2 axis gyro sensors come standard. Additionally, the robot’s exterior body is made of a polyurethane foam that is designed to protect the electronics with its soft and squishy material properties. Retailing for 399,000 JPY ($4440 USD) this kit may be one of the most expensive on the market today, but it offers exciting new possibilities for serious hobbyists by bridging the gap between them and researchers. More options, such as gripper modifications, color choices, and joint extensions are already in the works.
The more I think about it, the more it seems that the Robovie-PC represents a real revolution for hobby robot kits. Although Vstone’s kits are not as popular as Kondo’s, Vstone is really leading the way with its cheap entry-level kit (the Robovie-nano) and now the high-end Robovie-PC. With potential for image processing (face and object recognition, Mono-Slam) as well as speech recognition and synthesis, among many other possibilities, the Robovie-PC may be the most exciting kit this year – beating out Kondo’s KHR-3HV. Videos and media after the break.
Robonable has posted videos from Vstone’s demonstration:
Vstone | Impress Robot Watch