GetRobo has pointed out a new website by Francisco Paz, which focuses on his experience building an open source personal robot called Qbo. From the few images on the site Qbo looks remarkably well made and quite similar to NEC’s PaPeRo, meaning it might be used to experiment with image processing, speech recognition, speech synthesis, and (assuming it has wheels) obstacle detection and SLAM. He also mentions in his blog some of the open source software that’s out in the wild such as OpenCV, Festival, and Sphinx, which would allow you to do some of that.
Back at the turn of the millennium, PINO was an early attempt at an open source humanoid, but things didn’t really pan out. Lately the notion of building a standardized platform for robotics has been gaining steam. Willow Garage has ROS and the PR2 and is betting on the power of open source to accelerate development. Fraunhofer IPA is going open source with their Care-o-bot3. Aldebaran Robotics’ NAO is the standard in RoboCup, is compatible with ROS, and has a strong international community. The problem with these robots is they are too expensive for the average Joe. Fuji Soft Inc.’s PALRO is quite a bit more affordable, and it is much more sophisticated than most hobby kits on the market; it may soon have a thriving community of software developers.
Whether or not Qbo will factor into the equation remains to be seen, but Francisco’s 5-year struggle to build it sounds like it’ll be a good read at the very least! Especially for those of us who share his dream of building a great robot.