Dr Robot is a Canadian company specializing in high-end robotics components and equipment, with an impressive list of international clientele. Normally their robots look like boring mechanical equipment on wheels, but in 2001 they began development on a humanoid robot that would cost no more than a PC.
Even more impressive, the company wanted to build a humanoid with a dynamic walking gait, which is more advanced than what is seen in other small humanoids. Apparently this proved to be rather difficult to implement as all of the prototypes feature extremely large feet to compensate. Dr Robot was one of only two foreign companies at Japan’s Robodex 2003 where it displayed the fifth prototype, and have shown a sixth version since then.
The current bipedal design, HR6, stands about 52 cm (20”) in height and weighs 4.8kg (10.6 lb.). HR6 has a total of 24 degree of freedom and is equipped with a color camera, a microphone, stereo audio output, and a multitude of sensors. It has facial recognition, speech recognition, and can respond to verbal commands. HR6 can communicate wirelessly with PC, presumably so that the robot can connect to the internet to fetch your email, weather, joke of the day, and more.
Dr Robot’s website claims they have completed the seventh prototype of their humanoid robot, the HR7, after four years of research and postponing their sales plan for the HR6. The dubious claims are backed up by CG renders of the robot and specifications which defy belief (such as a battery charging time of under 5 minutes resulting in 2 to 4 hours of operation).
Emails to the company for further information on the project have been ignored, suggesting that Dr Robot’s humanoid robot project was nothing more than a PR stunt. However, as a Canadian it sparked my imagination of what Canada’s role could be in the developing market of small humanoid robot kits, and the HR6 does look rather snazzy.