White Box Robotics 912 - Hackable Home Robot

Although I confess that I am fascinated by robot lawnmowers (somebody up the block from me has one) and robot vacuum cleaners (I have friends who say a dog is better autonomous unit for cleaning up food particles), I haven't really been moved to buy one.

The White Box Robotics 912 family of so-called pc-bots is a different story. The 912 unit is basically a robotics platform; it runs on a Windows operating system and can use off-the-shelf components.


(From White Box Robotics 912 "MP3")

The 912 comes with a Windows-based application to control the robot. It is a GUI-based application that provides vision-based navigation, object recognition, speech recognition, speech synthesis and other features. The company shows several versions so you can see what is possible. The 912 "MP3" version features a DVD-ROM device with a 5.5 inch screen on the back of the robot for playing games or watching movies. You can tell the robot to play mp3's, or burn them to a disk to give to friends. The 912 "HMV" version shows its tough-guy side as a sentry-duty robot.

The 912 is not functional out of the box; it is up to the hobbyist to add their own parts and customize it. To me, this is one of the most interesting features; it reminds me of when microcomputers were new and customizable. It really was up to you to decide what it was good at, and then make it work.


(From White Box Robotics 912 "HMV")

In the opinion of this reviewer (neat site, by the way), the White Box Robotics 912 is a best bet for being a real-life R2D2, the iconic Star Wars robot. As you may recall, R2D2 is an all-purpose kind of robot - like the 912.


(R2D2 on patrol)

For example, R2D2 shows Luke Skywalker and Ben Kenobi a hologram of Princess Leia, demonstrating his multimedia features. The 912 also comes in a multimedia version; it can play back MP3s on voice command. Which is better than R2 can do, if you will recall C3PO's frustration with R2 when R2D2 refused to play the hologram for Luke alone.

Also, R2D2 has an extendable sensor arm that can be used for a wide variety of tasks. The White Box Robotics has nothing like this built-in, but since you can customize it as you please, it shouldn't be an insurmountable problem. A higher-end robot, the European Space Agency's Beagle 2, comes equipped with an extendable arm with a cluster of sensors. Beagle 2, regrettably, is not yet available to basement hobbyists. But the White Box Robotics 912 will be available commercially this year.

What would you do with your own customizable robot? Leave your ideas below.


(Beagle 2)

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/27/2004)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 25 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.' - Ray Bradbury, 1950.

SINTEF Robot Cleans Solar Panels
'The window cleaners, with large padded feet...' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.

How Rude! DARPA Wants Robots To Behave More Like Threepio
'Do I know protocol? Why, it's my primary function.' - George Lucas, 1976.

Buddy Companion Robot Your Bulbous Friend
'Nanny was built in the shape of a sphere, a large metal sphere, flattened on the bottom...' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

TALOS Exoskeleton Development Proceeding
'Suited up, you look like a big steel gorilla...'

Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.'

SINTEF Robot Cleans Solar Panels
'The window cleaners, with large padded feet...'

Pangorin Restaurant Service Robots
What'll you have? Jawa juice?

Drug Creates Real Melanin Tan
I've used them all my life...

Medical Drones Hover Like Angels Near You
'The death-reversal equipment is on its way...'

SkEye Amazing Israeli Gigapixel Drone
'An eye that could not only see, but fly...'

How Rude! DARPA Wants Robots To Behave More Like Threepio
'Do I know protocol? Why, it's my primary function.'

'Liquid Light' Flows Around Corners
Light as a superfluid.

Unrolling The Filmy Materials Of Space Tech
'When unfolded and unrolled... it became a tough, gleaming film.'

Buddy Companion Robot Your Bulbous Friend
'Nanny was built in the shape of a sphere, a large metal sphere, flattened on the bottom...'

Poli-X1 Prototype Bee Pollinator
Is there anything drones can't do?

Bake in Space Bake-Off... In Space!
'A joyous condition commenced for the cook in the electric kitchen...'

DeepMind AI Baffled By Homer Simpson, Needs Human Help
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off...'

Does Earth's Middle Mantle Hold Oceans Of Water?
Al Gore, you have no idea.

Vaccine Blocks Heroin High
'You're biochemically incapable of getting off...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.