Motion-Sensing 'TurtleBot' Fetches Food and Drink
Chirpy R2-D2 may not have arrived yet, but a new $500 robot kit with 3D vision can give anyone a droid that can fetch chips and beer.
The "TurtleBot" has a Microsoft Xbox Kinect motion sensor that allows it to navigate households, take 360-degree panoramic views of rooms or follow people like a robo-puppy straight out of the box, according to IEEE Spectrum. More experienced roboticists can hack the robot brains to do whatever they wish – just as its makers at Willow Garage in Menlo Park, Calif. intended.
A fully-geared TurtleBot costs $1,200 with features such as an iRobot Create development kit, which permits owners to easily program behaviors into the robot. It uses an Asus Eee PC 1215N netbook for its brain computing power, and also packs both a fast charger and a battery.
More specialized robots already make use of the Kinect's motion-sensor technology. But robot kits such as TurtleBot and the modular iMobot allow researchers to forget about reinventing the wheel and simply build upon existing robot technology to achieve whatever they want.
Perhaps a particularly clever roboticist could take a cue from Japan and create a feeding robot that responds to voice commands.