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Old 01-11-2007, 11:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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10 Robots you can buy today
We all love robots, but we're used to enjoying robots as concepts from the future. What we often tend to forget is that we're now living in an age that is increasingly characterized by robotics. To that end, we've put together a list of robots that you can actually buy right now. You might be surprised at the variety of types--some mundane, and other as amazing as the versions you dreamt of watching Giant Robot as a kid--out there available to the average (if, in cases, somewhat wealthy) consumer.

10. Lego Mindstorms NXT

lego mindstorm nxt

A robot for the kids if ever there was one, this Lego Mindstorms NXT comes complete with easy-to-use software and step-by-step building instructions. Think of it as Frankenstein's robot for beginners.

9. Roomba

While so basic you sort of don't even want to refer to it as a robot, the Roomba does the one thing we always eventually want out of a robot--it cleans up after us. For the uninitiated, Roomba is a 13" disc-shaped vacuum that rolls around a room and cleans the floors, finding its way around with only an infrared sensor and a sense for "virtual walls" to guide it. Simply put: it's popular, and it works. (Check out the wet/dry Scooba while you're at it.)

8. Robonova


Even before checking out this robot, I was pretty much sold on the name."Robonova" sounds so fantastically space-age. Kind of a basic bi-ped robot, Robonova walks, walks fast ("runs"), does flips, cartwheels, and dance moves. We like to think of him as an infant in a grown-up robot world.

7. Roboraptor


Sony's Aibo dog came and went pretty quickly, but that's not to say there's aren't a few robotic animals out there picking up the slack. We're particularly partial to Roboraptor, which was created by a former NASA robotics physicist. The robot walks and runs with "predatory gaits," and, like you would expect of any pet, it responds to its environment in three moods: playful, cautious, and "hunter."

6. ZMP Nuvo


One of the most practical bipedal robots available, the ZMP Nuvo was designed for the mundane task of being a companion in the home. But that doesn't mean the 15" robot isn't a lot of fun. Nuvo responds to 50 spoken commands (including coming to your call and telling you the time), it can take pictures with the camera in its head and send them to your cell phone, and its equipped with LAN, Wireless LAN, speaker, microphone, and remote control.

5. Robosapien V2


Phase two of this remote-controlled robot, Robosapien V2 features over 100-pre-programmed functions that you can control from a distance great enough to give you a head start when he turns on you. The robot features color vision and sound detection, and it can speak and interact with people and inanimate objects alike.

4. White Box Robotics 914 PC-Bot

pc bot

Not everyone is content to simply watch a robot walk around and act like a stiff human. Some of us want some serious functionality, which is exactly where the White Box Robotics 914 PC-Bot comes in. Consider it an extension of your PC. The robot, navigated by your mouse, keyboard, or joystick, allows you to see through its onboard webcam via Windows Media through any local or remote PC (802.11g wireless). But that's merely the dressing, as the 914 Pc-Bot is a fully functional PC (40 GB 2.5" SATA Hard drive) running Windows and running all over your room.

3. BalGot Advanced


For the DIY enthusiast--the true robot aficionado--the BalGot Advanced offers an endless array of possibilities. This autonomous, active-balancing robot is fully customizable, with a kit that includes a microcontroller board, two infrared distance sensors, a programmer, serial cable, C-compiler--all ready for the budding robot programmer.

2. Kondo KHR-2


Unlike your average vertically standing, bipedal robot, the Kondo KHR-2 is designed for what we really want to see robots engaging in: battle. Not only does it walk, but it also performs kung-fu, sucker punches and kicks, and basic acrobatics. Available in a kit with over 200 individual pieces, this robot is created as a labor of love, put together with the same delicate hand that will then guide it toward bashing other robots.

1. Valerie, A Domestic Android


Still considered the classic robot by certain factions of the productdose community, Valerie is a life-size female android ("Because a woman is less threatening than a full-sized adult male") that will clean, paint, do laundry, wash dishes, and check stock prices. Sorry folks, she won't drive a car of run a lawnmower, if for no other reason than "because she can't go outside."

Honorable Mention: Sony Aibo ERS-7M3


Perhaps the most beloved of all purchasable robots, the lifespan of Sony's Aibo ERS-7M3 played out both fast and furious. The dog affectionately referred to as robot's best friend came to America in limited addition and is no longer available. Gone but not forgotten.

[Thanks Jonathan!]
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