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Cheap, Open-design Humanoid Bot - Runs Linux, Too 167

An anonymous reader points out Linux Devices' coverage of a new Linux-based humanoid robot: "Four companies in Japan have created a low-cost, user-programmable humanoid robot targeting educational and research applications. ... The HRP-2m Choromet stands about 14 inches tall, and is capable of walking upright on two legs. It can also assume supine or prone positions, and stand up from either." As the reader summarizes, "It runs user-space humanoid motion application software and real-time Linux on a business-card-sized computer with a SuperH processor. Be sure to check out the video of the little guy without his plastic batman suit."
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Cheap, Open-design Humanoid Bot - Runs Linux, Too

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  • hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by coaxeus ( 911103 ) * on Monday July 17, 2006 @06:21PM (#15734216) Homepage
    I, for one, welcome our new japaneze seizure robot overlords.
    Be sure to check out the video of the little guy without his plastic batman suit
  • Picture this: your mother-in-law comes over. You open the front door, and just as she's about to cross the threshold 40 of these things come running down the hallway armed with foot-long kitchen knives.

    A robot walking slowly is a toy. A robot, even a tiny one, pistoning down a hall, leaping obstacles, maybe tripping and catching itself with one hand without breaking stride... that's just plain scary. I believe that no invention is complete until it's capable of its own starring role in a nightmare. We're getting there, let's get it done this decade.

  • by bryanporter ( 847667 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @06:29PM (#15734256) Homepage
    If it runs Linux, why does the video clip of it in action require Windows Media Player?

    I sincerely hope this is the result of the video hosting service, and not the company itself. Sometimes you have to wonder at the schizophrenia endemic to the corporate world.
  • Imagine.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 )
    Imagine a Beowulf cluster^H^H^H^H^H^H^H platoon of them!
  • by stsp ( 979375 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @06:32PM (#15734277) Homepage
    I want one with a Genuine People Personality so it can take over when I have to talk to people I don't like.
  • Why walking? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jours ( 663228 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @06:37PM (#15734305)
    1. Build walking robot
    2. Install Linux
    3. ...
    4. Profit???

    Seriously, why so much interest in building a walknig robot though? Sure it's an interesting research project, but what's the real application of a robotic biped? IANARE (I Am Not A Robot Engineer), but it seems to me that there are a lot more efficient ways for a robot to move - wheels, treads, etc - than trying to master walking. By the time you're done adding motors, sensors and processing power to make it walk, I imagine there's precious little left to make it actually *do* anything useful.
    • Seriously, why so much interest in building a walknig robot Because our houses and cities have stairs, and people are keen on getting robots to their house to do dirty work for them. Wouldn't you like to do dirty work for a robot?
    • Re:Why walking? (Score:3, Insightful)

      Because many of the environments we want these devices in
      are better suited to bipeds (like us).

      Stairs and ladders, for example, are two of the many
      environments they will need to be proficient in.
      Not to mention robotic soccer.

      And besides - the look cool and cool sells.
      (although at $170k - probably not too well.
      • Yes, stairs...

        go stand by the stairs.

        I am the pusher robot. Do not trust the shover robot. I am here to protect you from the terrible secret of space.
    • Re:Why walking? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Wind_Walker ( 83965 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @06:51PM (#15734383) Homepage Journal
      More efficient ways? Sure. More practical ways? Nope.

      For better or worse, the human world is designed around bipedal movement. Steps, doors (especially revolving doors), chairs, curbs, desks... They all assume certain things, amongst which is bipedal movement.

      The more we program robots to be bipedal, the more we learn about bipedal movement from a purely analytical perspective. And the more we learn about bipedal movement, the closer we become to making real "helper" robots that are seen in countless Sci-Fi stories.
      • But with all the accessibility laws in place, you can pretty much get anywhere on wheels.
        • Re:Why walking? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Pharmboy ( 216950 )
          Except upstairs or downstairs in any two story home. Or even up the steps to get in a single story home. Most people would buy a mini robot, or a full sized robot that is designed for personal use, at HOME. Not at fully modern government buildings and malls which are subject to the laws you speak of.
          • Of all the things I would want a robot to do, none of them would require stairs. Going out to do groceries for me would be nice, or running other errands. Cutting the grass would be another chore that the robot could do. Vacuuming would require stairs, except that vacuum robots should be small enough for you to transport yourself. I'm not that lazy that I would need a robot to go to the fridge and get me a drink.
            • Or extermination work. It wouldn't need to climb stairs for that.
        • I think the main point of interest for roboter development is military use; at least for the first generation of robots this is probably where the money is to earn. And in most combat areas the oponent does not obey the accessibility laws.
    • or what's involved in getting one to move, but I have to say, after watching the video I'm impressed that with only 32M of memory it can do what it can.

      Of course, right now it's probably preprogrammed in, so I don't suppose it'd need much.

    • Seriously, why so much interest in building a walknig robot though? Sure it's an interesting research project. . .

      Well, that's a good one, isn't it? In point of fact to solve the issue of walking you have to solve several other problems that are useful even in nonwalking robots.

      Then there's the issue of simple anthropomorphism. Use your imagination about what that might be useful for.

      . . . it seems to me that there are a lot more efficient ways for a robot to move - wheels, treads, etc

      And yet there are plac
    • Stairs, boulders and other obstacles - legs are much more versatile in uneven terrain than wheels or treads (treads are good for uneven terrain that is mostly continuous but fail when there are large jumps). If you have a two-story house most wheeled/treaded robots are useless. There are systems to get around that (for each wheel, use three wheels in a triangle that rotates over obstacles), but they quickly get unwieldy.

      People also relate better emotionally to anthropomorphic things.
    • Do you have stairs in your house?
    • In a nutshell: because Japan are building prototype Protocol Droids.

      The point of having a bipedal robot or android (with presumably also two limbs protruding from the upper torso and also hands, digits and opposable thumbs) is so that the robot can fill the role of a nineteenth century house matron, or act as a host and guide in a corporate building. These are roles that Japaneese robotic companies see being fulfilled by robots rather than low-paid workers or not at all, I think.

      Seriously though, I th

    • Thats right... who needs them to walk!? Roll over from their back to their knees, with a soft squishy exterior, big breasts and 3 moist input holes is all we need.

      Walking? ok maybe to the kitchen to get me a beer.

    • If the robot were not bipedal, it wouldn't have a shiny metal ass to tell you to bite.
    • By the time you're done adding motors, sensors and processing power to make it walk, I imagine there's precious little left to make it actually *do* anything useful.

      I suppose the same could be said about me, but I find it immensely fulfilling just to be.

    • There is less destruction of the infrastructure if the robots can chase us upstairs rather than destroy entire buildings when they run amok?

      Personally I would get taunting the robot by poking it with a stick like the guy in the article is doing.

    • Why a Biped? If a robot is ever to work in a human world it needs it look like a human. We built our world for things that look like humans. Try taking a wheel chair or a donkey up a flight of stairs or even making a u-turn with a donkey or wheel chair in a narrow hall way. Other things that don't look like humans have trouble too. Pogo sticks, unicycles, wheel barrowes, bicycles, hang glidrs, minivans, just about anything has trouble operating outside of it's special environment but human bipeds can do
    • the last robotic uprising I saw was pretty impressive :) only robots and aliens survived :) but seeing it unfold on paper as you were eriting out the plotline for a story is a little different that you know seeing it in person.

      Still, nanochips inside every living being is far more impressive :) I can't recall a writer who publisized any stories on that, maybe I should :)
  • hmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by hurfy ( 735314 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @06:43PM (#15734342)
    Ok, the plans for world domination will have to be reworked to account for the 14" bots. Get back to you later on that ;)

    Dang it, I said 14 FEET tall...subcontractors never get ANYTHING right :(

    Ok, its cute...umm what does it do?
  • by i8puppies ( 910027 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @06:46PM (#15734355)
    An army of linux-robots marching to the gates of Microsoft headquarters, all fitted with chainsaws and laser eyes.
  • Great, we can use the source against the robots after they take over.
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @06:51PM (#15734381)

    File not found!

  • I could only see an .asx in TFA. Anyone have something the non-robot linux user can view?
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @06:56PM (#15734405) Homepage Journal
    So, will this be programmable via scripting languages?

    Sort of a "TCL-me Elmo?"
  • I'm assuming that the hardware is completely incompatible with Ubuntu. Linux for human beings, you see...
  • I'll be more impressed when someone hacks it to run Windows. Or better yet, DOS.
  • I was pondering about Asimov's laws a while ago. Seeing as these 'simple' rules might still lead robots to react in contradictory or undesirable ways (hence the addition of the zeroth law which makes everything even more complicated) why not simply make a single rule: Robots shall not (knowingly) harm another scentient being.

    So if a wood-chopper bot chopped wood and a human jumped between the axe and the tree two things could happen: 1. the robot's reflexes are fast enough to avoid the accident 2. they
    • Robots shall not (knowingly) harm another scentient being

      I think you mean sentient [princeton.edu]

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is not life! This is sickness! Exterminate!
  • ca assume supine or prone positions, and stand up from either
    Good. Researchers are finally getting somewhere. Let me know when they add the 'doggy' and 'missionary' positions and create a female version.
  • Love the anime look of the robot! This is by far the coolest robot ever made.
    Now, how do we fit Koji Kabuto [wikipedia.org] in there?
  • Cheap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashkitty ( 21637 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @07:44PM (#15734613) Homepage
    You can't say it's cheap if it doesn't even have a price yet. It's for us to decide if it's really cheap when it's priced.

    If it's $100, then it would be cheap. It's probably more like $20,000, which, I would not consider "cheap"... More accessible for some, yet, cheap, no... and, it's not even accessible yet.

  • Microsoft already has its sights on the robot biz: see Microsoft's Robots Will Assimilate You [robots.net] .

    In other news, at a company conference in Boston, a Microsoft executive referred to the low-cost, user-programmable robot business as 'our house', and warned Linux to stay out. He went on to say "Those people are not going to be allowed to take food off our plate, because that is what they are intending to do ... Humanoid bots is our business, it's our house and Linux is not going to take that business."

  • It runs linux too? Perfect, FINALLY my Apache server can get me a beer!
  • Now that's something I'd want for a toy.
  • Now ... to program the robot to do the Yang Long Form!
  • ...but can it transform? I only buy robots that are more than meets the eye.
  • by alegrepublic ( 83799 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:11PM (#15735177)
    Running Linux would not be good enough unless the firmware is open source too. It would not be fun to have to call a close-source API that implements pre-programmed routines instead of providing raw access to sensors and motors. Otherwise, I would think they use Linux for two reasons: propaganda and freeloading... I hope they are honestly and carry on the promise to deliver a really open system.
  • Ah, yes, the supine position [sexylosers.com]. Very useful for certain robots.
  • That I ran a short while ago in which the party of adventurers (survivors on a post-apocalyptic earth) accidently re-activated an android, an open source A.I. project that was re-envisioned to fight back at the Orwellian government that ultimately ended up causing the apocalypse. A bit off topic, I know, but ever since running that game I've dreamed about robotics going open source.
  • Most of the little humanoid toy-sized robots are a joke in the sensor department, but this one has the gyros, accelerometers, and force sensing to, maybe, get it right. Importantly, it has three axes of force sensing on the legs. The Aibo and BDI's Little Dog [bdi.com] do not, which limits them to semi-static gaits. If you have that force sensing, you can do slip control and potentially run up hills.

    I have a long-standing interest (and some results and patents) in the legged running area, and I'm glad to see the

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @11:09PM (#15735381) Homepage

    Company site, with translation to English [google.com]. Actual technical details. Pricing.

  • by phorm ( 591458 )
    originally developed for the HRP-2 Promet (pictured at right), a life-sized research robot marketed by Kawada, and costing tens of millions of yen (upwards of $170,000). The Choromet, on the other hand, was designed to be relatively small and inexpensive.

    So what exactly qualifies as inexpensive? If the Promet is $170k, would the Choromet be more like $17k?
  • I have seen two different prices for this 14 inch tall device - one price was listed in another article as "$7000.00" (no indication if it was US dollars or what), while another poster here on /. indicates "$14000.00" (wow - double?!). My questions are, how is this in any way "cheap", and furthermore, just what is that money going towards?

    I mean, seriously - it can't be the servos, sensors, mechanical linkages, or plastic "body parts". Lynxmotion's Robonova [lynxmotion.com] only costs $1000.00 for a kit, and that includes d

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI