At LAPTOP, we don't do a lot of coverage of high-end robots, but when we saw the Robovie R3 rolling around the robotics pavilion this weekend, we had to stop and take notice. We caught the R3 moving toward us and then we watched as the R3 shook hands with amazed spectators and then, as its minder followed, it rolled up to the stage where we saw a representative from Kumotek, the robot's U.S. distributor, explain its benefits.
At $40,000 the Robovie R3 isn't cheap enough for consumers, but its manufacturer believes it is ideal for businesses and institutions who want it to inteact with the public, particularly children. Kumotek said that they envision R3 being used to give museum tours to children, to entertain sick kids at hospitals, or to work with disabled people. During the presentation, a retailer in the audience asked if he could use the R3 to greet customers in his store and was told that would be a valid use of the product.
Among the robot's main features are its ability to rotate on its axis and move seamlessly around rooms, even over rough surfaces. The R3 can talk and its hands can make gestures or even lift really light objects. Its manufacturer even says that it is significantly cheaper than other comparable robots. The device itself doesn't have any built-in artifical intelligence, but it can be programmed to perform all kinds of functions, from leading a tour to holding a conversation. Because it's not made to lift heavy objects, it is primarily a social robot.
According to Vstone, the Robovie R3's specs include a Core 2 Duo CPU, USB cameras, and Wi-Fi, because the main computer powering it is a Windows PC. The 77.2 pound, 3.5-foot tall robot is completely programmable, using the bundled RobovieMaker 2 software.
Hopefully, we'll see some interesting applications of the Robovie at public places in the U.S. We'd love to have her show us around. For more details, check out the video of the R3 demo below:
In addition to the R3, Kumotek showed off the Robovie KT-X, a 1.1-foot tall robot that's designed to help students and others learn about robotics. With a starting price of just $600, the Robovie KT-X comes in different kits with many possible upgade parts to enable more gestures or to add functions like an MP3 player. Like the Robovie R3, the KT-X comes with RobovieMaker 2 software for programming it.
To demonstrate its capabilities, Kumotek showed the Robovie KT-X performing a very detailed dance routine, which ended in a split. Check out the demo in our video below:
Both robots are available right now from Kumotek, though the R3 was not listed on the site at the time of this posting.