Sony’s Same Old New Robot

Sony has finally "released" it’s long-hyped SDR-4X, now renamed Qrio. They have a fairly decent website for the bot, with basic explanations of the tech, interviews with developers, some short videos, etc.

Even tho the site treats the robot like a domestic appliance (with lots of info about how safe it is around children and housepets, etc.), don’t expect to see one under the plastic Christmas tree anytime soon. It’s still billed as a "technical prototype." It is now making the rounds at computer, electronics, and other show circuits.

Awesome 3-Sensor Mini-Sumo Robot!

Check out this incredible teeny robot I saw on RobotCafe. The builder managed to cram three sensor systems (line-following light sensors, sonar, and vision) onto a bot that’s miniscule. To give you an idea of the size, that’s a 9-volt battery above the sonar unit. The camera is hacked from the GameBoy camera add-on. It can even pan, thanks to a micro-servo motor. There are three servo motors on this thing: two standard HiTec servos for the drive wheels, and one mini for the camera. The controller is the 68332-based Mini Robo-Mind, programmed in GNU C.

I’m hoping to contact the builder to get more details. I’d love to know more about the control program he coded, and especially, how he uses the camera data.

BTW: If you’ve read my book, all of the above should make perfect sense to you. If you haven’t read my book, what the heck is wrong with you? Buy it, read it, act like you know what you’re talking about (just like I do!).

50% Robot Price Drop

Evolution Robotics, makers of the innovative ER1 robot, have now dropped the price of this kit by 50%. The ER1, assembled and with the ER1 software bundle, is now only US$249.

For those unfamiliar with the ER1, it uses a really cool tinker toy-like extruded aluminum building system to create the bot. Besides the building components, the kit comes with wheels, two stepper motors, a Web cam, a recharcheable power pack and a motor controller. The brains for the ER1 are provided by your laptop computer, which docks onto the bot.

His and Hers Robots

Street Tech pal Xeni writes on bOING bOING:

In this year’s holiday catalog from upscale retailer Neiman Marcus: his and hers robots, six feet tall, engineered at International Robotics. The pair will set you back a cool $400 grand, though. Heck, for that sum — *I’ll* carry your groceries and respond empathetically!

Link to the catalog page.

Robosapien Robot Toy

Mark Tilden, BEAMbot guru, who now works for Wowwee Toys in Hong Kong, has a new robot toy that should be on store shelves for the holidays. Called the Robosapien, this is the first walking humanoid design that Tilden’s done (as far as we know). One would assume it’s based on some of the same BEAM-like principles that Tilden used in his other Wowwee toys, such as the B.I.O.-Bugs and the Beastland Dragons. Solarbotics has a gallery of progress images and some motion studies of the Robosapien.

Servo Magazine

The venerable magazine of record for wireheads and hardware hackers everywhere, Nuts & Volts, is about to launch a new mag called Servo, dedicated to robotics. Nuts & Volts has always had strong coverage of robotics and embedded systems, and has done magazine supplements on amateur robotics, so given their beat and the growing popularity of all things bot, this spin-off mag is a natural. The first issue is due on newstands next month. If you sign up as a charter subscriber, you get three issues free. Hopefully, Nuts & Volts can succeed where others, like Robot Science and Technology, have failed. Sure seems like the time is right for such a publication.

New Robot Website on Street Tech

There’s also a small companion website for my book at This site includes larger project images, information not available in the book, bug fixes on the projects, reader hardware hacks, robot news, and will eventually include downloadable versions of the "Heroes of the Robolution" trading cards that Mark and I did.

After you’ve read through the projects in the book, you’ll definitely want to read the online project notes before actually starting to build the bots.

My book is OUT!!!

I just discovered that my book is now listed on Amazon as being available. It jumped from a sales rank last night of 2,317,260 to a current rank of 1,921,760 and it says there are only three copies left (with more coming). Of course, they may have only started with five, who knows.

Hey you, order my damn book so I can obsessively watch the sales rank change!

My Robot Book is Coming Soon!

My latest book, the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots, should be shipping in a week or so. Part of Que’s best selling Absolute Beginner’s Guide series, my book leads the newbie into the fascinating world of robots and do-it-yourself bot building.

The book contains projects that detail how to build three cool robots out of a coat hanger, a trashed computer mouse, and those AOL CDs that seem to breed on your desktop. I’m not kidding. Junkbots R Us.

Ilustrations for the book were done by bOING bOING’s amazing Mark Frauenfelder, with photos by Street Tech’s very own Jay Townsend.

Pre-order the book on Amazon.