Korean robotics firm Robotis is one of the premier sources of do-it-yourself robot kits in the world. One of their most advanced, and most popular, is the Bioloid. It comes with smart servos, sensors, and an easy to use software interface. Retailing at $900, the comprehensive-level kit isn’t a purchase to be made lightly, but it can create 26 different kinds of robots, each with pretty amazing capabilities. Over the past few years we’ve seen these kits produce some of the coolest dancing, fighting, and transforming bots on the web. Check them out below.
I’m always impressed by the time, money, and creativity that people put into hobby robotics. At $900, the Bioloid comprehensive kit seems like a big investment, but the JO-Zero costs $1300, and let’s not forget that this is is a field where the really avid fans will spend $600+ for just a pair of cool robot hands. I think people are willing to invest so much of themselves in these kits because of the community that has been built up around them.
You can’t go to a robot competition these days without running into kit-based robots battling it out with the best. That’s partially because big name kit makers, like Kondo, sponsor of these events. Trossen Robotics, a major retailer of for the Bioloid, sponsored MechWarfare at RoboGames. But the success of robotics kit is due to more than just elaborate marketing and competitions. These things are a great way to get into robotics. Take the Bioloid for example: the parts easily assemble, the software has a friendly GUI, and you can even program the robot by moving it by hand. Essentially the robot helps you get into the really fun part of robotics: telling the machine what to do. And people have found some interesting things for the Bioloid to do. Dancing, for one:
Bioloids also allow for several different basic forms, including puppy, dinosaur, spider, scorpion, probe, the bidpedal form you see above, and twenty more. Here are a few videos to give you an idea of what you can do. Feel free to skip around.
But the real entertainment gets going when someone decides to modify the hardware as well as write some fun code. Not sure who balhan00 is, but they made one of the most watched robot videos on the web. It features a transforming robot with a Bioloid kit at its core. This thing is awesome:
The worldwide community of robot enthusiasts is big. There are dozens of competitions every year all over the globe (RoboGames, RoboOne, and Kondo Battle to name a few), many programs aimed at drawing in students to the field (FIRST Robotics, BotBall, Spark, etc), huge online communities for those who want to build their own robots at home (Trossen Robotics, Hexapod, Lynxmotion, Lego Mindstorms…), and government sponsored robot events like National Robotics Week in the US. Every day we here at the Hub get sent videos of some crazy amateur engineer building the next insane robot sensation in their basement. The Bioloid is one more example of the world’s growing fascination, familiarity, and love for our machine-brethren. We may fret about the problems of automation, but culturally it’s clear that humans love robots. Now if only we could teach them to love us back.
[image credit: Trossen Robotics]
[source: Robotis, Trossen Robotics]