Anybots’ Bipedal and Armed Robots On Hold While Telepresence Launches (video)

Trevor Blackwell plays with Monty.

Anybots has started to make a name for itself as a telepresence company. Their new QB telerobot will go on sale in October. Yet the Silicon Valley startup has a history of exploring many different robotic fields outside of telepresence. ‘Monty‘ was a humanoid bot that ran on two wheels like a Segway and had a complex arm teleoperated with virtual reality like controls. ‘Dexter‘ used pressurized air cylinders to achieve some really cool looking bipedal motion. On my recent trip to Anybots HQ, I was able to speak with CEO Trevor Blackwell about these early projects. We’ve got a brief clip for you below. Enjoy the sights of these bots while you can, Blackwell says they are unlikely to see further development while Anybot’s focuses on pursuing it’s telepresence ambitions.

With a current staff of about 10, Anybots is a small company, but they’ve accomplished some impressive feats. Dexter is on our short list of human-sized robots that can achieve human-like bipedal walking, and was one of our Best Bots of 2009. Monty was no less innovative, with 18 degrees of freedom in its human-like hand, and 7 more in its arm. A VR goggle and glove system allowed operators to locate and grasp a variety of delicate objects easily. Yet like so many robotics projects, Dexter and Monty weren’t ends unto themselves, but rather the first steps towards something greater. Blackwell says that Monty’s wheeled motion and video sensors played into the creation of the QB telepresence robot. Likewise, the difficulty with getting Dexter to walk helped convince Anybots to focus on a bot that could hit the markets soon. While both projects have been indefinitely shelved while Anybots launches the QB, I can’t help hoping that we’ll see more of these robots in the future. Sure, generating revenue and pioneering a new market of robotics is great, but a walking grasping humanoid bot is all kinds of cool. If Anybots doesn’t end up pursuing these ideas, you can bet others will.

[screen capture and video credits: Aaron Saenz/Singularity Hub]
[source: Trevor Blackwell, Anybots]