Which Of These Robots Will Walk Into Your Life?
Welcome to our humanoid buyers guide! If you are a newcomer to the fascinating world of tabletop humanoid robots and are curious about the variety of products available in this category, weve got you covered. This guide is based on web research and product reviews published in Robot and is not exhaustive. However, it is a representative sampling of many of the most popular humanoids available in the U.S. and Europe today. Pricing is approximate and in some cases based on vendor prices before a model went out of production. Because so many thousands of some models were produced, they are often still available as used or mint condition used robots, and sometimes for a song. Still floating around in the community and being actively used, they merit mention here.
With the introduction of the Kondo Robot KHR-1 humanoid in the mid 2000s, the humanoid robotics market was established. Kondo was the original sponsor of Robo- One robotic humanoid martial arts competition and understood the need for more intelligent servos than those previously available for radio control hobby applications. Kondo designed new servos specifically for robots and launched the now nearly legendary Kondo KHR robot family. Humanoid robots have since proliferated and are now used for a wide variety of applications from entertainment and sport competition to educational outreach and humanoid research.
While organizing this guide, we were pleasantly surprised by the large number of humanoid robots and the startling variety of choices in price, hardware and software. Whatever your preferences, you are likely to find the right match for your budget and interests here! We have highlighted some of the distinguishing characteristics of each robot to give you an edge in your search for that next machine destined to put a smile on the faces of those in your household (everyone loves humanoids!). Our special thanks to Lem Fugitt of www.robots-dreams.com for his guidance on humanoid bots over the years and for his contributions to this guide (ranging from photography to perspectives on particular machines). We also highly recommend www.robotservicesgroup.com for quick, in-depth comparative data on most of the robots surveyed in this guide.
DOF: 25 (Academics Edition); height: 23 inches. Nao has distinguished itself on the international scene as one of the most sophisticated and important tabletop humanoid robots ever brought to market. The idea behind Nao is to offer a straightforward, affordable and dynamic robot platform for research, but one that can also find a place in homes for service, entertainment and companionship. In July 2007 it was selected as the official standard platform for international RoboCup competition, replacing the discontinued Sony Aibo robot dog. Nao is being used in well over 400 universities in over two dozen countries.
Naos vision is supplied by two CMOS 640X480 cameras that can capture up to 30fps; it has ultrasound emitters and sensors for object avoidance and an inertial unit composed of a 3- axis accelerometer and a 2-axis gyro that enables it to orient itself, navigate inclines and get back up if it falls down. It can operate for 90 minutes using its 24V lithium polymer (LiPo) battery. Using its Choreographe software, users can script interactive behaviors; Choreographe is compatible with Windows, Mac OS and Linux, and it can be used with Python and C++, as well as Microsoft Robotics Studio, Webot and Cyberbotics. Urbi comes with the NAO and is built in. Since November 2010, an Academics Edition has been available, and a general public version is planned. CPU: x86 AMD GEODE 500 MHz. Depending on the version and whether you are involved in a beta test program, pricing can range from approximately $4,000 to about $13,000 (universities, potentially higher for private buyers), but these are rough figures.. Check with Aldebaran for details, as pricing and NAO configurations can change.
DOF: 20. When the RBT-1 became available to Robot magazine in late 2007, we were rightfully impressed that it was a Ferrari among the humanoids. It had slick software (including a 3D WYSIWIG animation capability), a fully programmable PS2-style controller with a 2.4GHz radio system, and more DOF than any other stock humanoid at the time. Carrying an Atmega 128 CPU, the 10- inch robot is fast and relatively light. With a primary skeleton made of plastic brackets, and weighing in at only about two pounds, it is on the light side for martial arts. It was originally priced at about $1500 but has been seen recently on eBay and on a number of online stores priced at just over $1,000.
Hitec Robotics USA
DOF: 16. The Robonova-1 (RN-1), now out of production but often available used on eBay and elsewhere given the many thousands produced, uses an Atmel-128 based controller that can control up to 24 servos. The versatility of its controller has been highly praised by hobbyists. The approximately one foot tall RN-1 was one of the first humanoids to come with a specially designed servo, the HSR-84981HB, which features an integral idler wheel for secure mounting in the brackets that comprise its skeleton. Software packaged with the RN-1 included two different programs, a variant of BASIC called RoboBasic and a graphical user interface. The board is pre-configured to accept gyros, sonar arrays, accelerometers and other sensors, and an infrared remote is included. The stock package came with a suite of 29 pre-programmed moves enabling the RN-1 to bow, kick, do a headstand and even a cartwheel. Although sold for roughly $900 – $1,000 when it was still in production, pricing for used and mint condition RN-1s today is all over the map.
http://en.innovati.com.tw/index.php (408) 451-9779
Distributed by Kowatec, www.kowatec.com
DOF: 16. Innovati offers a wide variety of robotic products specifically designed for education. Centered on the BASIC Commander single board computer, the Innovati system used in the Robotinno offers a wide range of optional peripherals and modules, including an LCD screen, keypad, joystick, I/O expansion, ultrasonic sensor, gyro, compass, accelerometers and other modules along with servo and motor drivers. The system is completely self-contained and does not require other software to operate, yet it also has been successfully used by many in conjunction with open source applications using the Processing language. The standard configuration utilizes the SC16 control board to control the robots 16 servos, five for each leg and three for each arm. Includes an onboard USB port for communication and downloads. A motion editor enables creation of poses and motion sequences, and the included InnoBasic program, a compiler system, enables quick response and realistic humanoid movement; the package does not include sophisticated graphic programming. Price: $1000.
DOF: 17. Kumoteks KT-X comes in a few versions and represents a family of humanoids. The KT-X Superbot, Kumoteks flagship, has 17 servos, a 60MHz microcontroller and a remote control (U.S. customers only). Un upgraded Gladiator KT-X features 19 DOF so that it can pivot (yaw) on the hip axis and has the most human-like motions. The KT-X Lite is an entry level variant with 13 DOF. The Superbot comes standard with a speaker that plays .wav files and a port for a gyro/accelerometer sensor. A wireless gamepad remote control enables real time interaction and play. Kumotek says that the KT-S is the first low-cost bi-pedal robot platform of its kind to be offered in the U.S. that (a) can be controlled using a standard wireless PS2 game controller. The controller board has 512kB ROB/64kB RAM and comes loaded with 75 preprogrammed motions. The servos on this 13.5-in. robot have embedded sensors for detecting the servos position in real time, and communication is RS232C (115kbps) or USB. Its RobovieMaker programming software runs on any standard Windows based PC. Price: $1,250 (KT-X Superbot).
DOF: 20. The KT-X Advanced Humanoid Robot is based on VisiON 4G technology developed by Kumoteks Japanese partner, Vstone. Vstone brings years of experience competing at the international RoboCup robot soccer competition to the development of humanoid robotics technology. This robot is a sophisticated humanoid for the serious researcher. It uses six high-torque titanium gear motors in the legs for enhanced stability, an onboard PC, 3-axis gyro/accelerometer and a high resolution vision system. The blue external urethane pads provide shock absorption should the robot fall. It uses a 1.6GHz AXIOMTEK PICO820 Intel Atom Z530 main processor and a VSRC003HV, ARM7 60MHz sub-CPU, and sports a 2-axis 1.3 megapixel CMOS camera. Communications: USB2.0x2, RGBx1, LAN (10/100/1000MBase-TX)x1. Price: $13,960.
Kablamm, Ltd. MechRC Humanoid
Dof: 17; MechRC comes fully assembled with a remote control, speech capability and over 100 programmed moves and actions preinstalled, and more on the supplied CD-ROM and on the website. Programming is made simple through USB and a visual based animationstrip programming interface; no programming experience required! Lithium polymer battery, MechRC Commander software and infrared remote included. Upgradable with stronger servos and armor kits. Price: $750
DOF: 17. This robot started an entirely new hobby robotics industryhumanoid hobby robotics. Launched in the mid-2000s by Kondo Robot, the KHR-1 had 17 servos and utilized Windows based GUI programs called ServoMangerR and HeartToHeart. The latter allowed sequential posing of the intelligent servos Kondo had purpose-designed. The robot was designed for the Robo-One humanoid martial arts competitions. As we went to press Robosavvy.com was selling original KHR-1 robots bundled with the RoBoard 100 embedded X86 computer board. This is a great package if you want to own a piece of history! The kit includes two RCB-1 control boards an RS- 232 serial link and 6V 1000mAh NiMH battery. Approximately 13 inches tall.
DOF: 17. The KHR-2HV walks, climbs steps and performs other human-like actions. It is the successor to the Kondo KHR-1, which was the first humanoid robot kit in the world. The KHR-2HV features a larger chest and additional hardware and software, fewer assembly screws, tough aluminum alloy frames, an included USB to serial cable, a NiMH battery and an easy to use graphical user interface (GUI) software designed for beginners. Free downloadable sample motions makes this platform highly programmable. It uses the RCB-3J controller board with 24 PWM I/O and three analog input ports, and HeartToHeart3J software. Expandable to 24 DOF; approximately 13 inches tall. Price: $1,500 KONDO KHR-1HV DOF: 19. This robot followed the KHR-2HV and added a pivotal hip plus more powerful servos in the shoulder area. The new RCB-3HB microcontroller was more powerful than its predecessor. 24 PWM I/Os and three analog input ports, 10.8V 800mAh NiMH battery and HeartToHeart3 software. Price: $1800. MAY/JUNE 2011 35 Kablamm, Ltd. MechRC Humanoid, www.mechrc.com MECHRC Dof: 17; MechRC comes fully assembled with a remote control, speech capability and over 100 programmed moves and actions preinstalled, and more on the supplied CD-ROM and on the website. Programming is made simple through USB and a visual based animationstrip programming interface; no programming experience required! Lithium polymer battery, MechRC Commander software and infrared remote included. Upgradable with stronger servos and armor kits. Price: $750
DOF: 19. This robot followed the KHR-2HV and added a pivotal hip plus more powerful servos in the shoulder area. The new RCB-3HB microcontroller was more powerful than its predecessor. 24 PWM I/Os and three analog input ports, 10.8V 800mAh NiMH battery and HeartToHeart3 software. Price: $1800.
DOF: 17. This latest offering from Kondo Robot includes 22 servos in the build processbut five are dummy placeholders that can be replaced if you elect to upgrade the robot to as many as 24 DOF. Expansion potential is built into this platform; the RCB-4HV microcontroller permits operation of up to 35 servos and is compatible with the ICS3.0 serial servo protocol that allows connection of servos in a daisy chain to minimize onboard cabling and simplify routing. The robot uses Version 4 HeartToHeart software and a 10.8V 800mAh NiMH battery. Judicious use of aluminum, polycarbonate and ABS in the frame parts provides a lighter and tougher frame. The mechanical engineering has been tweaked to permit faster recovery from a prone position and faster standing from a sitting position. Price: $1700
MANOI AT01 & PF01
First announced in 2005, the 15.7-inch tall MANOI AT01 (left) and MANOI PF01 are the product of a partnership between Kyosho and Kondo Robot who teamed on a robot design for both the hobbyist and researcher, and for Robo-One competition (MANOI is derived from humanoid and the AT in the name is derived from athlete). At that time, Kyosho president Aki Suzuki observed that the MANOI was among the lightest humanoids in its category. Noted robot designer Tomotaka Takahashi of ROBO-Garage designed the PF01 version with a character costume to add human warmth and appeal (PF stands for performance). This added a dimension and in the eyes of many, transformed it into an entertainment android. The AT version was based on the PF design but altered to be suitable for manufacturing. The MANOI, equipped with the RCB-3 controller, came to market in late 2006 and is no longer in production. Our friends in Japan say that while Kyosho is not actively promoting the MANOI at this time, some distributors still have them in stock and are selling them. Price: $1999 (historic price point, current pricing will vary)
www.lynxmotion.com (866) 512-1024
Lynxmotion is famous for its very complete Erector Set line of brackets, servos and accessories that enable any hobbyist to custom design a humanoid, quadruped or hexapod. Lynxmotion sells a simple biped kit, the BRAT, for the entry level hobbyist. Using the SSC-32 servo sequencer with software provided by Lynxmotion, you can quickly learn to program the BRAT to walk on a desktop, tethered to your PC. Where you take your project from there is only up to your imagination. This system generates both Basic Atom and Basic Stamp 2 code, so the sky is the limitand if you want to progress up the learning curve in increments, this may be the path for you. Shown is a full humanoid that can be created using Lynxmotion parts.
RCMart International, Inc.
DOF: 17. RCmart Internationals robot division has produced a gem of a humanoid in this 9.45-inch tall, metalbracketed robot. It runs a Renasa 0260F6A U5 5321A microcontroller and uses NX-mini application software; communication is via RS232 (optional USB cord). Power is provided by a 6V 850mAh NiMH battery, and the kit includes a simple widget that when plugged into a battery and servo, automatically centers the servo. A robot stand is included so that you can work on the robot while it is suspended with no load on the servos, a nice touch. The stock kit comes with purpose designed, metalgeared, metal-cased analog servos but digital are also available. The Position Editor software is intuitive and easy to use. Price: $890 (ready to run); $839 (kit)
RoboBuilder co., Ltd., Korea
DOF: 16. This robot uses 16 wCK actuators that are much more than simple servos. They are smart actuators using proportional integral derivative (PID) algorithms. Each actuator has two digital I/O connections that also function as analog inputs, and each is addressable with its own I/O address through settings, although they come preset. The actuators have pentagon shaped spline output shafts and can be connected to the body or other actuators using your choice of no less than 12 available joints or wheels (this kit can also be made into a dog or dinosaur, or other kinds of platforms). The servos can be programmed for continuous rotation, so the technology in this kit can be used again and again in diverse applications. Documentation is good and the MotionBuilder software enables you to position the robot and capture the position as an animation frame in software. Using this, you can teach the robot to dance. Other included software: wCK Programmer, Action Builder, and Diagnostics. Price: $680
DOF: 20. The DARwIn-OP is a miniature humanoid robot platform with advanced computational power, sophisticated sensors, high payload capacity and dynamic motion ability designed to enable many exciting research and education activities. It features a highspeed bus, simple wiring, a wide-angle HD camera mounted in its head and a self maintenance kit with instructions, among its many well thought out elements. It has the power and speed to run and jumpa first in this category; and it has a modifiable default gait speed of 0.25 sec/step. Specifications are intended to evolve: regularly check http://sourceforge.net/projects/darwinop for updates. The robot is the outcomeof a joint collaboration between Virginia Tech, Purdue, University of Pennsylvania and ROBOTIS. It has an onboard PC, 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 with 4GB SSD, and its management controller is the ARM CortexM3 STM32F103RE 72MHz. Communications: 5 LEDs, 2 RGB LEDs, 6 external I/O ports, 8 external ADC ports, 2Mbps serial bus; 4.5 Mbps Dynamixel servo bus. This open source, open platform robot can be built from publicly available plans and specifications or purchased from Robotis. It uses new RX-28M servos and nearly all of its parts are off the shelf.
The DARwIn-OP (and a higher end version, called the DARwIn-HP) are funded in part by the National Science Foundation (see the full story in the March- April issue of Robot). Virginia Tech is building the OP and HP versions and giving them to over a dozen universities (9 HPs and 26 Ops), and one of the goals is to inspire more students to major in computer science and engineering, and to create an enabling infrastructure for humanoid research, education and outreach. Hobbyists and researchers can also purchase the DARwIn-OP from Robotis. The official price is $12,000 and an educators discount is expected to be announced soon.
BIOLOID PREMIUM KIT
DOF: 18. The BIOLOID Premium Kit is a multi-purpose humanoid platform with advanced functionality & scalability. The Premium is the successor to the Bioloid Comprehensive kit and uses AX-12+ intelligent Dynamixel servos, which deliver an impressive 15 kg.cm (208 oz.in) of torque at 12V. The modular system is similar to the Bioloid Comprehensive kit but has a new main controller, the CM-10, with six external analog sensor inputs, a gyro sensor, distance measuring sensor, two IR sensors, customizable head and chest exterior and much more. It includes an RC-100 remote controller (infrared, Zigbee optional), USB2 Dynamixel that is PC programmable, a new RoboPlus Task environment (C-style language), convenient RoboPlus Motion editing, demonstration files and an online tutorial and support. Includes a 11.1V 1000mAh LiPo battery and a balancing charger. This is a flagship humanoid that is one of the most functional and comprehensive available. GP comes with robust aluminum frames. Price: $1,199
The GP stands for Grand Prix and this latest addition to the Bioloid family of humanoids is aimed at top level competition at venues like the Korea Robot Game Festival, Robo- One and Robogames. The servos used in the GP legs are the new AX-18A (upper body uses AX-12A servos) models, physically identical to the AX-12+ but with more torque and faster rotation speeds. At 12V, torque is up 20% to 18kg-cm and speed is up to a respectavle 97 RPM from 51RPM, almost double the speed of the AX12+. You can check for updates on this most recent release at www.robotis.com/xe . Price: $2,799 USD.
Dof: 17. The preassembled out of the box i-Sobot is a remarkably sophisticated and diminutive humanoid. It features 17 custom designed servos with built-in clutches and dedicated CPU controllers. There are a total of 19 CPUs onboard; one is the central brain and one is dedicated to voice recognition. Two gyros enable it to balance in a variety of poses. It can be remotely controlled and also comes with eight preinstalled complex motions and 10 preprogrammed voice commands. It also contains an amazing 180 preprogrammed actions that can be sequenced in Program Mode. Launched in 2007, it is now out of production but so many were manufactured it remains widely available worldwide. Price: $100 – $300
The World Models
DOF: 20. This 13-inch tall robot was developed by RoboBrothers, Inc., USA and World Models Manufacturing, and is marketed by Airborne Models. It was designed to be more affordable than many in its category and programmable from your PC. It uses an Atmega32-16PU with an interrupt driven kernel for Infrared remote, and it has 24 servo channels. Up to eight I/Os are available for adding hardware and it is capable of performing over 300 user motions. It comes with 150 predefined poses, 50 sequences and 50 routines. Because it uses standard servos, it does not have a catch and play feature, so you modify existing poses and moves or program your own to build sequences. The IR remote can play 121 user defined motion routines. A software development kit (SDK) is available for development of C programs for autonomous control; communication is via an RS232 serial connection. The Motion Creator application runs on Windows and requires that you install the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Redistributable and C++ Redistributable packages (supplied). Price: $499 (ready to walk, assembled)
ROBO PHILO JR.
DOF: 10. Philo Junior is a scaled down entry level humanoid for the budget minded. It includes a 10 I/O interface and like the Robo Philo, it can peform hundreds of user-created motions. The specifications are a subset of the those of the Robo Philo. It can be upgraded to the Robo Philo with the addition of servos and supporting brackets. Price: $199 (kit); $249 (ready to walk, assembled)
www.trossenrobotics.com (877) 898-1005
PHANTOM X AX-12/18F AND RX- 24FHUMANOIDS
Our scouts have discovered that Trossen Robotics is mixing some of the best of the communitys hobby robotics technologies to produce a family of robots that will soon include outstanding humanoidsplease note that this is in development and the Trossen humanoids are not yet available. The ArtbotiX Robocontroller from Vanadium Labs is the first dedicated Arduino-compatible microcontroller built specifically to make controlling Robotis Dynamixel servos a simple and easy process. Vanadium has developed libraries and software that generates inverse kinematics (I/K) and gait engines for bipedal robots. Trossen plans two versions of the Phantom humanoid using these tools from Vanadium, one powered by Dynamixel AX-12/18F servos and one byRX-24F servos. This is a product line you will want to keep your eyes on, and Robot will keep you posted.
www.wowwee.com (800) 310-3033
The Robosapien in some respects put its designer, Mark Tilden, and Wowwee on the map. Simple enough for a child but sophisticated enough to entertain adults, the Robosapien sold in the millions. This robot has touch sensors on his hands and feet and a sound sensor, and can walk at two different speeds. The robot is controlled with an infrared remote, and is capable of picking up objects. Two hits were its dance routine and karate chops, complete with sound effects. Price: $100.
A follow-on to the original Robosapien, V2 has more behaviors and complexity than the initial Robosapien, and is capable of autonomous behavior with sight, sound and touch sensors. It detects and avoids obstacles and has a limited ability to recognize colors. The Robosapien family was designed with a lot of built in toughness and age well. Robosapien V2 continued the tradition of several hours of builtin entertainment including songs and dance. Price: $150 – $200
DOF: 12. This robot is a collectors item and yet it is not hard to find. It can record audio and video, take pictures, and walk around the room, documenting its surroundings. It can also play back music using its 11-Watt speaker system (tweeters in each hand; subwoofer is back-mounted). It includes a USB port for an MP3 player). It has stereo sonic sensors and can locate a sharp sound like a clap.
RS Media can track movement using infrared sensors at six inches and two feet. It has a full color 176×132 pixel LCD display on its chest that can display what it sees or images or video. Its software enables the programming of Bodycons that become sequences of behavior that can be elicited depending on defined inputs and conditions, and verbal or other sound outputs can be coordinated with the movements using the included timeline based editor. Stock personalities include RS Media, Service Bot 3000, Space-Bot and Billy Joe Sapien. Five programming options include Puppet Mode but the most powerful option is Bodycon and Personality editing software on a PC, which displays a 3D image that can be rotated.
RS Media comes with 40 MB of Flash memory and a port for an SD card (up to 1 GB) that lets you swap out personalities at will. How clever the robot sounds and acts is a function of your creativity. An infrared remote controls the robot, and the platform inherits the wonderful tough mechanical engineering of its predecessors. LINUX embedded OS; USB 1.1 (cable included). Wikipedia notes there are two primary processors, a 200MHz ARM9 with 64MB of Flash for the primary LINUX OS and user files, and a custom 16-bit processor for handling the biomorphic robot functions. RAM: 16MB (2006) or 32MB (2007). Price: $100 – $400, depending on outlet.
DOF: 8 per arm (arm: 4, wrist: 3, gripper: 1). Some will argue this is not a humanoid because it rolls, but we included it because it is designed to work like a humanoid alongside humans, has a torso, head and arms and you can buy it now. This 5-foot, 7- inch tall platform is an open source, open platform robot designed from the ground up for developers. The PR2 runs on the Robot Operating System (ROS). Its arms have a passive spring counterbalance system so that they float when the power is off. When you purchase a PR2, the box will contain a base station computer, joystick, power cable, self plug-in cable as well as small and large calibration targets. Onboard are two Quad Core i7 Xeon Processors (8 cores), 24GB of memory, 1.5TB externally removable hard drive and a 500GB internal hard drive. The omni-directional base has four steered and powered castors. The robot has many sensors that include but are not limited to a 5-megapixel global shutter color gigabit ethernet camera, wide-angle color stereo ethernet camera, a manipulation stereo ethernet camera, and a tilting Hokuyo UTM-30LX laser scanner. The grippers are equipped with 3-axis accelerometers and fingertip pressure sensors, and thats only scratching the surface see the online specs at www.willowgarage.com. Price: $400,000 ($120,000 discount to selected customers with a proven track record in contributions to the open source community)
Want to purchase a robot that will watch your kids or walk the halls to keep an eye on thingsall based on voice commands? Want to see what it sees, on your PC via an internet connection? That was the promise of this cute humanoid but our research indicates that mainly schools in Japan have ordered this robot. It weighs approximately 5.5 pounds and stands 39 cm tall. The standard version is available for $6,000 U.S., and a more ornately colored Japanese version is available for $10,000 U.S.
The following websites are good starting points for additional research on humanoid robots.the editors ï‚¥
Robots.net, http://robots.net , Steven Rainwater, (972) 404-0248
RobotShop, www.robotshop.com , (866) 627-3178
Trossen Robotics, www.trossenrobotics.com, (877) 898-1005