American and Japanese Technologies Make These Bots Pack Leaders
KumoTek Robotics entered the humanoid robotics market in the spring of 2007 with the introduction of the 17 degree of freedom and multi-purpose KT-X Superbot, developed in collaboration with Vstone Corporation of Japan. Vstone is well known for their leading role as the brains and muscle behind Team Osaka, the 5 time consecutive champions of the International RoboCup.
KumoTek was Founded by U.S. Navy veteran and University of Richmond graduate Matthew Fisher with goals of introducing exciting new technologies to the U.S. public, while simultaneously revitalizing interest in STEM at the high school and undergraduate levels. Matthew is currently an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserves and has served as a guest lecturer on robotics and artificial intelligence to the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group in Newport, Rhode Island.
The KT-X Superbot was the first robot to be branded by KumoTek and was designed to be a multi-faceted robotics platform, geared mainly as an all-in-one solution for students and educators of entry level robotics programs. As an entry level platform, the idea behind the KT-X is to provide a fun and affordable model for exploring many of the fundamentals of robotics, including kinematics, motor control, logic block programming, stabilization through gyros & accelerometers, and wireless communication.
The base model KT-X is offered in three variations:
KT-X Lite (13 DOF)
KT-X Superbot (17 DOF)
KT-X Gladiator (19 DOF)
The Gladiator model offers an additional two degrees of freedom (DOF) over the standard KT-X Superbot with rotating hip servos that allow the Gladiator to turn in place and more closely simulate humanlike walking motions.
Apart from other bipedal robots in its class, the KTX offers a tremendous advantage in software programmability with a user friendly slider based application called Robovie Maker 2. Preprogrammed motion files are included and the user can modify the existing files on the fly, or create new motions completely from scratch. The included software application gives the user a solid framework from which to learn the basics of logic and kinematics, while also allowing them to jump right into configuring their robot, without the burden of handwriting code.
The sliders in the Pose Area (frame with background robot image) are used to configure the values and positions of the associated joint axis. Each individual box on the right hand side of the screen depicts a pose, calculation, conditional statement, or loop block, while the collection of all boxes creates a single motion file. The values in the pose area to the left will vary depending on which box is selected.
The user can individually configure each pose and motion files to your specifications. In addition to the pose window to the left and motion editor window to the right, the user can summon multiple dialogue windows for setting the values of the gyro and accelerometer, as well as assign programs to any of the VS-RC003HV microcontrollers 10 channels.
We caught up with Matt Fisher to get some quick insights on the KT-X in its current incarnation, and asked him about latest news on the KT-X humanoid family offered by KumoTek. Matt, about to leave for Japan for a meeting with partner Vstone, offered these intriguing answers.
Robot: How is the KTX is being used and by what kinds of consumers?
Matt: Aside from having a major role in educating todays youth on the fundamentals of robotics, the KT-X has been a featured attraction in several high profile venues including the Neiman Marcus holiday window and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The KT-X has set the benchmarks for using humanoid robots as entertainers of mass audiences.
Robot: Can you tell us about any add-ons or neat new accessories?
Matt: The VS-BT001 was developed at Vstone Corporation and is now available in the U.S. through KumoTek Robotics. VS-BT001 is a Bluetooth serial port profile (SPP) enabled device. Using RFCOMM protocol, it can communicate with a virtual communication port of an external PC. Essentially, the user can develop an application to wirelessly control the robot through accessing the COM port. Using the Bluetooth module, you can also control the robot wirelessly from a PC or any other device that supports Bluetoothcommunication.
Robot: We see that you have an Android Appplease tell us about this.
Matt: There is a sample app called VS-C2 for Android available on the Android Market. By installing this app on your Android phone, you can control your robot from your phone as you would with a PS2 remote controller. You have remote features like a PS2 remote, voice command input and analog position input using the phones internal accelerometer. Android is an open platform, so essentially the user can develop their own application to control the robot and interface with a camera, speakers, microphone, 3G network, and a gyro/accelerometer.
NEXT GENERATION KT-X ROBOTS WITH ONBOARD PC AND VISION SYSTEM
Robot: We have seen the development of other highly sophisticated humanoid robots with onboard PC processing and vision systems; can you tell us about your KT-X PC, which we recognize is a research robot in this class?
Matt: The next generation of KT-X series robots, the KT-X PC, offers the ultimate package in terms of embedded computing and vision processing hardware at a relatively affordable price. Researchers and software developers now have the ability to work with a reliable humanoid as a platform for expanded research with respect to human interactive systems, image processing, object sensing, localization and navigation. It is priced from under $10,000 and the only difference in the prices of different versions is based on the servo motors chosen.
Robot: This is an interesting big brother to the other KT-Xs; can you tell us about its specifications?
Matt: The KT-X PC Standard incorporates a 1.6GHz Atom Z530 processor, SO-DIMM 1GB memory (up to 2GB), 8GB expandable compact flash memory, USB ports, VGA Output, speakers, a 60Mhz motor controller, a 2-axis gyro and 3-axis accelerometer board, a 1.3 megapixel CMOS camera, 2 high-torque/titanium geared servo motors in the legs (expandable to other joints) and an external urethane foam body to serve as added protection in the event of a minor stumble.
There are three types of KTX-PC:
KT-X PC Standard Low Torque
KT-X PC Hybrid “ Half High Torque
KT-X PC PRO Full High Torque
The only difference between these models is the number of high power servos that are used. The Hybrid model has 10 regular servos (VS-S092J) and 10 high power servos (VS-S281J) used for legs. The PRO has 4 regular servos (VS-S092J) and 16 high power servos (VSS281JÃ—16) used for legs and arms.
Robot: Thanks very much, Matt, for the opportunity to interview you and please keep us posted on continuing progress!
Matt: My pleasure, absolutely!
See the video! Click Here
KT-X SUPERBOT SPECS
HEIGHT: 13.5 in.
WIDTH: 6 in.
DEPTH: 2.5 in.
Words by Steve Norris