Building your own personal robot is the stuff of costly dreams for most people.
But soon the know-how will be available to download for anyone keen to tinker in their own homes or workspace, thanks to Polish experts.
A team from AGH University of Science and Technology, in Krakow, has developed an innovative robotics device called RoboCORE which allows anyone to create their own robot.
Cloud-based software is also available to control the finished construction.
Daniel Prusak, Assistant professor at AGH University said: “The strength of this device lies in the fact that it can be used by anyone who has the slightest idea about building robots. The system is simple. And what can be built is only limited by one’s imagination!
“We can build robots, we can build mechatronic devices or devices that serve drinks and prepare dinners. We can make mechanical devices which segregate components or prepare certain elements for technological and production lines. We can construct mobile robots, swimming, marching, flying, manipulating robots; also anything that’s technologically interesting can be included in our constructions,” added Prusak.
RoboCORE inventors have sought to keep the system as simple as possible, so that it is easy to use and can be applied to various mechanical systems.
Beyond a business, RoboCORE designers want to spread robotics around the world and trigger a wave of “garage” engineers – and perhaps replicate the success of computer technicians in the 1970s whose efforts led to the rise of industry giants like IBM, Microsoft and Apple.
Now we go down under to see another kind of robot, called “Baxter” that’s been created by Professor Peter Corke, the founder of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Robotic Vision (ACRV).
“Baxter” is intelligent enough to play a game called Connect Four. It’s the first experimental version of a new breed of robot its designer hopes will soon be visually enabled to respond to the world it can see around it.
“The way you can teach this robot is you’re making it grab its hand and you move it around and you put it over an object that you’re interested in and you say this is a widget then you grab his hand and you say this is another widget. Very simple menu system you can say to him now grab it and put it on top of another widget,” said Professor Corke.
Baxter also has the dexterity to pick peppers off plants. It identifies and decides which part of the plant is the pepper and needs to be picked. In other words, it is able – according to its creator – to take a picture of the world and interpret what is in it. It is aimed at supporting industry by developing a cheaper, mechanised workforce.
But, one day, these small robots could also be our companions who perform everyday tasks like driving; or they may become friends to people on their own or those who feel lonely.