Twin Tweaks ...
BIOLOID RACECAR ... ER ... BUGGY!?
formed product looked kind of like a
sprint racecar, or if that was perhaps
too flattering maybe an old style
buggy, the kind that supplanted horse
drawn carriages. Since one of the
preprogrammed behaviors of the
humanoid Bioloid was to lay down, all
we had to do was modify that to
include a very painful looking yoga
position and we had our buggy. Only
the front two wheels were powered, so
our buggy might have benefited from a
robotic horse. If we had another
Bioloid kit, we would have made one.
Bioloid cannot claim utter mastery in
any of its more complex forms, but its
versatility is nothing short of impressive.
Never ones to be anthropomorph-centric, we realized that the Bioloid
humanoid might benefit from some
shape shifting. Inspired by the robotic
heroes on the television shows of our
youth, we set out to give the Bioloid
wheels. Not wheels to replace his feet,
of course, but wheels that would
allow the Bioloid to transform from a
humanoid into a car. Without the luxury
of reconfiguration on the fly, we had to
come up with a way for the Bioloid to
fold up in order to become a car. That’s
the way the Transformers did it too, so
we were confident when we set about
giving the Bioloid a new set of arms.
We think that our final trans-
Saving the World,
One Robot at a Time
Overall, we are overwhelmingly
impressed with the Bioloid kit. It provides a truly viable educational platform
while being undeniably entertaining.
And even if it can’t live up to the standards of reconfigureability of real world
modular robots, that is hardly a bad
thing. The folks at Robotis have created
a kit that stimulates the imagination and
educates roboticists of all skill levels.
We really think the offering of the
Bioloid in three different kits in particular is very conducive to the robot’s stated goal of being educational. As any
type of robot, modular robots like the
Bioloid can be very intimidating and
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confusing for novices. The beginner kit
is, however, perfectly suited for beginners looking for something “closer to
real” robots (as per the Bioloid’s slogan)
than something like LEGO Mindstorms.
The Bioloid doesn’t come with an explicit curriculum, but we really think that
going through and building the robots
detailed in the manual provides a
comprehensive walkthrough of the construction and programming for the kit.
Also, we think that to be an effective
educational tool, the kit has to be widely
accessible. Any bipedal servo walker can
teach a roboticist of any level something
about human motion and mechanical
limitations and adaptation, but kits
upwards of one thousand dollars simply
aren’t going to reach that many people.
The Bioloid beginner kit will presumably
only run a couple of hundred dollars,
making it far more accessible to roboticists, particularly novices looking for a kit
with which to get involved in robotics.
Once new roboticists are hooked by
the beginner kit, the Bioloid kit tells you
exactly what additional parts you need
to be able to build the intermediate and
advanced robots. This step-by-step progression that leads up to a bipedal servo
walker is effective for not tossing novices
down a mercilessly steep learning curve
and also for providing motivation to continue working and learning with the kit.
The great motivation that the Bioloid
provides is that the new designs keep
getting cooler and cooler. Once a budding roboticist has built the spider, of
course they’ll want to build the king
spider next. And if just the idea of a cool
new robot isn’t motivation enough, the
CD comes with videos demonstrating the
abilities of every design detailed in the kit.
The Bioloid is a truly inspirational kit.
Even though our first experiences building with it were a bit tedious, we quickly
got past that to realize that the Bioloid is
flat out cool. And when there’s an educational robot kit with great potential for
effectiveness that is undeniably cool,
everybody wins. And that’s how the real
Transformers would have wanted it. SV
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14 SERVO 01.2007