robot through all its capabilities automatically.
In guard mode, the robot will detect intruders
and fire rockets at anyone who comes near.
Other control buttons enable programming
the robot in unique sequences of movements and
animations. “Simply record a sequence of
commands and press play to execute,” says Skaff.
The robot is available in the US for $79.
Penbo’s action is possible because of three
motors: two for leg motion and one for wing
flapping, eye opening, and release of the baby
(“bebe”) egg from Penbo’s stomach.
Penbo interacts with its environment based
on input from seven sensors including infrared
emitter-receivers, sound and touch detectors,
egg detector, and baby detector. “Some of the
sensors are inward-looking and some are
outward-looking,” describes Skaff. This means
that some sensors study what is going on inside
the robot, while others focus on what happens
outside the robot.
The sound sensor enables the robot to hear
the user and respond in its native toy penguin
language — Penguish — which is a combination of
Penguin and English. A radar sensor enables
Penbo to know the user’s location so it can
Some sensors are directed at object
recognition and avoidance while a capacitive
sensor in the toy penguin’s head senses touch. If
the penguin is in a good mood, a touch to its
head triggers a happy response. In a bad mood, a
touch will evoke a sad reply.
“When you stand Penbo on its head, it loves
that and intuitively responds in a positive manner,”
says Skaff. Many of the robot’s other functions are
triggered by a head touch. By tapping the head
twice, the user can make Penbo do a cha-cha
Bebe has sensors too. These include an
infrared signal to call out to Penbo along with its
sound. Penbo hears through the sensor in its heart
and communicates with the baby.
Penbo uses a processor with the software
burned permanently into the silicon of the chip to
enable low-cost mass production, according to
Skaff. Bebe becomes a remote control when the
user presses both wings at the same time for two
seconds. “In RC mode, the user can make Penbo
walk forward by pressing on Bebe’s head, turn by
pressing on the left or right wing, or dance by
pressing both wings simultaneously,” explains
12 SERVO 04.2010
Penbo can play five different games
interactively including Tag, Hide and Seek,
Peek-a-Boo, Marco Polo, and Musical Chairs.
Touch the heart twice and tap the head, and
Penbo’s Tag game becomes active. As Penbo takes
off waddling away, the user must tap the head to
stop it. As Bebe is also a remote control, the user
can activate Penbo’s Hide and Seek game by
pressing Bebe’s left wing (button). When Hide and
Seek is activated, the robot turns in circles
searching for Bebe.
The user participates by pressing Bebe’s head
to make it cry out “Mommy!” When Penbo hears
its precious offspring, it waddles toward the
sound. If Penbo locates Bebe again and hones in
on its location, it becomes elated. If Penbo doesn’t
hear Bebe, it becomes disappointed. “If Penbo
doesn’t locate Bebe after three attempts, it exits
game play,” says Skaff.
In Peek-a-Boo game mode, the user dances
while Penbo sings. When Penbo stops, the user
must sit in front of Penbo quickly. “If you do and it
senses you are there, you win,” says Skaff.
With Marco Polo, Penbo again searches for its
baby. Penbo spins around and calls out “Marco?”
Bebe responds “Polo.” “If the baby responds while
the mother is facing her, Penbo waddles to her
and opens her egg hatch for the baby to return,”
Skaff points out.
Penbo has another game called Mimic Me. In
this game, Penbo makes a sound and the user
must repeat it. Penbo picks up that sound with its
sound detection sensor. If the sound the user makes
is of the same pattern, Penbo responds happily.
Two Penbos are able to talk to each other or
synchronize and sing a duet. Penbo retails for $59
in the US.
Both robots are unique additions to the world
of animated, interactive play for kids. It won’t be
long before someone posts Prime- 8 and Penbo,
hacks soon enough. SV
Bossa Nova Robotics