Let's say you're interested in acquiring a large bipedal robot. Commercial options, like Kawada Industries' HRP-4 and KAIST's HUBO cost upwards of US$300K and $400K respectively. Those could break the bank, and building one from scratch is an expensive and time-consuming process in itself. Now Korean robotics company RoboBuilder is offering a pre-built solution that's one-tenth the cost of those robots, and at approximately three feet tall is big enough to compete in RoboCup soccer's "TeenSize" division.
The RQ-TITAN (Technological Innovation Towards ANdroid) is a modular research platform optimized specifically for RoboCup's TeenSize division, which has a minimum height restriction of approximately 3 feet. However, the robot is suitable for other domains, such as general AI research, human-robot interaction, or even as an eye-catcher at corporate events or exhibitions. Its hardware and software are open source, compatible with Windows 7, Linux Mint, and Android OS.
The standard version has 19 or 20 degrees of freedom (with the option of adding multi-fingered hands), which are actuated by the company's new line of RQ brand servo motors. For brains it sports a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom Z530 processor with 2 GB DDR RAM, and a 60 GB SSD with multiple ports and Wi-Fi. It comes equipped with a USB camera for vision, a microphone and speaker for speech recognition and synthesis, and force sensors, a gyrometer, and an acceleration sensor to help keep its balance. All of the above weighs in at just 22 pounds (10 kg) and it will operate for up to 30 minutes on its 18.5 volt Li-Po battery.
At US$30,000 dollars the RQ-TITAN isn't exactly cheap (and the optional exoskeleton is an extra $10,000 dollars) but it's comparable to its most direct competition. The Robotis-based NimbRo-OP, launched earlier this year, is roughly the same height and spec but costs $26,000 dollars. A little further up the chain is the ZMP e-Nuvo humanoid (which is taller at 4 feet / 126 cm), but it costs $83,000 dollars, and its performance probably doesn't justify the added expense.
Until very recently most university labs would be forced to design and build this sort of robot themselves, which limited their participation in the larger RoboCup size divisions. That said, it's nice to see that hobby robot companies are beginning to cater to researchers, which should lead to bigger, more exciting matches. RoboBuilder also markets a line of much smaller hobby robots which, at around $800 dollars, are amongst the more affordable kits out there.
You can see the RQ-TITAN walking, kicking a ball, laying down and getting back up again in the clip below.
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