Two sites..

...that gave me completely new perspective on robotics. http://www.plyojump.com ( check out QRIO, ASIMO, HRP II and SILF-II videos)
and its accompanying weblog at http://plyojump.indiespace.com/weblog/
and another one, http://roboticnation.blogspot.com
Are wheeled robots becoming obsolete ? Has anyone elsewhere built anything like SILF-II ( small humanoid robot, capable of walking and jumping, apparently built by a single person on quite a low budget ) ? Will general-purpose robots ( humanoids and other forms of sufficiently dexterious robots ) win over special-purpose robots in short future, due to being cheaper because of mass production ? When will we have humanoid robot kits like Open-PINO available at hobby robotics web stores ?
-kert
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snip....

to

Nah! wheeled robots are the most popular by far. They'll be around for ages. Cost, reliablity, and ease of use and programming. Bipedal robots are very expensive, and take a lot of serious advanced programming to get them going. Most people would give up after a while. Heck even programming quadrapod, and hexpod legged robots seem to overwhelm most people still.
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Yes.
Although wheeled platforms have proven their reliability, there's only so much they can cope with. The world is not an ideal plane. It's a chaotic mess. Give a wheeled platform a short flight of steps and their obsolescence becomes quite apparent. Sure, wheels are simplistic, but we shouldn't sacrifice capability for simplicity.
Oh, and it's hard to pick up stuff with wheels.

I doubt any of Ito's SILF robots were cheap. He's most-likely a professional engineer. He obviously has the expertise to design some complex mechanics, but almost all the parts in the SILF-II are miniature custom-machined components, which are anything but inexpensive. His production budget is a secret for a reason.
But heh, if you know where he got those sub-miniature servo actuators on a "low budget", please, do tell.

to
Probably in about 10 years, when the technology pioneered by companies like Sony become cheaper and more affordable, and the control software matures to a point where useful applications can be realized. There's a lot more to a bipedal platform than a skeletal frame and some servos. A dexterous robot needs tactile sensors to know when it's touching something, gyroscopes, accelerometers, and tiltmeters to detect orientation, and CPU powerful enough to control everything.

Chris S.
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There are some links on his site ( http://www02.so-net.ne.jp/~itou/Silf-H2.html ) . Not that im able to read japanese, but clicking on the some links under the servo images i arrived at Harmonic Drive Systems site http://www.hds.co.jp/HDS_hp_english/english/index.html Their products arent exactly as cheap as your average hobby store variety, but nevertheless very appropriate for particular task. IIRC they have a reseller in US. From the vague blueprints it also looks like he doesnt use many different parts, and only few look like custom made. Nothing that couldnt be reproduced at properly equipped workshop. After all, people have built working differentials and windscreen wipers for R/C scale car models with no other expenditure than sweat. SILF-II was very definitely orders of magnitude cheaper to produce than QRIO, ASIMO etc. I actually had these in mind when is said "low-budget", not Boe-bot or somesuch.
-kert
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