White Box Robotics

My name is Thomas J. Burick and I am President of White Box Robotics. I would like to forward some information that I think would be of interest to your
members.
White Box Robotics has been working very closely with VIA Technologies, Inc. in Taiwan to define and create an entirely new industry called PC-BOTS. These robots are powered by an industry standard VIA Mini-ITX mainboard. This mainboard along with other hardware (hard drives, CD-Burners, DVD drives, etc.) is then installed in the White Box Robotics 912 mobile platform. Our platform is based off of industry standard PC architecture. Almost any off-the-shelf PC hardware can be used on the 912 platform with little or no modification. The great thing is that anyone who can operate and\or tinker together a PC can use one of these robots. The 912 uses Evolution Robotics RCC software to function. Why buy or build your next PC when you can have one of these amazing robots. They can do ANYTHING a PC can do, plus patrol your house for intruders, run errands, and allow you to check on your house while away from home (telepresence) - you see what the robots sees via a remote internet connection. Plus much, much more!!
An important note: the 912 platform is not limited to PC-based hardware. The platform is SO flexible, it will accept ANY type of hardware like BASIC Stamp, PC104, ISOPOD, etc.
Our full press kit and other information is available on line at www.whiteboxrobotics.com
Additionally, VIA has a great story on this new market segment at www.viatech.com/en/robotics/pcbots.jsp
Member inquires can be directed to snipped-for-privacy@whiteboxrobotics.com
If you have any questions you can reach me at snipped-for-privacy@whiteboxrobotics.com or on my cell at 724-516-1290.
Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely, Thomas J. Burick President White Box Robotics
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TBurick495 wrote:

Your stuff looks excellent, but can you at least tell us a rough price range? -- D. Jay Newman
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D. Jay Newman wrote:

That seems covered with the following statement at the end of one of the pages: "Plan on building or buying the 912 for about the cost of a decent PC."
So I figure $1,000 to $2,000. Since it is fundamentally a PC with motors and wheels on the bottom of the case, the price would vary depending on what you put in it, just like with a PC.
I didn't attend Comdex this year, but there were several new robotics companies demonstrating upcoming "personal assistant" type robots. CNN reported on it here:
http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/ptech/11/19/comdex/index.html
I'd be interested in what kind of "errands" the 912 (why do I think Porsche here?) will be able to do.
-- Gordon Author: Constructing Robot Bases (Forthcoming) Robot Builder's Sourcebook, Robot Builder's Bonanza
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Gordon McComb wrote:

You like cheaper PCs than I do. :)
I truely think that they are nice looking, and I would love one with just the mechanics. If I knew how to make the body, I might consider something along these lines.
I like the idea of the internal trays.
In one of the many robot books I read, somebody built a robot into a tackle-box because it had multiple trays on different layers. Not quite as cool, but it was functional, served as its own box, and even had a handle on the top to carry it around. -- D. Jay Newman
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D. Jay Newman wrote:

Might have also been in a book, but I remember seeing it on a Web page. Don't remember where exactly, but maybe someone will have a link...
I like the idea of appliances on wheels. but I'd be worried about damaging it if it were too expensive and too fragile. I wonder what would happen to a DVD player and/or LCD screen the first time the robot falls over. Things running around the floor do that sometimes!
We should be seeing more news about the special Comdex robotics preview in the coming months.
-- Gordon Author: Constructing Robot Bases (Forthcoming) Robot Builder's Sourcebook, Robot Builder's Bonanza
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If its mostly a via mini itx board still going to need some fairly decent batteries compared to something running off a stamp or avr.
Wifi should make control from a pc fairly easy.
Also tools(compilers) should be cheap.
Oh no. I just read their webpage. Are they serious ? Runs windows.
Okay yes that makes it real easy to program etc but windows(bloated). Should be able to use any pc compiler once they publish an api and if they don't someone will hack it anyway.
http://www.viatech.com/en/robotics/robotics.jsp OAP and someone of the other projects are using gcc so an api should be available. http://oap.sourceforge.net /
Alex
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Alex Gibson wrote:

Funnily enough, I'd look to use DOS, but drivers for the latest hardware they hang off these motherboards might be hard to find. I don't mind Linux, but I'm not as familiar with it.
One use for a robot of this type is as an at-home Web server, so you can connect a Web camera to it, monitor security, etc. Only from my own experience, I'm finding more and more broadband ISPs are not providing static IPs. Some will "sell" you a static IP for an additional monthly fee, if you can explain why you want it (they discourage you setting up an adult Web site with it, for obvious reasons!). Otherwise they stick you with a dynamic IP.
So I guess the real business will be in companies like NetSnap, Camarades, and others like them that provide "keep alive" camera connections. They can be used with static or dynamic IPs, and I guess even the dreaded PPPoE (assuming the ISP doesn't disconnect you after being on too long--I've heard this happens).
Without an intermediary, and with static IPs getting more scarce, I can see this notion of using your robot as a Web server will be dead before we have a chance to enjoy it.
-- Gordon Author: Constructing Robot Bases (Forthcoming) Robot Builder's Sourcebook, Robot Builder's Bonanza
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Gordon McComb wrote:

Yes, but if you have access to a server (any web server that you can create dynamic pages (ASPs, JSPs, CGIs) then you can use a web request to send the information to the server and get any information back.
This could be done every minute or such.
It's not quite as good as a true web server, but it should be enough for many things. -- D. Jay Newman http://enerd.ws/robots /
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Gordon McComb wrote:

I have to agree. I barely agree to having a very small LCD on a robot. Making it into a DVD player is, well, cute. But I think it is hightly impractical.

I look forward to it. -- D. Jay Newman http://enerd.ws/robots /
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It looks like a nice design, it sort of reminds me of the old classic Heathkit Hero robot. But from the pictures I see, it looks like it is a smooth floor only robot. Can it move through a house with throw rugs and or carpeting without getting hung up? Can it clear the bottom edge of a door frame? Or a sliding door bottom rail? The old classic Heathkit Hero robot could do these things no problem. It's odd that no one seems to have made a robot chassis that could clear these simple obstacles yet.
or on my

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it makes me think of the Star wars...
or

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Earl Bollinger wrote:

Earl, Though not a "personal" robot, iRobot's CoWorker looks like it can travel over threshholds, door jambs, door roller channels, tile-to-carpet transitions, and other non-level surfaces. It uses oversize outboard wheels. I don't have specs, but it appears to be 6WD, acting like a skid-steer loader (turning like a tank). The center wheels is outcropped; my guess to improve turning.
I think an indoor rolling robot -- if a variety of floor surfaces is to be considered -- would have to use some type of larger wheels, outside the chassis or integrated inline with it. Though hidden wheels may add a certain distinctiveness, with the right design wheels can be cool, too.
And, ahem, this robot can clear those obstacles *and* dirty socks and even a pile of newspapers (the scale is not clear: it measures about 12" long):
http://www.budgetrobotics.com/images/canopus.jpg
-- Gordon Author: Constructing Robot Bases (Forthcoming) Robot Builder's Sourcebook, Robot Builder's Bonanza
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Yes the iRobot CoWorker can do these things. I had forgotten about it. It's just odd there are so few robots that can negotiate these types of common household obstacles. After all these years too. Of course your Rigel Robot comes really close at handling everything, and that's pretty neat. The wheels being close together would help prevent it from becoming highsided going over the doorstops and stuff. The slightly curled edge on a throw rug might still be a problem. Btut fully loaded the Rigel robot should be able to clamber over. I love that treaded robot chassis your depicting, I'll have to buy one as soon as you get a price on them.

rail?
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I've seen some "concept" robots using 6WD that looked very striking, and I wouldn't mind one in my house. I am now a firm believer that for most "domestibots," the traditional differentially-steered robot with one or support wheels is limited to specific floorings. They're okay for the kitchen, for example (on some Yahoo groups we've been talking about outfitting one with a Swiffer pad for dealy maintenance), or for wall-to-wall carpeting.
I also figured the Cye robot could navigate over various surfaces. Their Web site seems to be down at the moment...
After having experimented with about a dozen platform types, I've come to the conclusion the best -- for general indoor use, and not considering stairs -- is 4WD, 6WD, or tracked. Without a caster or drag wheel to contend with, the robot is better able to travel over unlevel surfaces. (I still like the simple two-motor and caster robot for experimenting, though.) All bets are off when stairs are added to the mix.
Though 4WD, 6WD, and tracked robots can go over obstacles, the problem to contend with is keeping them from tipping over when they do ovr these obstacles. Rigel's COG is fairly high, so it can flip backwards if the angle is too great. One solution is to sling the batteries underneath. With the lowered COG the angle can be greater than 45 degrees and it won't tip over. (I studied some "rock climber" vehicles to see how they keep them from flipping backwards.)
So when it came time to try out a tracked platform, I thought I'd make it invertible, so that if the thing tipped over, no biggie. With large enough tires (gotta watch the weight, though) a 4WD or 6WD platform could be made invertible, without resorting to separate wheel sets for the top and bottom.
Anyway, I love what VIA is doing, and think this is a great step forward. I applaud Tom's vision, and hope he does well with these.
-- Gordon Author: Constructing Robot Bases (Forthcoming) Robot Builder's Sourcebook, Robot Builder's Bonanza
Earl Bollinger wrote:

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Yup 4wd and 6wd looks to be about optimum with tracks a close second. 4wd being the most reliable performancewise.
As to stairs that always reminds me of "Dr. Who and the Daleks". The Daleks needed bipedal slaves to handle things that were upstairs. :)
I always thought it would be neat to have a DPRG autonomous robot stair climbing contest, both going up and down the stairs. But I couldn't get any interest in it yet.We'd do it on the stairs outside at the Science Place in Dallas. I think the robots may be a bit expensive for most as they have to be fairly large to be able to negotiate stairs. But it would be really neat. :)
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Gordon,
Gordon McComb wrote:

How soon is "Comming Soon" ? This may be just what I was looking for. :)

Phil
--
------------------------------------
How long a minute is depends on what
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Phil wrote:

I promised myself this weekend. And it's Sunday already! <g>
Seriously, if not later today then Monday. The hold up is the manual.
-- Gordon Author: Constructing Robot Bases (Forthcoming) Robot Builder's Sourcebook, Robot Builder's Bonanza
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