So this means that you give them your money and then wait until NOVEMBER!!!
No thanks, what is the point of letting them keep my money for all of that
time. I could see if they were available next month or something, but
November?!? Why so long?
I don't see why anyone would give them any money at all.
The exterior is nice. It is a PC on wheels. They run Evolution
Robotics software (vSlam, etc) But what do they do?
not much. Roving Mp3 players. "security patrol". Something you could
put together for much cheaper.
Oooh. "limited edition" "hmv" Droool. So shiny. HMV. Reminds me
of those huge cars they have on roads these days. "humvee" ? My
neighbor's got one. I have to keep up with him.
I'll look to MLW for a PC on wheels long before I go to "white box".
In fact, I think the HMV is supposed to remind you of "Humvee," for
whatever benefit that is. The other models of the robots, the 912 and
914, are obviously supposed to suggest the Porsche 912 and 914.
I don't think I'll buy one until he comes out with the Bonneville
You know what I find interesting about the robot, is that it attempts to be
a "product" of some sort. It is very stylized and compact, very "sci-fi,"
but on a practical level, almost useless.
There is no prototyping area. I see no room fo adding hardware. Also, it
runs Windows, which isn't even included. You'ld better off bying a laptop
and adding some wheels.
Actually it is one of the things I think is needed to revitalize
It is a robotic platform. You can put whatever electronics
and programming you want in it. They handle the motors and
There are, I believe, 8 5.5" bays. You can put all sorts of things in
Me, I'd rather not buy one, but that's because my next robot will be
built to handle my house (small, cluttered, with stairs) rather than
rolling about. I've considered several designs but I need to do more
D. Jay Newman
Really? Maybe I'm jaded, but I remember "hero" and the slew of robots of the
80s and this one seems like little more than those.
What is needed, IMHO, and seems to be happening, is that the basics need to
become *very* commodity and the software to do basic movement needs to be
standardized and available.
The problem all of have is this: "I have this great idea for [navigation
vision|sensors|etc.] now I got to buy/build a robot." Buying a robot is not
all that likely to happen because, lets face it, people like us don't buy
what we can build, sometimes to absurd extremes. That leaves building.
Depending on your level of comfort with mechanics, this can be hard. Then
there is the basics of motion. As well traveled as PID process control is,
everyone has an implementation and they all a bit different. I have yet to
see one that "feels" right. I am modifying my current implementation to be
better mathematically. (I'll post it when I'm more happy with it.)
One of the things I am doing, and there are plenty of others as well, is to
publish "real" "working" code that can actually be used and studied. There
are so many bogus "examples" out there that are so sloppy and only
Software, yes, but the system looks a little too small and compact, and I'm
sceptical that they designed the power system to be all that expandable.
Where did you see 8 drive bays? I thought I saw "a" drive bay.
clutter and stairs, lol, the true hurdle to robots in every home.
The LM629 looks pretty cool, but it sort of demands that you build your
system a specific way. For instance, I don't see a PS/2 mouse connection
for my encoder. LOL.
For many applications I bet those are really great, except that they cost
The Heathkit HERO, if you remember, was part of an educational
curriculum. It was massively successful in this market, and ushered a
lot of people into robotics. Even by today's standards the educational
value is pretty good.
Another robot of the time, the RB5X, was and actually still is, used in
schools to teach robotics. The company and its inventory was recently
purchased by a friend of mine who intends to revitalize the platform,
and update parts of it to make it more relevent for today. This includes
PC motherboards, motors with encoders, etc.
There were some robots that were intended as pricey consumer toys, but
the HERO and a few others were not among this.
The educational value of the White Box robots is unknown. It is
basically a software platform for robotics. If someone doesn't like
Windows, they can always dump it and put whatever they want on it. The
boards are VIA mini-ITX.
This guy has a lot of money to spend. Though it's taken him forever to
get to the point he is today, don't underestimate him.
A platform for software geeks only?
I noticed mention of GUI-based robot
control software. So if it doesn't come
with Windows I assume it is required?
I think it should be easy to tell a robot
what you want it to do otherwise it is
just limited to the imagination of a few
Will it run the GUI software mentioned on
anything but Windows?
What I was alluding to was the point I made
to mlw, we all have different entry points.
Imagine if the only people who could write
programs were assembler programmers. Instead
we have HLLs that are easy to use and thus
open up computer programming to a wider number
of people. Innovative ideas are not limited
to assembler programmers. Nor are they limited
to VC++ or C++ programmers. What is the most
used computer language today?
Thus in terms of how wide the users of a
robot base would be is determined by how
easy it is to program that base.
I think you missed what I was saying. I was
responding to the statement that "you didn't
have to use Windows" and I was simply pointing
out that if the GUI only ran on Windows then
that would not be the case.
As for Windows being the best market, of course!
If mlw's robot could be programmed by a Visual
Basic programmer he would have a *very wide*
market! His role would be to make his routines
easy to access and use by those programmers.
That was the point I have been trying to make.
Just as in the old days assembler was used to
extend the list of BASIC statements.
But if you limit your robot's software to a
few software geeks you limit the number of
people who can have a creative input to the
Ultimately you need to give the general public
access to robot control and use English like
"Robbie, could you fetch me some beer?"
How many people run Windows on robots? Some, but certainly not the majority.
This is why I think the guy isn't going to make it, he hasn't thought it
What you run on the robot is important, not in what people are familiar
with, but what works in general. If you look at the devices we rely on,
wireless routes, access points, ethernet routers and bridges, many of these
are running an embedded UNIX variant or RTOS, and many of them run Linux.
It is prefectly reasonable to make GUI apps that run on your PC run on
Windows, but when making an embedded device, Windows is a poor choice. I
can tell you a lot of stories about Windows on Cellphones.
I would treat the robot like any other embedded device, have a web server
serve the application interface (web serivces) and let the user use java if
they like. That way, they never know or care what the robot runs.
Just the opposite. For PC-based robotics most use Windows, because they
simply connect up their existing Windows laptop. I've watched this trend
for a long time, and you can guestimate it by looking at the various
robotics gallery Web sites.
Robotics is not yet mainstream, and isn't likely to be for some time,
science fiction stories notwithstanding. Linux may be preferable for a
black box device, and some form of it may eventually become the de facto
standard for robotics, but TODAY Windows allows a larger market share
simply because it has the much larger share of desktops.
Again, these are business decisions, and plausible for a startup looking
for momentum. You also forget that his design does not preclude, in any
way, also supporting Linux. For all you know he may do both, but come
out with the Windows version first. Or, someone else could do a Linux
version, and create a cottage industry.
I rememeber that, I would be interested in hearing more.
Yes, but they were too pretty.
That is only true if the full specifications of the devices are known and
(depending on your skill level) supported on your OS of choice.
I wouldn't say I underestimate him so much as I think he digging in the
I've been thinking about what would be a good "consumer" robot. I think I
have a good analogy. We don't need Cadalac escalades, all dressed up and
pretty, we need good old-fashioned truck chassis on which we can build. The
white box guy put a lot of work in the appearence.
The truck analogy really works. Look at the choice in robot chassis. If you
want one ready to go, it looks like whitebox. If you want something to
build on, you practically have to start from scratch. The motorhome builder
doesn't have to do this, they buy a standard truck chassis that works, and
bolt on their options.
I think you're jealous that someone else is commercializing what you
think is "your" idea. The fact is, this fellow announced his plans a
year ago, and has been working with VIA for even longer.
Look, some people may want to build from scratch. Some people may prefer
to buy a kit of parts. Some people may want to purchase something ready
made, and use it as-is, or attach things to it. All these markets exist,
and can co-exist.
You can't control the markets, but you can develop product that
addresses those markets. That's called savvy business.
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