Remember Robi, the Singlish speaking robot that I blogged about a few days ago. I managed to get my hands on Robi (prototype) for Singapore market before it is launched. As it is a prototype, many commands are missing and what you will see may not be the final product in a year’s time.
A short introduction to Robi’s inventor, Tomotaka Takahashi. He is the person behind these robots: Evolta, Kiroba (who went to space), FT (Female Type) Robot and the latest robot, Robi. He is the Founder of Robo Garage and an associate professor at three major Japan universities. And he got his inspiration from Astro Boy.
This prototype Robi has limited understanding of commands. Only of handful of them out of the 250 phrases (commands) that it should be able to perform when it is ready next year (more about how you can get one later). On its head, it has microphone to pick up sound and commands.
Robi consists of 20 Futaba servo motors that control the motions.
It has two big expressive eyes that will change the color depending on the situation.
It has an unique “scarf” that is also where the Power on/off switch is. Normally, you can carry Robi around via this scarf-like handle.
On the front, it has a speaker where his speech will be projected.
On the bottom, near the leg section, it is the power in port. You can charge Robi by plugging in the power directly.
There are not much things on the back as you can see from the below picture.
Here is the leg section.
When you power Robi on, it can be in two positions – Standing or sitting. When it is in the sitting position, the hands are used to support it.
Check out the base of the feet. It has a layer of felt-like material that will allow Robi to walk.
Here is another position that this prototype Robi can perform – Push Up.
How to Get Yourself a Robi
Robi is NOT for sale, not at least in the assembled form. You will have to build it from scratch. Every week, starting from 5th July, you can subscribe or buy the Robi Weekly Magazine. Each magazine will be accompanied by some parts of Robi.
You will need to collect 70 issues of the Robi Weekly Magazine to build a complete Robi. First issue is at S$9.90. Subsequent issues will be at S$28.90 and with special issues at a higher price.
- Issue 43 (CPU): $55.00
- Issue 62 (Physical sensor): $42.00
- Issue 63 (Physical sensor): $42.00
- Issue 67 (Speech recognition board): $55.00
If you do the math, the total will be S$2,082.40 and you can complete it in 1 year and 4 months. To me, it is like installment but slightly different because you really have to be very diligent to collect and assemble Robi. Read the Press Release for more information.
Although you might feel that 1 year is a bit too much, you can learn many robotic stuff, especially those that are releated to Robi, while building him. Here is an example on one page of the magazine (Issue 01) showing how Robi can recognize the commands.
To make it even more interesting, you can collect the Red Triangular Coupon found on each issue and use them to redeem limited edition original Robi Alarm Clock and Robi Docking Station.
Here comes the important part. On each issue, you can follow the instructions to build Robi. Here is a sample of the first Issue.
If you don’t like to read from the magazine, you can check out the Taiwan Robi videos that show you how to assemble Robi from second issue onwards.
Here is an accessory, Robi Docking Station, that you can get if you subscribe to Robi magazine or if you collect the Red Triangular Coupons from Issue 36-70.
Although I only have Robi for a few days, everyone, especially children, who saw Robi loves his look (yes, it is a he). He has very cute and large eyes. Look wise, it is 9 out of 10 for me.
As this is a prototype, it has very limited commands that I could use. If we are talking about AI (Artificial Intelligence), I don’t see a lot in this prototype. It only response to the exact commands that you have spoken. If one word is wrong, it will not move. When idling, it will occasionally say something or look around (he can sense the direction of the sound). That is about it.
I wish that it can be like “Siri”, ” OK Google” or “Cortana” where they try their best to response to you intelligently. As Robi is not connected to Internet, it can only rely on its stored data for response (which is not much on this prototype).
In terms of movement, his dancing and push ups skills are the best among the rest. They are very fluid and nice. However, I am slightly disappointed with the SHIN-Walk technology (by the Inventor Tomotaka Takahashi). Every time Robi walks, it is as if it will topple over and it cannot walk a straight line. I believe it should be some mechanism causing it as I have seen Robi walking nicely with Taiwan and Hong Kong version. Plus judging from their conversation skills, they are really good.
I hope that by next year, Robi will be able to speak English, Chinese and Singlish. And he can do more stuff. If I am not wrong, his data is stored on a card. I hope that we can continuously upgrade its knowledge-based to truly become a good companion for the young and old.
Thank you Robi Singapore for loaning the prototype.