Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Open Source Robotics and iCub

iCub is a humanoid robot developed by Italian researchers working in Genoa, Italy, at the Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) as part of an EU project.  ST Microelectronics had a major part in the project; the robot is full of ST's sensors and microcontrollers.
Julien Jenvrin, the doctor responsible for robotics, brain & cognitive sciences at IIT, told EE Times, "The beauty of the iCub is that it's an open-source robot." He said, Think of the iCub as a smartphone. Researchers and developers from all over the world download a simulator, and keep developing new apps -- helping the iCub learn new skills." The iCub has now been adopted by more than 20 laboratories worldwide.
The Japanese are notoriously fond of humanoid robots, and while the iCub is only slightly human looking, it went over very well at the 2014 Embedded Technology 2014 show.  Predictably, Japanese attendees were gushing over this little Italian -- about as big as a four-year-old child (roughly 3'4", 55 pounds) -- which they praise as smart, sophisticated, and gentle.  I watched several short videos of this robot and I have to say that I'm impressed.  Still has a long way to go to keep up with the Honda Asimo, but as an open source research project looks pretty cool to me.  This video is bilingual.  The girl is speaking Japanese; the guy and the robot are speaking English.  No Italian can be heard.  

The stated price is 250,000 euros, plus VAT and more.  Not for the home hobbyist, but technically it's open source.

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