Here is a decent introduction of a robot that was new to me, the MechRC (home).

Crave TV (link): MechRC dancing robot.

Bringing the robotic apocalypse one step closer, inventor Dr Jim Wyatt shows off the MechRC, a dancing, fighting, football-playing robot simple enough to be programmed by a child and the bane of many a cat’s life.

I think the general idea of MechRC is quite similar to that of Tomy’s i-Sobot. Both are small humanoids that have a big range of preprogrammed movements and programming options through the PC.

i-Sobot introduction in 2007

There is quite a price difference between the two little ones. i-Sobot is currently available on Amazon for $79, which is ridiculously little, while the MechRC costs £399.00 to preorder (here). But then again, i-Sobot started around $300 as well in 2007 (prices were lowered dramatically just before christmas this year). And a Dutch or Flemish version of i-Sobot (here) still costs €378,99. It is likely that the MechRC will also drop in price after the first year or so, making them more comparable.

As far as functionality goes, at first glance, the major difference is that the MechRC lacks voice control, and the i-Sobot can’t be programmed on your PC (just macro’s of predefined actions). For the i-Sobot solutions have been made for programming, for example Robodance, which also have a great featured article about controlling the robot with a Wii remote. It is a rather geeky solution however that requires good computer skills (according to the Robodance creator), while it appears that the GUI to program MechRC is quite usable, again at first glance.

Neither of the robots as anything remotely resembling gesture recognition, but they can of course produce gestures. Both have a set of preprogrammed gestures that you can create macros with. Yet, the MechRC seems to offer enough direct control over the movements that it should be possible to program your own gestures. Time-consuming perhaps and at best you would end up with an expanded repertoire of gestures to make macros with, but it might be interesting for some gesture fanatics like myself 🙂