Today, my in box had a list from the Robot Report with gift suggestions for the 2011 holiday season
. Yes, it's not yet Halloween, but Christmas is just around the corner.
Neither practical, nor inexpensive, but robots fit the phenomenal category according to the news release. Here are a few of their suggestions. Which will you put on your Santa list?
Advertised as being for grandparents and teenagers is Parrot's AR Drone QuidriCopter
. It combines modeling, video gaming, and augmented reality
. The helicopter-like AR.Drone is remote-controlled by an iPhone. We must admit to spending time fascinated by Parrot demos at conventions. They always draw a crowd. This 'copter is priced at $299.
If your car doesn't come with it, there is an adaptive cruise control option for new cars. Rather than a preset speed, it actively maintains a preset distance between vehicles. A great gift for those texting drivers who don't watch where they are going. Please get one for all your friends – keep the roadways safe.
Too bad the report earmarked some robots as "for girls" as if all kids don't have a broad range of interests. However, they advertise Penbo, an affectionate waddling penguin as appropriate for girls under 10 years of age, with an Amazon price tag of $45. LEGO Mindstorms NXT kit at $273 is geared towards kids 10 and older who are more science minded. How about introducing a kid to science via a buildable, programmable kit like this?
Willow Garage, the winner of WSJ's Technology Innovation Award for robotics, has two gift suggestions. Their TurtleBot is also a robot building kit. However, their PR2 comes complete. It is a life-sized robot that gets around well in your home, doing chores by grasping and manipulating objects. Laundry day got you down? PR2 can even fold clothes. You can choose from a two armed version for $280,000 or knock off one arm and it's yours for only $200,000. Not sure how a one armed robot can fold clothes, but they claim he can fetch a beer. That makes him priceless in some circles.
My favorite is a little guy I saw a couple years ago at a conference. Keepon was a collaboration between Hideki Kozima and Marek Michalowski
, who combined his BA in psychology and MS in computer science from Yale, with a PhD in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. This unassuming, but powerful robot is now called MyKeepon, seen in video below.
He began as a wonderful invention that assists teachers of autistic children. As a research tool for studying nonverbal communication and social behavior he is priced at $30,000. But as a reconfigured toy, he is only $49 at Toys R Us. Your purchase goes towards autism research.
Whether you want a robot for fun, teaching, entertainment, help around the home, or as a philanthropic gesture, this Christmas is going to be interesting.
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