By Andrew Liszewski
While I’m glad SONY chose to develop and actually sell the Aibo robot its price and limited availability meant very few people actually owned one. So I’m particularly excited to see that a University team (Technische Univeritat Darmstadt) from Germany is developing an open-source four-legged robot known as the ‘New4LR.’ While they may lack SONY’s marketing skills their robot can outperform Aibo in many ways and has the chance to become far more popular than Aibo ever was by letting hobbyists, students or researchers modify the thing as they please.
The main computer is a 500 MHz AMD-Geode-LX800 32Bit processor with 256 MB (extenable up to 1 GB) DDR-SODIMM main memory on a PC104 board from Digital-Logic which has been selected because of its good balance between computational power, low power requirements and low temperature generation…
Compared with the robot previously used in the Four-Legged League the main computer includes a numeric coprocessor and it is not based on a proprietary operating system. Instead Linux or Windows CE are at the disposal of the robot programmer.
The new four-legged robot should be available sometime in the second half of 2007 but the initial versions will come with a price tag of about $4,850. Hopefully the choice to make it open source will make it popular enough to eventually drive the price down.