A thought occurred to me recently. Given the recent collapse of the Anki company, Cosmo and Vector robots are going to start appearing on used and overstock hardware markets at bargain basement prices. These were pretty sophisticated little machines. What might their prospects be for recycling/repurposing? What components do they have that could be easily salvaged for use in making other robots?
This particularly interests me because of their small size. I’ve been studying the prospect of amateur space telerobots for some time, originally inspired by the large 1:15-1:8 scale RC construction machine models which feature mini-hydraulic systems and approximate the actual size of many machines lunar and Mars telerobots will likely use. But they range in cost from a couple thousand to over ten thousand dollars.
So I started looking at the other end of the size spectrum and found that, thanks to the introduction of new tiny motors, gearboxes, and digital RC receivers, there are modellers making highly articulated RC construction machine models at the remarkably tiny scale of 1:87. (or HO gauge) Machines like this. (notice how the simulated hydraulic cylinders spin in place? They’re simple screw linear actuators with a motor at one end. Pretty clever) They are also doing first-person video at this scale thanks to tiny USB cameras as demonstrated here.
So you have the basic ingredients here for a telerobot. Try imagining teams of robots deriving from these building things in a simulated moon base, operated over the Internet. That’s what I’m shooting for.
Cosmo and Vector are the only off-the-shelf robots that have ever approached this same size. So I’m wondering what they now might have to offer in the way of discounted hardware. One problem may be that they are too sophisticated and so too specialized in design for the parts to be reused. Their body shells are probably too specialized and control hardware too hardwired to be repurposed. Perhaps others more familiar with their hardware can suggest what might be useful for reuse.