I wish this guy worked at WowWee!

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FreddyA
FreddyA's picture

I second the 4' or 5' tall robot concept. Where is our V3 Tilden???

Freddy

Toymaker
Toymaker's picture

I agree with you guys, part of the magic of this robot is its cool size!

A problem we currently have is plastic costs because of the robots size, most people think it's the electronics that has the biggest cost impact in this kind of product, but these days it's the rising plastic costs that effect RRP. In high volume the AIMEC:3 four main microcontrollers would have a prime cost in the region of only one Dollar US.

If I can I will stick to the 4' tall machines, they have to be at least this size to be taken seriously!

Toymaker

MrScott
MrScott's picture

There's the curse of scaling up a product's size.

The logic required for a knee high robot isn't any more or less expensive than for a robot with human scale stature. It's all the upsized motors, gears, levers, and shell that up the cost.

As an example, the I-Sobot was as inexpensive as it was due to it's small size. It packs a lot of articulation control and pre-programmed sequences into that package. The exact same microcontroller and firmware could control a human sized equivalent, but the mechanicals would make it much more expensive.

I keep waiting for somebody to do a custom mating the RoboRover controller to a small bulldozer/bobcat. The control logic doesn't care whether it's a foot tall, or 8 feet tall.

TikaC
TikaC's picture

I'm surprised that the plastic would cost more than the electronics! You would think it's the other way around, since plastic doesn't take as much effort to make (I used to work in plastic injection mold plants). Though I'm told the molds can sure run a lot (they are I think cast iron). Then there's the injection molding machines. They take coolant and of course the plastic. And they tend to break down (the older machines I'd have to work on would). Plus people to work them (ie. take the part out of the machine as some parts don't fall out the chute, you have to open the machine, stick your hand in, hope it don't suddenly close on you, etc.) It's funny that they don't pay machine operators very much. Barely minimum wage or slightly over for repetitive work that also can be dangerous. Then we'd have to trim the flash (extra plastic that don't belong) off the parts before the next one is ready to grab. Sometimes you gotta be quick. Plastics plants must make a killing making these things because they can then hire low-wage temp workers to run the machines. That's what I've seen when I used to work those jobs.

I also worked in electronics assembly. And now days they use "solder wave" machines. Just put the boards in and let them get soldered automatically. Inspect and test and it's good to go. Lots faster. But the operators are exposed to fumes, and other chemicals. Again, they don't get paid much. Not even the ones that hand-solder the boards (like I used to do). Parts though were pretty cheap.

I know from experience that they hire pretty cheap labor for both areas, electronics and plastics. So I don't know where the high cost is coming from.

I do hope you can find a way to keep the cost down and still make 4' tall bots! There are many different forms of plastics too, maybe some forms are good enough but cost less?

MrScott
MrScott's picture

The economies come with the volume of production.

If you're using off the shelf electronics, then there are many users of it. The cost of design and setting up production for the part number is spread over the life and many applications of the part. That's why general micro-controllers are a lot cheaper than dedicated Application Specifc Integrated Circuits (ASICS).

Contrast that to the amount of reuse for something like the chest plate for the RSMedia. It was designed for that bot, produced for that bot, and (so far) not ever used for anything else. Limited part runs have to pay for the cost of that design and mold creation.

In my opinion, this is also why we keep seeing minor variations on the RoboSapien (V1) design. They tweak the plastic color, or a minor mold change for a couple of parts, and reuse all the other parts from the previous design. It's a lot cheaper to generate SpiderSapien from RoboSapien than it is to create a new product like FemiSapien or JoeBot.

TikaC
TikaC's picture

Mr. Scott you hit the nail on the head! I forgot about that. I think though if they would make a 5' bot and then just update the look slightly like you said, this would provide a template for more 5' bots. Right now they haven't made a template for anything more than 2'. The good part also would be that us robot hackers would be able to update an old bot with the new bot's parts or fix one bot with the parts of another.

Some cars are like that. When I had a 1987 Pontiac 6000, some parts for any GM A-Body car in that year would be able to fit that car as well.

I think that bots should be made the same way. Like you said, it'd bring the cost of bot production down and be able to reuse the molds, which cost quite a bit to make in the first place.

robopizza
robopizza's picture

TikaC--->"I'm surprised that the plastic would cost more than the electronics! You would think it's the other way around, since plastic doesn't take as much effort to make"

Plastic raw materials are generally petroleum based so as oil prices increase (i hope they don't) so does the cost of plastics.

Maybe smaller and smarter is better than larger.  Too many life sized bots around and our homes become crowded.

Cheers

Toymaker
Toymaker's picture

Hi TikaC

As robopizza mentioned Plastics are petroleum based and their price has "gone through the roof" over the last couple of years - they are now a major prime cost element in this type of product. Tooling is also pretty expensive on a big robot like this, this is why it needs to sell in high volume to amortise the tooling costs.

Most high volume electronics assembly is now SMT (Surface mount) with pick and place robotics, this means that assembly costs are low as human labour is quite minimal. Some low volume electronic toys still use the old through hole techniques but most major manufacturers now use SMT.

Toymaker

TikaC
TikaC's picture

I haven't worked in plastics or electronics assembly in about 20 years, so yeah, I am kinda way behind the times. LOL! I remember opening up an electronics device one time to see I could fix it and saw it was SMD and went "What planet did THIS come from?" LOL!

Seriously, I never knew that plastics contained petroleum. Yeah, with the way oil prices are, plastics can get expensive.

My small apartment is already getting overcrowded with 15 robots and a few assorted stuffed animals. But I don't mind. I wouldn't mind at least ONE 4' or 5' bot (if not two or three). :)

Toymaker
Toymaker's picture
AIMEC:3 is programmed to emulate most the famous robots of Science Fiction, it's part of its personality engine. Here we see AIMEC:3 emulating the "Silent Running" movie Drones Huey, Dewey and Louie keeping the vegetation alive on the Valley Forge! This is a kind of tribute to this great film. Take a look http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZ0JGjKYVdU
 
This is still one of the best SciFi films I have ever seen, the robots are stunning! The design of my first programmable robot "Herbie" in 1979 was influenced by these Drones and can be seen in the CyberneticZoo timeline. http://cyberneticzoo.com/?p=2280
 
Toymaker

TikaC
TikaC's picture

I put Silent Running on my movie wish list. I will have to see that. Can AIMEC also emulate a Cylon Centurion from the 70s Battlestar Galactica? Or Lucifer/Spector (the IL Units)? That'd be fun. :)

Of course, I'm sure you have him already emulating Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet and B-9 from Lost In Space!

GWJax
GWJax's picture

TikaC said: I put Silent Running on my movie wish list. I will have to see that.

Tika you can watch the complete movie on YouTube starting with part 1 of  9 here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oani3-RDvHw&feature=channel

Jax

MrScott
MrScott's picture

Regarding Silent Running's bots, it's interesting to note that those movie bots were brought to life by actors inside them. It's a tough casting call when the part requires you to be a multiple-amputee.

 

 

 

 

 

TikaC
TikaC's picture

GWJax - Isn't that illegal though? Or do they have permission to put it up? Seems like a lot of effort to got through to watch a movie, clicking on 9 parts. It doesn't cost too much to rent it online. I don't mind.

GWJax
GWJax's picture

LOL Yep it's illegal but it's not my account so no worries on my part, I just shared the information with ya. I am surprised that youtube allows it but they may have permission as well.

Personally I'm glad I did not rent it or buy it because the movie really sucks bad..

Jax

Toymaker
Toymaker's picture

Hi TikaC

Yes, he does Robbie and B9 as well as most others. AIMEC:3 has two functions when no one is interacting with the machine. The first is to search the net for things that may interest me (his primary user), then after this he will do things to get attention. A few times he has made me jump when he comes out with stuff like "Danger Will Robinson" after he has just been sitting there inactive for the last hour or so!

MrScott, thanks for that link, I always knew they were amputee's in the robots, but have never seen that video which was very interesting.

Jax, sorry you did not like the movie, I guess it is 38 years old and it was a bit hippie around then. When I saw it in 73 the special effects were great for that time. To me it's the robots that make this film, although the message the film tries to make is more valid now than ever, we do need to look after our dwindling resources on this planet!

Toymaker

TikaC
TikaC's picture

I rented the movie on iTunes last night and I liked it. Like Toymaker says, it's old, and back in those days that is how a lot of the big movies were made. I loved the original Battlestar Galactica (70s show as well). So it kinda takes me back. I admit that even I have got spoiled over the years with more modern, "gritty" and intense plots and far more impressive special effects. Back when Silent Running was made though, they were more limited in what they could show the public.

Overall, I did like the movie.

Toymaker
Toymaker's picture

Here is the new AIMEC:4 head doing face recognition

Here is the eye tracking mode - this lets the robot follow faces

Toymaker

 

TikaC
TikaC's picture

Amazing! That must have taken a lot of work to do. Actual eye tracking mode especially. Will you also have a head tracking mode in case someone turns their head, closes their eyes or moves their eyes out of range?

dj_siek
dj_siek's picture

loving your work Toymaker.

Keep it up. I hope you get somewhere with manufacturing partners!

The AIMEC bots are very impressive and look like they could be quite useful around the home.

Toymaker
Toymaker's picture

Thanks dj_siek, your comments are appreciated.

Toymaker

Toymaker
Toymaker's picture
Here is what the new AIMEC:4 "affordable useful Personal Robot" is going to look like.
The body section is very similar to the AIMEC:3 robot
Toymaker
TikaC
TikaC's picture

Looks great! I really do hope you can market these. This would help get the robot market going again, I think.

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