Another social robot seeks for your family’s attention these days on Indiegogo, it’s name is Buddy and comes from France. The robot can assist all members of the family in a number of ways – it can keep agendas, make suggestions based on search input, interface with smart home devices, it can keep kids entertained, and it can also perform surveillance of the house. Buddy can also be accessed remotely to let you see what’s going on at home. There are also several accessories that allow for customizing your robot.
Buddy was created by Rodolphe Hasselvander, former director of French robotics research institute CRIIF and founder of Blue Frog Robotics. While today’s personal robots are a far cry from our childhood’s highly intelligent robotic characters from movies and TV shows, this niche is steadily evolving and the Buddy robot is another step forward. In fact it seems that we crave for such robots – the US $100,000 campaign goal was reached in about a day.
Nowadays we have Pepper, Maya and we also have Jibo to which Buddy is very similar in purpose and capabilities, however Buddy can also move around the house completely autonomously providing an entire set of extra features.
An unique feature of Buddy is that the robot can also be used for helping children suffering of autism thanks to a “Special needs” pack comprised of dedicated software developed by Blue Frog Robotics in collaboration with Auticiel – a startup dedicated to software development for persons with special needs.
Buddy is open-source and promises to be a versatile development platform, with the hardware layer accessible via an API. Upon acquisition of a developer edition pack access to a full featured SDK, documentation and support will be provided for users who want to add new features to the robot. It’s creators say it can be programmed using most medium and high-level languages available today and is compatible with tools such as OpenCV or Unity3D. There will also be a tool for kids who want to program facial expressions and movements of the robot.
The Buddy robot is packed with sensors for ground sensing and obstacle avoidance and also has a 2 DOF neck joint which allows for moving its head 180 degrees left to right, and to 140 degrees tilting. The robot has a differential drive rolling base with 2 actuated wheels and one support wheel. An 8 inch tablet integrated into the robot’s head displays facial expressions and handles upper level functions such as face recognition, multimedia and communication tasks.
- Size and weight: 35x35x56cm (13.78×13.78x22inch), over 5kg (11lbs);
- Head Sensors: Range finder, temperature, 8 inch tablet provides camera and microphone;
- Body sensors: 5 obstacle detection, 5 ground sensing, 3 range finder;
- Actuators: 2 neck motors, 2 drive motors
- Multimedia: 2 Speakers, RGB LEDs
- Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI out, Audio out, USB via tablet
- Speed: up to 2.5km/h (1.6mph)
- Autonomy: 8-10 hours
- Terrain mobility: obstacle height to 1.5cm
Buddy comes in several variants and has a few optional extras available. At a base price of US $649 you can get a standard Buddy robot. For an extra $100 full access to the SDK and support is provided. Optional extras such as projector or classic arms or docking station can be also added for the same amount of money. Packs of two or multiple robots can yield significant discounts.
The “Special needs” version including custom software and cloud service subscription will cost US $899. Check out the campaign page for more info and pledges. Deliveries should start in December 2015.