One of our robot platforms is the RoboNova-1, developed by Hitec Robotics. This robot is useful to us for several reasons:

  • The RoboNova kit can be configured as a humanoid, so it can mimic human gestures.
  • This robot is both rugged and inexpensive. It is unlikely that we will damage it beyond repair in testing, and in the worst case we can easily buy another one. This allows us to prototype new and potentially destabilizing algorithms without worry that we will destroy the robot.
  • Each limb allows a fine degree of control, enabling precise fine-tuning of gestures.
  • The programming environment is straightforward.
  • The robots provides rudimentary sensors for feedback, such as a gyroscope.
  • The Robonova also has two major disadvantages. The first is that it is a relatively simple robot and cannot mimic human motions all that precisely. The second is that the computer onboard the robot is underpowered. This means that most of the processing must take place on an offboard computer, so that the algorithms can run in real time. Nevertheless, we have enabled the RoboNova to perform a variety of tasks, such as to dance to live music and to play the piano.