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Northern Colorado Business Review article about RoBeDo Robotics November 16, 2010

Posted by williamself in autonomous robots, RoBe:Do Robotics, robotics, robots.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

NCBR Article by Luanne Kadlub

From Robby to hobby, robots become helpers

November 5, 2010 — Remember how Rosie the Robot on “The Jetsons” was like a member of that family from the future? Or when R2-D2 – undeniably the most famous of movie robots – made its debut in 1977 in the first “Star Wars” episode?

If not, you’ve seen the reruns, or at the very least, heard your parents talk about them.

Now hop onto the time machine and jump to the year 2010 and the workshop of William Self. Here you’ll find the software developer/advanced hobby robot enthusiast hard at work creating one of his many robots that he sells to like-minded geeks. Potentially you. Yes, un-geeky you.

Time has come when robots no longer are the playthings of people with gobs of money. Robots are here and now. Yes, they still cost thousands of dollars, but we’re talking “within-reach” thousands, not “when-you-win-the-lottery” thousands.

What could you do with a personal robot? Imagine waking up to freshly brewed coffee served to you in bed. Or how about a bowl of popcorn waiting for you chair-side when you get home from the office? A pipe dream? Not in William Self’s world. If you can imagine it, or dream it, you can make it happen. Self owns RoBeDo Robotics.

“The name started from plans to build fully customizable robots that can accomplish actual tasks,” he explained. “So the theme became the name: *Ro*bots that will *Be* what you want them to be, *Do* what you want them to do. Ro Be Do.”

Working on robots that can help people is a gargantuan task. But if you look at them as machines – say a machine that washes dishes – it becomes do-able. And yes, Self said dishwashers, vacuums (Roomba, anyone?) and other appliances can be classified as robots.

He will happily sell you parts to make a robot or make it for you as long as you understand that you’re the one who will program it. Of course, you’ll need another commonplace item that once only existed in the movies – a computer. Self’s robots don’t care which operating system you use.

Self markets primarily to the advanced hobby robot enthusiast, a market that he says continues to grow. “The whole do-it-yourself market is just going crazy.”

Steven Gentner, founder of Los Angeles-based Roborealm, has worked with Self in developing robot software for the past six months. The partnership is “working quite well,” Gentner said. “He’s definitely a great engineer, he knows what he’s doing. I know the characteristics attributed to a good engineer and their passion and enthusiasm for the field and William definitely exhibits the traits.”

Gentner said the robotic industry is heading in the area Self has already mastered: PC-based robotics.

“The PC is getting cheaper every day, and given the advent of netbooks and the smart-phone market, devices that are smaller but incredibly more powerful than existing electronics typically used, comes more functionality,” he said. “If you look at it from a Robotics 101 application, ‘Get me a beer from the fridge’ is a complex task that’s not accomplished easily. Adding a PC, that’s what’s he’s been doing, and that’s what attracted us to him.”


1. Singapore Robotics Enthusiast - December 1, 2010

Robots that can help people in so many ways… Can’t wait to see more.

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