Will the real R2D2 please stand up… (and walk…)


R2D2 made in italy


This is kinda cool, and timed just right with the launch of Star Wars Episode III – The University of Pisa (no, it’s not a training ground for Dominos!) have been working on a prototype of R2D2. This will be presented in Livorno on May 19th during the presentation of Episode III.



It’s somehow taller (1.5 mt – about 4.5 ft) but walks (with 2 or 3 legs) and beeps like the original, and flees from people holding light sabres! Oh, and comes with bluetooth and usb. (ed – surely the original also had Bluetooth and USB ??)

The robot actually is the resulting prototype of a research project in creating a kind of slave or companion robot with a friendly interface. What’s better than a worldwide icon that in 28 years of honored service ingnited the imagination of at least two generations?



In the mind of the researchers, this kind of robot could be used in to be used in museums, hospitals, or maybe even at home. The budget for the whole thing was about 50k euros.


More information is available here – Interestingly, this was being discussed by one of the Microsoft Research guys recently, so I wouldn’t be surprised that the robot is running on Microsoft technologies…


– Mike


 


 

Comments (8)

  1. Yes, it runs Windows Embedded, and in particular, .NET. These are the guys behind http://www.robotics4.net/

    More info: http://rotor.di.unipi.it/

    More photos: http://rotor.di.unipi.it/Done/Forms/AllItems.aspx

  2. Yes, it runs Windows Embedded, and in particular, .NET. These are the guys behind http://www.robotics4.net/

    More info: http://rotor.di.unipi.it/

    More photos: http://rotor.di.unipi.it/Done/Forms/AllItems.aspx

  3. mikehall says:

    excellent, so a .NET/Embedded R2D2 – very cool.

    A combination of Windows Embedded O/S and .NET technologies give you "Robot, not Reboot".

    – Mike

  4. Curt says:

    Man, those guys at Pisa…

    Hey, does it look to you like R2 is leaning to one side?

    😉

  5. Hi,

    I am one of the authors of this R2. The history behind the project is long enough. In short we were originally looking for an open robotic interface suitable for studying human-robot interaction. Therefore we were looking for a robot whose size is large enough to be perceived by people in their own space (not one of those dog-sized robots). R2 seemed to be a good choice because of Star Wars: people tend to be more confident with it because it recalls a lovely droid.

    We are fascinated by the problem of robots living with people, rather than standard industrial robots. Although it may seem the same problem we think that industrial robots are very different from those designed to share the same environment with people. In a production facility robots are valuable because of their performance and optimality at orchestrating complex processes. Besides, robots designed to live with people should be robust rather than optimal (and correct). Thus the control softwarefor this new kind of robots should be very different from the traditional systems.

    A rather interesting question we have (that s closely related to these robots) is: what if the PC gets the wheels? In a way R2 can be conceived as a (couple of) PC with wheels.

    Moreover we were willing to focus on software, therefore we ended up to put two PCs inside the robot (together with few boards based on PICs to control actuators and sensors).

    R2 is actually programmed in .NET, and the program has been modeled using a framework we developed called Robotics4.NET (http://www.robotics4.net). The framework has been designed to help people to reuse software across robots and speed up the process of programming robots.

    The project has been supported with a grant from Microsoft Research Cambridge, and now we have a further collaboration ongoing.