There are now 1 million industrial robots toiling around the world, and Japan is where they’re the thickest on the ground. It has 295 of these electromechanical marvels for every 10 000 manufacturing workers–a robot density almost 10 times the world average and nearly twice that of Singapore (169), South Korea (164), and Germany (163).
In the last few years, the world of hobby robotics has exploded. Driven by the plummeting prices and ubiquity of microcontrollers, servomotors, and other electronic and mechanical components, the growth in personal fabrication technologies, and the success of such commercial toy, hobby, and domestic robots as Lego Mindstorms, the Robosapien line, Japanese mini humanoids, and iRobot’s cleaning machines, robots are finally becoming rather commonplace (if still only in niche domains). And, of course, the robot growth being seeded by these new technologies is watered by the Big Muddy of the Internet, with its rapid information and idea exchange. The next generation of engineers and industrial designers who’ll build tomorrow’s robots are growing up with Vex kits and Arduino microcontrollers in their hands today.
For our MAKE Robot Gift Guide, we’ve put together a sampling of robot-related offerings from the Maker Shed, as well as some other robots we fancy. If you give or get any of these bots for the holidays, or especially if you or your recipients, hack them, we’d love to hear about it.