Alt.CES: Robots for Makers?

Zigurd Mednieks checks in from CES

It’s the Consumer Electronics Show, so there are a lot more gadgets for consuming than for making, but I did see a number of robots in the Robotics and Emerging Technologies Tech Zones. The robots could be categorized as: Roomba clones, none of which were readily hackable, big robots, several of which were oriented toward providing telepresence, small robots controlled by on-board smartphones communicating with other smartphones, and even smaller, simpler robots for kids.

My favorite robot at CES is actually a kit that enables even very your children to build sophisticated robots and program their behavior by way of how the blocks in the kit are put together. These robot blocks are made by Modular Robotics and are called “Cubelets.” You can find out more on the Modular Robotics site and here’s a little video report I did from their booth:

The smartphone bots were, not surprisingly, programmable, and mostly iPhone-driven. The Romo robot is controlled via a smartphone’s audio output, and so is compatible with iPhone and Android. My video report on Romo is here:

More robot video reports after the jump:

Returning for 2011 is the least expensive among these robots, the JS Robotics Ladybug which propels itself with vibrating brushes, a la a Bristlebot/Brushbot:

Zigurd Mednieks is an author and consultant specializing in mobile devices and telecommunications product development. He is the co-author of Programming Android and Android Application Development.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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