Robosapien® V2, 2005

WowWee Ltd.

Location: New York, New York
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Wowwee Ltd. is the leading producer of consumer-entertainment robotics. Many of Wowwee’s robots are based upon physicist Mark Tilden’s pioneering work in applied resonant biomorphic principles and in analog robotics (called BEAM robotics). This differs from computer-driven digital mechanics in its use of simple electronics parts and imitation of the natural physics of nature. Tilden formerly worked at Los Alamos National Labs and has also consulted for NASA.

Tilden grew up building all of his own robot toys, drawing inspiration from comic books, television, and movies. Unlike other highly complex and expensive competitors, his Robosapien robot for Wowwee is designed for simplicity and adaptability. A single screwdriver takes it apart, and all of the parts are color-coded for convenience. These robots support third-party additions and modifications, and Wowwee provides information and support for this on its Web site. Tilden states, “I wanted a toy I would have killed for as a kid. Open him up and the possibilities skyrocket. Easy to hack, tons of extra space, power to spare, modular sealed gearboxes, gold-plated solder pads, etc.”

The original Robosapien, designed in 2004, has sixty-seven preprogrammed functions, including the ability to pick up objects, throw, kick, sweep, dance, belch, rap, and imitate martial-arts manuevers. The current Robosapien V2 features more fluid motions and gestures, programmable “reflexes” to touch, pick up, or make sounds, “fluent international caveman” speech, and runs on regular batteries for up to six hours. All of these functions are handled by an ergonomic remote control that includes up to eighty-four program steps, with four program modes for advanced operations. It also has twenty-eight hidden functions that do not appear in the manual but are intended to be “discovered” over time.

Robosapien V2, introduced during Christmas 2005, is a highly evolved fusion of technology and a multi-sensory, interactive humanoid personality. Standing twenty-four inches tall and capable of autonomous behavior, his features include multiple levels of environmental interaction with humans and objects as well as sight, sound, and touch senses. He can lie down and get back up on his own. He responds verbally to environmental stimuli as well as controller commands, and can recognize colors and skin tone through his animated LED eyes.

Robosapien V2 can interact with and control other Robonetics products, including the Roboraptor and the Robopet. The Roborapter and Robopet both have mooddependent behavior: aggressive/hunting mood, nervous/ cautious mood, and friendly/playful mood; and the Robopet is trainable, actually responding to the owner’s positive and negative reinforcement. In contrast to the robotic toys whose appearance mimics our traditional notions, of how robots should appear, Wowwee has also developed an animate, highly realistic monkey head. Depending on varying sounds, the monkey’s facial features react with different expressions of happiness, anger, and surprise. Robot companions have arrived!