Are the humanoids dying out? Is this site?

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Are the humanoids dying out? Is this site?

Post by allanonmage » Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:38 am

Post by allanonmage
Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:38 am

It seems I am finding more information about robots from the 2007 - 2008 era than anything else. Is the humanoid hobby dying? Did the economy kill it?

On a related not, I don't see much activity on this site. Are both the hobby and this site past it's heyday?

I bought a Robophilo over a year ago and am still struggling to get it functional. Today i found a site that listed a few other humanoids, including price comparisons. Looking at the Mech RC, it seems it's no longer sold, not even on eBay. I remember look at robonovas for sale on eBay for ~$600, but of course a few months later when I was ready to buy there were none to be bought. What phenomenon am I observing here??
It seems I am finding more information about robots from the 2007 - 2008 era than anything else. Is the humanoid hobby dying? Did the economy kill it?

On a related not, I don't see much activity on this site. Are both the hobby and this site past it's heyday?

I bought a Robophilo over a year ago and am still struggling to get it functional. Today i found a site that listed a few other humanoids, including price comparisons. Looking at the Mech RC, it seems it's no longer sold, not even on eBay. I remember look at robonovas for sale on eBay for ~$600, but of course a few months later when I was ready to buy there were none to be bought. What phenomenon am I observing here??
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Post by tempusmaster » Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:48 am

Post by tempusmaster
Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:48 am

It's a natural phenomena with any new hobby sector that has been aggravated by hard economic times. In 2006-2008 humanoid robots were new, exciting, and everyone wanted to build one. Quite a few companies tried to market kits with mixed results. Some excellent designs, like Plen, failed to catch on. Over time the players that didn't have a long term strategy, plan, or enough cash dropped out.

Builders/hobbyists/researchers that have stayed committed have honed their skills and expertise. A lot of them are at the point that they can build whatever they need rather than buying a kit. So they buy servos, controllers, and other parts, but don't need to exchange questions about kits or entry level products/designs.

Humanoid robotics isn't a cheap hobby, as you know. There is still tremendous interest, but in an environment were people are struggling to get by economically there isn't as much disposable income available to spend on hobby robotics. That will change as the economy (hopefully) gets better.

It's a natural cycle. This hobby is far from dead, it's just in a fallow period at the moment.
It's a natural phenomena with any new hobby sector that has been aggravated by hard economic times. In 2006-2008 humanoid robots were new, exciting, and everyone wanted to build one. Quite a few companies tried to market kits with mixed results. Some excellent designs, like Plen, failed to catch on. Over time the players that didn't have a long term strategy, plan, or enough cash dropped out.

Builders/hobbyists/researchers that have stayed committed have honed their skills and expertise. A lot of them are at the point that they can build whatever they need rather than buying a kit. So they buy servos, controllers, and other parts, but don't need to exchange questions about kits or entry level products/designs.

Humanoid robotics isn't a cheap hobby, as you know. There is still tremendous interest, but in an environment were people are struggling to get by economically there isn't as much disposable income available to spend on hobby robotics. That will change as the economy (hopefully) gets better.

It's a natural cycle. This hobby is far from dead, it's just in a fallow period at the moment.
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Post by siempre.aprendiendo » Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:00 pm

Post by siempre.aprendiendo
Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:00 pm

Interesting question...

But I think there is one powerful factor, this interest is hardly pulled after every major release. It's easily traceable, for example, with Lego Mindstorms: 1998 (RCX), 2006 (NXT) or Bioloid 2007 (Comprehensive) and 2010 (Premium).

A few months ago Nao launched a new version, and, at this moment in the Aldebaran Nao forum:

"In total there are 652 users Online :: 3 Members and 649 Guests"


I think it is lot of interested people :)

It's an expensive hobby, sure (specially in these hard economic times) , but not more expensive than RC cars/planes/... or model trains (in the same quality range). Though, IMHO, robotics hobby currently lacks playability and easiness, specially for people not interested in programming or electronics.
Interesting question...

But I think there is one powerful factor, this interest is hardly pulled after every major release. It's easily traceable, for example, with Lego Mindstorms: 1998 (RCX), 2006 (NXT) or Bioloid 2007 (Comprehensive) and 2010 (Premium).

A few months ago Nao launched a new version, and, at this moment in the Aldebaran Nao forum:

"In total there are 652 users Online :: 3 Members and 649 Guests"


I think it is lot of interested people :)

It's an expensive hobby, sure (specially in these hard economic times) , but not more expensive than RC cars/planes/... or model trains (in the same quality range). Though, IMHO, robotics hobby currently lacks playability and easiness, specially for people not interested in programming or electronics.
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Post by Fritzoid » Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:22 pm

Post by Fritzoid
Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:22 pm

Humanoid robotics is a lot harder to do than most people think. There are lots of stumbling blocks to overcome which can be discouraging.

Spending the $1-2K to get started in the hobby can be pretty easy to justify. Moving up to the next level (NAO or Darwin) is still VERY pricey. Offer a good walking robot with vision in the $1-2K sweet-spot and I'll bet you'll see another wave.
Humanoid robotics is a lot harder to do than most people think. There are lots of stumbling blocks to overcome which can be discouraging.

Spending the $1-2K to get started in the hobby can be pretty easy to justify. Moving up to the next level (NAO or Darwin) is still VERY pricey. Offer a good walking robot with vision in the $1-2K sweet-spot and I'll bet you'll see another wave.
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Post by siempre.aprendiendo » Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:49 pm

Post by siempre.aprendiendo
Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:49 pm

Fritzoid wrote:Humanoid robotics is a lot harder to do than most people think. There are lots of stumbling blocks to overcome which can be discouraging.

Spending the $1-2K to get started in the hobby can be pretty easy to justify. Moving up to the next level (NAO or Darwin) is still VERY pricey. Offer a good walking robot with vision in the $1-2K sweet-spot and I'll bet you'll see another wave.


Where is the +1000, Like! and Retweet|Favorite ? ;)
Fritzoid wrote:Humanoid robotics is a lot harder to do than most people think. There are lots of stumbling blocks to overcome which can be discouraging.

Spending the $1-2K to get started in the hobby can be pretty easy to justify. Moving up to the next level (NAO or Darwin) is still VERY pricey. Offer a good walking robot with vision in the $1-2K sweet-spot and I'll bet you'll see another wave.


Where is the +1000, Like! and Retweet|Favorite ? ;)
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Post by Gort » Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:23 pm

Post by Gort
Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:23 pm

I think what you are seeing is the lack of new people entering the hobby. Yes, the reasons for this are entry cost and a bad worldwide economy.

One of the reasons why I like going to maker faires is that I have a chance to show off my robots to a younger audience and an audience who knows little about what is going on in the field of robotics. Robogames, robotic conferences and other robot competitions are in my mind just preaching to the choir. I also think it is fun to see kids playing with my robot and being inspired too maybe picking it up as a hobby or as a possible career or education path.

I usually spend a lot of my time talking to parents about the cool line of OLLO kits from Robotis while their kids play with my robot. Check out the OLLO STEM kit I think it is a great entry level robotics kit.
I think what you are seeing is the lack of new people entering the hobby. Yes, the reasons for this are entry cost and a bad worldwide economy.

One of the reasons why I like going to maker faires is that I have a chance to show off my robots to a younger audience and an audience who knows little about what is going on in the field of robotics. Robogames, robotic conferences and other robot competitions are in my mind just preaching to the choir. I also think it is fun to see kids playing with my robot and being inspired too maybe picking it up as a hobby or as a possible career or education path.

I usually spend a lot of my time talking to parents about the cool line of OLLO kits from Robotis while their kids play with my robot. Check out the OLLO STEM kit I think it is a great entry level robotics kit.
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Post by limor » Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:28 pm

Post by limor
Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:28 pm

It also has to do with what can be done with humanoid robots. i think the filed needs to advance in two directions of of evolution. one is new types of self balancing motions like running and jumping and the other is building of new types of humanoids to enable running and jumping.
It also has to do with what can be done with humanoid robots. i think the filed needs to advance in two directions of of evolution. one is new types of self balancing motions like running and jumping and the other is building of new types of humanoids to enable running and jumping.
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Post by PaulL » Sat Aug 18, 2012 1:33 pm

Post by PaulL
Sat Aug 18, 2012 1:33 pm

I came to a stall point with the RN-1 not long after I first got it, and it sat for a long time. I wanted more horsepower (processing speed), and I wanted to code in .Net. For me, Roboard was the catalyst to get me going again - I've been obsessed since.

My 2 cents:

As has been mentioned, robotics isn't easy (yet?), and software hasn't evolved far enough to get most people interested. You can only go so far with a stock platform, and breaking away from stock requires a lot of know how. A stock bot can get boring quickly.

The early bots consisted of a pile of servos with just enough CPU to get them moving. Since then, electronics have advanced, and lower powered, faster CPU's on smaller boards are becoming more common. This means more power to leverage in making systems more user-friendly.

The guys I work with could afford this hobby. I've even been asked about the cost. In the end, those interested say they don't have the time for this kind of hobby - this is coming from guys with a decent level of know-how. In short, this means it takes too much time to be worth it in their eyes. That, and it can't fetch a beer.
I came to a stall point with the RN-1 not long after I first got it, and it sat for a long time. I wanted more horsepower (processing speed), and I wanted to code in .Net. For me, Roboard was the catalyst to get me going again - I've been obsessed since.

My 2 cents:

As has been mentioned, robotics isn't easy (yet?), and software hasn't evolved far enough to get most people interested. You can only go so far with a stock platform, and breaking away from stock requires a lot of know how. A stock bot can get boring quickly.

The early bots consisted of a pile of servos with just enough CPU to get them moving. Since then, electronics have advanced, and lower powered, faster CPU's on smaller boards are becoming more common. This means more power to leverage in making systems more user-friendly.

The guys I work with could afford this hobby. I've even been asked about the cost. In the end, those interested say they don't have the time for this kind of hobby - this is coming from guys with a decent level of know-how. In short, this means it takes too much time to be worth it in their eyes. That, and it can't fetch a beer.
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Post by Gort » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:37 pm

Post by Gort
Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:37 pm

RN1AsOf091407 do you go to Maker Faires or robot competitions like Robogames? Part of the fun of having a robot is showing it off and going to competitions! :D
RN1AsOf091407 do you go to Maker Faires or robot competitions like Robogames? Part of the fun of having a robot is showing it off and going to competitions! :D
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Post by Geppetto » Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:23 am

Post by Geppetto
Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:23 am

Hi there,

There is still much interest (and lurkers) I believe.

In my case, I'm a refugee from Canada. I cannot for some reason find an active forum related to humanoid robot kits. Most of my searches led me back here to robosavvy so I figured I may as well stick around and learn from you guys :lol:


-Geppetto
Hi there,

There is still much interest (and lurkers) I believe.

In my case, I'm a refugee from Canada. I cannot for some reason find an active forum related to humanoid robot kits. Most of my searches led me back here to robosavvy so I figured I may as well stick around and learn from you guys :lol:


-Geppetto
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Post by kerwin » Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:41 am

Post by kerwin
Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:41 am

I have got many information from here, thanks for sharing this.
I have got many information from here, thanks for sharing this.
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Post by PaulL » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:39 am

Post by PaulL
Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:39 am

Gort wrote:RN1AsOf091407 do you go to Maker Faires or robot competitions like Robogames? Part of the fun of having a robot is showing it off and going to competitions! :D


... I haven't been to either yet, not sure when I will. We'll see... :)
Gort wrote:RN1AsOf091407 do you go to Maker Faires or robot competitions like Robogames? Part of the fun of having a robot is showing it off and going to competitions! :D


... I haven't been to either yet, not sure when I will. We'll see... :)
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Post by Geppetto » Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:38 am

Post by Geppetto
Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:38 am

I'm kind of curious, which humanoid kit makers are still active? I'm leaning towards the bioloid robotis kit that robosavvy has in the store but I would like to confirm what other companies I have to choose from?
I'm kind of curious, which humanoid kit makers are still active? I'm leaning towards the bioloid robotis kit that robosavvy has in the store but I would like to confirm what other companies I have to choose from?
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would helpfull

Post by nomad » Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:03 am

Post by nomad
Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:03 am

hi,i find it would be great to have a good explanation how you program,
your robot,whit pic.you get easly lost in al info you need to know,
not to mention how many servo you break ,cause of missing information.
you cant learn much in 30 minites.and if you get lucky not to break servo's. i respected the 30 minites programming and ended up whit,
8 broken servo's.finally i got the robot reddy,and i used few times,
before i notest another bad servo.the offset is very importent tool,
for long last of servo's.many robots on sale are not complete,seen the prize is chould .also good thing would be to get al parts separtly from servo's like the little circuitboard,horn,so you can cheaper restore them.
hi,i find it would be great to have a good explanation how you program,
your robot,whit pic.you get easly lost in al info you need to know,
not to mention how many servo you break ,cause of missing information.
you cant learn much in 30 minites.and if you get lucky not to break servo's. i respected the 30 minites programming and ended up whit,
8 broken servo's.finally i got the robot reddy,and i used few times,
before i notest another bad servo.the offset is very importent tool,
for long last of servo's.many robots on sale are not complete,seen the prize is chould .also good thing would be to get al parts separtly from servo's like the little circuitboard,horn,so you can cheaper restore them.
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Post by PedroR » Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:09 pm

Post by PedroR
Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:09 pm

Hi nomad

From reading your post I suspect you're using a KHR robot.

These are very prone to becoming damaged for two majro reasons: mistakes in the screws you use the backhorn (it's a silly one, but they come with 2 screws that have less than 1mm difference; the longest one will punture the servo PCB)
The other issue with Kondo is, as you mention trimming: Kondo servos theorically have overloa dprotection which shuts them down in case of an overload.
However sometimes - in Kondo - the H bridge burns before the cut-off mechanism is activated.


We find that kits like Bioloid and Robobuilder are significantly easier to use and learn than Kondo.

Kondo KHR is a great robot and when customers call, the usual recommendation is to use get a Kondo if have background from RC.

If not, or if you're an absolute beginner, Robotis Bioloid and Robobuilder are much better choices: they have nearly nowhere to go wrong and they have overload protection that saves your servos. (the only way to break a servo is to drop the robot from the table or higher; the result is usually a broken gear that can be easily replaced for free or at very low cost (a few pounds for a gearset at most)


I think the key to this discussion is really extensibility and "hackability" as this is what will keep you going and interested in the long run.

Robobuilder tends to be the most "hackable" robot (it supports full a protocol for control from an external MCU - wired or wireless over BTT).
The new Robobuilder RQ-HUNO is probably the easiest to hack ever, by exposing an external, full duplex TTL interface for an add-on MCU.

Regards
Pedro.
Hi nomad

From reading your post I suspect you're using a KHR robot.

These are very prone to becoming damaged for two majro reasons: mistakes in the screws you use the backhorn (it's a silly one, but they come with 2 screws that have less than 1mm difference; the longest one will punture the servo PCB)
The other issue with Kondo is, as you mention trimming: Kondo servos theorically have overloa dprotection which shuts them down in case of an overload.
However sometimes - in Kondo - the H bridge burns before the cut-off mechanism is activated.


We find that kits like Bioloid and Robobuilder are significantly easier to use and learn than Kondo.

Kondo KHR is a great robot and when customers call, the usual recommendation is to use get a Kondo if have background from RC.

If not, or if you're an absolute beginner, Robotis Bioloid and Robobuilder are much better choices: they have nearly nowhere to go wrong and they have overload protection that saves your servos. (the only way to break a servo is to drop the robot from the table or higher; the result is usually a broken gear that can be easily replaced for free or at very low cost (a few pounds for a gearset at most)


I think the key to this discussion is really extensibility and "hackability" as this is what will keep you going and interested in the long run.

Robobuilder tends to be the most "hackable" robot (it supports full a protocol for control from an external MCU - wired or wireless over BTT).
The new Robobuilder RQ-HUNO is probably the easiest to hack ever, by exposing an external, full duplex TTL interface for an add-on MCU.

Regards
Pedro.
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