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5 awesome robot arms for your high tech home
Need a helping hand? Then you’ll be pleased to hear one is already on its way – although it’s not made from flesh and bone, but attached to a cold, metallic robot arm.
Sure, it won’t offer the companionship that a friend or neighbor will, but you might be surprised by the range of talents offered by a robotic limb. It’s no coincidence that robot arms have been slowly filling the pages of crowdfunding sites, and these five could come in handy in your high tech home of the future.
The 5 best robot arms:
Robot arms have been used in manufacturing for years, but only very recently have they begun making their way into homes. This is partly because they’re ugly and expensive, and partly because they’re just not useful enough for the average person. Dobot attempts to tackle these issues.
This four axis robot arm isn’t much prettier, but it is both affordable and useful – for designers at least. Aimed at makers, artists and scientists, the arm can draw, 3D-print and type with precision. you can even program it to stir a cup of tea, if you want. You control it via bluetooth with a dedicated smartphone app or your PC, while it can also be trained to follow the motion of your hand. The current price is $449.
Dobot was subject to a Kickstarter campaign last month and it proved enormously popular – raising $615,000, despite just a $36,000 target. It’s expected to ship next month.
Capable of many of the same tasks as Dobot, 7bot is arguably even easier to program and currently available for just $347. Like Dobot it was a Kickstarter success – raising $290,000 despite a $50,000 goal – and it’s estimated to ship in January 2016.
With 7bot, beginners can train it to perform simple actions by simply moving the arm around with their hands. The robot arm then mimics the actions, mastering everything from simple tasks to perfectly styled calligraphy.
This robot arm really comes into its own, though, when it’s partnered with a USB camera to act as its eyes. With a little programming knowledge, 7bot can solve simple problems, learn instruments and even play a decent game of chess.
Another robot arm aimed squarely at makers, this one is a jack of many trades. It 3D prints, carves, engraves, assembles and will even pick things up with its suction cup attachment. If that’s not enough, you can even add your own custom tool heads for an almost unlimited number of projects.
Makearm is a little more expensive, setting you back around $1,399, but that’s still a lot cheaper than the industrial equivalent. It’s also a lot less ugly than its cheaper counterparts and will look right at home next to all of your other gadgets.
4. “The Chef”
So far, robot arms are proving impressive if not totally useful, but that’s about to change. Robotic limbs that help out with household chores are few and far between – and rarely efficient – but this creation from Moley Robotics is something that anyone can appreciate.
The Chef actually consists of two robot arms and is capable of cooking up some pretty complex dishes, trained by 2011 Masterchef champion Tim Anderson. It’s not just chopping and stirring either, the robot arms have a sophisticated range of movements, doing everything from cracking eggs to whisking cake mixture.
Although it can already make a mean crab bisque (see above), The Chef still needs a few tweaks before it hits the market. It’s expected to be available by 2017, and will cost around $10,000.
Artists and robots don’t usually get along, but even the most purist creative-type would struggle to find a gripe with PicassoBot. That’s because it’s not intended to intrude in art circles, but rather it’s meant to help Junior and Senior High School students learn STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) concepts in a tangible way.
The robot actually comes as a simple kit, and should take kids one or two hours to assemble and use. There’s no soldering or difficult mechanics involved, so even smaller kids can get involved and feel proud once they’ve built their own robotic arm. Once it’s ready, the arm can be programmed to write and draw simple sketches.
PicassoBot is yet another Kickstarter success, raising nearly $15,000 back in 2014. It’ll cost just $75 for the complete kit.