We all want a robot we can program to do silly robot things. Unfortunately, those kinds of robots are still darn expensive or just downright inaccessible to home tinkerers (like the PR2). The RAPIRO, a powerful robot kit that costs less than your iPad, could change that.
Created by Shota Ishiwatari, it’s a tiny tabletop robot designed to use a Raspberry Pi computer (that wonderful $25 ARM-based Linux computer) as its brains. Just plug one into the designated slot and turn an erstwile brainless robot into an evil soldier of doom. Or whatever you intend to train your future robot army to do.
The RAPIRO (aka RAspberry PI RObot) is a plastic humanoid robot kit that comes with 12 servos and an Arduino-compatible servo board, allowing you to individually control the neck, the two feet, the waist, the arms, and the hands. At the most basic level, the robot can be programmed to walk, grip objects, turn its head, and turn its waist; those movements, combined with the dual full-color LED eyes, already give you plenty to play with even before installing a Raspberry Pi (the servo board is independently programmable).
If you’d like your robot to see its full potential, of course, a Raspberry Pi should be mandatory, along with a camera module, both of which you can mount at the slots in its head. With those two components on board, you can give it remote commands, program it for complex tasks, and have it communicate untethered, among other cool functions — basically, the ones you need to turn an erstwhile innocent robot into humanity’s bane.
While the RAPIRO itself only costs £229, we’re guessing you have to spend a bit more if you want to get it fully-loaded, from the ones we’ve mentioned (Raspberry Pi and camera module) to various wireless connectivity dongles (IR, WiFi, Bluetooth) to other hardware (USB mic, PSD distance sensor, speaker). You can reserve yourself a unit in the official Kickstarter project page.