Q.bo, the open source standard robot that has been under development by TheCorpora Robotic Company, has now started shipping. It is available in kit form and in two fully assembled, Q.bo Evo, models.
The brainchild of Francisco Paz, Q.bo has been designed to be a domestic robot with an open source format in both hardware and software that would allow enthusiasts to experiment.
After six yeas of development, the project was declared complete six months ago when Q.bo became available for pre-order. Now the waiting is over and Q.bos have been dispatched from TheCorpera's headquarters in Spain to their new owners around the globe.
Q.bo is supplied in three formats. Q.bo Basic Platform comes as a kit of parts: includes plastic covers, steel chassis, mechanical parts, webcams and wifi antenna. You'll then need to add servo motors, controller boards, motherboard, microprocessor and memory.
If you are contemplating building the kit version this time-lapse video shows one being assembled by a expert:
Q.bo Lite Evo comes with an Intel D2700MUD motherboard, an Intel ATOM D2700 microprocessor, a 40 GB mechanical disk and it does not include the eyelids mechanism.
Q.bo Complete Pro version includes a Mini ITX DQ67EP motherboard with an Intel Core I3 low power consumption microprocessor and a 40 GB SSD disk.
Its superior specification gives it greater fluidity of movement and provides an eyelid mechanism. It also allows the execution of computationally heavier algorithms and greater execution speed. It also includes an Asus Xtion Pro Live depth camera.
Both versions of Q.bo Complete (Lite and Pro) are designed for those who want to skip the assembling steps and choosing the components. For developers, these versions will allow you forget worrying about the mechanical and electronic level and concentrate on the software aspects of making Q.bo do useful and interesting things with the OpenQbo software that is included in the box.
It's important to note that out-of-the-box Q.bo doesn't have the cute behaviors shown in this video - or even any behavior at all. That's up to the developer.
The OpenQbo Community is the place where you find help with both hardware and software aspects of Qbo and there are already several apps available for download - including ones for hand gestures and for recognizing objects and faces.
Qbo may not be a humanoid robot and without arms and legs what it can be used for is more limited than say the Nao robot but there are areas where its lower cost and wheel based mobility might be an advantage. After all without legs you don't have to devote lots of computing power to just standing up right. It also manages to get just enough "cute" R2D2 like personality into the mix to be useful in social interaction projects and experiments. Put simply this is an affordable way of getting into robotics.