EZ Robots are ready to roll ... or walk, or scuttle
Ez-Robot, a small company based in Calgary, Canada, is aiming to start a new "revolution" in robotics. The company's new Revolution line is a series of small, hobby-sized robots with modular parts, easy-to-use features, and snap-together mechanics. The line consists of three new robot kits: a humanoid two legged walker, a rover with tracks, and a hexapod, or six-legged spider-bot.
Ez-Robot has been around since 2011, making robot controllers, servo motors, and robot control software. Previous products have concentrated on adding functionality to existing items – first by turning radio control toys into robots, and then adding intelligence and additional sensors to off-the-shelf robots like the Roomba and WowWee's Roboquad.
The company's three new robots are based around a simple sliding mechanical interface called the "Ez-Bit clip'n'play" technology, which allows chains of servomotors to be attached to create arms, legs, or even pan-tilt mounts for cameras. No tools are required, and all of the parts can be created on a 3D printer, if you have one. Ez-Robot will send you the patterns to make your own components.
The centerpiece of these robots is a custom robot controller called the Ez-B. This 2.1 in (5.3 cm) square board contains a 120-Mhz ARM CORTEX M3 processor, and includes either a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth radio interface, as well as 24 digital ports to attach motors, sensors, and LEDs. Software running on a PC or laptop controls the robot remotely, and any voice recognition or video processing takes place on the remote computer.
The simplest new robot is called the Revolution Roli, and it resembles a planetary rover design with tank treads and a camera mounted on a pan and tilt assembly. There are plenty of connections to add additional parts to the body of this robot, and a small payload compartment big enough to deliver a cold can of drink.
The second robot is a hexapod, or six-legged spider robot called the Revolution Six. This is a large robot with six two-jointed legs that provide very organic movements. There are attachment points on the body of this robot as well for cameras or sensors to be added.
The most impressive robot kit is the Revolution JD, a full 16-servo humanoid robot that stands on two legs and has two arms with gripping hands, and a head that moves up and down and right to left. A set of LED lights in the eyes are available for creating expressions and displaying status information.
Since all of these robots are made from the same connections and components, parts can be mixed and matched. The arms from the JD humanoid robot can be put on the rover, for instance, or the expressive head put on the spider robot. The software is likewise modular and can be adapted by the user to each of these configurations. Scripting software lets the robot owner build up commands from smaller parts, attaching complex functions out of groups of simple instructions.
"Rather than focusing our product on a specific function, such as vacuuming floors, we have created a collection of tools to achieve your goal." says DJ Sures, CEO of Ez-Robot. "Think of EZ-Robot as a blank canvas with a palette of colors to allow you to paint the future of robotics."
Prices for the Rovi start at US$249, with the hexapod Six priced at $389 and the more complex JD at $469.
The video below introduces the robots in the new Revolution line.