Robodynamics' Luna personal robot hits Kickstarter

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Luna is designed as a personal robot (Image: Robodynamics/Schultzeworks)

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Back in 2011, Gizmag looked at Robodynamics' Luna personal robot. At that time, the details were a bit scarce, though the company did say that the machine was shipping that year. As 2014 draws to a close, Luna has still to reach market, but the maker has launched a Kickstarter to raise money to start manufacturing while giving us a closer look at the robot's specs.

Designed for Robodynamics by Schultzeworks, Luna is billed as a personal robot designed for practical everyday tasks that Robodynamics says will "bring robots to the masses." When development is completed, it's claimed it will be affordable, adaptable, and designed to operate on a human scale.

The maker sees it as being extremely versatile with applications in care of the elderly, where it would aid independent living for senior citizens by watching their meds, and fetching and carrying; medical aid, which would involve monitoring patients and providing telepresence for specialists; and security, such as patrolling office buildings and warehouses. Images from the company even suggest that it can walk the dog, though that seems a bit optimistic unless the dog is very small and exceptionally well-behaved.

Robodynamics says that the key to Luna's versatility lies in its architecture. Standing 60 in (152 cm) tall and weighing 60 lb (27.2 kg), it's scaled to operate in an average human environment as it rolls on caster wheels on an 8-hour charge. There's a high definition camera, microphones, speakers, an 8-in touch screen LCD, and a carry handle. There is also a pair of movable, though not articulated or motorized, arms that can be positioned manually.

However, Robodynamics puts its greatest emphasis on Luna's computer, which is a Mini-ITX motherboard with 8 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. It's built using off-the-shelf parts, has standard PC architecture and standard USB ports, and runs the Linux-based Robot Operating System (ROS). It also has Wi-Fi and optional Bluetooth.

The set up is an open architecture that runs on apps and services that can be purchased from an app store like something for a smartphone or a tablet. According to Robodynamics, this means that the functions of Luna are only limited by the inventiveness of its users.

Robodynamics says that it hopes to begin manufacturing of Luna by November 2015 and the first 100 will ship a month later at a price of US$1,500. Its Kickstarter campaign runs through February 13 and, if successful, rewards include a Luna Developer Edition for a pledge of US$999 and US$199 acts a deposit on the full-price version.

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