Several years ago, California-based Willow Garage introduced a two-armed wheeled robot known as the PR2. It was designed for use in robotics research, but unfortunately the company has since gone out of business. Quebec-based Kinova Robotics has stepped in to fill the gap, however, with its Movo.

Like the PR2, the Movo can be equipped with either one or two arms, and moves omnidirectionally (at a maximum speed of 2 meters/78.8 inches per second) on a set of wheels in its base. The arms can be removed for use on their own, and can be equipped with either 2- or 3-fingered grippers. And should the robot need to get taller for any reason, its torso can telescope up from a height of 1,100 to 1,580 mm (43 to 62 in).

It's possible to remotely-control the Wi-Fi-enabled robot in real time, or it can operate autonomously. A LiDAR unit in its base, along with a gimbal-mounted depth-sensing Kinect One camera on its head, allow it to detect obstacles and perceive its environment. An Intel CPU, meanwhile, helps it to make sense of everything, and to coordinate its movements.

Movo is intended for indoor operation only, at temperatures of 5 to 40 ºC (41 to 104 ºF). One 5-hour charge of its lithium battery pack should be good for a claimed 8 hours of use. And just what would that use be?

"A lot of researchers will use it for SLAM [simultaneous localization and mapping] research," Kinova's innovation advisor Jérôme Bedard told us at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, where the Movo was on display. "It's a complete model that exists for doing research on how a robot will scan the environment and move around it." Additionally, as it does so, it can perform a variety of tasks with its arms.

You can see the robot in action, in the following video.

Product page: Kinova Robotics Movo

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