MAKE:TNT Tools 'n' Tips


by Dave Prochnow

As seen in MAKE 06 Toolbox

Tool photo.

Guided by the design brilliance of Mark W. Tilden, WowWee Robotics created the best-selling robot of all time, Robosapien. Dubbed the only robot fluent in “caveman talk,” Robosapien has now “evolved” into the dinosaur-like Roboraptor.

Bristling with IR, touch, and sound sensors, the 32-inch long Roboraptor is fully equipped to interact with its environment. A remote controller, fondly reminiscent of a PlayStation 2 game controller, controls body movements, personality modes, and dino moods. Forget the Prozac: mood swings are encouraged with Roboraptor. Hunting, playful, and cautious moods are simple two-button commands. Unlike Robosapien, Roboraptor has a special “laser” targeting feature that can be accessed with the remote controller. Just point the green “targeting assist light” on any surface, like a wall, and Roboraptor will hunt down this target.

Is Roboraptor as hackable as Robosapien? I asked Mark Tilden, and discovered that you could saddle Roboraptor up with a Barbie or a G.I. Joe, add a microcontroller for responding to the dino’s impressive sensor array (a higher brain function hack), and design a Ni-Cd wall charger for Roboraptor to stalk. Now get out there and make it.

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