HERO Returns!

Greetings and welcome to a new year.  Same as the old year, but incremented by one.  Exciting, eh?

I stumbled across an article the other day about an old friend of mine.  I worked on him all through high-school, learning quite a bit about robotics along the way.  His name?  HERO 2000.

HERO had all sorts of cool gadgets including a full robotic arm, speech synthesis, a bunch of sensors to detect light, sound, heat, and more.  You could even write programs, in BASIC, that automated the robot to do different tasks.  I spent quite a bit of time programming him for a variety of tasks, getting him set up for shows, and just playing around with all of the different sensors and other features.  Like I said, I learned a lot.

So, back to the article I mentioned.  Apparently, HeathKit, the original makers of the HERO robot, are at it again.  The HERO robot is coming back, this year!  The new HE-Robot is supposedly available now, according to an article on DeviceGuru, with educational kits coming in January and February.

According to the specifications, the new HERO runs Windows XP Pro on an Intel Core 2 Duo processor.  I’m not impressed with Windows, but I’m sure that can be replaced easily enough.  In fact, with the large OSS crowd out there, I’ll be there’s a full Linux OS install for HERO before the end of the year.

At any rate, the robot comes with a webcam, cd-rom/cd-rw (for on-the-go burning, of course), a bunch of sensors, speakers, and more.  The only thing I see missing is the arm.  And, unfortunately, based on the pictures available, it doesn’t look like the arm will ever be available.  Just not enough room for it.

So, how about price.  Well, it appears that White Box Robots is the manufacturer of this particular machine.  According to their website, the Series 9 PC-Bot, which the HE-RObot is based on, runs a cool $7,995.  Ugh.  At that price, I can research and build my own.  There are less expensive models, including a few that run Linux (which means that drivers already exist), so let’s hope HeathKit sells them for a lower price.  I would love to buy one of these as a kit and build it with my sons, but $5,000 is just way out of my price range…  Anyone want to donate one to me?  :)  Pretty please?

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