Antbo Your Cuddly Robot Ant
Written by Lucy Black   
Saturday, 23 April 2016

Social robots are all the rage, educational robots more so. Hence, perhaps, the idea of Antbo - your social educational ant robot. So if you missed out on robot dogs, cats and seals why not cuddle a metal ant.

Yes it does sound unlikely, but see the video and be converted:

 

 

My first thought was how can anyone build a robot with so many features for so little cost - under $70? However, looking at the specification it starts to make sense:

antbospec

The processor is small and cheap and the range of sensors is fairly modest. Accelerometers are cheap because of mobile phones, a touch sensor doesn't need much hardware, the same for the distance sensor, etc.

Overall this is a modest machine with no video camera or depth camera but notice the expansion possibilities. Clearly Antbo can become quite advanced. 

 

antbolayout

 

In short, my surprise at being able to buy an Antbo, admittedly on Indiegogo which is never an absolute guide to final pricing, for $69 is more due to the fall in cost of electronics than anything else. DFRobot is a Chinese company and can source electronics at prices that make all this possible. 

What is slightly less clear is the state of the software. Antbo's brain is claimed to have thirty "neurons" and I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. It is said to have emotional reactions - like trembling when threatened. It is clear that the on-board hardware isn't capable of processing all of this and so it comes as no surprise that Antbo connects to the cloud and uploads and downloads data. No information on how much the cloud connection will cost or how it will be run, but this is likely to be the make or break area for Antbo as a pet. 

If you just want a robot to hack then things look more secure. You can program in Whendo, DFRobot's own visual programming language; Scratch; or Arduino IDE. If you don't want to program then you can control Antbo with a smartphone app. 

Like most "social" robot projects, it seems to be very easy to over claim what can be done and it seems unlikely that DF Robot can deliver on quite the level of empathy that is described in the project's write up.
However, I wait to be proven wrong. 

As a nice cheap robot base, with just enough sensors to write some code, the under $100 price tag makes it look very interesting indeed. 

Currently the Indiegogo campaign stands at $14,715 of $50,000 and there is still a month to go.  

 antboicon

More Information

Antbo on Indiegogo

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 23 April 2016 )