Spend an hour or so on the internet, and it’s immediately clear to anyone with half a brain that one can purchase and assemble without too much trouble a truly powerful home computer, complete with optical drives, processors, memory and a fixed disc. This computer can be both as powerful as and sometimes much more powerful than commercially-available products from Dell, HP etc. So, why can’t the same be said for Robotics?

Research on the web, and you can find sites like this one, which sells 5 basic robotic parts:

* Sensors - for constructing _intelligent_ robots which can detect and react to their environment
* Microcontrollers - the brains of the robot
* Motors - for motion
* Electronics - motor controllers, cables, LCDs etc.
* Communications and Control - so robots can talk to each other and to a base station

So, it seems robot parts are for sale on the web, so what am I on about? What I’m really talking about is this short list:

* Arms
* Legs
* Hands
* Feet
* Torso

This may sound juvenile, but in my mind if a geek could assemble from parts a humanoid robot - standing approximate 5 feet tall, able to walk upright and manipulate objects without crushing them, and equipped with basic vocal communication (Yodaspeak, for example) - geeks would eat it up. And the pricepoint could be in as much as the price of a car. How big is the aftermarket for car parts for mechanical engineering geeks? The same could exist for robotics geeks.

Imagine downloading an Android app for your robot that made it able to manipulate a home vaccuum cleaner so that it would push it around your flat every few days? Or imagine an app that taught your robot how to wash the laundry. Many of the everyday mundane tasks we perform to live our lives are simple enough to teach a machine to do, right?

What is Needed

Basically, somebody has to come up with a standard. Joints have to be spec’d out, along with interfaces with respect to voltage and a data standard (USB, anyone?) Where do the bolts go? How big around is the coupler? Once this is done, we’re off to the races!