When WowWee's Tri-Bot launches this Summer, it'll be one of the cheapest ways to get your hands on the nifty three-wheel omni-directional base from the company. With an expected price of $99, the robot may lack the (creepy) animated face of Mr Personality but it does have a tilt-sensor remote control that, in a manner similar to the Wiimote, can guide the robot around just by gesturing. Robotics-obsessive Robert Oschler has scored some pre-release time with the Tri-Bot, and you can check out his video review after the cut.
Obviously at that price Tri-Bot isn't going to rival ASIMO, say, but there's a fair amount of functionality present and Robert comes away impressed. The usual guard/alarm modes are there, together with an autonomous option where Tri-Bot roams your house (apparently making snide comments about cleanliness - let's hope he doesn't get into a fight with your Roomba) and a number of driving games where you must drive the robot down a path it demonstrates.
"WowWee has a big hit on its hands with the Tri-Bot. They’ve managed to create a robot that is wonderfully simple to operate, yet still is packed to the limit with fun. They did this by basing Tri-Bot on its strongest feature, its amazing mobility" Robert Oschler, Robots Rule [emphasis author's own]
There are some drawbacks, of course. From the sound of it, WowWee should've mounted the obstacle sensors lower down, rather than in the mid-chest and mid-back, as anything lower goes unrecognised, and the Tri-Bot can apparently topple itself over by trying to climb walls. However that doesn't stop me agreeing with Robert that this is likely to be a popular platform for robotics hackers. Personally I'd still rather have a Rovio, though considering that's likely to be $200 more than the Tri-Bot its a considerable step up.
[via Gear Diary]