Still looking to fill the void left since Sony surreptitiously put down their robot dog Aibo, I am always excited to read about any new robotic animals under development. The Raw Feed is reporting today that Illinois-based robotic research group Iguana Robotics Inc. has created TomCat, a headless robot cat whose lack of visual aesthetics is more than made up for by its performance. TomCat is available for purchase through Alegrobot, Inc., the retail corollary of Iguana, for $2750 USD.
TomCat is a quadruped robot that is 9 inches long and stands a little over seven inches tall. The bright orange (Alegrobot calls it red) ABS plastic skeleton is articulated and propelled by nine motors: 2 in each leg and 1 for the torso. Force sensors under the feet combined with optional trip sensors and gyroscopes comprise the sensor subsystem. While not a very smart robot, TomCat is one quick robo-feline, able to move at a speed of two body lengths per second.
Obviously TomCat is not intended as an Aibo successor. The Aibo was an entertainment robot whose abilities and appearance were specifically crafted for mass consumer appeal. TomCat, on the other hand, is targeted at researchers and robot builders who will gladly overlook its utilitarian appearance and inability to check e-mail and take dictation. It is not the robot pet I (and many others) are dreaming of, but it’s a big step in the right direction.