Bossa Nova Robotics Unveils Personal Entertainment Robots - CTTEC - Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bossa Nova Robotics Unveils Personal Entertainment Robots

After two years of development, Bossa Nova Robotics, a Pittsburgh-based robotics company and spinoff from Carnegie Mellon University's (CMU) Robotics Institute, today unveiled its first line of personal entertainment robots. Combining the magic of agile robots with a rich play experience, Bossa Nova presented two interactive and enriching biped robots modeled after the way kids play: Prime-8, a fast-paced gorilla robot, and Penbo, an adorable penguin with baby robot.

Bossa Nova's launch comes on the heels of the opening of Carnegie Science Center’s roboworld™, the world’s largest permanent robotics exhibition and further establishes Pittsburgh’s position as the nation's hub for robotics education, research and development. Penbo and Prime-8 will be used in roboworld’s innovative Robot Workshop to help visitors understand the many uses of robotic technology beyond familiar industrial environments and experience the many ways robots are already in their homes.

Bossa Nova's robots evolved from RHex, a fast-moving, agile, hexapod robot developed from 1999 – 2004 as a collaboration between the CMU Robotics Institute and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). RHex provided the platform for Bossa Nova's Ani-Motion Robotics™ technology - a lifelike robotic mechanism loosely based on animalistic locomotion. With a vision to bring personal robots to every home, Bossa Nova spent four years further developing the RHex technology to make it affordable and capable of age-appropriate robot-human interactivity.

Underlining Bossa Nova's research and product development is the Japan Robotics Association's forecast that the market for personal and lifestyle robots will grow to $15 billion by 2015. According to United States ABI Research, approximately 75% of the market is attributed to entertainment robotics with the majority of sales driven by children's robots.

"The technology behind Prime-8 and Penbo has only previously been seen in multi-million dollar research projects," said Sarjoun Skaff, CEO, Bossa Nova, PhD Robotics, CMU. "To make this kind of technology available to the public is a dream come true and what we've seen in all our focus groups is that both kids and adults are impressed by Penbo and Prime-8's technology and lifelike movements."

Continued Skaff, "Children’s robotics is just the start, in the future we envisage creating Bossa Nova robots that will change the way we work, play, learn and stay safe.”

Not your primitive primate, Prime-8 mimics the way boys play. Prime-8’s intense interactivity is powered by a battery of sensors that allow him to respond to people and his environment. Outbound sight and sound sensors help Prime-8 maneuver around obstacles, respond to questions with grunts and growls, and express himself. A fast-paced, powerful and fun gorilla robot, Prime-8's strong personality radically transforms from a friendly, funny gorilla with warm blue eyes to a ‘Gone Bananas!’ robot, beating the floor and roaring from the top of his lungs, with circuits crackling and furious red eyes.

On the other end of the robot spectrum is Penbo, an adorable interactive and waddling penguin robot who surprises little girls when she lays an egg. When the egg is opened, out comes Bebe - a tiny baby penguin that will chirp and communicate with its mother. Penbo is aware of her surroundings, loves to dance, plays games and talks with Baby in Penguish, her own language; she responds to touch with blinking eyes, flapping wings, and cooing sounds and is a perfect robot companion for little girls to nurture.

Both Prime-8 and Penbo are available online now and will be on shelves at retailers nationwide for the holiday season.

Press Release and Pictures Courtesy Bossa Nova Robotics