Voice-controlled robot can morph into a car that races around the room

Originally a bunch of children’s toys, then comic books, cartoons and movies, robot action figures than morph into vehicles and back again have proved immensely popular over the years. After a successful Kickstarter last year, Robosen Robotics has launched the T9, a robot that transforms into a vehicle through voice commands or via an app.

There are many Transformer-like robot toys already available, but most require the user to manually change the thing from action figure to vehicle, animal, device or whatever, and back again. Like the bots from the cartoons and movies, the T9 is an actual transforming robot designed to stimulate a child’s interest in programming, robotics and artificial intelligence.

The T9 is claimed to be the first robot in the consumer space that can automatically move from vehicle to robot and back again, can walk on two legs when in robot form, race on its wheels when in vehicle form, involves coding and program development, and can be controlled by voice commands or through a mobile app. It can even bust some funky dance moves if you want it to.

“T9 was meticulously designed and crafted with more than 3,000 state-of-the-art, high-grade metal alloy parts, combining a classic industrial design with the most cutting-edge robotic technology,” said Robosen’s Alex Skillman. “Our vision was to provide the consumer, both young and old, an ultimate entertaining experience filled with AI, programming, and pure fun.”

An iOS/Android app running on a Bluetooth-paired smartphone or tablet can be used to get the T9 dancing, or have it change to a vehicle and race around at speed, or programmed to move in other ways. And then there are “easy to remember” voice commands too.

The robot is animated using three programming platforms – manual, visual and 3D graphics. Students wanting to learn coding are also supported by free online tutorials. And when you’ve created or customized an animated move, it can be stored in the robot’s memory, which has enough room for tens of thousands to be saved for later recall. If you run out of ideas, Robosen has an online community to offer collaborative opportunities, as well as help and inspiration.

The robot is built around an aluminum alloy frame, with an ABS and polycarbonate shell. It features 23 proprietary chips and 22 Robosen servo motors that work with AI algorithms to drive the joints – there are two servos in the chest, four in each of the hands, five in each leg, and two in the drive wheels. It measures 265 x 163 x 340 mm (10.4 x 6.4 x 13.3 in) in robot form, and 287 x 198 x 149 mm (11.2 x 7.7 x 5.8 in) in vehicle mode, and either way it tips the scales at 1.48 kg (3.2 lb), including the 2,000 mAh battery pack.

The Robosen T9 was initially a Kickstarter project that attracted support from almost 250 backers in the middle of last year. The company launched the commercial version at CES 2020 this week, and it’s now on sale for US$499.


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