TurtleBot 2.0 Now Available for Preorder from Clearpath Robotics [Updated]

Looks like you'll be able to get your new (and far more sinister looking) TurtleBot before the end of the year

2 min read
TurtleBot 2.0 Now Available for Preorder from Clearpath Robotics [Updated]

Our first run-in with the TurtleBot 2 was back in May at ROSCon, and since then, things have been quiet. Lots of work has been going on behind the scenes though, and today, Clearpath Robotics is announcing that they've (finally!) gotten the TurtleBot 2 up for pre-order.

Looks good, huh?

The only real difference we're seeing from the prototype is that instead of using an Asus Xtion sensor, TurtleBot 2 is sticking with a Microsoft Kinect. Kinect is almost exactly the same, and the reason not to make the switch is that everyone already uses Kinect, it has full ROS support, and keeping it around makes everything completely backwards compatible.

Just because it's all backwards compatible doesn't mean that it's not worth upgrading: here's a rundown of what makes the TurtleBot 2 significantly better than the Turtlebot 1:

  • The iRobot Create has been switched to a Yujin Robot Kobuki base.
  • The TurtleBot 2.0 offers an optional docking station for continuous operation and zero wasted time.
  • Onboard power on the Kobuki base means you now have a single charging station for all your accessories, including the laptop.
  • Onboard sensors have been expanded, giving you better feedback for positioning and state estimation through improved wheel odometry and a new, factory-calibrated rate gyro.
  • Option to expand battery life with an extra battery pack.
  • Programmable function buttons on the Kobuki base, with buttons and LEDs.

Also, as we have pointed out, it's black and mean looking and eats TurtleBot 1s for lunch.

One new feature that we'd like to emphasize is that docking station. It'll be available for $50 extra, and it means that you'll be able to operate your TurtleBot from a remote location completely independently. Since everything on the robot charges through the base, and the base charges through the docking station, you can effectively leave your robot on all the time and not worry about running out of battery, as long as it's parked on the dock.

So, great! Now, how much is it and when can you get one? Here's the deal from Clearpath- there's just one package, the complete and pre-assembled TurtleBot 2, for $1,599.00 not including the base. There will be options to save money on this package by removing parts (like, if you've got a laptop already) or ordering it in pieces and putting it together yourself. Pre-orders should be up right now, and you'll get a $100 discount it you pull the trigger early. The shipping date is planned to be December 1.

Remember that TurtleBot is open source, which means that you can buy 'em from wherever you want or put one together yourself from scratch to save some money. But also remember that part of the point of a TurtleBot is that it's a complete platform that exists (at least partially) so that you can skip all the actual robot building and get right into making the robot do cool stuff, and $1,500 certainly seems worth it to be able to just pull this thing right out of the box and get it TurtleBotting around.

[ Clearpath Robotics ]

[ TurtleBot ]

Update- The TurtleBot 2.0 is also available from I Heart Engineering for the same price, but with metric mounting plates. Check it out here.

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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