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Unbounded Robotics UBR-1 Now Available for Pre-Order

This mobile manipulator may be the next standard platform for research robotics

2 min read
The UBR-1 mobile manipulator robot.
The UBR-1 mobile manipulator robot.
Photo: Unbounded Robotics

It's been a long time coming, but Unbounded Robotics is finally all set to start offering their UBR-1 mobile manipulator robot up for pre-order. It seems destined to be the next standard platform for research robotics and beyond, and you can get on the list for one right now.

Starting today, Unbounded Robotics has opened pre-orders for a shiny new batch of UBR-1 robots. It's first come first serve, with deliveries expected by August in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. 

Unbounded says that they've received substantially more interest in the fancier version of the UBR-1, which was initially called the UBR-1 Pro. This is a little bit of a good-news-bad-news thing, as Unbounded has decided to focus (at least for the foreseeable future) exclusively on the Pro model, which will run you an even $50,000 as opposed to $35,000.

This isn't really a price bump, since you're getting some serious hardware upgrades, including a much more powerful computer and (more importantly) a way scarier laser (a Hokuyo UST-20LX) that has a shorter dead zone and is capable of mapping and sensing obstacles at longer ranges and over a wider variety of surfaces.

For those of you who want to get up and running right away, you can also pick up a computer from Unbounded that's been preconfigured with ROS to play well with your new robot. You'll also get a gigabit wireless router that's been all set up, so really, all you'd need to do is power stuff on and you'll be ready to go immediately.

We hear that the production version of the UBR-1 will be running the latest long-term support version of ROS, called Indigo Igloo, which is so new that it doesn't even have a logo yet.

The last cool thing that you might be interested in as far as your new UBR-1 goes is that, unless you decide to pick it up in person, the robot will ship in a crate. This is a crate to be excited about, because it's custom made and reusable, and it's small enough that you can toss it in the back of an SUV or a modestly sized station wagon. So, taking your UBR-1 out into the real world to see how it behaves in different environments becomes something you can easily just go and do, rather than having to worry about logistics every time.

Hit up the link below for more information and to adopt a robot of your own.

[ Unbounded Robotics ]

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How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman
LightGreen

“I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.”

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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