Intel plans to bring its fully customizable, 3-D printable robot kit to market by the end of the year, with a consumer version starting around $1,600.
The hardware designs will be freely available online, allowing anyone with access to a 3-D printer to generate and assemble the basic parts. The kit, which will go on sale at 21stCenturyRobot.com, includes everything that can't be printed, including the motors, wires, battery, processor and more.
The consumer model runs on Intel Edison, essentially a low-cost computer on a chip. A more robust research version equipped with an Intel Core i5 processor will cost closer to $16,000. Intel expects that consumers will be able to build custom robots using its technology for less than $1,000 within the next five years.
The robot is also open source, allowing developers to build their own apps and users to download whatever software applications they want to run on their machines.
The company's resident futurist Brian David Johnson arrived at the Code Conference ready to demo his version of the robot, a little white humanoid named Jimmy. His bag of tricks includes walking, talking, tweeting ( @21crobot) and dancing.
"It's a stilted guy dance," Johnson cautioned. "Obviously he was taught to dance by geeks."
He said he wanted to design a robot that owners could personalize for their own purposes, making robotics accessible and fun. Functions can include singing along with users, translating languages or achieving that ultimate promise of consumer robotics: Delivering cold beers.