The Quad

Jan 12, 2011

RoboQuad.  The name sounds more like it should describe a car wash than the four legged beastie from WowWee. It is another creation of the legendary Mark Tilden, the father of BEAM robotics.  Tilden created the RoboSapien and then a following of robotic creatures which reveled in the BEAM format of design. I love my RoboQuad. I like his looks and what he does, so for form and function, this guy is hot stuff in my book.

He has a remote control, and like most of the other WowWee family, you can save a series of moves as a program for him to repeat when instructed. Since its remote control is infrared, you can also use external IR emitters to control it, so long as they send the right signals to it. I have a device called USB-UIRT, which is basically a remote control with no brain; it uses your computer to tell it what to to. The computer runs a great little program called RoboDance, which has the command structures of a variety fo robots built in to it. So you can write these routines and then get one or more robots to obey the command stream. People got the idea of making a dance troupe out of RoboSapiens, and RoboDance was the perfect solution to issue a series of predetermined and choreographed moves to a collection of robots all at once.  Soon a lot of people were using RoboDance to drive FemiSapiens, RoboSapiens, RoboPets, ISOBots, Wall-Es and more. I have my own troupe of 10 robots and three separate notebooks computers running RoboDance through USB-UIRT to make them all function. It took me more than a single computer because not all of the robots respond to the same commands. But usint the three, I am able to get my 10 mechanical buddies to be New Bots on the Block.

It’s all using other people’s ideas though. It’s fun to do and the fact that so many others have played with this stuff, there is a lot of information out there to kick start anyone else who’d like to play the game. But the Quad will also function autonomously, and you can adjust his character making him more or less aggressive, more or less sociable, and more or less alert. Set him up with the appropriate amount of intrepidness and curiosity and then place him in self-direction (autonomous) mode and set him free. He will move about the room investigating and offering different opinions and observations with his electronic language of tones, buzzes, whistles, et al.  He will go to sleep if you don’t interact with him for five minutes. Five more minutes later he will automatically power off as a battery saving measure. But since he responds to touch, sound and vision (sort of) you can wave at him, shout at him or give him a push every few minutes and he will keep on truckin’. That’s the way I enjoy him most; when he’s exploring and just being “Quad.”

You can find these things on eBay or from other stores. The prices will vary, with stores being more expensive than online vendors, and eBay offering the best deals of all. If the robot is in good condition, expect to pay about $35 for it. In a store, kiss $100 goodbye. I bought mine from Amazon.com and paid $60.  I don’t regret a dime of it. The robot has been a scream and besides, it looks great just sitting around. In spite of it’s spider-like appearance, there is something benevolent and peaceful in his expression so that no one shudders at the sight of the robot, instead they want to touch it. Many people find themselves petting it as though it could tell it was being stroked. Hell, I do it myself. He’s just got a countenance to him that’s very pleasant.

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