Look out, Roomba. Evolution Robotics is looking to muscle in on your turf (er, carpet?). The Pasadena, Calif., company has a navigation system called NorthStar that's used in a robotic vacuum cleaner for specialty retailer The Sharper Image, among other gear; now it says it has a deal with a major appliance maker to develop a vacuum-bot set to sweep into living rooms in early 2008. Seen here is Sharper Image's $99 Evac. NorthStar projects lights onto a ceiling or other surface so that a detector on the robot can triangulate to find its location.
This is what Evolution calls the standard edition of its ER1 robot, with an attached gripper for grabbing and carrying objects. The ER1 is a do-it-yourself high-tech contraption with programmable software and what the company promises is easy-to-assemble hardware.
Seoul-based Yujin Robotics is using Evolution's NorthStar navigation system in a prototype household robot called Jupiter, in a project organized by the Korean Ministry of Information and Communication. The ministry's Ubiquitous Robot Companion concept involves robots linked by a broadband connection to a server, in order to minimize a robot's onboard functions and thus its cost.