September 12, 2014      

The folks at Industrial Robot have done it again, landing an interview with yet another robotics pioneer: Dr. Mark W. Tilden, the father of BEAM (Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, and Mechanics) robotics.

Tilden recently sat down with Joanne Pransky, Associate Editor, Industrial Robot, to discuss the several decade evolution of his Biomech technologies. The interview has been made available for free to RBR readers until Sept. 22. Just follow this link.

Here’s a quick preview:

Pransky: What is the biggest mistake/greatest lesson you learned?

Dr Tilden: Well, there have been lots of lessons and mistakes, but my biggest regret was in helping shut down the robotics division at Sony.

In 2005, Sony Robotics was moving on from the Aibo robot dog to QRIO, a sophisticated $50,000 programmable humanoid that you can still see on YouTube. It was beautiful and my bosses asked if I might cobble together something similar for the toy market. The result was the Robosapien version 2 (RS2) which hit the market in Christmas of that year. Could see, hear, dance, walk, talk, get up, get down (wah!), and generally had more functions than Darth Vader’s underwear. It was also the same rough size as the QRIO, and sold millions at $250 each (Figure 6).

Years later, I found out that a lot of my Japanese colleagues and friends had lost their dream jobs working on the QRIO when the lab shut down, and Sony had cited my RS2 as a prominent (though not the only) reason why. Ouch. Many of those engineers just got moved to other divisions so it wasn’t a complete disaster, but I always feel bad because these sort of cool projects, due to the nature of our business, are rare.

Only 200 times cheaper. Who’d a thunk it.

Click here to read the entire interview.

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