In practical commercial terms, a robot is often designed for a specific task – with the biggest examples being those robotic vacuum cleaners like iRobot’s Roomba. But what if a single robot design could cater to multiple scenarios inside a household? Well, the Patin concept machine (by Japanese company Flower Robotics) brings this multi-functional advantage to the fray, with its modular platform that can be changed in accordance to the user’s preference. For instance, one can easily fix a lamp on the top of the moving robot during night times, while replacing it with a flower vase during day times.
In other words, the function of the Patin robot can be controlled with the various top attachments that would be available to the user. This ‘multifarious’ scope will be equally complemented by the robot’s fluid motion that comes by virtue of its 360-degree rotating wheel base. As for the power-train that fuels this frolicsome contraption, the device will boast of NVIDIA’s Jetson TK1 processor, a Linux-based operating system, a an ASUS Xtion Pro Live depth camera for navigation and collision detection, an Arduino microcontroller for better interaction, and a few sensors to properly gauge proximity and contact issues.
The other interesting part is how Flower Robotics wants to tackle the manufacturing scoope of the Patin from a commercial perspective. To that end, the functional attachments (modules) can be built by separate companies who have expertise in product design, but perhaps not in robotics. In essence, the ambit can be developed as an open-source kit – with some third-party designers taking care of the modules (ranging from lamps, vases to cloud-based music players), while the core robotic mechanism is being contrived by Flower Robotics.
And, since we brought up the scope of commercialization, there is a significant potential for the Patin as a companion (yet practical) robot that can be tailored to the aging population of many developed nations, including Japan. In that regard, we would hope for an even more collective level of development of the project – that would not only allow lamp and vase modules, but also integrate security and health monitoring systems for the consumers.
Check out the Patin prototype in action –