is a toy robot
A robot is a mechanical or virtual intelligent agent that can perform tasks automatically or with guidance, typically by remote control. In practice a robot is usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by computer and electronic programming. Robots can be autonomous, semi-autonomous or...
originally manufactured by Tomy
is a Japanese toy, children's merchandise and entertainment company created from the March 2006 merger of two companies: Tomy and long-time rival, Takara...
in the mid 1980s. The name then came to apply to the successful line of robots manufactured by the company. The initial Omnibot was announced with expectations of restoring popular interest in robots, at a time when it was becoming obvious that robots with advanced AI
AI, A.I., Ai, or ai may refer to:- Computers :* Artificial intelligence, a branch of computer science* Ad impression, in online advertising* .ai, the ISO Internet 2-letter country code for Anguilla...
such as R2-D2
R2-D2 , is a character in the Star Wars universe. An astromech droid, R2-D2 is a major character throughout all six Star Wars films. Along with his droid companion C-3PO, he joins or supports Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Obi-Wan Kenobi in various points in the saga...
were still a long way away. A more advanced version of the Omnibot was called the Omnibot 2000 and did not have a plastic bubble over its head. With the success of the Omnibots, the Omnibot range quickly expanded. After the North American video game crash of 1983 and its debilitating effect on the entire nascent home electronics industry, the Omnibot faded away but it was revived in the early 2000s. The latest version of the Omnibot is the "Omnibot 17μ: i-SOBOT,".
Both the Omnibot and the more advanced Omnibot 2000 had a cassette tape player built into the chest area of the robot, which slid out like a drawer to reveal the cassette and could record and playback sequences of commands, as well as regular audio recordings. The built in digital clock with timers and alarms allowed the playback of movement recordings at specified times, such as moving into the bedroom in the morning. Both robots were able to broadcast speech from the remote control handset through a speaker on the robot, and both were shipped with a cardboard "home" base which was suggested to be taped to the floor and used as a reference point for programming.
Both Omnibot and the Omnibot 2000 could carry light objects. The Omnibot carried a specially made tray which slotted into its claws, and the Omnibot 2000 had a tray which slotted into its motorised 'accessory panel', allowing the tray to revolve cups and glasses into the reach of the arm.
The Omnibot 2000 was 25 inches tall, powered by a 6-Volt lead–acid battery and two AA batteries. Its right arm was controllable. The user could control its shoulder, elbow, wrist and fingers, the left arm being a poseable "dummy".
Unfortunately, losing the remote control unit for an Omnibot meant that the robot could no longer be used.
Two lesser known robots in the Omnibot range were the Omnibot OOM and the Omniwagon. The Omnibot OOM was shaped like a standard Omnibot except with the addition of a spherical head, its remote controller including a basic form of voice-control
Speech recognition converts spoken words to text. The term "voice recognition" is sometimes used to refer to recognition systems that must be trained to a particular speaker—as is the case for most desktop recognition software...
. The Omniwagon was merely a remote controlled drive unit and wheels from an omnibot with a flat surface on top to carry objects.
Omnibot OOM / Hearoid
The Omnibot OOM (later released in North America as the "Hearoid") was closely based on the standard Omnibot. Changes included a more anthropomorphic head design, remotely controlled light-up eyes that acted rather like headlights, and a more sophisticated remote controller that included primitive voice control.
Radio Shack retailed a version of the Omnibot named the Robie Sr.. Made by Tomy in Japan, these were essentially a standard Omnibot, but with the dome-shaped head replaced by the more anthropomorphic head of the Omnibot OOM / Hearoid.
Omnibot Jr. "Charmmy"/Robie Jr.
The Omnibot Jr., also known as the "Charmmy", was a 10.5 inches tall remote controlled robot with an attachable tray, featuring styling reminiscent of the original Omnibot. Simultaneously released by Radio Shack as the Robie Jr., Omnibot Jr. included a microphone on either side of the robot's head that allowed it to hear an ultrasonic sound emitted by the remote controller. The dual microphones allowed Charmmy to determine the rough direction of the controller, and navigate to its location - sometimes even around corners. The Omnibot Jr. was also equipped with a bump sensor that allowed it to navigate around objects, and this sensor was also used along with sensors in the arms to trigger several recorded announcements should the robot bump into an object or an item be placed on the tray.
The classic Omnibot had a cheaper, smaller cousin known as the Verbot, known in its native Japan as the KI*KU*ZO. It was somewhat similar to the Omnibot in appearance but was much more limited in features. The Verbot also came with a remote control. Verbot was able to pick up small objects, a feature many toy robots of the era lacked. Disadvantages common to the Verbot were that it was quite noisy, reprogramming was necessary every time the robot was powered up again, and as with all of the Omnibot series its white plastic body would turn yellow if left in the sun. The Verbot was actually quite complex, utilizing a single motor for all its movements and an intricate set of gears for picking up objects.
Programming Verbot was accomplished by pushing one of the buttons on its front panel and holding it down while the corresponding action was spoken into the remote control's microphone and then releasing the button.
As with most Omnibots, losing the remote meant the robot could not be used to full capacity, but some hobbyists have modified cheap 1980s walkie-talkie
A walkie-talkie is a hand-held, portable, two-way radio transceiver. Its development during the Second World War has been variously credited to Donald L. Hings, radio engineer Alfred J. Gross, and engineering teams at Motorola...
s for inputting voice commands.
In popular media
- An Omnibot named "Melvin" was the co-host of the Australian children's version of the game show Now You See It
Now You See It is an American television game show created by Frank Wayne for Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions. Two Now You See It series were produced, and both aired on CBS. The first series ran from April 1, 1974 until June 13, 1975, and was hosted by Jack Narz...
- An Omnibot 2000 can be seen in music video "Let's Go to the Mall
"Slap Bet" is the 9th episode in season 2 of the television series How I Met Your Mother. It originally aired on November 20, 2006. This episode was originally titled "Robin Sparkles."- Plot :...
" on the television show How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother is an American sitcom that premiered on CBS on September 19, 2005, created by Craig Thomas and Carter Bays.As a framing device, the main character, Ted Mosby with narration by Bob Saget, in the year 2030 recounts to his son and daughter the events that led to his meeting...
as well as in the follow-up Robin Sparkles episodes "Sandcastles in the Sand
"Sandcastles in the Sand" is the 16th episode in the third season of the television series How I Met Your Mother and 60th overall. It originally aired on April 21, 2008.- Plot :...
" and "Glitter
"Glitter" is the ninth episode of the sixth season of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, and the 121st episode overall. It aired on November 15, 2010.- Plot :When Lily becomes obsessed with babies, Robin becomes distant from her...
- An Omnibot is featured in the Christmas episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is an American television sitcom that premiered on FX on August 4, 2005. New episodes continue to air on FX, with reruns playing on Comedy Central, general broadcast syndication, and WGN America—the first-ever cable-to-cable syndication deal for a sitcom...
" titled "A Very Sunny Christmas" as a "gift" for Mac stolen by his family at Christmas time.
- An Omnibot 2000-like robot appears as the character "80s Robot" in the film The Muppets
The Muppets is a 2011 American musical and comedy film, and the first Muppets theatrical release in 12 years, as well as the first Disney-produced Muppets film since 1996's Muppet Treasure Island...
, released in 2011.
In recent times, many hobbyists have turned to hacking, tweaking and improving their Omnibots. Commonly added features are IR Sensors, video cameras, speech recognition chips, stronger motors, microcontrollers, sonars and other advanced enhancements that would not have been possible in the 80s.
In the early 2000s, a gutted Omnibot was used as part of a contestant on the US
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
television show Battlebots
BattleBots is an American company that hosts robot competitions. BattleBots is also the name of the television show created from the competition footage. BattleBots Inc...
. The robot, named Dr. Inferno Jr. (an updated version of another combat robot that used a gutted Omnibot) won several awards in the competition's "Lightweight Division". The Omnibot on top of the drivetrain had no dome on top, and its arms were replaced with twin saws.
Omnibot 17μ: i-SOBOT
In 2006, shortly after the merger of Tomy and Takara, the company first unveiled a prototype for the most advanced Omnibot to date, initially called "Omnibot 2007: i-SOBOT" but which has since been officially named, "Omnibot 17μ: i-SOBOT." ("μ" is the Greek letter "mu" symbolizing micron, referring to the specs of the servo motors) in Japan and simply "i-SOBOT" in the U.S. market. i-SOBOT is scheduled to go on sale in Japan in October 2007 (Japanese language with blue and white color), but an English language, black and grey version went on sale first in the U.S., in September, 2007. Reportedly, a European version will go on the market in 2008.
i-SOBOT, which has been certified by Guinness World Records as "the world's smallest humanoid robot in production" is equipped with 17 proprietary servo-motors and can be controlled by an IR remote controller and also via voice commands. It is capable of speaking hundreds of words and phrases and has nearly 200 pre-programmed actions, plus allows extensive additional programming by the user, via the remote control. The retail price is approximately ¥30,000 in Japan and $350 in the U.S. The fully bi-pedal mobility of i-SOBOT is a major leap by Tomy in cost-performance for a bipedal robot with 17 degrees of freedom.
Topo is a robot designed in the 1980s by Androbot Inc., for the consumer and education markets. It was programmable via Apple II and there was also a user made program for the Windows 9x operating systems. The programming language allows the robot to perform a set of geometric movements, to move...
, a contemporary of Omnibot, aimed at the consumer and educational market.
- Compact Cassette
The Compact Cassette, often referred to as audio cassette, cassette tape, cassette, or simply tape, is a magnetic tape sound recording format. It was designed originally for dictation, but improvements in fidelity led the Compact Cassette to supplant the Stereo 8-track cartridge and reel-to-reel...