In the spirit of the holiday season, today’s episode is all about robots as toys. We speak to Mark Tilden, robot designer at WowWee Robotics, about designing robots for children, and what he thinks that scientists and researchers can learn from the toy industry. We are also holding a contest to give away his latest creation, the Femisapien, to one of our listeners, so read all about it below.
Mark Tilden is a true robotics lover, having built thousands of robots of all shapes and sizes in the last few decades. During the first part of his career he pioneered BEAM robotics (which stands for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, and Mechanics), a philosophy of building robots based on simple analog circuits and control instead of highly-complex systems, leading to low-cost and efficient systems. His bio-inspired bots manage to walk, crawl, roll or shake in complex environments using only a few transistors and basic sensors.
After working at the University of Waterloo in Canada and subsequently at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Tilden’s research eventually evolved into toy design when he was hired as a consultant for WowWee robotics in Hong Kong. His RoboSapien humanoid robot was controlled using only 28 transistors, and has sold in the millions. In our interview Tilden tells us about the difference between robotics in scientific research and in the toy industry. He also speaks about his latest creation, the Femisapien, and how he hopes to interest young girls in the field of robotics.
Christmas Contest: Win a WowWee FemiSapien
Guess what our Femisapien did on her first weekend in Switzerland for a chance to win one! Answers can be posted on our forum as a description, video, drawing or picture until Thursday the 1st of January noon (GMT). The closest guess wins and the most creative posts will be encouraged. A short video will be posted on the 2nd of January to reveal the winner and the correct answer.
Further information on the robots mentioned in this episode on the Robots robot forum, including robot actors, dancers and performers around the world, a web version of the “Japan: Robot Nation” show, and a list of our favorite last minute robot Christmas presents as well as other recommendations for the holiday season around the web.