White Box Robotics Model 914 PC-BOT
July 09, 2005
It's been some time since our last look at White Box Robotics, so we thought we'd treat you to an update. The latest Model 914 PC-BOT prototypes use 1GHz EPIA TC boards and have 8 drive bays for adding various robot-friendly components. An onboard battery gives approximately 3.5 hours of life, although White Box are working to improve this. MobileRobotics.org recently reviewed a pre-production model.
Most interesting of all, White Box has revealed prices: approximately $10,000 for embedded security system models. That sounds a lot, but it's a massive drop compared to the current typical cost of around $40-60K for this kind of technology, and it's all thanks to using cheap, readily available components like Mini-ITX boards. Even better, we heard a rumour that in the near future White Box hopes to retail a less sophisticated Windows XP version to the general public for just $1200. If the historical trend of price drops in IT hardware is anything to go by, then you can imagine how widespread these robots could become in a very short time.
Cynics may be saying, "but it's just a PC on wheels", and of course they're right. However, it's very cool, and potentially very cheap, and it represents the first hesitant steps into a completely new market. We hope it won't be long before such devices find their uses. We can imagine them checking ID cards, working as mobile cameras in high-security areas, or in the home as sommelier PCs ready to receive voice commands ... like "bring more beer, scumbot".
Not to mention it can probably work out how to override that tractor beam next time you get stuck in it.
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