User-created robot that allows users to make their own robots

ROBOTIS Inc. (Byoungsoo Kim, CEO)

ROBOTIS was established in 1999 and has a remarkable history of 16 years in domestic robot industry when no one could even predict the successful commercialization of robot industries. Japan used to dominate the actuator markets before but ROBOTIS also had its success in developing the actuators of own. Starting from that, ROBOTIS now leads the market with 80 employees by providing robot parts, platforms, educational robots and actuators.

Developing a solution that allows users to create robots easily

In Korea, most of the robot parts are used for training aids and majority of them are imitations that are developed repetitively just like the one made for Line Tracer competition. Also, most of them have exposed PCB which is not suitable for the nonprofessional users to develop robots. Most local companies provide application solutions that is more or less like a programming for the robot operation sold by the company and there is none that can support various robot components.

Although there is no case that supports the compatibility among components, big companies like Lego, Fischertechnik and Meccano have developed the solutions. Lego Digital Designer, for instance, allows robot to assemble using the parts sold by Lego within its SW. When the robot assembly is completed, it generates the number, type, price of parts and even the sequence of assembly. It can then pass the data to other users which make things easy to distribute the contents.

That is why we need to develop not only HW and SW solutions that can create robots that user want (User Created Robot: UCR) with a minimum effort, but also solutions to disseminate the usermade contents.
If we look past, we can find advances in the PC industry largely attributed to the industrial atmosphere that allows creating a PC by assembling whatever is required from various parts in a given system. Similarly, if a system is established for robot parts and solutions that allow users to create robots easily using such systematic parts were developed and provided, it will create an atmosphere like UCC (User Created Contents) where users can apply and create directly by themselves and provide a foundation for the creation of much higher levels of robot than contemporary robots. Robot industry can be developed more quickly only when such an industrial atmosphere is created. This is what ROBOTIS attempts to create from this research task such as developing solutions associated with HW, SW, Infra, contents and minimalism based UCR (User creating own robot) technology utilizing such solutions.


Expand business area by commercializing the technology

Technology developed by ROBOTIS through the research task of ‘Minimalism-based UCR Technology Development’ is a solution that can integrate and utilize various HW and SW related to UCR. Such technology can be seen through the developments such as digitalized data for UCR parts and virtual robot assembling SW. In order to assemble various robot parts in a virtual environment, a solution is required where various information including the features of each part and electric connection are digitalized and saved. SW should also be easy for nonprofessionals to assemble robots using such parts in a virtual environment. It is easy for users to share created UCR with others online as the assembling SW not only allows users to know the type and the quantity of used parts but also able to retrace the assembling sequence.
As long as the integrated system constructed by UCR is followed, it is possible to utilize all parts regardless where they were manufactured. HW (controller) and programming SW are
developed which can generate codes called “Intermediate Language (IL)” through various programming tools and run the codes by downloading to a controller called Virtual Machine (VM). This is similar to the concept of program written by Java which can be operated anywhere as long as the Java virtual machine is installed regardless of platforms.
Moreover, an application solution has also been developed which creates robot motion in a virtual space using digitalized UCR contents and this enables users to use the contents they have created. SW for robot motion editing is designed to be synced with the virtual and real robot. Byoungsoo Kim (ROBOTIS, CEO) said, “We plan to focus on developing the mobile solutions of UCR due to the high demand of smart phones and enhance the connectivity between each application solutions to provide true integrated solutions”. He also added that, “We will also keep enhancing user convenience for users to easily create higher quality contents and adding the functions to exchange user created contents.”

Entering global market through technical skills and commercialization

ROBOTIS’ educational robots which utilized UCR design solution are suitable from toddlers to high schools students and these are prepared to use as teaching materials in science activities including after school classes and competitions. PC based open source humanoid platforms and new smart actuators for robots are sold to local/ international universities and labs. ROBOTIS has established its US office in California since 2009 when the research project has started and managed to export new developed products to overseas. (50% of its yearly sales is from the export and won 5 million dollar export Top Award in 2013).
Since the company has applied integrated system and solutions developed in UCR, it has managed to achieve 20% of sales growth in average, overall 15 billion won sales in 2014. Moreover, it supplied PC based open source robot platform to Virginia Tech in US and other local/international universities and labs. R&D center is also utilizing its robot platform. In addition, ROBOTIS also introduced SW educational robot for elementary and middle school students during SW oriented business fair in 2014. Smart actuator called “Dynamixel” is an “all in one actuator” that consists of motor, reduction gear, controller and communication. It was launched in 2005 and exported to more than 40 countries including USA, Japan, Europe and other parts of world. 39 out of 40 participated teams at RoboCup have used ROBOTIS products and it was well recognized for its good performance. “Jimmy” robot, introduced by Intel in 2014, has also used Dynamixel motors. Users can build various types of robots easily as Dynamixel can easily be connected through the mechanic and electrics, just like building the block toys. ROBOTIS KidsLab is an educational robotic brand that provides various teachings from kindergarten to engineer levels through professional instructors. ROBOTIS has over 120 KidsLab agencies in Korea. The concept of a recently released toy robot, ROBOTIS PLAY is “Robot making with Dad” and this reflects to Byoungsoo Kim’s philosophy to get closer to everyone without a knowledge of robots. ROBOTIS is selected as a service provider for Excellent Technology Research Centers (ATC) by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy in 2013 and was also recognized for its technical competitiveness and potential growth by being awarded for “Jeong Yak Yong’s award” for patent technology sponsored by Korean Intellectual Property Office in 2014 and few more in 2015. | Blog Magazine of korean electronics, brands and Goods

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