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COMPUTING

From...
PC World

Your very own robotic butler

Image

November 4, 1999
Web posted at: 9:42 a.m. EST (1442 GMT)

by Alexandra Krasne

(IDG) -- Sitting comfortably in your living room, watching your favorite TV show, you suddenly crave a frosty beverage. Instead of getting up and going to the fridge, you clap your hands three times and a robot emerges and rolls toward you, carrying your drink.

No longer the stuff of futuristic Hollywood fantasy, you can buy your own, personal Cye-sr robot for $845 from Probotics.

In yellow, orange, and black with neon green, the nine-pound Cye (for short) speeds along on thick rubber wheels at three feet per second, according to Probotics. And, up to 30 pounds worth of stuff can fit into its optional wagon attachment, which costs $89.

To control the 16-by-10-by-5-inch robot, you clap your hands. Clap once and Cye beeps, letting you know that it's ready to go. Clap twice or three times and you'll send Cye to a specific destination. All you need to do is program your robot to respond to a number of claps you designate, says Henry Thorne, inventor and founder.

  MESSAGE BOARD
Mr. Roboto
 

"My robot lives in a home base in my guest room," says Thorne. "If I want it to go to my kitchen, I clap twice, then I send it into the TV room to give my kids dinner. Then when they're done, they clap three times to send the empty plates back."

Before Cye proves a useful assistant, it needs to learn the layout of your home. To do this, the robot is linked to your PC via wireless communications, and maps out its route through your home or office by bumping into things along its way. Then, once it's learned, you can send it on errands.

The first model of Cye, introduced in May, did not respond to clapping hands. But both models support the navigation software. Using your PC, Cye and the Map-N-Zap software, you see an aerial view of your home or office.

Then, move Cye using PC commands. To do this, you simply click and drag the robot icon, and the robot will respond to your command, Thorne says.

Don't like to vacuum? Not a problem. Use your PC to map out a vacuuming route and attach Cye-sr to a cordless vacuum, which you can buy separately for $129, or buy the whole package for $995, complete with robot, vacuum and wagon.

Now, a hand around the house is just a click or clap away.


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