Roam-E is the second in NAO’s line of mobile robots, following in the tracks of Home-E the Homing Penguin.
was designed to be entertaining and multi-functional while maintaining the highest possible degree of simplicity and
robustness of form.
Roam-E’s eyes are actually an ultrasonic distance sensor that allows him to track the distance of
objects and obstacles in his surroundings by
sending out very short sound bursts beyond the range of human hearing.
He vocalizes in short quack-like bleeps from his speaker mouth, is
able to fully articulate his head, and can drive over
fairly rough or steep terrain thanks to the dual tread drive. Roam-E’s operational modes
include a “Chillin” Mode in
which he just hangs out, staying in one place but turning, looking around, and quacking occasionally and randomly
(he gets agitated when things invade his personal space), Roaming Mode in which he sets out on a course,
constantly scanning the terrain around
him and turning when necessary to avoid obstacles that are too big to drive
over, and Dancing Mode in which he steps, turns, bobs his head,
quacks, and generally rocks out by stringing
together series of dance moves in coordinated but ever-changing sequence.
He operates on 4 AA
batteries, his “brain” is a simple Basic Stamp microcontroller, and he has fixed alligator clip hands that allow him to hold and move with
objects such as papers, pens, photos, etc. In order to achieve a high degree of structural robustness, cost-effectiveness, and ease of assembly,
the number of parts was kept to a bare minimum and so the chassis and structural core of the robot consists solely of 3 servo motors and the
battery housing. Beyond that the tread assemblies, head servo, “eyes”, speaker, hands, and circuit board are the only other components
(not counting the punky hairdo). When it all comes together the result is a surprisingly lifelike little robot- the randomly generated,
short quick movements are very realistic and somewhat squirrel-like, and the effect is increased when numbers of Roam-E’s are present,
scanning about and talking to each other like a pack of prairie dogs or roaming about avoiding and sometimes running in to each other.
In these numbers certain group behaviors seem to emerge, such as their tendency to talk more when in close proximity to each other and to
eventually all start following the same path like ants when roaming.