Older blog entries for Timster (starting at number 18)

20 Nov 2003 (updated 20 Nov 2003 at 13:31 UTC) »

A copy of our latest robot related press release is posted below for those who are interested.

VIA Drives Emergence of New Personal Robotics Market with Innovative new PC-Bots from White Box Robotics and RoboDynamics

New PC-Bot products from White Box Robotics and RoboDynamics based on VIA EPIA Mini-ITX Mainboard cater to the growing personal robotics market

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 19 November 2003 - VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator and developer of silicon chip technologies and PC platform solutions, today announced that it is showcasing two exciting new PC-Bots, the 912 from White Box Robotics and the IO from RoboDynamics, at a private press event held in Las Vegas this week.

PC-Bots are a rapidly emerging new category of devices that bridge the gap between the PC and conventional robots by leveraging the unrivaled power, flexibility, and compatibility of the x86 architecture to enable the integration of advanced functionality and intelligence, including human-like senses such as vision processing, audio processing, and the ability to interact with people and other devices and detect environmental changes.

Based on the VIA EPIA Mini-ITX mainboard platform, PC-Bots are opening up exciting new possibilities for product design innovation in a diverse range of applications, including mobile music DJs, home and office security guards, and patient care assistants. The 912 from White Box Robotics, for example, is a stunning-looking PC-Bot that can move around the house and allows people to enjoy their home digital entertainment content, such as listening to MP3 songs.

"PC-Bots are an exciting new way to experience and connect the entertainment and home automation features that are becoming mainstream," declared Timothy Brown, Robotics Program Manager for VIA Technologies, Inc. "These exciting new designs from White Box Robotics and RoboDynamics clearly illustrate the enormous potential for innovation within this new market category."

"Our nine series of robots allows anyone who can operate a PC the chance to own an attractive and functional personal robot," said Thomas J. Burick, President of White Box Robotics. "The 912 is designed with an industry standard approach to robot building. Almost all of the components used in the 912 are standard off-the-shelf computer parts. Any computer store in the world becomes your own personal robot parts bin. VIA's Mini-ITX mainboard allows this to happen by providing an ultra compact yet powerful mainboard to build upon."

"We believe that over the next few years you will begin to see personal robotics take off and go through a tremendous growth phase equaling that of the PC industry during the 90s" says Fred Nikgohar, Chairman and CEO of RoboDynamics. "The VIA motherboard gives us a robust and standardized platform that allows a fast time-to-market as well as a plethora of existing development tools already existing for the x86 chip family."

VIA EPIA Mainboards Powering the Robotics Revolution VIA EPIA Mini-ITX mainboards are already being utilized in the design and development of pioneering robotics projects by a number of organizations and educational groups, including the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) mapping and surveillance Centibots project, the University of Manitoba's Autonomous Agents Lab and several autonomous race vehicle teams competing in the DARPA Grand Challenge, including Team LoGHIQ.

Autonomous vehicles are sophisticated mobile robots that traverse land, sea and air under the guidance of their own internal artificial intelligence. Typically they require robust, low power computing platforms to act as the complex software control environments that run the mechanical movement instructions, sensors, positioning, and navigation equipment that enable their independent operation.

Robot Petting Zoo at Lunch@Piero's VIA will be hosting a panel discussion on today's commercial robot business opportunities at the Lunch@Piero's press-only tech event held in Las Vegas, opposite the Las Vegas Convention Center, from Monday to Tuesday, 18-19 November 2003. Speakers from VIA, Carnegie-Mellon, Robotic Trends, Evolution Robotics, RoboteQ will lead the panel while White Box Robotics and RoboDynamics will unveil their exciting new product offerings at this time. A robot "Petting Zoo" demo area at the event will showcase the functionality and innovation of wide variety of robots based on VIA platforms.

About VIA in Robotics The VIA Robotics Initiative is the first phase of VIA's efforts to promote PC architecture and VIA platforms for the robotics industry. By working together on projects of all levels with the academic, commercial and enthusiast communities with existing VIA EPIA-Series mainboards, VIA is validating design strategies. Strategies that are highly applicable for today's robot markets while laying the groundwork for platform advances that will continue to progress the future development of robot-specific technologies and products into mainstream markets.

The VIA Robotics Initiative plays an important role for defining the longer-term direction of VIA's "Total Connectivity" message. Robot and PC industry watchers can expect to see a series of projects and product announcements over the next year.

For more details about the VIA Robotics initiative please visit the VIA website at: http://www.via.com.tw/en/robotics/robotics.jsp

About the VIA EPIA M10000 Mini-ITX Mainboard The VIA EPIA M10000 Mini-ITX mainboard is the second-generation 17cm x 17cm platform optimized for today's killer digital video, audio and more complex processor intensive applications. In addition to its integrated 1GHz VIA C3 processor, the board features the VIA CLE266 chipset with embedded MPEG-2 decoder and a new integrated 2D/3D graphics engine to ensure smooth DVD playback and a rich overall entertainment experience. With the sizable memory bandwidth of DDR266 SDRAM and the high data transfer speeds of ATA-133, the VIA EPIA M10000 ensures the high performance levels required of today's most popular digital media and productivity applications. The user's digital media experience is further enhanced by support for 5.1 surround sound, courtesy of the onboard VIA Vinyl Six-TRAC Audio.

The latest in high-bandwidth connectivity is supported with IEEE 1394 and USB2.0 connections, as well as S-Video and RCA TV-Out (NTSC & PAL) and 10/100 Mbps Fast Ethernet for seamless broadband connectivity. The VIA EPIA M-Series also offers support for a growing number of LVDS embedded LCD panels, has a PCI slot for expandability options, and is compatible with a full range of Mini-ITX chassis as well as FlexATX and MicroATX enclosures. It is also compatible with Microsoft® Windows® 2K/ME/XP and a variety of Linux-based operating systems.

The VIA EPIA M10000 Mini-ITX mainboard is available in volume now from VIA's global distribution partners listed here: http://www.viaarena.com/?PageID=242, including leading US online stores www.mwave.com, www.newegg.com, and www. outpost.com, at an estimated retail price of US$199. For more information on the full range of VIA EPIA M-Series Mini-ITX mainboards please visit: www.viaembedded.com/product/epia_m_spec.jsp?motherboardId=81

About White Box Robotics White Box Robotics is a group of visionaries with their sights set on dynamic commercial robotic products. White Box Robotics mission is to become an industry leader and innovator of PC based mobile robotic platforms for the entertainment, educational, and personal robotics industry.

For more information about White Box Robotics, please visit the website: http://www.whiteboxrobotics.com

About Robodynamics Founded in September 2003, RoboDynamics is a provider of personal, entertainment and productivity robotics. Our vision is a near future where mobile and stationary intelligent devices interact with people and allow them to perform everyday tasks in ways that are more efficient, intriguing, and productive.

For more information about RoboDynamics, please visit: http://www.robodynamics.com

About VIA Technologies, Inc. VIA Technologies, Inc. is the foremost fabless supplier of market-leading core logic chipsets, low power x86 processors, advanced connectivity, multimedia, networking and storage silicon, and complete platform solutions that are driving system innovation in the PC and embedded markets. Headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan, VIA's global network links the high tech centers of the US, Europe and Asia, and its customer base includes the world's top OEMs, motherboard vendors and system integrators. VIA is listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TSE2388) and achieved annual revenues of over US$720 million in 2002. www.via.com.tw

VIA PR Contacts

International: Richard Brown Phone: (886)-2-2218-5452 #6201 Fax: (886-2)-2218-5453 Email: Richard_Brown@via.com.tw


Michal Lisiecki Phone: (49-2241) 39778-16 Fax: (49-2241) 39778-19 Email: MichalLisiecki@via.com.tw

Reply to Robots.net news story: The Incredible, Shrinking CPUs:

VIA has the advantage over Transmeta that it will still be in business for more than 2 quarters while Transmeta will likely not. They are just hemmoraging cash too quickly. I think the Efficeon product release and all their postureing about their future technologies is just very likely an attempt to get purchased by another player in the industry.

Also the 12cmX12cm Nano-ITX board includes a lot more silicon than simply the processor. Their will be the chipset with integrated graphics and audio, basically your complete PC with the requesit connections. I can't give you the full specs because they haven't been finalized and will be different for different versions of the board. While the Nano-ITX will still be aimed primarily at the VIA's bread and butter PC/devices customers we feel it will be very well suited to robotics applications. Especially since our new even smaller .90 Eden N processor will draw even less power which is great for mobile applications (1GHz~7W, 800MHz~6W and at 533MHz only 4W!)

Timothy J. Brown VIA Robotics Program Manager

VIA Robotics Initiative http://www.via.com.tw/en/robotics/robotics.jsp

Its great to see a review of our VIA EPIA Mini-ITX mainboards on Robots.net. We are working with several Universities and research groups to help them develop robot projects but its a lot more fun to see what happens when products get into the hands of the everyman.

The Mini-ITX as the review points out is great for robot projects that want to have the power of an x86 (PC-based) board. But to show you that VIA is not resting on our laurals and is in fact a leader in the shrinking formfactor for boards that will be ideal for robotics applications I can only tease you with this link to early pictures of our Nano-ITX which will be an even smaller, low power, high connectivity x86 standard board.


www.mobilerobotics.org has coverage of a funny, fake news story about the Japanese gov. naming two new robot cabinet members. If you like satire and robots you'll get a kick out of it.

VIA got some coverage on the Inquirer.net about our idea for Robots being the next evolution of case modding. You can read more about are ideas in this area at mobilerobotics.org

Went to my first 2003 IEEE ICRA. It was really interesting. The presentations were generally OK and I thought the OROCOS presentation was quite good. It was also one of the few presentations that ran out of time during the question period afterwards. People definitely wanted to know more. Anyway they are about 2 years off of having commercially used applications off of their control level "kernal"

There is more show coverage at www.mobilerobotics.org if you want to read more

The Robots.net link to the article about the Rebirth of Robots fits directly in with the thinking at VIA. The story about robotics software moving to a PC interface which serves as a way to provide robots with more sophisticated feature set, more functionality, in a simpler/common programming environment for cheaper is benefit an increasingly commoditized mature PC industry brings to the robotics industry.

Very interesting was the idea that the TCO of the "Robotic Cell" was becoming drastically reduced.

"He adds that while the cost of robots is much lower, the real savings is in the cost of a robotic work cell. "Thanks to application software making it easier to set up and maintain a robotic work cell, the most dramatic price reduction is in the integrated robot cell," says Duncheon. "If you go back to the '80s, a robotic cell could cost $300, 000. Now a vision-guided robotic cell could cost less than $100,000 for the entire working cell." http://www.pddnet.com/scripts/ShowPR.asp? PUBCODE=045&ACCT=0006487&ISSUE=0309&RELTYPE=pr&PRODCODE=0000 &PRODLETT=B

Also over at www.mobilerobotics.org there was a really interesting coverage of the Village Voice's take on DARPA... DARPA needs to hire a new PR agent!

VIA has our robot competition underway with a banner ad on the Robots.net website here that links to the contest entry form.

The competition has a lighthearted "Robots in da house" theme and is based around a short proposal and a couple of multiple choice questions to be answered. Winners will receive VIA Mini-ITX mainboard to build their dream robot proposals.

You can visit the entry form directly by clicking here

Some of the DARPA Grand Challenge teams have started their blogging at the Robolog

Part of the Mobile Robotics website

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