A HERO Will Rise

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Yesterday in his post Rise of the Edubot, John mentioned in passing that perennial electronics DIY company Heathkit (now focused on the educational and training markets) had announced a new version of their original HERO robot from 1982.

HERO 1 had a Motorola 6808 CPU and 4k of RAM on board. He came equipped with motion, light, sound and sonar ranging sensors. You could even add an optional arm attachment and max out his capabilities.

There were a couple follow-on models, and then it faded away.  But now that robots are all the rage, it makes sense that the HERO should evolve:

Built with a compact design for optimal mobility, HE-RObot™ utilizes industry standard PC hardware and software providing the most versatile and user-friendly robot on the market today. Controlled by remote or set to move autonomously, it is capable of sensing its environment, reacting and moving around obstacles. HE-RObot™ can talk, see, hear, transmit receive and process data, or if you like, just play a CD. By being able to do just about anything, HE-RObot™ provides students and teachers with a friendly, personable technological experience.

Sadly, that "industry standard PC hardware and software" is Windows XP, running on Intel chips, so make sure you have some form of EMP device handy in case HERO decides to play out a few scenes from Westworld in your school.  But snark aside, this is a pretty cool looking robot platform (think Optimus Prime + Roomba). So, did any of you have or play with an original HERO back in the day?  And what would you do with one of these if you could get one?  I’m thinking the first thing it needs are lasers!

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