Heathkit was an awesome company that supplied electronic kits for educational purposes back in the 80's and 90's. Their products where a bit on the pricey side but where else could you get a TV in kit form that you had to build. I bought an Oscilloscope from them and put it all together in several weekends. I also had a single board computer that was sold by Heathkit that I did not actually build but I used it for teaching myself how to program using machine(Assembly) language.
Well Heathkit is back in action and one of the best products they offered is also back. The Hero Robot of the 80's is now called HE-RObot. Back in the 80's you could get this robot in kit form or fully assembled. I was never able to purchase one but I worked for a company repairing electronic equipment and the owner's son ended up getting one. It was one of the coolest things I saw and it probably was one of the reasons I became so interested in robotics in the first place. I don't remember all the specifics of the original robot but from what I remember it had sonar ranging, optical wheel encoders, light sensors, current sensors, and sound sensors.
Well the new Hero is a partnership between White Box Robotics and Heathkit. The new HE-RObot comes with an onboard PC with an XP operating system and Microsoft Robotics Studio as the programming environment. Finally a product is in the market place that combines both of my passion's: Robotics and Microsoft .Net. This is a very powerful robot but I do not see too many details on what sensors will be offered. On the web site it looks like it will include IR, Web Camera, and Audio. I sure would like to see a few more details on what other capabilities it will have as far as sensors go.
The web camera is going to be real powerful as a sensor. I was fortunate enough to evaluate an ER1 robot from Evolution Robotics. I wrote an article about this experience called 30 Days of ER1 back in 2003. The live video pattern recognition routines put a whole new meaning to navigating your environment. I am pretty sure White Box Robotics has licensed the software that handled pattern recognition from Evolution Robotics so the HE-RObot will have the same capabilities.