Archie The Helper Bot


We noticed this article on BotJunkie about Archie the helper bot. Archie is supposed to help out around the house with cooking, cleaning, and other mundane tasks. [Evan] makes a very good point though. Why do people insist on putting creepy heads on their robots. They aren’t making them any more endearing, it’s just creepy. While that is a very astute observation, we would like to add some more.  Watch the video above, and study the image after the break. Archie doesn’t seem to be a functional bot. He never moves in the video under his own power. The scene where they “walk” him along is comedy gold. His head keeps falling backwards,or possibly off. And what use is a helper bot that doesn’t have actuated hands? The video is in German, so maybe we’re missing something. Maybe Archie is a mock up or a joke and we just needed translation.

archie (Custom)

30 thoughts on “Archie The Helper Bot

  1. According to what I understood (I’m not German myself), the ‘bot isn’t ready yet; they expect it to be done in seven years. The reason it doesn’t walk good is that it just got flewn over from Canada and a gravity sensor (lit. ‘sensor for balancing’) is broken. Moreover, it doesn’t have programming to really ‘walk’ yet, they say they still have to program the code to make it turn etc. They also say the bot has >33 CPUs, one for every motor, plus the central controller which seems to run Linux. They also say that it’ll probably get a skin too, which oughtta make the head a bit less scary.

  2. The video explains a bit why ‘archie’ is broken.

    The head falls of because the robot has ‘jet-lag’ – IT was disassembled for the transportation from canada.
    Moreover the robot has serious problems with keeping its balance, because the tilt sensor does not work/was broken during transportation.

    The robot has been developed for 4 years now and will be ready in about 5-7 years.
    The robot shall (in future) ressemble a common 14-year-old european teenager *lol*

  3. Guys, there’s nothing wrong with Archie. You missed the part where they say in German that it’s the “Weekend at Bernie’s” model. The next iteration will be “Scarecrow from The Wiz” model, slightly more coordinated but prone to sinking to the ground unless periodically pulled back up.

  4. The young men caring for the robot are students of TU Wien (Vienna University of Technology), Mr. Kopacek (the older one with white hair) is their professor. They are not german, they are austrian.

    In you can read that the goal of the mentioned austrian-canadian project is to build a comparatively cheap (15 000 €) humanoid robot. That maybe the reason for this poor demonstration.
    Nevertheless: Why invite a news camera team to film a broken robot?

  5. Well, when I first saw it on BotJunkie, I wondered whether or not these people knew anything about robotics. But now that I know that they had a tilt sensor go out (I don’t know German), I can sympathize. I’ve been in places where a robot I built had to work, and didn’t, and I had to punt. I don’t blame them a bit for the lousy demonstration. They probably felt terrible about it afterward.

  6. @khani3s: I have to agree…

    I have seen too many bot demo videos that looked like failures and disassembly for transportation was blamed. It’s beginning to make me wonder it that’s becoming the universal excuse in the field.

  7. Well, this video was taken at a “universitat”…

    As they say, “Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach.”. Seriously, if you asked a real hacker to build a robot with your $15,000, you would end up with one that worked, since most of us work on a budget comprised of trips to the coinstar machine.

  8. wow i think it is way over built and really why decorate a bot before it has ever been proven? i seen bots based on servos and such and that is way over sized for the actuators involved in locomotion… i declare FAIL… in fact i call for a total rebuild … i want to see some one in the l33t field of servo mechanics throw together just a walker bot with a soda dispenser for kicks because i “know” it can be done. lol in all fairness the people that posted the video set them selves up for severe criticism.

  9. When I first saw this, I thought this was some kind of joke. But it probably isn’t.

    Googling for “Archie” and “TU Wien” I found an invitation for a press event, where this robot was to be introduced. There, you find a downloadable photo of the bot without the creepy head.

    My guess: The head was stuck on as some kind of joke. This is probably why it’s wearing a baby hat.

  10. I’m a graduate of the vienna university of technology and sadly agree with all your comments. The university, its curriculums, its way of teaching and also most of its associates are a joke (seriously). As bad as the university is as bad and hilarious is their research. I wonder what they get paid for…

  11. I’m currently studying at the Vienna University of Technology and while this bot really is lame, I have to disagree with archiebald.
    There are some nice projects going on like the TU Racer and were not bad at robot footie either although we didn’t win this year :(
    Sadly it only gets interesting when youre doing your master. Bachelor is quite boring. Well, 2 semesters to go :)

  12. Pretty hilarious video. Designing equipment to be shippable is hugely important. I have to say that the whole “robot doll” thing really rubs me the wrong way. Seems like the first thing to do is design a robot that has function, then spend (waste) money putting a “human” head on the damn thing.

  13. Hi Guys,

    I am the young guy (Ahmad Byagowi) in the video who worked on Archie as my PhD work. Long story short description. You may argue, why the robot is not walking on its power. First of all, The project was meant to be done by at least 10 students from several fields. I was the only one from Electrical Engineering. After a short while, Prof. Kopacek was forced to get retired. So, he lost the funding and the institute. So, no further students. I was alone with a robot and getting the minimum requirements in order to receive my PhD. I worked alone and kept faith. After a short while they sent me to Canada to work with Professor Jacky Baltes. I had so many difficulties in Canada, since I had no funding there, and I had to use my 679Euro from Austria in Canada. Nevertheless, I got Archie moving somehow before I brought is to Austria.
    For the transportation, I was asked to break down the whole robot in parts to fit in three suitcases (just imagine). Then, when I arrived, I had to demonstrate the robot as there was nothing else in the institute for demonstration. After that I kept working for around 8 months and I received my PhD on March. You may question what is the novelty in Archie. Well, the whole robot is controlled using a central controller which consists from an FPGA running Linux. There is not PC interacting with control of the system. In a hierarchical structure the 33 joints of the robot are controlled using individual micro controller which are communicating with the main controller (the FPGA). The embedded design and FPGA implementation of control system for the robot is really valuable from Electrical Engineering. Because, it can brings up low power consumption and reliability. Besides, the designs can lead the structure to go for commercialization. With all these advantages, I left this field for my post-doc and now I am working on bio-medical engineering. If you like to learn more about Archie, use my PhD thesis.
    Do not compare Archie with other Humanoid robots like Asimo and etc. because, the main goal for this project was designing an affordable robot. Currently, the robot needs more software development, whereas the hardware is almost completed. Also about the creepy head, I agree, but just to let you know, the robot use to be headless (as you can see in this link, and mu Prof placed the under development head on the robot before the press conference, just to make it look more like a humanoid. This is the whole story. If you have any further concern, please do not hesitate to contact me.
    Thank you for you time

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