I think this is probably going to be a long entry, so if you want to go grab a cup of coffee and a snack, I'll wait until you get back...
Ok.. good you're back. Where do I begin? Let's start with the obvious - the outward appearance. Maybe it's just me and my inner geek, but this thing looks to me like the nose cone for a rocket. And the fact that it's called Gemini (like in the Gemini Space Program) doesn't help matters any! Seriously, though... you have to admit that this is one cool looking robot.
With what I would consider a forerunner to Rovio's True-Track NorthStar beacon-type navigational system, Gemini uses an infrared beacon placed in each room along with special door-edge reflectors on each doorway to map out it's surroundings. Unlike Rovio, however, pre-programmed paths are not needed. Gemini is capable of using the maps that it builds as it explores to determine it's location and the best way to get from point A to point B. Battery maintenance is even automatic as Gemini uses infrared beacons to locate and dock with his changer on his own.
Several options are available for control. You can use the cordless IR keyboard to issue commands, speak the commands using voice-recognition technology or even control him remotely using any computer connected to either "CompuServe" or "the Source" (BBS systems that are now both long since defunct). You can also write BASIC programs for Gemini and save them to either 3½" floppy discs or "WAFER" endless-loop tapes. Or simply plug in a joystick and go...
And unlike the "do not open, do not modify - we still retain all rights" policy of today's manufacturers, Arctec Systems not only expected you to modify and expand on their robot, they went out of their way to help. First, the body was designed so that there was ample room inside for additional circuitry. The brochure even says so! The on-board Switch Mode Power Supply wasn't engineered to save a few bucks, providing only the barest minimum needed to power Gemini himself. No, unlike the disposable devices of the new millennium, this power supply was designed to provide enough power for itself as well as almost anything that you might want to add yourself. And finally, as opposed to the top secret policies of modern corporations, Gemini comes complete with all of the service information that you would need to modify, repair or add to the robot that you purchased - including a full set of schematic diagrams! Do you know of any company that provides that level of customer service today?
Even though you can add your own sensors, Gemini comes with plenty of his own right out of the box (or kit if you prefer the thrill of building it yourself). Built-in sensors include light, sound, temperature and on-board battery voltage with barometric pressure and smoke sensors optional. This is in addition to the 16-channel 8-bit A/D converter and the four Apple-style expansion ports.
As much as I would like to own one of these bots, with only about 60 units ever produced, it's unlikely that many of us will ever even see an original Gemini up close and personal like, much less own one. But Mike Fowler, one of the original designers of the Gemini robot has set up a web site, RobotU.com, where you can download all of the original technical manuals, owner's manuals, schematic diagrams and software code need to build your own Gemini robot.
Year Released: 1985
Dimensions: 48" tall x 20" diameter