item #1000 by Hubotics, Inc.

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Hmm... "Mint Condition" the guy told me. The plastic is yellowing on the collar, there was a pin broken on the right wheel shaft, the positive battery connector was broken, the rubber o-ring on the collar motor had a flat spot on it, there was no disk drive or software - But it was in mint condition. OK... Well I repaired everything that was broken and installed a disk drive (thanks to Robert Doerr for providing me with the drive and the software) and I am happy to announce that Hubot is alive and well!

I haven't had a chance to fool around with him much, but he seems capable of everything that was promised in his ads. He walks (or rather rolls), he talks... I look forward to many great adventures with my new friend :)

Ok... Ok... things like that just do not happen to me very often! About a week ago, I got an email from a guy who said that he had a Hubot that he was looking to get rid of. 'Hmm... A Hubot, you say?' Well that had my attention. After several more emails, I found out that the guy I was corresponding with was a Mr. Don Skinner - who had been with Hubotics throughout the entire Hubot endeavour. Talking to the people responsible for bringing robotics into our homes is one of the reason I run this web site. I never tire of robotic-lore - especially when it comes first hand.

Anyway, a few more emails and a phone call or two, and Mr. Skinner offers me his personal Hubot... for free. Just pay shipping. I mean, what kind of a fool would I be to turn down an offer like that. Just in case anyone else is looking to ship a Hubot, let me tell you - it is not cheap. But with only about 75 or 80 ever shipped from the factory, finding a working example in as good condition is this one is was worth it to me. He even came with his own personalized cordura fabric cover!

When he arrived (the UPS guy is used to delivering robots to the shop by now, so nothing surprises him anymore - "Another robot, huh?"), luckily I was caught up on work, because nothing else even got looked at that day! The original battery was still in him, but it was of course dead. And I do mean dead - not even half a volt! I cleaned the oxidation off the connector to the interface board and, using a lawnmower battery that I had in stock, pressed the Power button and... Voila! His screen lit up and he informed me, in a cool retro-robotic voice, that "the disk [was] not ready". So here I sit at an impasse...

As of this writing, he is missing the 5¼" floppy disk drive and I don't have any of the software disks that originally came with him. So if anyone happens to have a Hubot, I would really appreciate even copies of the disks, if not the originals themselves! Programming manuals would be fantastic, as well. I'll scan the owners manual that I got with the robot, but I am warning you ahead of time - it leaves something to be desired.

Hubot was marketed as the ultimate servant, teacher, entertainer and mobile computer. We're talking about a full-featured CP/M computer with speech synthesis, 12" black-and-white television, Atari video game system and an AM/FM stereo cassette deck on wheels! Now if that isn't awesome, I don't know what is...

The body is a single mold of polyethylene plastic, which the company claimed was "... nearly indestructible." Supposedly, you couldn't scratch or break the body even with a hammer. Yeah, right. I deal with broken plastic everyday trying to restore these robots. You could even purchase an optional cordura fabric protective cover to keep your servant dust-free. OMG!

One future upgrade option (at that time) worth mentioning was an autocharger module that would allow HUBOT to detect it's own battery charge status. When the battery dropped to a predetermined level, the robot would be able to locate it's own battery charger and place itself on charge. It was also thought that, at some point in the future, you would be able to plug HUBOT into an electrical outlet to allow the robot/computer to remotely control your appliances. Whether any of these "future" enhancements ever came to fruition or not, I don't know.

Unfortunately, Mr. Skinner verified that none of the 'Planned Options' were ever realized. Selling fewer robots that they had originally hoped (the plan was to sell over 2000 units), further development on the Hubot project was cancelled. However, the vacuum cleaner attachment was being designed and tested, but it was never released to the public.

Year Released: 1984
Original Price: starting at $3495 for the basic robot

   full-featured computer "brain" with CP/M 2.2
   12-inch combination TV/monitor
   64-key detachable ASCII keyboard
   5¼" DS/DD floppy disk drive
   sonic and infrared obstacle avoidance
   built-in Atari video game system
   built-in AM/FM stereo w/ cassette, equalizer and speakers
   phonetic voice synthesizer for unlimited vocabulary
   full-direction movement

Available Options:
   removable serving tray
   40 column dot matrix printer ($300)
   additional 5¼" floppy disk drive ($395)
   plastic "home base" (similar to Omnibot 2000) for programming reference

Planned Option:
(if you know of the existence of any of these, please let me know)

   voice recognition for vocal command control
   fully articulated arm ($700)
   heat/smoke/intrusion sentry package (< $300)
   automatic battery recharge with charger locator
   vacuum cleaner attachment ($300)
   remote control
   300 baud modem

Technical Specifications:
CPU: Zilog 8-bit Z80A @ 4 MHz
Memory: 64K user RAM
Power Supply: 12vdc 40 Ahr sealed lead acid battery
Battery Charger: 12vdc 6amp automatic car-type charger with modified 3-pin connector
Interface Connectors:
   two joystick ports
   one RS232 port
   one Centronics/parallel port
   battery charger

Dimensions: 22" diameter x 45" high
Weight: ~110 lbs

Click Here to Download the Hubot Owner's Manual
To See an Original Certificate of Completion, Click Here

Some information and specifications listed here are taken from TAB Books' "The Personal Robot Book" by Texe Marrs - ISBN # 0-8306-1896-1