Via board powers robots in Taipei

Via chip-based robots being shown at the TIROS robot show in Taiwan.

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Eric Franklin
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Johnny 5 is alive! Lynxmotion

Via Technologies' EPIA-P700 Pico-ITX is an x86 embedded board that measures 10 cm x 7.2 cm, uses a 1GHz Via C7 CPU, and thanks to its low power consumption, is an ideal fit to process small little cute robots that will soon be our lords and masters. Well, maybe not soon, but one day, you'll see.

With robotics development representing the cutting edge of technological progress, Via's commitment to extremely compact designs, robust performance, extensive feature sets, and extremely low power consumption means that the company's off-the-shelf EPIA boards are becoming an essential component for academic, hobbyist, and commercial robot developers.

Via plans to be at the forefront of the eventual robot takeover as it has been a major supporter of robotics development for academics, hobbyists, and military applications. Friday in Taiwan--which is probably Thursday by now--Via showed off its EPIA Pico-ITX-based robots at the Taipei International Robot Show (TIROS), taking place August 21 to 24.

At the Via booth will be three compact robots provided by PlayRobot, a Taiwan-based robot developer and distributor of educational, scientific, and entertainment robots for government, academic, and research institutes, as well as robot kits for enthusiasts.

One, the popular Johnny 5 robot, has been fitted for the show with the very latest Pico-ITX board, the Via EPIA P700 featuring the Via VX800 unified chipset. "With our focus on miniaturization, feature integration, and that all-critical power efficiency, Via has been enabling the increasing versatility and mobility of robotics for some time," said Daniel Wu, vice president of the VIA embedded platform division. "Via's processor platforms are quite literally at the heart of this new robotic age."

More details on Via's participation at the Taipei International Robot Show, along with pictures of the robots on show, can be found here, or watch the dedicated video on the Technovoyance blog.

At its TIROS booth, Via is featuring three PICO-based robots. One, developed by Lynxmotion and provided for the show by PlayRobot, is the Johnny 5, which looks to be based on "Johnny 5" from the movie Short Circuit--a movie I loved as a kid, but am deathly afraid of watching in my adult life for fear of realizing how horribly bad it must have been.

The BEAR does our bidding...for now. Vecna

The Johnny 5, which is powered by Via's PX10000G Pico-ITX board, is a robot kit for hobbyists that includes all the devices and software needed to build and program their own instruments of destruction...or peace. I guess it depends on what the hobbyist wants. Well, at least until the robots become self-aware and well, you've probably seen Terminator. An in-depth article on Johnny 5 can be found here.

The coolest robot Via is showing, though, is the Vecna Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (BEAR). BEAR is designed to rescue military personnel in combat situations, can lift up to 600 pounds, traverse stairs, and runs on Linux, so there will be no chance of a BSoD at a critical combat moment.

No word if BEAR can be outfitted with weaponry, but I can totally see that thing being outfitted with a minigun or something on its shoulders, but maybe that's just the Robotech fan in me talking.