Droid Genesis Personal Robot

Personal programmable robots date back to at least 1978 with the Terrapin Turtle. Ten years later, Droid introduced its Genesis Personal Robot with a much more powerful PC-based internal computer.

The extra processing power did not keep the Genesis from meeting the same fate as all other personal robots from the era. It sold in small numbers to a limited market of hobbyists, developers, and schools.

Processing power wasn’t the problem. The robot’s physical form and features (or lack thereof) limited its use to experimentation and education. You could program it to function only as much as hardware allowed. It just wasn’t practical for the applications Droid claimed its robot was capable of including light housework, stocking store shelves, cleaning airports, or acting as a butler. It’s $12,500 base price didn’t help, either.

Source: Droid, 1988

The Genesis did have some interesting features. Its onboard PC-compatible computer could connect to another PC to perform diagnostics. Each of the two standard arms could lift up to 12 pounds. An internal communications system was built around what Droid called the DroidBus, which “cuts down the complex, high-level robot control systems into easily managed components by a system known as Articulated Multiprocessing.”

In addition to the PC-based processing unit, the Genesis had a second 8-bit processor to handle the coordination of motions and actions. The robot used a proprietary programming language called FORWARD.

Introduced: 1988
Original Retail Price: $12,500
Base Configuration: PC/XT-compatible processor unit, 8-bit coprocessor, 1 or 2 robot arms with gripper hands