Friday, December 19, 2014

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Robot Village Offers A Home For Robot-Lovers On The Upper West Side

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Robots are no longer merely a creation of sci-fi writers and movie producers. As NY1 Tech Beat Reporter Adam Balkin explains, they're slowly gaining enough popularity to warrant their own space right here in Manhattan.

David Greenbaum just decided it was time. He feels we've come a long way since, ”Danger. Danger, Will Robinson," and that robots are becoming mainstream enough to launch one of the first spaces in the nation designed exclusively around robots. It's called Robot Village.

“It's all new. No one really knows about robots, how they're going to come into our lifestyles, what's going on right now, so it's like an information place or center where people can learn about robots, be educated, and some may buy products that fit their lifestyles,” says Greenbaum. “We have a range of different products. Some people think this is just a toy store, but it's not a toy store. We hit geeks, we hit kids, we sell a lot of products that are collectibles and wind-up type of robots, and we have different books and magazines for information.”

Not only can you buy all things robotic at the store, including pre-made robots, they also offer classes so that you can use your imagination and design your own.

Robert Malone has been studying robots for 30 years. He's getting set to teach a Battlebot class.

“A Battlebot is a robot designed to battle another robot. And this has specific functions attached to it which, means it doesn't just roll along, it has to do something that engages the enemy, so to speak,” he says. “It has to connect an electrical system with a mechanical system or several mechanical systems, and they have to learn to do all that and they've never done this before.”

Though the most fascinating thing about the facility may be how quickly even the very young seem to understand the basics.

“This robot kind of flips its tail,” says 7-year-old Libby Walker. “And it's a little mermaid robot. I made it with a motor and a pulley that helps the tail go up.”

So if you, like me, feel a little ashamed that a 7-year-old probably knows more about pulleys and motors than you do, you can try to catch up by checking out www.robotvillage.com.

- Adam Balkin
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