Year or Era:
battery powered motor, CPU, and remote control
I remember looking a department store catalogs in the early to mid 80's and having several pages devoted to household robots, including Topo and Androbot. At that time, it was thought that every home would have a personal robot. They were extremely premature in their prediction, and that day is still yet to come. Along with all the robots that the Tomy Corporation has blessed us with in the 80's, Omnibot 2000 was the only "potential" true robot. The version I have is nothing more than an elaborate remote controlled toy. My Omnibot is missing his tray (note the slot in the front). The days of real household robots have yet to come, but I believe they are coming.
First of all, I believe the web should be a place of truth and accuracy. Of course many of us are simply hobbyists, and maybe our information can be considered opinion. I believe that if I or anyone else receives information that challenges our web facts, we should do our best to provide the correct information for our web viewers.
I received a letter from Mike Tomkins that politely corrected me on many factual errors, especially concerning my information on the Omnibot 2000 upgrades and potential capabilities. I must admit, I have no idea where I remember getting my facts from, or if I was confusing Omnibot 2000 details with another robot at the time. I hardly think this is the case either because many of the "mythical" functions were well ahead of their time technology wise.
Below is an excerpt from Mike Tomkins' letter:
"The following that you've said are merely Omnibot myths:
Omnibot could with upgrades patrol your house at night and call the police even. (Not true. Omnibot's battery would not last all night, nor can he become autonomous, ie. choose his own route and patrol it. He can only follow the ultrasonic sensor or follow commands from the remote control or programmed on tape. There is also no way that an Omnibot 2000 could dial a telephone, let alone call the police).
Attachments let Omnibot sense battery level and report back to its battery charger. (Not true. Omnibot 2000 can detect when the battery needs charging, and display this with the B-C light on the front panel, but this cannot be used to send the robot back home as the robot does not include a computer to keep track of its location, nor to move itself autonomously. No accessory was ever advertised or made to add this functionality. Omnibot can also not reconnect himself to the charger in any way).
The "dummy" arm could be replaced with a motorized upgrade. (Not true. Omnibot 2000 was only ever built to have one motorized arm, and doesn't have any circuitry a second arm could be connected to. The second arm would also require different plastic moldings to the first arm, which would be too expensive to make for just an "optional accessory". No optional motorized arm was ever advertised or made for Omnibot 2000). See Charlie's letter on the 2nd arm.
Tomy were working on a vacuum attachment for Omnibot 2000. (Not true. This myth comes from a book which showed Radio Shack's Robie Senior [actually a cross between Tomy's Omnibot 5402 and Hearoid robots] holding a household vacuum cleaner. Tomy did make a bump-action desktop robot called Dustbot which had a built-in mini vacuum, but that is all. There were never any plans to add a vacuum to Omnibot 2000).
UPDATE TO ABOVE:
Mike's update for the vacuum attachment 4-2-2001
It seems that Tomy *were indeed* preparing a vacuum cleaner attachment for the
Hearoid/Omnibot OOM robots, along with a couple of other accessories... I recently added a Hearoid to my collection that included the original manual. Here's a comparison of the Accessory Interface Panel pages in the Omnibot 2000 and Hearoid manuals:
PHOTO SENSOR! - You'll be able to control Omnibot by a photo-electric eye!
Simply pass by the photo sensor and Omnibot will be activated.
INFRARED SENSOR! - Omnibot will soon be able to avoid all obstructions. If he approaches a wall or a person, he will steer away all by himself!
SUPER-SONIC SENSOR! - Soon you won't be able to walk away from Omnibot... he'll follow you everywhere with this Super-sonic sensor!
AND THAT'S ONLY THE BEGINNING! TOMY IS CONSTANTLY DEVELOPING NEW WAYS TO ENHANCE YOUR OMNIBOT.
To keep posted on the Omnibot accessories, don't forget to fill out the enclosed Questionnaire and mail it TODAY!"
Hearoid (Omnibot OOM)
"Coming soon... a revolutionary line of accessories to expand Hearoid to
interface with the future.
DON'T FORGET TO FILL OUT THE CARD BELOW TO RECEIVE INFORMATION ON HEAROID ACCESSORIES!
By tapping into the accessory panel, you can attach a line of SPECIAL accessories TTC and the store where you purchased Hearoid will soon have available.
FILL OUT THE CARD NOW!
2009 East 223rd Street
Carson, California 90810
A PHOTO SENSOR! - To activate Hearoid by a photo-electric eye, simply pass
by the photo sensor and Hearoid will be activated.
INFRARED SENSOR! - Hearoid will soon be able to avoid all obstructions. If
he approaches a wall or a person, he will steer away all by himself!
SUPER-SONIC SENSOR - Soon you won't be able to walk away from Hearoid...
he'll follow you everywhere with this Super-sonic sensor.
TRACER TAPE! - With this special Tracer Tape, you'll be able to chart out a
course on the floor that Hearoid will follow exactly! Make him turn tight
corners, travel from room to room... all without programming him!
VACUUM CLEANER! - Place Hearoid's Vacuum Cleaner in his hand and watch him sweep up your mess. Used with the special Infrared Sensor, Hearoid will be
able to vacuum around furniture while you rest. Make Hearoid your Janitroid!
TELEVISION CAMERA! - Compatible with most standard TVs or VCRs, this
special-designed [sic] black & white camera is the world's smallest. Sit at your TV and see and hear what Hearoid is seeing and hearing. You can even use his transmitter to talk to others through him.
AND THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING! TTC IS CONSTANTLY DEVELOPING AND INVENTING NEW WAYS TO ENHANCE YOUR HEAROID. DON'T LEAVE YOUR ROBOT IN THE PAST. YOUR MECHANICAL MAN IS BECOMING MORE HUMAN."
So it looks like there were three additional accessories planned for Hearoid/Omnibot OOM. I've never seen any mention of these elsewhere; possibly they never saw production, or possibly they're just extremely rare. Either way, the info is interesting. The tracer tape idea was used in a toy robot made by Bandai, from the LovBoGiBots series - I've not seen it in one of Tomy's toys before. Possibly Bandai had a patent that prevented Tomy bringing this accessory to market? The television camera would, in the mid-80s, have been rather expensive even for a B&W type, and may have been dropped because of this... The vacuum cleaner wouldn't have appealed to kids, and likely too few adults bought Hearoid or Omnibot 2000 to sell any of these. My guess is that TTC (Tomy Tec Corp.) dropped the idea for the extra three accessories after seeing very low sales on the Omnibot 2000 accessories.
I always wondered, incidentally, why the Hearoid was sold by Tomy Tec, when all the other robots were sold by Tomy? Perhaps Tomy were targeting adults with Hearoid (hence the vacuum accessory) and so sold through TTC to get away from the Tomy name which is associated with toys?
Anyway, if there were plans for a vacuum for Hearoid, it is possible that this may have worked with Omnibot 2000 as well. The accessory panels are identical on the two robots; if the circuitry behind them is the same, the accessory should have worked with either robot. Omnibot 2000 has completely different hands though, and may not have been able to hold the Hearoid vacuum. The other two accessories may also have worked with Omnibot 2000, if they were ever sold.
I guess someone has to find one for sale, and then we'll know! : )
Program cassettes could be made on computers of that era. (Not true. Omnibot's program cassettes could only be recorded in the robot itself. If you play them back on a hi-fi, you'll find that they consist of a series of musical tones. Each note indicates an action, turn left, raise arm, whatever. Omnibot 2000's circuitry is actually based on the Verbot, a "voice controlled" robot which used tones from your voice to control it. The Omnibot series added a cassette deck and remote control to the design, allowing the tones to be more accurately transmitted than by voice [Verbot is actually quite hard to control] and for the tones to be recorded and
replayed. By the way, whilst the Commodore 64 had a cassette deck, the Apple and IBM PC computers had floppy disk drives)."
I would like to thank Mike for his help in keeping my page accurate. Mike is also graciously offering his e-mail address for questions regarding Tomy's mid-80's robots. You can reach Mike Tomkins HERE, or click the link below. Thanks again Mike!
Here is an excerpt from Charlie's letter regarding attaching a second arm:
I saw you web site. Very nice , well my name is Charlie & I was reading a page on your site about things your able & not able to do with the omnibot 2000 from mike Tomkins, there's a part there about the dummy arm on the omnibot 2000 . Mike states the you can't replace the arm with a working one, something to do with the main board. I'm glad to say you can replace the dummy arm with a working one or make the dummy arm work . I have made a little black box that will allow you to
have both arms working. it's very easy to put in. I will be selling these 2nd arm kits on my site soon , I have one done already so I know it can be done. so in a way the omnibot 2000 can be upgraded. i'm not saying that mike was wrong at the time you posted this information, but now I found a way to have 2 arms to work on a omnibot 2000 with out changing the remote. I have another project that i'm working for the omnibot 2000. the sensors. I will be building sensors to work with the omnibot 2000. soon. I have a site for the omnibot 2000 that I have put up to help out people & to sell things there to. www.angelfire.com/ny5/robotech/ this site is new & is still being updated. great site,
Jeff Hobbs (humor)
Mike Tomkins e-mail for Questions concerning Tomy's mid-80's robots
Omnibot Site, Great!
Robots Wanted Dead or Alive- Omnibots and many robots from that time!
Androbot (not Omnibots, but from the same era)