There have been numerous specialised books on robotics, going back decades. Almost always from a research perspective, and dealing with once-off custom designs. Yet in the last 2 years, a toy robot, called Robosapien, has proved wonderfully popular in the mass market. Samans shows why Robosapien can be considered more than a toy. Perhaps even a tool for advancing robotics.
The book blends two themes. The predominant one is how to modify your Robosapien. Samans explains the deliberately extensible nature, which appeals to many tinkerers. It is rare, indeed, for a mere toy to be so open. Typically, a toymaker locks down the toy, and might even sue any hacker with the gumption to publicly tweak the toy. But here, Robosapien's maker [WowWee] takes the completely opposite tack. The book documents some of the numerous ways to indulge your tinkering. Notably including using your personal computer as a controller.
But the book also explores another theme. It uses Robosapien as a case study of a different approach to robotics. Designed around BEAM - biology, [analog] electronics, aesthetics and mechanics. The idea is to seek inspiration from biological evolution, since the best ideas may well have been tried out and found successful in nature. Then, these are reimplemented in mechanical form, preferably using analog electronics to control the functions. Instead of having a master CPU that has code to handle every possible contingency, which is impossible.
The first theme turns Robosapien into a seriously cool hacker's dream. The second theme turns the book into somewhat of a textbook, that may well be more persuasive than many robotics tomes.