Oct 30, 2015 | By Kira

Some of the more virtuous applications of 3D printing technology include 3D printing for accessibility, as in the case of 3D printed prosthetics or assistive devices; and open source hardware and software projects, which allows anyone to access, download, modify and improve existing designs, free of cost and regardless of their skill level. An ambitious project by British/Dutch organization Wevolver seeks to combine the two, by designing and building a 3D printed robot that, through a virtual reality headset, will allow hospitalized children to virtually explore real life zoos. As the next stage of assembly begins, the team is looking for open source designers, engineers or software developers to contribute to bringing the robot to life.

Prince Andrew meets the Inmoov Robot for Good team at FabLab London

A fusion of two existing open hardware projects—Gael Langevin’s 3D printed ‘InMoov’ robot and Boris Landoni’s ‘Open Wheels’, a two-wheeled vehicle similar to a segway—the Inmoov Robots for Good seeks to connect a standing, bipedal robot to an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The robot could be remotely controlled by children confined to hospitals for the long periods of time, allowing them to safely explore and take part in the priceless childhood experience of visiting the zoo. The project is being developed in collaboration with the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), and the London Zoo.

In development for the better part of 2015, the Inmoov open source Robots for Good has moved to London Hackspace, the largest Hackerspace in the UK, and is nearing its next stage of assembly, with field tests expected to begin in early 2016. Earlier this month, the Duke of York Prince Andrew himself met the robot and its team of designers during a visit to FabLab London as they righteously pushed through to the final stages of development. So far, the upper body has been successfully completed, and the team is ready to begin work on the wheeled lower half.

However, in order to see the robot successfully become a child’s mobile avatar, the Wevolver team is looking for makers from all over the world to share their ideas and knowledge via their open source platform. Before the Robot for Good can begin doing any good, they require assistance in the following areas:

  • Assembling the Open Wheels ‘segway’
  • Designing a 3D printable connection between the Inmoov robot and Open Wheels (the lower half of the robot)
  • Developing software to remotely control Open Wheels via a wireless Internet connection
  • Creating a wireless Internet connection between the Inmoov robot at London Zoo and the Ocucus Rift at Great Ormond Street

According to Wevolver co-founder Richard Hulskes, open source collaboration is  one of the greatest strengths of the project: “The project has turned outt o be a great way of highlighting what happens when people aren’t bound by patents or other licensing restrictions, instead being free to focus on collaborating to achieve something beautiful.” He added that while the initial pilot is taking place in London, the group has been talking to other hospitals, with the long-term goal of creating a worldwide network that could see hospitalized children in New York visiting the zoo in Amsterdam.

Though there is still much work to be done, Wevolver strongly believes that it is precisely through the global, open source community that they will achieve their goal. Designers, engineers and software developers with the skills, or simply with the desire to help improve the lives of these children, are encouraged to get involved via Wevolver and Inmoov Robots for Goods websites.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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