Apr 17, 2016 | By Andre

When I was a child growing up in the 1980s robots were something found exclusively in the realm of science fiction. As time passed, the 1990s emerged and Honda’s Asimo started making appearances in tech-centric television programming on the Discovery Channel or TLC (this, during an era when those networks still focused on educational content).

But it was always all too distant and out of reach for the average person. And why wouldn’t it be? Robots are from the future after all. Well, just like how 3D printing has hit the mainstream in recent years, robotics are starting to follow suit. The reason for this (being perfectly blunt with my aging self here) is that the 1980s version of my future has finally arrived.

Keeping this in mind, when I was introduced to an open-source, fully 3D printed, Arduino (and smart phone) powered remote controlled robot by WireBeings I wasn't even surprised. Sure, I was certainly impressed; but you know, like I said, the future.

As the Instructables page for the robot suggests, you can have your own for about $35 worth of electronic parts (not including a smart-phone) and maybe $15 worth of 3D printer filament (and roughly 35 hours of printing). From a functional perspective, and as the below video demonstrates, the wifi-enabled voice activated robot can act as a smart-alarm clock, weather system (via the Yahoo API and Temboo) and has obstacle avoidance while on the go.

But considering the expandable and open-source nature of the beast - fitting up to 3 mini breadboards and a variety of Arduinos to best suit your needs - it is essentially up to you or the community that emerges from its existence to decide what it’s ultimately capable of.

From a 3D print perspective, the files are all freely accessible on 3D model file-sharing site Thingiverse under a non-Commercial, share alike Creative Commons license, requires no supports to 3D print and recommends a lean infill of just 10%.

After downloading the files for a quick-see for myself, every part fits on my Replicator 2 print bed without any problem (132mm at it’s longest axis) and both ABS or PLA will certainly do the trick from a material perspective. What’s even cooler, Matthew Halberg - the Pittsburge native behind the device - also released the 123D design files so that “it would be easier for younger people to change designs of the face or whatever else they wanted to edit.”

Some folks on the hackaday message board suggest that the 9v battery power-source isn’t enough to get any reliable use out of the thing, and while that may be true, the open-nature of the project implies if that if you’re not satisfied by the design, you’re welcome to modify, reorganize and improve on it for yourself.

It’s interesting that Matthew decided, while designing the robot, that it should look just like what the 1980s child-version of myself envisioned a robot would look like. He even notes that, “for whatever reason I was really concerned with making this humanoid-ish, so it had to have a gap between the legs.” Even though that was by no means the most practical way about it as he soon learned.

In closing, this is just another perfect example how the merger between hobbyist electronics, coding and 3D printing tech allows individuals to think outside of the box, to share, and to develop things thought unimaginable to those growing up a generation ago.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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