Jan 23, 2017 | By Tess

If your GIF appreciation hasn’t already been saturated by your social media contacts, we daresay you might enjoy Peeqo, a 3D printed robot that communicates using only GIFs. The small robot, developed by New York-based Abhishek Singh, could be a perfect (not to mention cute) desk companion for anyone looking for a bit of topical fun.

Singh, who describes his 3D printed robot as “the love child of Amazon Echo and a Disney character,” set out to create a robot that would offer a friendly alternative to existing social robots, which he perceived as unable to “express emotion or to be relatable.” Rather than devise a complex AI persona, however, Singh found that GIFs, which we are increasingly using ourselves to convey particular emotions, could offer a suitable and entertaining mode of communication.

Named Peeqo, the GIF-talking robot is the product of a long and complex development process, which Singh has detailed in an Imgur post. As he explains, his design concept first materialized on paper, after he sketched out a variety of potential shapes and structures for the robot. Once he came up with a design he liked, he set about creating a digital 3D model of the robot using Autodesk 360, which, as a beginner to CAD software, proved to be a challenging step.

On top of the basic design, however, Singh also had to devise a mechanism that would allow the robot to move in certain ways. To do this, he first created a prototype using a tennis ball, some blue foam, and a rod, in order to figure out what types of movement he wanted for the robot. He ultimately settled on giving it six degrees of movement (to best convey emotions). After many mechanism designs and prototypes, Singh found he could adapt the Stewart Platform mechanism (a type of parallel robot) for his own creation.

Finally, after some final design touches, the maker was ready to 3D print the parts for his GIF robot. The 3D printing, which was realized in partnership with LaGuardia Studio in New York, was all done on a Projet 7000 3D printer (which allowed for tight tolerances). For those interested, Singh has uploaded all his 3D files for Peeqo here.

To program the robot, Singh used a Raspberry Pi3 mini computer for Peeqo’s head, and two Arduino Minis for the movement. For the bot’s faculties, so to speak, Singh integrated a hacked USB soundcard (for hearing), a USB speaker, a front-facing camera, and finally an LCD screen. The GIFs that Peeqo communicates with are imported from GIPHY. Of course, there are more detailed programming and assembly instructions, and those can be found in the maker’s post.

Though Peeqo is already quite impressive, not to mention quite charming with its wobbly, animated body and glasses, Singh will continue to work on and advance his desktop bot, keeping his fans up to date with his progress. As he told HuffPost India, “I'll be working on integrating more external services and smart devices which Peeqo can control. I also want to begin implementing more machine learning into his response system so his responses can be more effective. And, also working more on developing his personality, a personality that can evolve or take shape depending on how you interact with him. Of course, there's a lot more that can be done but I'll keep that a surprise for now.”

The best part about the whole project is that Singh plans to make it completely open source, meaning that anyone can replicate, update, or personalize Peeqo.



Posted in Fun with 3D Printing



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