Jun 15, 2016 | By Andre

The robots are coming and 3D printing is partially to blame for the impending invasion. Similar in concept but different in execution to the 3D printed WireBeings robot we covered a few months back, Marty the Robot is a being promoted through a new indiegogo campaign that's hoping to introduce robotics to younger generations.

So what exactly is Marty the Robot? In short, he is an open-source, fully programmable, WiFI ready and 3D printable robot designed to be incredibly customizable, cute and affordable, going for £85 ($120) on the campaign page. He is the brainchild of University of Edinburgh robotics PhD student Alexander Enoch, who realized that his nieces and nephews had very limited choices in robotics beyond the gimmicks on the market today.

Due to launch in 2017 providing the Indiegogo works out, Marty’s 3D printable body parts can be modified and expanded to work with any code its user can imagine. Want Marty to have roller skates, a camera in a moving hat or a screen as a mouth piece? The open nature of the contraption allows for this and that’s exactly what Enoch was after when coming up with his idea.

He notes, “by reducing the number of motors needed to drive movement, and making the electronics and 3D-printed parts easy to modify and expand on, we can open up the world of advanced robotics to the general public. Marty lets anyone build a working, walking robot, and all you need is a smartphone or a laptop to get stuck into programming.”

So what makes Marty different from what’s out there today? To start, his easily-programmable Arduino powered brain and easy-to-assemble (no soldering involved) core means just about any curious individual should have a relatively straightforward learning curve to get started. The programming for example (not usually something pegged as being easy by most) can be done with click-and-drag Scratch visual programming as well as more involved Python and C++ coding options.

From a 3D print perspective, the model files will be released as part of the Indiegogo campaign perks at first but open-to-all as time moves forward. Similarly to other projects of this nature, it seems your standard FDM filament based desktop 3D printer will suffice in producing all the parts needed to get things going.

Beyond that, an accelerometer to measure tilt and acceleration, a noise making beeper, an ARM Cortex M4 micro-controller and servos will be responsible for bringing Marty to life. Also, the design is tried, tested and true as the team behind Marty spent hundreds of hours testing his durability through a number of educational demonstration sessions around the UK in the last year.  From these, they concluded that the metal gears, servos and 36 plastic parts are sturdy enough to be handled by kids.

As someone with nieces and a nephew, I understand why Enoch spent his time creating Marty. The process of developing new features and processes to make Marty drive fit nicely into the STEM based learning practices that are important for all the youth of today and tomorrow alike.

In terms of raising money, the campaign is hoping to reach £50,000 (about $70,970) but will work with what they can muster as it is set to flexible funding. From a reward perspective, 3D files, t-shirts and circuit boards round out the lower level perks followed by variations of Marty himself, from armed (£95) to armless (£85) to 10-packs meant for a classroom environment.

Ultimately, the reward versions of the robot won’t be 3D printed but instead injection moulded, which will save in time and cost because of the high volume of robots that will need producing. The timeline below details the planned stages still to come before the eventual shipping between January - February of 2017.

It’s hard for me to find anything wrong with the intent of this campaign. The team varies from marketing, robotics, and coding backgrounds and all appear to be in it for the right reasons. If I had a Marty growing up who knows where I would have landed. I presume working for NASA or living on the space station or something along those lines. But in all seriousness, Marty is possible thanks to a lot of hard work, 3D printing, the open-source community and, depending how the campaign unfolds, you the backer. It’s worth checking out at the very least.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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