Inexpensive Humanoid Robot Platform
"When you go up to the bell, ring it, or don't go up to the bell." - Mel Brooks
What is Hex and Why?
Hex is biped humanoid robot research platform, standing 4 feet and 3 inches tall, weighing 50 lbs. Hex is battery powered and wirelessly controlled. He was designed for two main purposes: to inspire and teach.
Quick- When was the last time you saw a full size robot? If you answered "Never, " you are like most people. Humanoid robots are research machines. It will be many years before they are commonplace. They do exist however. Hubo and Asimo come to mind - world class machines representing years of work by engineers all over the world and millions of dollars in development costs. To sum up, walking robots are hard!
What makes Hex unique?
Hex was constructed from readily available household items. Not for expediency's sake, but for three reasons:
- As an homage to the way I used to build as a boy. This artistic way of re-purposing parts to fit my needs appeals to me.
- More importantly, I sought to demystify full size humanoid robots and to take them down a notch in the eyes of children by using parts that they would recognize. The complexity of humanoid robots is intimidating.
- Cost. I sought to build something that would be reproducible by a high school robotics team or student group. The traditional method of building humanoids would far exceed the resources and budget of any student group.
Hex is a less sophisticated humanoid platform but a perfect teaching tool as ALL of the basic fundamentals of advanced humanoid robotics apply. Hex is a unique thing in all the world - a starter humanoid robot.
Until now there has not been an affordable class of full sized humanoid robots for research. After all, there are different classes of cars, so why not humanoid robots? It's time. My machine will not only be functional but upgradable. The benefits are cost and accessibility. The focus is for high school age children - the next generation of engineers.
My objective is to make the plans available to any school that can raise the funds for parts and then offer an online forum to assist in the build at no cost.
Hex has already begun inspiring children and adults alike at schools and events in the Maryland/DC area. I am humbled by the enormous amount of support this project has garnered including an endorsement from a leading expert in the field - Dr. Paul Oh, Professor at Drexel University's Mechanical Engineering Department, Affiliated Faculty in the ECE Department, and Director of the Drexel Autonomous Systems Lab (DASL).
"...Mark Haygood is launching a project page revolving around his Hex humanoid robot, on Kickstarter. His Hex is at an impressive first stage and this project is really worthy of funding! Please support and share!" - Dr. Paul Oh
The project has also been featured in recent articles from CNN, The Baltimore City Paper, The Afro, and many others.
The viability of this platform must be determined. To accomplish that goal a second Hex must be constructed, which is the objective of this fundraising effort. The project will be exhaustively documented and filmed. Hex 1 was a proof of concept. Machine 2 will be greatly improved. Additional DOF (degrees of freedom) will be added to the hips for a more efficient and human like gait (pattern of movement), additional DOF to the shoulders, and a new hand design for increased dexterity.
Hex 2 will be improved in every way. The approximate build time will be 1 year. This will not be a solo project (thank God). The first phase was a lot of work for one person. Baltimore Hackerspace is my home now and I consider myself fortunate that I have a talented team of engineers and programmers familiar with Hex and eager to get to work. Also, Dr. Oh has advised that he will help in any way possible. As you can see we are ready for this challenge.
One high school robotic team has already expressed an interest in observing the Hex 2 construction and assisting when possible. Baltimore Hackerspace is large enough to accommodate. However, if we vastly exceed our fundraising goal, there is a real possibility of utilizing additional property (attached to our current shop) to function as an exclusive lab for this very demanding build.
Funds are needed for the following :
- To correct design flaws in Hex 1
- For the build of Hex 2 and documentation and filming of the entire process
- Support gear: additional laptops, video equipment, patient lifts, etc.
I have spent a considerable amount of time and money developing this wonderful machine. I am biased of course, but I feel that the viability of this platform must be explored and that requires your help. It would take an extensive paper or even a book to say all there is to say about this project. I am available and eager to answer any questions on the project. More video will be added as the process unfolds.
The next time someone asks you when the last time you saw a full size robot tell them you saw one today!
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
This is a machine so there are no guarantees. Anything can happen and often does. There is a great deal of video available of very expensive robots on the ground. However, the odds of completing this project are high because this design is a part of me. I built it literally from scratch. With the addition of a team and funding, my confidence is high that this project can be completed on schedule. Additionally, updates will be constant so you may track the progress of Hex 2.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.