Hot on the heels of InMoov, the 3D-printable android, comes a similar but much less intimidating project for DIYers by Hello Robo. MAKI is a cute communication robot that can be assembled from 3D-printed parts and some off-the-shelf electronic components for less than US$500, making it an affordable platform for hobbyists and university labs. Hello Robo has opted to launch MAKI via crowdfunding site Kickstarter, where a $30 pledge will net you the 3D blueprints.
Hello Robo is a new company based in Atlanta, Georgia, let by Tim Payne. Tim has been working on his own robots for several years, and previously released an Instructable detailing how to build an open-source humanoid robot based on the TurtleBot platform – which cost nearly $2,000 in parts. Although inexpensive compared to most other options, Tim set out to design a robot that would be even more affordable, and thus MAKI was born.
MAKI's head, eyes, and eyelids move independently using six servo motors sold by Robotis, controlled by an Arbotix Robocontroller or Arduino. By connecting it to a PC and open-source software, its webcam could be used to perform face recognition, object tracking, speech recognition, and text-to-speech – all essential for basic human-robot interaction (HRI) studies. University labs interested in this area of research could save loads of time by adopting MAKI as their platform rather than designing and engineering one from scratch.
If successfully backed, Hello Robo will publish some video tutorials to help you put it all together, and if stretch goals are met, the group will supply blueprints for additional arms and grippers (see picture above). However, the idea is that the community will code most of the software applications, and share their work to bolster the robot's functionality.
You can see MAKI in action in the following video.