Have you been reading Gizmag's robot articles and ever thought you'd like to get your hands dirty with a robot of your own? Well, there's a Kickstarter for that. Shota Ishiwatari has just launched RAPIRO, his custom designed Raspberry Pi Robot. The robot is easy to assemble, and comes with RGB LEDs, 12 servos, and an Arduino-compatible servo control board. And the best part is it will only set you back £229 (US$354).
Shota isn't new to robotics. His fledgling company, Kiluck Corp., created a robot mascot for a Japanese television channel, and helped design those crazy robot cat ears we covered last year. Now he wants to bring the fun of robotics to as many people as he can with RAPIRO.
He designed the robot in CAD, and worked with JMC (a 3D printing bureau) to fabricate the prototype. Each of its 12 joints are powered by a small, inexpensive servo. They keep the cost down to a fraction of other hobby robots, but don't expect amazing performance out of them. That said, the robot can move its head, arms, open and close its gripper hands, and waddle around.
Its exoskeleton will be made from high quality injection molded parts, but if you want to change something about the robot you'll be able to. The robot's CAD file will be provided on the company's website so you can tinker with it to design and 3D print your own parts.
Of course, RAPIRO is designed to work with the Raspberry Pi and its camera module, but these aren't included with the kit. The Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer that runs Linux, and can be connected to a PC display, speakers, and USB devices like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Possible applications include Facebook or Twitter notifications, or game controller support.
The robot can also be outfitted with a PSD distance sensor and speakers, which must be purchased separately. The PSD sensor (which commonly runs at about $15) fits into a slot on the robot's chest and is pointed toward the ground. The distance data it provides could be used to stop the robot from falling off a ledge. These are just some of the potential uses for the robot, and hopefully the RAPIRO community will share more ideas.
Considering humanoid robot kits begin at about twice the asking price of the RAPIRO, it seems like a pretty good deal. Just be prepared to learn to do some of the programming work on your own!