Weird? How weird?
How about a robot that walks... seen that? How about one that can also walk like a crab... seen that? And what if it can also get back up from the floor when it falls down... seen that? And what if its total construction cost was under $300... seen that? And what if it was made out of wood...
A couple of days ago we wrote about Pete Covert's video of the battle between a Robosapien and Hajime - one of the top Robo-One battle robots. While we were watching the Pete's video clip we happened to notice something else on the screen along with the combatants. Something acting really, well, weird. You can catch a glimpse of it in the upper right corner of the image on the left.
We kept replaying that section of the video trying to make sense out of what we saw - but it just didn't compute. What it looked like was a set of huge walking Popsicle sticks. It turns out that we weren't that far off.
Weird-7 - a walking wooden robot
Weird-7, who bears a strong resemblance to Johnny-5, was designed by Ken Ito using 9 servos, a H8 micro-controller board, a RF interface, some batteries, a little wire, and four pieces of wood. The wood, which was cut into smaller pieces, forms the body, legs, beak, and other robot body parts. The servos drive the joint movements while the micro-controller does the control and interface back to the PC.
The robot not only walks - it lays down on the floor, and can get up frontwards or backwards while doing some really fascinating gymnastics including what looks like flipping its legs over it's head. It gives a whole new meaning to the concept of 'breadboarding.'
In early days of electronic
hacking experimenting inventors would drive nails into their wife's breadboard to anchor electronic parts in place to prototype a circuit. In the age of robotics it looks like breadboarding means to slice your wife's breadboard up into pieces and make a robot out of it!
From Experiment to the Market
Although the inventor never imagined it when he first started to build the Weird-7 robot, it's has captured so much attention in Japan that Wonderkit, a well known hobby kit manufacturer, has started marketing a Weird-7 robot kit that sells over the counter in Japan for just under 30,000 yen (about USD$270). Their website has some great photos of the kit version along with four video clips showing the robot in action (see link below.)
What's Next for Weird Robots?
So, what's next? How about Weird-72 - a walking wooden robot that looks very much like a Robo-One battle robot, but can actually hop... seen that? What if it could also jump rope...? More on Weird-72 later - stay tuned.
Weird-7 Website [Japanese]
Wonderkit Weird-7 Website - great Weird-7 photos and video clips [Japanese]
Ken's Lab - Development notes, photos, and videos [Japanese]
Robo-One Robots - Walking battle robots