After you build a bipedal robot kit, like the Hitec Robonova-1 or Kondo KHR-2HV, it isn't long before you feel inspired to add modifications and features of your own. While making significant add-ons requires some skill and know-how, it is certainly within the reach of hobbyists and experimenters that are willing to apply themselves to the challenge, as we've seen by the recent flurry of robotic creativity that has sprung up on the Robosavvy forums.
An good example is the work done by "Hivemind" to dramatically improve and expand on the basic Robonova-1 robot design.
Starting off with the Robonova-1 kit, Hivemind added the ability to pickup and grasp items by installing a set of grippers designed by Matt Bauer, the creator of Rook's Pawn.
Turning his attention to the robots movement ability, he soon had the Robonova executing some really awesome forward flips (see link below).
The added weight of the grippers may have facilitated the flips, we're not sure. However, it looks like a stock Robonova may be capable of performing the same gymnastics with proper programming. Just make sure that you have a really soft landing pad prepared when you attempt it the first few times. We wouldn't want to have the S.P.C.R. (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Robots) knocking on your door.
Shifting back to mechanical design improvements, Hivemind came up with a five fingered, opposable thumb gripper design that looks surprisingly human - in a robotic kind of way. So far he's only built one prototype, so for the moment his robot sports the new five finger design on its right arm and the Bauer Independents gripper on its left.
We've had the pleasure of seeing his five finger gripper design in action, and would have posted about it earlier but ran into time constraints - there are never enough hours in the day, nor days in the week.
So, while we were struggling to find the time to write about the new gripper prototype, Hivemind was pressing right ahead. This time he decided to bless the Robonova with additional arm flexibility. After all, if it could pick up things, like a hammer, then it should be able to use them just like its human counterparts can. To accomplish this, he designed and fabricated brackets from aluminum that gave his robots arms several additional degrees of freedom.
Rather than having us try to describe what that means to the robots flexibility and performance, just take a look at this video clip posted by Hivemind:
Of course, modifications like this might be too difficult or challenging for some experimenters, at least in the beginning. Everyone needs to proceed at their own pace and within their own abilities.
Nevertheless, work like this by Hivemind, Beermat, Matt Bauer, and many other robot builders is extremely inspiring and shows all of us what can be accomplished if we want to tackle the challenge. The great thing about the humanoid robot kits is that they provide a great platform for you to experiment with, add on to, modify, and expand to your heart's (or imagination's) content.