Engineers and hobbyist alike are bringing us a wide variety of walking robots. Sidestepping balance issues, the latest creations coming to life are Stompy and Hexy, two unique hexapod robots walking of six legs. Stompy, an extra large rideable robot, is one of the biggest ever created and allows people to ride upon its large structure. Hexy is a small, but fun, robot that comes in a kit and requires assembly and is cheaper than any other hexapod robot available.
Stompy is the work of students and engineers taking part in a hacker space class focusing on robotics, metal working, and hydraulics. The class taught by Gui Cavalcanti, James Whong, and Dan Cody is currently in the final stages of the project, assembling the full scale mechanical version. After much planning and preparation, a prototype leg was made to test out the control algorithms and how well they worked with the hydraulic joints. The prototype leg weighed in at 600 lbs and, offensively dubbed Gimpy. At every joint are sensors and micro controllers connected by Ethernet cables to assist with movements. When completed, the mechanical giant will weigh over two and a half ton and be 17 feet wide. Additionally, it is powered by a 135 hp propane engine and will be capable of lifting passengers 6 feet into the air.
Hexy is a small hexapod built for the robot enthusiasts. The creator, Joseph Schlesinger, wanted to create a sophisticated robot without the high cost. He decided to produce all the parts himself from acrylic using his own laser cutter to avoid the extra cost of a manufacturing process fee. The robot uses 19 servos for leg and head movements, and when customers purchase the kit they will receive an extra servo and an ultrasonic range sensor. The kit only costs $200.00, were as similar kits currently available start around $700.00 and can reach up a fifteen hundred. In addition, the microcontroller used is arduino compatible. As a result, creating your own movements or adding on additional sensors should not be a difficult task. Hexy's controls stream through USB. However, as more supporters back his project through kickstarter, he is looking to develop drag and drop programming GUI and Android and iOS remote controlled apps.
The increased use of robots in today's world is creating a strong interest, more usage and guiding those to build their own robot creations. The Hexy kit available is a great way to spark interest in young minds and help the more curious older minds to explore robotics. It is also making robotics more accessible to everyone. Stompy may just look like something out of the Wild Wild West movie and draw people to it naturally like a magnet. Or it may possibly scare everyone to death, or send them running. Either way, robots are undoubtedly becoming an important part of society, if only for fascination.