Robots give humans super powers, super speed, endurance, accuracy and longevity - now all we need is artificial intelligence.


Planet Earth, conservation of species and the natural world








Stompy hydraluic leg parts before assembly and proud Asylum team members


The circle on the left is Stompy's footpad. Because area scales exponentially with diameter, that size foot produces a pressure on the ground almost identical to that of a human foot (even though Stompy weighs 4,000 pounds...), meaning we can walk anywhere a human can walk without damaging the terrain. Next up is the compliant link - that's the part that will move up and down with respect to the knee link, by means of the giant shock absorber you see on the table. This is meant to absorb the tremendous load of suddenly hitting the ground. The knee link is connected to the thigh link (the bridge looking thing), and the thigh link is connected to the giant yaw link at the right end of the table.




The crew are creating “an open-source, 18ft wide, 4,000 pound, 6-legged hydraulic robot that you can ride.” Project Hexapod is a robotics class turned Kickstarter project that hit its initial funding goal of $65,000 with ease - confirming the level of interest.

The 4-month class at Artisan’s Asylum Makerspace in Sommerville, Ma has a team of 3 instructors, 15 students and 1 TA. We’ll be airing an interview with instructors of the project, Gui Cavalcanti, Dan Cody, and James Whong, but first, we wanted to give you a heads up on the project, so you’re sure to help them get to the next level of funding.

With $95,000 raised they say they can drop in what they call the “Performance Upgrade”. The’ll integrate a number of new sensors that will let them more accurately detect and respond to rough terrain, allowing for a smooth ride over a much greater variety of terrain. 


The robot isn't just being built just for fun - it has many practical purposes. With 6 force-sensitive legs and a ground clearance of 6 feet, the robot will be able to walk over broken terrain that varies from mountainous areas, to rubble piles, to water up to 7 or 8 feet deep - everywhere existing ground vehicles can't go. Not only that, but while navigating such terrain, Stompy could carry 1,000 pounds at 2-3 mph, and up to 4,000 pounds at 1 mph. This is important because in disaster areas like Haiti's Port Au Prince, it's taken more than three years to clear the rubble out of some areas - meaning that throughout that entire time, people have had to be rescued or resupplied by helicopter, because no ground vehicle could reach them. Stompy (and the technology it represents) could easily reach people who can't be reached by any other means in a natural disaster.



Artisans Asylum - Stompy group photo


Artisan's Asylum Workshop: Stompy full team group photo



They’ll upgrade the hydraulic powerplant to allow for a higher ground speed. They’ll also add sensors that will allow for some amount of autonomy, for future robot development. A walking Hexapod is nice to travel in, but one that could hit 60mph on the freeway - is it possible. The Mantis built by Matt Denton manages 1mph using a 2 litre IC engine. That being the case, the Stompy crew face a serious challenge. The quickest robot hexapod design to date is the Insectronics robot inspired by an Australian bulldog ant, which uses a compact hydraulic leg actuator based on four close coupled cylinders on a gimbal joint to achieve 20mph - the limitation being the hydraulic pump capacity. 

The Stompy project has a crack team of Robotics Engineers, Program and Control Engineers, Electrical Engineers and Physicists, many from the esteemed Olin College of Engineering.

They’re building the bot as a “Giant Robot Design” class at the Artisans’s Asylum makerspace in Somerville, MA. The class is not meant to be the end of giant robot either. In fact, it’s just the beginning. With the solutions they’re discovering for large hydraulic-controlled appendages, hobbyist robitics is about to be scaled up several notches of awesome, and they’re releasing the plans to everyone when it’s finished.

Once they finish this robot, they’re releasing the plans, CAD diagrams, the presentations from all the lectures given in class, lists of materials and parts, everything. The construction and control techniques they’re using will drop the cost of controlled hydraulics by an order of magnitude or two from where they are now, and will make giant robots affordable to small groups of enthusiasts everywhere.





A collection of CAD drawings showing the scale of Stompy in concept





Their first course set out to build 300-lb autonomous "vending machine robots." That class is winding down, so they're starting a new project: a 2500+ lb. ridable hexapod "spider" robot named Stompy. The robot will feature a propane engine generating 135 HP to hydraulically power six legs, and it will likely cost around $25k-$30k to build (versus $250k that would typically be involved in such an effort). The guys teaching the class are professional roboticsts, having worked at Boston Dynamics, Barrett Technology, and DEKA. So this is a serious endeavor! They're following the same design methodologies that their (current and former) employers use to produce classics such as BigDog, AlphaDog, and PETMAN. They're using the proceeds from the class to fund early development (a one leg cart), followed by a KickStarter project to fund the remainder of the robot (forthcoming announcement). It's a clever way to fund a large robot hardware platform. Conceivably, they could use the resulting robot to generate revenue to for the startup (rentals for promotional events, parades, or wedding processions!) and to bootstrap other robots. Read on for details supplied by Artisan's CEO, Gui Cavalcanti.

Stompy is a "class project" for a special robotics course being held by Artisan's Asylum (a hackerspace startup) in Boston, MA. Stompy will ultimately weight more than 2500 lbs, stand more than 2 meters tall, be powered by a 135 HP generator for hydraulic power, and cost in excess of $25k - about an order of magnitude than most "research level" robots. In true hacker fashion, Stompy is essentially a cross between a forklift (with propane-powered generator) and six excavators.

The prototype leg weighs in at about 600 pounds and sports the name Gimpy. Controlling the appendage is no brainless task. There are sensors and microcontrollers at every joint, connected by Ethernet cable, taking readings and passing along valuable data to help guide its motion. One of the keys is a magnetic field sensor that monitors the orientation of the poles attached at each joint. The whole system acts as a loop, with a control node driving the hydraulic valves and moving the leg. The change in position and angle is then read by the sensors and that data is sent back to a computer which then decides what instructions to pass to the hydraulic controller to achieve the desired angle.









This subject has received a lot of attention from other engineers:-


A-Pod is an ant inspired hexapod robot with a 2 DOF abdomen (tail), a 3 DOF head with large mandibles. 6 legs with 3 DOF each. Total 25 servos. This video demonstrates body movement and mandible control. The designer still has to make some mechanical improvements to the legs (explaining the small amount of walking). The robot is remotely controlled with a custom 2,4 GHz RC transmitter. The Basic Atom Pro 28 is/are used as the main micro-controller(s). 

for more info about the BAP28.


FireAnt is based on Zenta's A-POD and made from all aluminum anodized brackets. The kit includes the new digital HV220 robotic servos with position and force feedback. This gives FireAnt life like movement and the ability to sense its environment. It can sense the force the pincher's are applying with no additional sensors. It can also feel when a leg is touching something in both down and forward directions for autonomous terrain adaptation.

Kondo Robot announced a new, low cost, hexapod robot design with surprising flexibility, performance, and customizability. The robots unique leg design incorporates springs and linkages only requiring two servos per leg while improving the hexapod's ability to deal with uneven terrain and obstacles. The robots base frames can be easily fabricated or modified by builders to realize custom configurations. For more information visit Robots Dreams at:

A small autonomous agile robot with an on-board neurologically-based control system. Developed by engineering professor Roger Quinn and his team at Case Western Reserve University. Video presented at IEEE IROS 2009.





Stompy's leg parts compared to a human - and the IC power plant






Robot head frame construction design


A project with bite. These robot jaws (when made of steel) shut with a pressure of up to 2 tons and in less than a quarter of a second. 






Lurking beneath the Antarctic ice is a discovery that scientist will die for. This story is now the subject of a low budget film to be produced mostly in the UK. The promoters are looking for backers. The UK will contribute 20% toward production costs. Roughly 60% of a low budget film may be pre-sold as distribution rights. Angels recover 120% on their equity shares within 12 months of shooting, with an income stream thereafter from networks and merchandising.









....... The World in Your Hands




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