Introducing Alan

fxrtst

USA
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Introducing Alan, the android head robot platform kit, soon to be released on Kickstarter.

First a quick introduction. For those that may not know me. I've been a make up effects artist in the film industry for the past 23 years. Robots have always fascinated me since I was a kid growing up in Ohio and watching Lost in Space episodes. That interest never left me and when starting work in the film industry, I taught myself animatronics. That is I would be called upon to make something move via radio controlled, a puppet, or a toaster or ? As CGI took over the animatronics part of my industry, I focused my free time on using that knowledge for robotics. When I saw prosumer 3D printers come on the market 8 years ago, I knew I could get some of my ideas to the table with out the need for a garage full of CNC machines.

Alan is a culmination of of both technologies, animatronics and 3D printing. When this idea started 3 years ago, I had just found EZ Robots and knew that I could build an interestingly designed kit for everyone so they could experiment with robotics. A platform that personifies how we will interact with robots and androids in the near future, by looking them in the face.

My first challenge was to make sure I leaped over the "uncanny valley". To do so, I took the human dimensions and changed them a bit, eyes wider apart, downplayed high details and added features that were without a doubt not human and certainly robotic in form.

The second challenge was keeping the cost down for consumers. A head like this in the film industry, filled with lots of motions like brow, smile, etc would costs $10's of thousands of dollars. So I built Alan with a modular design in mind. Meaning that the store front will carry modules that will allow you to customize and upgrade the same robot without having to buy a whole new head. As an example the front subskull can be replaced with a module with brow movement, allowing you to keep the entire head and eye mechanism. Other silicone skins will become available different colors and genders, styles, etc. The low cost introductory head will include about 22 parts, easy to assemble, with the consumer supplying servos, power supplies EZB, etc. on their own. My website will include links to all the accessories needed, plus mods like LED eyes, built in audio systems and so on. All the parts will be molded and manufactured in Los Angeles. There will be no pressure injected molding of parts this time around. These are cold cast high impact plastic parts and platinum silicone skins. Alans future may include a full body, if the Kickstarter is successful. And you can certainly use this as a replacement head for InMoov . I will look at altering the open source STL files to be able to accept my heads.

I always knew that the EZB would be Alan's brains. And I will promote it as such. As we all know, DJ's commitment and advancement to the EZB is leading us into the future of robotics.There really is no other choice in my mind. But that's in part because I'm no programmer:) D. Cochran's EZ-AI is a boon to Alans development. I look forward to where David takes it. And although I have it installed I have yet to implement it with Alan for a few more weeks. All of these working together will be highlighted on the Kickstater video.

I have several more weeks to finish the paint job and run a new hero silicone skin. Then there is the very important Kickstarter video. So we are at least 4 weeks out. But I will post here the links to both the Kickstarter and Alans website when they go live and as Alan progresses.

I look forward to your ideas for programming and how you would mod him. I'd also like to hear how you would like to see him develop. Thanks for your time and enjoy the development pictures and video.

All the best,

Will





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By — Last update
PRO
USA
#1  
Not sure how to make this into a project with the slide show at the top...any one with info?
Unknown Country
#971  
so this project was never released? if it was what was the entry level head cost?
PRO
USA
#972  
@drakkar20d No not on kickstarter and not to consumers only B to B. I never found an investor who I could work with. There is good news tho. I will be releasing the plans for sale so folks can 3D print and build your own Alan v1.0. This is dependent on if I can reach a certain number of subscribers on my Youtube channel. That number has yet to be determined, I am at approx 1000 now. The hope is it will eventually be a DIY project and licensed appropriately.
Unknown Country
#973  
ok will sign up on youtube
#974  
What about  your Alena robot, any chance on getting files to 3d print her?
She looks amazing!
Mostly I need her silicone face.
I haven't been able to make one for my android yet.
#975  
With good marketing videos, advertising on YouTube and Facebook and a Indiegogo you really could kill it. I would bet could could sell a couple hundred units in one round easily.
PRO
USA
#976  
@mcsdaver and jstarne1, There are a lot of plans in the pipeline. It all starts with the success of growing the Youtube channel.
PRO
Synthiam
#977   — Edited
You’re about to hit 100k views on this post:)  Probably today or tomorrow. It’s at 99,391 last night
PRO
USA
#978   — Edited
Seriously? That is crazy! We should have a party or something:) JK.
#980  
Yes and we may have just the robot to dispense beer?
PRO
USA
#981  
After this next episode he will! Lol!
Unknown Country
#982  
anything happening about releasing this yet?
PRO
USA
#983  
I hoping to release a home version of Alan when I reach 10k subscribers on my Youtube channel. So tell all your friends to come subscribe to my channel. The faster that happens the faster we can build Alans across the world!
#984  
New videos might help build your channel.
Any Avengers or robotics videos would be great!
PRO
USA
#985  
Thanks Mcsdaver.  I have a new video dropping this week. It took much longer to design and execute the arms. They became new robots all their own.

I had a meeting with a Youtube company, with advise about growing the channel. More videos definitely coming, a few about me and my background, new robots etc. But as an interesting statistic, only 17% of the people watching the videos actually subscribe. Thats about average for most channels. The point is 80% don't subscribe, which means you have to drive 4 times MORE traffic to your site to get any subscribers to stick. My hats off to those who found the sweet spot, like opening kinder eggs, playing video games, watching paint dry. I should have chosen a much simpler topic. Because the dumber the idea the more subscribers you get. The work is unfathomable and I have a family to take care of during a pandemic on top of that.

So to recap, I'd have 10,000k subscribers right now if 100% of people watching my videos subscribed. Tell all your friends and family to subscribe and the videos will flow and Alan will be released....go...now...into the wild....
#986  
Between builds have videos of the robots talking to each other every time you leave the room.
Sometime videos for fun get views!
PRO
Synthiam
#987  
Congrats on passing 100k views btw:D
PRO
USA
#988  
That’s a lot of views.
#989  
Beautiful work.  I need to spend a lot more time to study all this.  I do love it already.

I've been thinking of switching the skin out on mine from white to transparent PLA or a 2-color combo of transparent with an embedded hexagon pattern in white or black.  I never really though about using a flexible skin.  Very cool indeed.
#990  
I had to go over it all again and your words.  Once again, beautiful work.  I can see myself buying one.

You brought up the uncanny valley...such a big topic there.  It needs its own discussion area really.  Its a big reason why I have gone with machine-looking bots with elements of animals and animation with screens...to try to get away from looking too human.  Its another reason I try to do minimalist but have constant subtle movement.  I like to incorporate Visemes now into the mouth movement and speaking.  The valley is still lurking around every corner.  When you get into the conversation side, timing is a constant issue too, something as small as a 1 second pause versus a 2 second pause in some situation...valley.  For me, initiative is a big deal, having the bot thinking constantly in all the in between moments (with emotion and motivation and speech or movement) instead of just waiting for a human to say something.  Every time I get a chance to work on that another year goes by.  One easier way to is to use some old MIBE architecture concepts (try wiki page for an overview).  I also think a small neural net or fuzzy logic based system is another way to go, and has an advantage of avoiding lots of brittle spaghetti coding.  I have prototyped these last 2 (NNs and Fuzzy) for other robot use cases but have not tried it for facial expression and conversation aspects.  I will probably stick with a MIBE like concept there.