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,