Maker creates his own Pixar lamp robot


Having a bad day? Luci the lamp robot can help cheer you up! 


Sitting at your desk for hours on end can get lonely, especially for those who work from home or spend quite a bit of time inside their dorm rooms. Sometimes all you need is a friend — or a robotic lamp that could be straight from a Pixar flick.

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Inspired by the animated short “Luxo Jr.,” Maker Jochen Alt decided to create one of his own named Luci. While she may not be able to hop around like the character, she sure does share many of the same attributes and has one heck of a personality. First spotted by MAKE: Magazinethe lamp is controlled by an ODROID-U3 running Ubuntu Linux with computer vision using OpenCV and Boost. This software takes care of the facial recognition and trajectory computations.

Meanwhile, Luci’s servo-driven movements are controlled by no other than an ATmega328P. The ODROID control board also has a self-made Arduino shield on top. The AVR chip handles the PWM output for the servos, switches the relays and regulates the voltage for the servos to provide smooth movement for its initial position.

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Luci’s frame is comprised of birch wood along, several brass axes and 20 ball bearings. The Maker designed a 3D model of the head with TurboCAD, which were later printed in ABS. Alt tells MAKE: that there are springs to help off-load some of the weight. The servos are tasked with driving the rotating base, as well as extending and contracting the upper and lower struts. There’s also an additional servo embedded inside Luci’s head to help with turning.

The robotic accessory works by first scanning her environment until detecting a face. Just like you, Luci can express a variety of feelings and then react accordingly. For instance, she’ll move back quickly when surprised, put her head down if she finds herself being shy, or nod if she’s in agreement with you.

Intrigued? See Luci in action below!

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