Danny Benedettelli has added a new dimension to remote manipulators by building a robotic exoskeleton out of LEGO.
A remote manipulator, also known as a “waldo” thanks to the 1942 short story by Robert Heinlein, is an electronic telemetric input device that enables a mechanism to be controlled by a human operator. This method can be found in a variety of applications, ranging from NASA to Hollywood special effects and the Muppets.
Following the same principles, Daniele Benedettelli has developed an impressive wearable LEGO exoskeleton that can wirelessly control a LEGO Cyclops MK II humanoid. While wearing the upper-body suit, the Maker can command the robot to carry out a movement, such as bending his arms or waving goodbye, by simply acting it out himself.
The Cyclops MK II, which is the latest iteration of an ongoing project from four years ago, is based on a pair of LEGO Mindstorms NXTs (AT91SAM7S256/ATmega48), six motors and his own custom Android smartphone app. The robot is connected over Bluetooth with an Arduino fitted to the back of the suit that transmits motion signals. The LEGO exoskeleton also has a potentiometer for each degree-of-freedom that the robot has. Meaning, when Benedettelli moves his shoulder, the movement is read by the Arduino and sent wirelessly to the Cyclops MK II, allowing it to mimic anything Benedettelli does.
Benedettelli is far from being done tinkering with his humanoid friend and its corresponding suit, though. The Maker admits that this is merely a prototype, so don’t be surprised if you see a new version boasting an upgraded design with enhanced controls and more functionality. For one, he is hoping to implement a mechanism that would enable the Transformer and Iron Man-like gadget to walk around, as well as open and close its hands. As we wait to see what’s next, you can watch his project in action below!