Tag Archives: open source robot

IoBot is a 3D-printable, Internet-controlled robot for Makers

This DIY robot can be controlled by mobile and computer application via LAN or USB.

Today, young Makers looking to start tinkering have more options than ever before when it comes to DIY robotics kits. Among those available is Zygmunt Wojcik’s open source project, IoBot.


The IoBot is an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) based, Rockem Sockem-like bot that can be controlled by both a mobile device and PC via LAN or USB cable. A companion application is capable of running on Android, Windows and Mac OS while the Arduino is written in Python/Kivy. Wojcik notes that while knowledge of programming languages isn’t necessarily required, any prior experience will certainly help in further developing the code should a Maker want to update an Arduino sketch or customize a particular robot command.

Beyond its Arduino brain, IoBot consists of about $70 of electronic components (an Ethernet shield, servos, LEDs and resistors) that can be reused in other projects, while the rest of the parts are 3D-printed. These include a right and left arm, a head, an upper and lower back, a front body, a base for the bot and another for the Arduino. For those without access to a 3D printer, these pieces can be created using 3D Hubs.


Once its parts have been sourced, the project — like many other Arduino-powered gizmos — is pretty straightforward from there. With the accompanying app, Makers can use the IoBoT to do everything from move its arms, head and body to control other DIY gadgets,  on/off LEDs, and a plethora of other programmable tricks.

“When you control the robot over a LAN, you can view LAPP messages on Arduino serial monitor, just connect the robot with your computer using USB cable. Check out what messages are sent to the robot by pressing each application button, and by moving each slider. You can use these data to control your own project with IoBot application. These messages, as well as ranges of sliders, can be changed in the source code of the application,” Wojcik writes.


Know a young one who may be interested in building their own robot? Head over to IoBot’s Instructables page here. Meanwhile, check it out in action below!

PLEN2 is the world’s first printable, open-source robot

Say hello to your new robotic sidekick. 

R2-D2. GERTY 3000. Marvin. K-9. Jinx. These are just a few of the most well-known robotic sidekicks that super geeks like us have come to love over the years. Soon, PLEN2 may join the ranks of these memorable sci-fi characters, with the only difference being actual use in the real world. Whether you’ve ever wanted someone to go to class in your place, to break the ice with an attractive girl at the bar, or to fetch your morning cup ‘o joe, you’re in luck.

Launched on Kickstarter by Japan-based PLEN Project Committee, the 3D-printable, humanoid robotic kit consists of a control board, servo motors and other electronic accessories that allow Makers of all levels to put together themselves. What’s more, you don’t need any technical knowledge or special tools in order to bring your open-source PLEN2 to life.


3D data for the main components of the robot are provided free of charge, and with the help of a 3D printer, users can customize the data as well as make their own original parts. Upon completion, the easy-to-manuever and highly-agile humanoid stands approximately 7.87” tall, weighs just over 21 ounces and boasts 18 degrees of freedom. Designed to mirror its human counterpart, PLEN2 aspires to revolutionize the relationship between homo and robo sapiens. To help spur this adoption, the project’s creators have made its kit super simple to assemble, personalize, and of course, use.


The robot’s command center is built around an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4), and by employing some open-source software, can be programmed to meet any Maker’s wants and needs. PLEN2 is equipped with 24 RC servo motors, 1Mb of on-board EEPROM and an RS-485 communication port in both its control and head board. The head unit also comes standard with a BLE113 Bluetooth Smart module and a six-axis motion sensor, while PWM will drive the LEDs that PLEN2 uses for eyes.


Gadget-lovers can take pleasure in knowing that each PLEN2 can be customized not only in color and design, but in the way that it is controlled as well — this includes by iOS or Android smartphone, facial expression, gestures, myoelectrics and brainwaves, among countless other input methods.


Not only for leisure activities, the humanoid can play an integral role in both educational and medical settings. A wide-range of uses cases include communicating with others in your place, carrying small items around, throwing a pickup game of humanoid soccer, as well as improving medical rehabilitation. What’s more, it can help entice children to pursue STEM disciplines and enable them to experience the joy of making things themselves.

As to whether this project takes off, or if you decide on programming a PLEN2 of your own, one thing is certain: Its theme song will get stuck in your head. Consider yourself warned…

…We told you so. Interested in learning more? Head over to its official Kickstarter page, where its team is currently seeking $40,000. If all goes to plan, you can have can have a PLEN2 alongside of you come November 2015.

This robot can dance like Michael Jackson

Now that’s a ‘Dancing Machine!’

If you don’t know anything about BQ, you’ll want to soon enough. That’s because the company, who happens to be the second largest smartphone manufacturer in Spain, has unveiled one of the most impressive, audience-captivating robots we’ve seen in a long time: a bot that can dance (and perhaps even moonwalk) like Michael Jackson.


As previously reported on Bits & Pieces, the company’s DIY sets are comprised of 10 components and a battery holder, each of which are used to assemble the electronic workings of a vibrantly-colored PrintBot. The body of the robot is constructed entirely through 3D printing, where like 3DRacers, Makers have the option of either ordering the frame online or creating their own if a printer is readily accessible.

For those with a little programming knowledge, BQ even lets users customize their project by developing and installing their own code. Once pieced together, Makers can control the friendly bot by simply pairing their Android mobile device. Aside from its embedded Bluetooth module, the easy-to-use kits are packed with IR and light sensors, a potentiometer, a buzzer, LEDs, mini servos and a ZUM BT-328 control board based on the versatile ATmega328P. The growing family of gadgets, which currently includes a Renacuajo (Spanish for “tadpole”) and a Beetle, will soon welcome another member in the next couple of weeks. This 3D-printable robot will not only be able to walk like the King of Pop, but will get his groove on like Michael as well.


An advocate of the burgeoning Maker Movement, BQ’s CEO Alberto Mendez is passionate about inspiring the younger generation to pursue STEM-related disciplines and to begin dabbling with design, programming and mechanical engineering. Indeed, allowing kids to gain hands-on experience as they build their own open-source robot is a great way to do it, especially those capable of dancing to “Thriller” and “Beat It” — compared to the abstraction of traditional classroom education in math and the sciences.

Intrigued? Then you’ll want to watch this video from Digital Trends that captures some of the MJ-like dancing robot’s moves. According to BQ, you too can have one when they go on sale within the next two to three months. At the moment, PrintBots will run you about $100 each. Head over to it official page to learn more.

ORIGIBOT is an open-source telepresence robot with an articulated arm

Goodbye, chores! 

With all of this talk about the Internet of Things ushering in a Jetsons-like future, wouldn’t it be great if every household came equipped with their own Rosie the robot as well? Think about it, no more doing the dishes, folding the laundry, fetching drinks or taking out the trash. If it were up to Origin Robotics, we may be closer than you think. That’s because the Miami, Florida startup has launched an Indiegogo campaign for its ORIGIBOT, a fully-robotic platform that pairs with your Android device to perform everyday tasks such as watering plants or to bringing grandma her medicine.


The ORIGIBOT is a sleek and minimalist robot with a stable base attached to motorized wheels, an arm extension, a mobile device (with a display of up to 10”), as well as a gripper that opens to 7.8cm with a recess to accommodate cans, bottles and cups. The gadget features two-way audio and video, and impressively, complete remote control of its 5 degrees of freedom.

More importantly, the open-source robot was built using off-the-shelf components including standard and high-torque hobby servos, standard T-Slot aluminum framing, and an Atmel based Arduino for control. Its team also reveals that the Arduino sketch will be made available so anyone can customize commands and adjust parameters themselves. ORIGIBOT is powered by a set of NiMh batteries that are capable of providing nearly eight hours of standby time with moderate use. An included charger will safely recharge the batteries in under 4 hours.


The minimalist body is comprised of sleek aluminum and stainless steel extrusions for functionality and strength, as well as ABS plastic parts that were carefully designed for 3D printing for easy updates and modifications. In fact, all .stl files for the custom components will be available for download so users can modify and print replacements yourself. Meanwhile, ORIGIBOT’s body and arms are just the right length to be unobtrusive while navigating, yet can reach from a few inches off the ground to just above most counters, door knobs, and refrigerator water dispensers.

So, what can the ORIGIBOT do? As the video below demonstrates, the bot is equipped to handle mundane tasks ranging from getting water from the fridge and filling your pets bowl to locking/unlocking deadbolts and retrieving the TV remote. Each of the actions are easily facilitated through an intuitive joystick, which makes maneuvering the household bot as easy as playing an arcade game. In addition, sliders control movements for its arm, wrist and gripper, while tilting the neck forward and backward will enable a user to get a better view of the surrounding environment. Just lift the arm up and down, then turn the wrist to get just the right position. Finally, open and close the gripper to grasp or release.

By leveraging an existing device as its communications hub, display and camera, the Origin Robotics crew was able to create something easy to use and even easier to afford. Ready for a friendly robot in your smart home? ORIGIBOT is live on Indiegogo, where it is currently seeking $18,000.

Ai.Frame is an open source robot

The open source Ai.Frame – which recently surfaced on Kickstarter – is a versatile miniature robot powered by an Atmel-based Arduino Mini (ATmega328 MCU) paired with infrared and ultrasonic sensors.

“The robot’s sophisticated structure is designed to make motion both precise and versatile,” an Ai.Frame rep explained in a recent post.

“The Apollo [model offers] 16 degrees of freedom, while the Rex has 9. Operated by an efficient controlling system, the Ai.Frame executes your commands almost instantly.”

AI.Frame can be controlled via a smartphone or tablet, gamepad or even a wearable harness that accurately captures upper torso movements.

“As experienced engineers, we have a thorough understand of robot configuration and construction, [so] we incorporated rich body details into the Ai.Frame to simulate the structure of the human body,” said the rep.

“The Ai.Frame Apollo’s skeleton contains 109 pieces and its outer shell contains 12, while the Ai.Frame Rex consists of 98 pieces. We also made made a concerted effort to optimize the molding and screws for the strongest possible structure. Nonetheless, you can choose to either build an Ai.Frame from scratch or to have us assemble it for you.”

Additional advanced key features include:

  • Roadblock avoidance
  • Voice recognition capabilities
  • Auto standing

Interested in learning more? You can check out the project’s official Kickstarter page here.