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.