AMS Spring 2023

Droidles – 3D Printed Mini Robots Seek Funding On Indiegogo

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In April 1975, Gary Dahl came up with an idea for the perfect pet: A rock. The advertising exec reasoned that it was the perfect pet because it didn’t take up much space or need to be fed, cleaned or bathed. Dahl’s product—doidles-1a rock in a cardboard box—became wildly popular and made him a millionaire.

Twenty years later, there’s a new pet rock on the scene—The Droidle. The Droidle is similar to the pet rock because it doesn’t need you to take care of it, it sort of looks like a rock and it has the potential to be this year’s most talked about toy.

Droidles are wireless, interactive robots that anybody—adult or child– program and control via a mobile phone or tablet. They can scuttle around and explore or communicate via R2-D2-type chimes. If other Droidles are around, they can also make “friends.” Droidles also come with their own web profile.

The entire system is completely open source and cloud connected. That means creators, tinkerers and makers can modify them for their own purposes. Cloud connectivity means that people can share the code they create, so that the Droidles can evolve, like real animals do. To create Droidles, Jay Hurley, the product’s lead developer and project manager approached Solid Concepts, an industrial prototyping and manufacturing company.

Hurley decided to go with 3D printing for the Droidles because of their design. Typically PLA 3D Printers are wonderful for getting a project started in the early stages, but when enhanced precision and repeatability is needed, particularly when there are moving parts like in the Droidles’ locomotion system, a more advanced type of printing is needed.

droidles

That’s why they turned to Solid Concepts and their PolyJet HD 3D printing technology to create the housings and inner electronics mountings for the Droidles. According to Solid Concepts, the PolyJet HD 3D printing process distributes and cures photocurable material with an ultraviolet light to form 3D objects.

At the moment, Droidles are only available on Indiegogo. They are selling for $89, and according to Hurley, they’ll be available for Christmas delivery. Early Droidles will feature low (three digit) web profile and serial numbers. Hurley said this may cause Droidles to become collectors items.

Hurley and his team are trying to raise $50,000 on Indiegogo to pay for mass manufacturing costs including buying parts, mold plastic, FCC and Bluetooth certification, assembly and shipping.  Let us know your thoughts on this new toy for the holidays, and whether you backed it on not, in the Droidles forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the Indiegogo pitch video for Droidles below:

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