If you haven’t had your fill of robotics lately—or cuteness—check out Marty. I think he might even be more adorable than my puppy, and he’ll keep your kids, as well as you, busy with a wonderfully enriching and educational project. And the best thing about it is that at the end, you have a new member of the family that can grow with you.
Headed by Dr. Alexander Enoch, this endeavor was launched and successfully funded on Indiegogo at 108% of the intended goal, and is now part of the InDemand program, with some great prices still available. The creator of Marty offers some pretty good cred here, having just received his PhD in robotics from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Enoch is also the founder of Robotical, a company that draws you in with user-friendly robotics and shows you the way to modern day accessibility and affordability for dabbling in a science many often find intimidating at first.
Once the kit is completed, Marty is capable of a range of movements, from walking to kicking a ball, and can be controlled from your phone. He’s WiFi-enabled, programmable, and expandable with Raspberry Pi, meaning you can add one of these small computers and then look forward to experimenting with a quad-core capable of tracking, playing football, and even employing facial recognition. Marty is also compatible with Arduino and other common boards. Sensors include motor current sensing, a distance sensor, contact sensors, and an accelerometer/tilt sensor. You can also add more, like a sonar sensor, light sensor, or a camera even.
The inspiration for this robotics kit, fully 3D printable, came as a side project while Enoch was still pursuing his last degree. Looking for something fun to create for his nieces and nephews, he wanted to build something that was ‘more than just a novelty,’ and less expensive as well.
“We could actually use Marty to teach robotics at university, but he’s as easy to use as any other toy” says Enoch. “As a maker, I also wanted a walking robot that I could use as a base to build cool stuff with.”
In building this robot, users experience a mini-education in all of the following:
- 3D printing
- Mechanical design
Marty is more affordable due to his spring-leg and three-motor design. That also contributes to his user-friendly nature and allows for a longer-lasting battery while learning ‘real programming on a real robot.’ For those interested in backing the extended campaign, you can enjoy the £95 (translating to just under $125 USD) InDemand special offer, featuring an entire Marty kit with all of the following:
- Parts for two legs and two arms
- Nine servo motors
- Complete instructions
While prototyping is obviously complete and the parts can be 3D printed, Enoch points out that it would be too time-consuming and probably unrealistic to fulfill all the orders that way. With the funds from the campaign, however, they’ll be investing in injection molding for the kits and making ‘a batch of boards’ for the electronics.
Shipping is to be expected in February of 2017. There are also numerous other kits still available if you just need to order something like circuit boards and servers or want to save money and order a Marty kit without arms. There are also special discount packages if you are ordering in bulk for a classroom. At £200 there is even a special edition Marty offering a multi-colored head, a personalized plaque, and a cape.
The robot is simple, but can be as sophisticated as you’d like to make him, obviously. Making Marty work is a great way to introduce anyone to coding, consisting of an elementary process of using blocks—but teaching the concept at the same time.
“Kids and beginners can learn with Scratch, where coding is as simple as clicking and dragging blocks,” states the Robotical team on Indiegogo. “Experienced programmers can control him using more powerful programming languages such as Python and C++, or state of the art robotics tools such as ROS.”
In programming Marty, users learn more about sensors, manipulating motor control, balance, and creating through mechanical design. As users progress further, both guides and tutorials are offered regarding further programming. All of the parts can be 3D printed for this robot that can be completely customized and upgraded, without ever needing to solder parts.
“You could make a four-legged Marty, a wheeled Marty, a bigger Marty, make arms with closable grippers – or anything else you can think of!” states the Robotical team.
Several apps are available to you as well, as Robotical actually offers their own robot app store. There, you can also share 3D printable parts and code with other users, along with links. This kit is just waiting for you to bring it to life! Be sure to check out the videos below that not only show how Marty came to be, but also how many hats he can wear as a robot, including one for all-night disco. Are you thinking of backing this extended campaign? Discuss further in the 3D Printed Marty the Robot forum over at 3DPB.com.