Construction of 3D Printed Robot Avatar Begins – Allowing Hospitalized Children to Visit the Zoo

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You’ve likely seen James Cameron’s 2009, $2.788 billion box office hit, Avatar. The year is 2154 and humans have depleted the earth of its natural resources. Therefore, they are forced to set out to explore and mine another planet called Pandora. Pandora’s atmosphere is poisonous to humans, so the government must rely on genetically matched avatars to do the job. Humans on Earth control the avatars with their own minds, seeing, feeling, and experiencing everything that the avatar does.1112

Although we are actually still 139 years away from when the movie actually takes place, several groups of individuals are working on a project which certainly has similarities with Cameron’s box office hit. Instead of government agents controlling avatars on a distant plant, one project, called InMoov Robots For Good, is using a similar concept to provide bed-ridden children in hospitals the ability to control robotic avatars as they navigate around the London Zoo.

We initially covered this story back in January of this year when the initiative was first announced. The project relies on the InMoov 3D printed robot, an Oculus Rift, and the Open Wheels segway-inspired people mover, and promises to provide children who are unfortunately confined to their beds at the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London, with something to brighten their spirits.

Well, this weekend the team behind the Robots For Good Project, Wevolver informed 3DPrint.com that they have launched a public workshop for this very project. aaaaaThe open access workshop, located in the prestigious Somerset House in London, is now being used for the construction of the first 3D printed robotic avatar.

“The public workshop has six 3D printers, all printing the parts required to assemble the InMoov robot,” explained Richard Hulskes, one of the co-founders of Wevolver. “Wevolver is encouraging the maker and engineering community to join the team in assembling and coding the robot at the workshop.”

The entire construction and printing of this robot will take an estimated 7 weeks, and should be complete by July 19, at which point the finished product will be shipped off to the London Zoo to commence operations. Despite this rather progressive time frame, the organization is still looking for volunteers with software and Arduino skills to contact them if they are in the area and willing to help out.  Contact information can be found here.

The organization is already attracting interest around the tech community. In fact, RedHat, the organization behind Linux, is currently working with them to produce a documentary on the project.

“Our goal is to inspire makers all over the world to start building their own ‘InMoov Robots for Good’ community and make these 3D-printed robots that make a difference in an individual’s life,” explained Hulskes.

If you are in the London area and wish to help out with this amazing project, or just want to stop by and watch the avatar as it’s being printed, no invitation is required.   Let us know your thoughts on this incredible 3D printed project in the InMoov forum thread on 3DPB.com.  Below are some additional images of the InMoov robot and the construction of the current robotic avatar:

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