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Say Hello to POLYRO, The Friendly Open Source Robot

Tim Payne, the creator of the bipedal humanoid PROTO-2, has developed an open source robot that can be built on a budget.  It’s called POLYRO (oPen sOurce friendLY RObot), and makes extensive use of Willow Garage’s TurtleBot as its mobile base.  TurtleBot takes advantage of low-cost components like the iRobot Create and Microsoft Kinect sensor, allowing it to autonomously map and navigate its environment.  What POLYRO brings to the table is some much needed personality; primarily designed for human-robot interaction, it has a humanoid upper body.

POLYRO stands 99cm (3’3″) tall and weighs 8.6kg (19.5 lbs) without its netbook.  Its two arms have three degrees of freedom apiece, its head nods, and its stereoscopic eyes can blink.  It uses a total of 11 Robotis Dynamixel servos in its current design, 2 USB webcams for eyes, and a netbook PC running Linux, but together with all the miscellaneous parts it still adds up to less than $2,000.

If university labs are looking for an inexpensive robot with plenty of potential for HRI studies, this may be the perfect solution, especially with ROS being all the rage.  And Tim is hoping people will get involved with the project to help expand its capabilities, such as adding face recognition.

“I am working on a website and will eventually create a dedicated ROS page for the POLYRO project. If anyone is interested in working with me to develop applications for POLYRO, please feel free to contact me. In the second prototype, I will add additional degrees of freedom to the neck, arms and head. I will also try to make improvements to the original design. I look forward to seeing modifications to POLYRO and I appreciate any input that you may have.”

The additional degrees of freedom will create more expressive gestures, and additions like speakers and microphones would allow it to use speech recognition and synthesis.  It could, for example, serve as a guide robot around university campuses.  In the meantime, you can find extensive documentation at his Instructables post.  It sort of reminds me of ATR’s Robovie-R2 platform, albeit much, much cheaper.  From a quick scan of the other robot projects at Instructables, POLYRO is clearly the best, so don’t forget to vote it for the MakerBot Challenge while you’re there!  You can also read our Q&A with Tim about his biped PROTO-2 here.

[POLYRO @ Instructables] Thanks, Tim!

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Image credit:
Tim Payne