On Wednesday of last week Intel debuted a fully customizable, 3D-printable robot at the Re/code Code Conference. Brian David Johnson created the “21st Century Robot” project. According to the project’s website, the project is the result of a varied collaboration of developers from the University of Southern California, the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, and Trossen Robotics.
During the conference, Jimmy the Research Robot accompanied Brian Krzanich, Intel’s CEO, as he walked across the stage. The white, two-foot-tall humanoid robot is powered by a low-cost processor and can be programmed to sing, dance and tweet. Consumers will be able to purchase the kit for approximately $1,600.
During the launch video, the developers talk about making robotics more social. To achieve this, the Intel-based robots will have the computing power to accomplish social interactions with people, such as speech and voice recognition. The robots will be constructed using the Intel Core i5 processor and will have features such as; USB 3.0, Bluetooth and WiFi.
However, Re/code notes that a robot with i5 processor may cost nearer to $16,000. Therefore customer models will run on Intel Edison, the new low-cost chip, which is used to power wearables and other products for the Internet of Things.
The interesting thing about this robot is that the hardware designs will be made available through an open-source platform, thereby allowing anyone with access to a 3D printer to print basic components. According to Re/code, the essential parts that cannot be printed, like motors and wires or the battery and processor, will be made available to people in a kit that can be purchased on the project’s website.
The programming of the robot will also be open-sourced and Intel said developers would be able to make their own apps. Then consumers will be able to download whatever software they wanted for their robotic companion. Intel is pinning it’s hopes on a mass availability of robots, that will encourage lower prices for the kits, hopefully less than $1,000, over the coming years.