Zizzy is a personal robot prototype for people with limited mobility. The head, body, arms, mounting brackets, air valves, and the artificial muscles that actuate it, are all 3d printed. While no one is likely to try and duplicate this robot exactly, the body and arms, muscles and muscle control system, could be useful in other robotic projects.
The intro pic shows how the robot could operate a cell phone. In practice it would probably be much easier to control a phone by putting the phone on a fixed stand and then remote controlling the arms and drive motors to select icons. A thin wire would have to be attached from the person to the stylus to provide the activating capacitance.
The video shows the robot in a pre-programmed sequence--picking up a water tube and power bar and taking it to the edge of the table. From there it could be remote controlled to feed the person in control of it. As the video shows, the compressor is fairly loud. I am trying to find small battery operated compressors that are less noisy. If anyone knows of a source, please let me know.
Zizzy the robot is designed to move freely on a smooth desktop or table. The two arms can be used to pick up objects and move them to the person controlling it. It could be used to provide medicine, food and water or manipulate a phone or other device. The voice circuit could be used to facilitate communication for those with limited or no speech. The face is basically an emoticon that could be used to display emotions.
It can be remote controlled using infrared signals from a standard universal remote control. An infrared remote control could easily be modified to interface with a wheel chair, puff and blow, eye tracker, or other controller. This would allow the user to remote control all motions or to activate pre-programmed sequences.
This robot uses modular construction with the muscles and grippers able to plug in and out to allow for easy replacement or upgrades whenever a better design becomes available. The talking circuit and Master neuron also plug in and out to allow for upgrades or to use them in other robots.
The Future Of Robotics
I believe the future of practical and affordable robots will involve soft artificial muscles such as those used here. They are lighter and less expensive than the standard gear motors and power servos used for most present day robots. They are also less dangerous around humans as they have a certain amount of built in give if they push against a human. While some gear motors and servos will still be necessary, many can be replaced with air powered artificial muscles.
While much is made about the purely soft robots that have little or no bone structure, my experiments have shown that a fairly stiff skeleton with flex or hinge joints is necessary with soft robot muscles to get precise movements that are repeatable.