Italian designer Danny Benedettelli uses a homemade exoskeleton connected to his upper body to manipulate a surrogate Lego robot.
Benedettelli whose day job is to design and develop custom Lego models started this project back in 2011. His first attempts had ”poor maneuvering abilities” and failed to meet the robust requirements of his latest prototype.
The custom built exoskeleton communicates to the surrogate through Lego’s customisable mindstorm NXT robotics kit, using the Bluetooth capability of an embedded android smartphone fitted with a custom Cyclops app.
He also uses the free NXT chatterbox app to enable the robot to speak and understand verbal instructions.
In 2012 the “Cyclops” went under a full redesign with the help of a comic designer who helped draw the basic design towards a more superhero aesthetic. “Besides the old functionalities, it can be completely remote controlled with a telemetry suit, a wearable remote control in the form of an exoskeleton,” he said. “I will make a documentary video of all Cyclops features, time permitting.”
Today we have that video…
Fitted with a low-tech arduino and a host of potentiometers the exoskeleton records and transmits every movement of Benedettelli. Far from finished he sees the Cyclops MK 2 as a pre-prototype proof of concept, his goal is to turn this into a full body exoskeleton capable of controlling every element of the surrogate robot.
Although this is not the first time, nor the most advanced system deployed in the area of human/robot symbiotic control – it’s brings what was once considered a high-tech supper intelligent system down to ground level fundamentals – using the most basic building blocks (Lego) and a big dream to achieve something special.