It has no guns or shields but it can walk and roll just like the Destroyer Droids (aka Droideka) of Star Wars. Developed by an avid Norwegian robot hobbyist, the MorpHex is an ongoing project, but part of a growing subculture of personal robotic enthusiasts who just might usher the robotic revolution we have been promised so many times in the past.
Many important advancements in the early days of personal computing were made in homes and garages of skilful computer enthusiasts and hobbyists who only created bits of code and electronic boards for their own amusement. 30 years or so later and it seems that history is about to repeat itself – at least if you take a look inside the home of Norwegian engineer Kåre Halvorsen who developed the MorpHex.
Halvorsen has become serious about his robot building hobby 6 years ago and created many different designs, however the MorpHex is by far his most innovative and advanced yet. Although the MorpHex is still a work in progress and far from a complete design (for example the MorpHex still rolls more or less in a curved direction instead of straight forward due to an asymmetric design) it still is a very capable robot which can walk, roll, and control each of its different parts as can be seen in the following Youtube video:
You can find out more about the MorpHex on Kåre Halvorsen blog.
Currently creating robots is still expensive, complicated and extremely time consuming. This allows for only a small number of dedicated people outside the academic world and the industry to create their own robotic systems and help advance the field (a move which significantly boosted the personal computing industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s). However there might be some change on the way, at least if scientists and engineers from MIT have their way.
The National Science Foundation recently granted scientists from MIT 10 million dollars in funding to help bring robotics to the consumer level. The money will be used to create a desktop system that would allow an “average person” to design, customize and print a robot on demand – something impossible using current technology.
– A Mashable video – “On Demand Printable robotics”
TFOT covered great many innovative robots including several which were developed by private people such as the BeetleCam Robotic Camera, which had a successful trip to Africa photographing the lions of the Masai Mara.
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.