Teensy Robots

Pixar Artist Develops Life-Like 3D Printed Animated Robots

Alonso Martinez

Artist Alonso Martinez develops 3D printed life-like robots for a project which explores how simple designs can have a big personality.

Can you imagine anything cuter or more enjoyable than playing peek-a-boo with a tiny robot? Alonso Martinez has developed a tiny family of robots to explore how he can bring designs to life through movement.

Martinez works as virtual character designer for the animated film company Pixar. However, for a personal side project, he wanted to develop robots that are more personable than those he creates for the big screen. And so, he developed Mira and Gertie – two tiny robots that people can interact and play with.

For the YouTube channel Tested, Martinez brought the two life-like robots that can interact with users through simple games. He first created Gertie, which was inspired from his time at animation school. The robot incorporates a bouncing ball to help it move around.

The second robot, named Mira, can play peek-a-boo. To do this, she tracks the faces of the user. Although the blinking eyes make it appear as if the robot is watching, it is in fact a small black camera dot used to follow the user. Mira also responds to kisses and “gun shots.”

Creating Mira the Robot using 3D Printing

Martinez uses a simplistic design, building these characters through small design cues. He explains: “You want people to project themselves onto the character.”

Mira’s has a small and egg shaped design, giving the impression that it’s a baby robot. For the outside shell, Martinez used a desktop 3D printer and PLA material. The post-processing method consists of an orbital sander used to create a smooth finish.

The two parts of Mira, both made from PLA, initially caused a jittery motion, so Martinez used Teflon tape to create a smoother turn.

Martinez uses a mechanism that includes two tiny Power HD DSM-44 servos, allowing Mira’s head to rotate around. To control the movement, he uses a joystick called the Microsoft Sidewinder Pro. He took the joystick apart and improved on it, also 3D printing his final design.

The finished robot is, as can be expected, extremely cute. Want to find out more about Martinez’s robot projects? Check out his YouTube channel or follow him on Twitter: @alonsorobots

Source: Hackaday