Meet Stompy: the giant, rideable walking robot

August 10, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

It’s an open-source, 18 ft. wide, 4,000 pound, 6-legged hydraulic robot. So yet another quirky Kickstarter project? Well, not exactly, read on….

“We dream of a world where imagination becomes reality simply because enough passionate people decide that an idea has merit.” So say the folks at Project Hexapod, based out of a makerspace in Somerville, Massachusetts called Artisan’s Asylum.

OK, but what’s the purpose of this thing?

Wanna take a ride? Sorry, you’ll have to pledge first. Stompy is a work in progress. (Credit: Project Hexapod)

“First of all, we’re building a giant walking robot that you can ride, and if all goes according to plan, we’ll be showing it off at a festival or fair near you, the Hexapoders say. “Depending on your level of support, you may even get to ride it or drive it — how about that?”

stompy_chassis

Here’s what they’ve built so far. (Credit: Project Hexapod)

Huh, that’s it? Well, no. “Beyond that, though, your support for Project Hexapod will drive a personal robotics revolution,” the hexapoders say.

Project Hexapod wants to make large-scale robots easier to build, and inspire people to build them… and make giant robots affordable to small groups of enthusiasts everywhere.”

OK, now we’re getting somewhere. Here are the ambitious specs: “With 6 force-sensitive legs and a ground clearance of 6 feet, the robot will be able to walk over broken terrain that varies from mountainous areas, to rubble piles, to water up to 7 or 8 feet deep — everywhere existing ground vehicles can’t go.”

In fact, they plan to allow Stompy to carry 1,000 pounds at 2-3 mph, and up to 4,000 pounds at 1 mph!

OK, but can it take on the mighty LS3 robot? Uh, yeah, LS3 can only carry a wimpy 400 lbs! (Credit: Boston Dynamics)

“This is important because in disaster areas like Haiti’s Port Au Prince, it’s taken more than three years to clear the rubble out of some areas — meaning that throughout that entire time, people have had to be rescued or resupplied by helicopter, because no ground vehicle could reach them.

“Stompy (and the technology it represents) could easily reach people who can’t be reached by any other means in a natural disaster.”

OK, sounds to me like a totally worthwhile project that has some competent people involved (James Whong, for example, is a professional roboticist and engineer who works at Boston Dynamics).

They’re asking for $65,000 ($47,244 raised so far in just one week, 23 days to go, as of August 10) to buy the hardware needed to finish building the robot. (Imagine what a government project would cost.)

For $10, you get this intimidating bumper sticker, which should convince those tailgaters to back off:

(Credit: Project Hexapod)

OK, I say go for it. Check out Project Hexapod here.

Amara D. Angelica is Editor of KurzweilAI