Malte Ahlers of Germany os finishing up his PhD in neurobiology, and tinkering with robots on the side. He also makes robots!
I would like to introduce my latest robotics project. It is a human sized humanoid robot torso called “A1″. There is still a lot of work to do but I think the direction and possibilities of the project are already quite apparent by now. I thought the project may be of interest for some of the readers of your great makeblog. The torso has two arms, each with five (or six, including the gripper) axes of rotation based on the robolink joints from German company igus.de The joints are tendon driven by stepper motors with a planetary gearhead attached. An experimental version of a motor controller is completed that can read out the position encoders in the joints, drive a motor and perform position control. The A1 torso also has a sensor head with two degrees of freedom, which is equipped with a Microsoft Kinect and two Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 cameras. With this the head can spatially “see” and “hear”. The head has voice output, which can also be accompanied by an animation on an LCD. A simple gripping tool based on FESTO FinGripper finger is provided as a hand (which was already featured on your blog). So far I used the Kinect to let the robot follow me with its “gaze” and to imitate my arm movements (with 1 DOF in the shoulder only). Furthermore I played around with voice output.
Note that the project page is in German.