As if we needed further proof that Lego bricks are amazing, maker Danny Benedettelli has shown one of the coolest uses for them yet. Using a combination of Lego bricks and other electronics, Benedettelli built a humanoid robot that is controlled wirelessly by a wearable “exosuit.” This means that by simply wearing the suit, he can make the robot perform a movement just by acting it out himself.
The robot, which is a new version of Benedettelli’s Cyclops project that was originally created four years ago, was built using the Lego Mindstorms NXT system and an Android cell phone running his own Android app. As Benedettelli explains in the video, the robot is connected over Bluetooth with an Arduino on the telemetry suit. The suit contains a potentiometer for each degree-of-freedom the robot has; so, when Benedettelli moves his shoulder, the motion is read by the Arduino, transmitted wirelessly to the robot, and the respective motor moves the robot in kind.
As advanced as it sounds, this sort of robotic control isn’t new. Often called a “Waldo” (after the short story Waldo, written by Robert Heinlein in 1942), remote manipulator devices like this one have been used for decades by NASA, the special effects industry, and amateur roboticist alike. What sets this particular project apart is the use of Lego bricks which likely brings down the material cost and reduces the number of tools required. Plus, it’s made from Lego bricks! Lego bricks are cool!
Benedettelli says that this is just a prototype, so it sounds like he’s going to continue developing the project further. He mentions that there will be controls added to make the robot walk and open and close its hands, and he’s been logging the improvements made to the Cyclops robot on his website. Let’s hope that he posts more updates soon!
Some of you may remember Benedettelli from his amazing LEGONARDO robot we featured a couple years ago, or perhaps you’ve read his book we reviewed, The Lego Mindstorms EV3 Laboratory. If you’re looking for even more cool Lego robots, be sure to check out Benedettelli’s website, where he has dozens of his projects posted.