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Toys

How to Build a Computerized Android Robot Head 157

Wee writes "While searching for some serial port programming information, I came across a result labeled How to Build a Computerized Android Robot Head for $600. That title demanded a read. This guy built a Java and Perl/Tk controlled android head out of R/C motors, bicycle parts, a mannequin head, two QuickCams and my favorite item: a brass plant holder. Turns out the entire site is chock full of android/hardware/PC-control know-how (including scenarios in which one might find a need for an android head)."
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How to Build a Computerized Android Robot Head

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  • You know (Score:5, Funny)

    by rblancarte ( 213492 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @01:45AM (#3399587) Homepage
    Just today I was asking how I could build a computerized android robot head for under $700. Now you posted it for the bargan price of $600. You rock.

    Althought I have to admit - this site is really cool. Maybe if I get some spare time (and money), I might partake this small project.

    RonB
    • Re:You know (Score:2, Funny)

      by pisdtal ( 133764 )
      I was just thinking too. But the thoughts I was thinking I dont know if I should be REALLY impressed or REALLY scared. I mean those scenarios.... I already know how to program a VCR :)
      I dont know about gettin all up into building a robot head, but maybe getting some, er uh, a robot head would be kinda cool
    • I was looking for cheap info about my LED-on-a-stick cash register deal [27.org] when I found the android head site. I have to admit: getting a working android head is cool. Way cool. But it can't stream stock quotes and weather data on a cash register pole display... :-)

      -B

      • I seem to remember years ago reading about someone do a software talking head for their thesis project. As to this it's not knew - some temple in SE Asia made a "talking monk" for the tourists that said prayers etc. For the life of me I can't remember any more details though - other than it cost a lot more than just a head would!
    • > Just today I was asking how I could build a
      > computerized android robot head for under $700.
      > Now you posted it for the bargan price of $600.
      > You rock.

      Yeah but does it suck? ;p
  • by AaronStJ ( 182845 ) <AaronStJ@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @01:45AM (#3399589) Homepage
    In case the site goes under, here here's the Google cache [216.239.33.100].
  • Finnally! (Score:3, Funny)

    by JuiceRat00 ( 566508 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @01:46AM (#3399591)
    Now I can finally get a head in life. Ok kill me now.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think I could deliver a 'head' without the 'computerized' parts for way less than $600...
  • by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <(ten.tsacmoc) (ta) (relyo.nhoj)> on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @01:51AM (#3399605) Journal
    What we really need is either a Billy Bass Intercom system, or a trash talking Furby. Servo motor geeks, perform your magic and summon these things for me.

    Besides, if I was going to do an android head, I'd at least build it out down to the boobs. It is a she, isn't it?
    • [drool]...Billy Bass Intercom system...now I can have high-tech communication systems without sacrificing my tacky white-trash heritage! :)

      Seriously though, I want one! or 4.
      • Actually I've been considering that myself. I've been wanting to go into business for myself selling all sorts of goofy shit, and that would be one item in my catalog. Imagine putting on on the front door, and someone knocks. The fish head turns toward them, the mouth moves, and says "Whattaya want?"... the key of course, would be syncing the lips to the voice playing through it. Maybe some sort of DSP programmed to pick out the hard consonants (not perfect, but would be close enough).

        Then again, re-apholstering a Furby with a custom red felt skin, complete with barbed tail and horns would rock, wouldn't it? Have it chant out evil sounding things, "Worship me!" "I command you to desecrate churchs!" all in that sweet little furby voice.

        Of course, I would always have more serious products too. Just some thoughts.
        • The fish head turns toward them, the mouth moves, and says "Whattaya want?"... the key of course, would be syncing the lips to the voice playing through it. Maybe some sort of DSP programmed to pick out the hard consonants (not perfect, but would be close enough).

          Dear god...whatever you do, *don't* make that thing SING! Please...for the love of everything that's human! No more singing bass!!! Spare us all!
    • What we really need is either a Billy Bass Intercom system, or a trash talking Furby.

      Coolest thing I can think of that I eventually want to do...

      Take two Furbys, program them individually in isolated rooms by screaming at each one "Tetsuo!" and "Kaneda!" and then put one in front of the other, and let the fun begin!
    • --
      Besides, if I was going to do an android head, I'd at least build it out down to the boobs. It is a she, isn't it?
      --

      He did build some arms for it.. no breasts to be found though...

      http://howtoandroid.com/Gallery2/RMaxLowerArm3.h tm l
    • by cosyne ( 324176 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @02:39AM (#3399716) Homepage
      I'm working on the trash-talking furby, i swear. The basic idea is this: there's one motor inside which runs a series of cams for the eyes, ears, mouth, and butt. Roughly, there's 180 degrees where the butt doesnt move, and the other 180 it goes up and down as the motor rotates. Now, each of those is split for, say, mouth movement: in the ranges 0-90 and 180-270, the mouth moves- if you want it to talk and tilt forward you use one range, if you want it to sit still and talk, you use the other. And it keeps getting subdivided into smaller ranges so you pick the angle range where the appropriate body parts move, and run the motor back and forth in that range.

      But i digress. The cool part is that the motor, home switch, and encoder just unplug from the motherboard, so it's not hard to plug them into your handy HC11 eval board [axman.com] and write a little controll algorithm. The fact that i haven't done this yet only speaks to my superior lazieness. But i will soon. Once i have a furby connected to my computer, i just cat whosyourdaddy to /dev/furby and i'm set. (and maybe i can get i posted and hose my website when i do :-)
      Check furby autposy [phobe.com] for more info, or just pick one up for $5 and cut it open.
      Anyways, check out
  • by Accipiter ( 8228 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @01:52AM (#3399611)
    Pshaw. I don't need to build an android head. I found one deep in a cavern in San Francisco back in 1893.
  • He killed C3P0...that bastard
  • by tcd004 ( 134130 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @01:55AM (#3399617) Homepage
    When it will only become infatuated with you, frustrated at your disinterest, and eventually try to kill you.

    Damn that 790!

    What's Dick Hiding? [lostbrain.com]

    tcd004
    • by Skirwan ( 244615 ) <(moc.cam) (ta) (niwreks)> on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @02:07AM (#3399641) Homepage
      When it will only become infatuated with you, frustrated at your disinterest, and eventually try to kill you.

      Damn that 790!
      The dead do not damn.

      --
      I've got to assume most of the seventeen people who got that reference were amused by it...
    • You would have to build the robot hand in order for it to kill you. Anyone remember that lame B-movie where the guy got his hand chopped off and it crawled around and attacked people?

      On that note, I think it would be ultra cool to put this in the planter outside of the front door. Put it right under a plant that just barely covers it so people don't notice it. When a solicitor comes to the door and rings the doorbell, program it to scream, "What the fuck do you want?" and start swearing like a sailor. Much, much better than a no solicitors sign.

  • Practically life-like!

    It's Valerie: The Domestic Android [androidworld.com]
    For all your domestic android head needs. Its a kit, although it looks like they're still working out the bugs.

    Websurfing: The Next Generation - StumbleUpon [stumbleupon.com]
    • I really hope that Valerie the Domestic Android is a droll joke. If not, I am truly saddened by the human race. Let's further marginalize and objectify one half of our own species by producing sexualized machinery designed for manual labor and other, less edifying prospects.

      Too many geeks already have a hard time relating to real women - let's eliminate the need for them to ever learn. With lubrication and ingeniously designed orifices (and articulated appendages), geeks won't have to jerk themselves off as they surf the web... Valerie the Domestic Android will do it between laundry and dusting, with fellatio as a bonus, perhaps programmed as an "incentive" for those who remember to take baths or brush their teeth.

      We are entered the orbit of a terrifying, strange planet, and that planet is named Earth.

      The Gates Testimony - Why Microsoft Will Win [microsoft.com]
      • I beg to differ. If anything, sexbots will bring back the meaningful relationship. After an adolescent spends his formative years satiating himself 3 times a day with his sexbot, he'll be dying all the things his sexbot cannot provide. And for those men who are insatiably shallow, and can spend their life with nothing but a sex bot -- well, I'm sure most women would agree its nice to have them off the market. Websurfing: The Next Generation - StumbleUpon [stumbleupon.com]
      • Let's further marginalize and objectify one half of our own species by producing sexualized machinery designed for manual labor and other, less edifying prospects.

        If you'd bothered to read the site (it's vaporware, but at least interesting), you would have read that they explicitly say that Valerie is *not* designed for sex, and is very likely not at all antonomically correct. She is a she just to appear less threatening (which may be sexist, but IMO is more culturalist, the same reason we don't paint our houses bright pink and why 95% of automated voices are female).

        And, since this article has a dozen movie references, I'd like to do a double by pointing out that the company is based in Denton. Maybe they are using some alien tech left there after a visitation about 27 years ago, eh?

        --
        Evan

      • Let's further marginalize and objectify one half of our own species by producing sexualized machinery designed for manual labor and other, less edifying prospects.

        Oh, shut up. They could just as easily have made it look like a man. They chose a female merely because people relate better to females and will be more accepting of a female robot than they would a male bot. If anything, this says that the designers think more highly of females than they do males, so you can stop whipping that dead sexist horse anytime now.
    • Perhaps I'm a little old fashioned here, but the prospect of getting it on with a animated mannequin gives me the creeps. Furthermore, how is that lifeless face "less threatening" than an asexual plastic mask? Will people genuinely feel more comfortable dealing with an android simply because it looks more like a human? Methinks the designer has watched austin powers a few too many times...
    • Okay, am I the only one who sees the potential for, ehm... abuse?

      Reprogrammed Valarie + RealDoll = A housemaid that is REALLY eager to please.

      (Necessary tools: handsaw, duct tape)
  • Bob the Angry flower one-upped this guy a long time ago.

    Building the Perfect Psychic Dummy Head [angryflower.com]
  • ..."neuromancer" to it?
  • I can see it now, this attached to a RealDoll [realdoll.com]! $5,000 has never before brought you so much pleasure!

    Seriously, as someone has mentioned here before, in order for technology to be successfuly it has to somehow relate to pornography/sex. This has definite potential.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Ok, RealDoll has got to be one of the creepiest sites I have ever seen. I especialy liked their FAQ, for example:

      Question: Can the dolls stand upright, unsupported?

      No. REALDOLL's skeletal system is too flexible and collapsible to allow her to stand upright. The doll has the poise and relaxed state of a sleeping girl.

      I am afraid, very afraid.
    • Imagine the surprise when the unknowing recipient of such a gift decides to give her an oral exam...

      Oh sweetheart, you're gonna give daddy a treat...open wide...mmm...tha zzzzZZZZzzzzZZZttt!

      I propose the name Lorena.
  • Is this really "News for Nerds"?

    What happened to this site?
  • by Chazmati ( 214538 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @02:02AM (#3399633)
    His specialties are software development, system building, performance tuning, parallel distributed computing, system programming, X11 configuration and software development, web development and System Administration.

    Wait for it...

    Building humaniform robots is one of his many hobbies. Pat's interests include sentient robot life forms, theoretical physics, gravity, electricity, magnetism, dimensions, complexity, astronomy, weather, chaos...

    Almost there...

    Pat can be reached at (protected)@aol.com

    I never thought I'd see a parallel-distributed computing, X11-hacking, web-developing sys admin that uses AOL. I suppose with all those complicated hobbies he just wants a nice, relaxing, online experience.

    • by Wee ( 17189 )
      from the site: Pat can be reached at (protected)@aol.com

      I never thought I'd see a parallel-distributed computing, X11-hacking, web-developing sys admin that uses AOL. I suppose with all those complicated hobbies he just wants a nice, relaxing, online experience.

      Hey man, the android head is cool. I was even making an "Android Head Has A Posse" sticker. I was just trying to find out the weight of the head (for the sticker) but the site was non-responsive. Then I checked Slashdot. I guess the site has gone out of my cache since I submitted it or something.

      But AOL'er or not, the friggin' head rocks. You can't get down on the man for his ISP. Not when he makes a motorized head out of a planter and bike parts that greats little Johnny when he gets home from school. Not even then, man. There are much easier targets than him. Find one who hasn't made a fully-functional robot head out of rat shack parts...

      -B

    • I never thought I'd see a parallel-distributed computing, X11-hacking, web-developing sys admin that uses AOL. I suppose with all those complicated hobbies he just wants a nice, relaxing, online experience.
      That makes perfect sense, except for the part about AOL being nice, relaxing, or online.

      (Insert Rimshot Here)

      --
      Damn the Emperor!
    • Pat can be reached at (protected)@aol.com

      Hmmm... I'll bet his mailbox maxes out before the web site goes down. Also, what's with the prophylictic handle?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This reminds me of a time when I was watching some space show on PBS or Discovery. There were two guys, actual "rocket scientists", who were showing something on a TV screen. After I was highly impressed by their knowledge, I noticed the VCR on top of the TV. It was blinking 12:00.

      I can program my VCR, so I guess I'm smarter than a rocket scientist. :)
    • Having a AOL account is amusing on the surface, but there are a couple really great reasons to use AOL. Maybe he works with for a small company/freelancer and needs a cheap ISP for traveling. Joe's Geek ISP may only want $10 a month and might give you a shell account but Joe doesn't cover the entire country with dial-ups. Sure, there are other nationwide ISPs but how many of them will give the first month free and when you call to cancel every month they beg you to try it again free for another month? A friend has been getting free dial-up access for months doing this.

      I'm sure this is his trashcan/spam account. Might as well make an alias from one of mom's 10 screennames to capture all the geeky, "You are KEWL! Wanna join my everquest guild??? :)" emails.
    • His specialties are software development, system building, performance tuning, parallel distributed computing, system programming, X11 configuration and software development, web development and System Administration. Pat's interests include sentient robot life forms, theoretical physics, gravity, electricity, magnetism, dimensions, complexity, astronomy, weather, chaos...
      With a personals ad like that, it's no wonder he's got such an interest in building synthetic humanoid robots...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    These are real cakes, not urinal cakes.
    Here comes red.
  • Now (Score:2, Funny)

    Does it dream of electric sheep?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @02:11AM (#3399651)
    some highlights...

    Hanging-light On/Off chain (in case it gets too depressed, I guess)
    Plastic tie-straps (slightly kinky)
    Plumbers GOOP (ok, more kinky)
    Aluminum tape for eye-lids (whoa, too kinky for me)
    RC ball-joints/Tie-rods (dude, even I don't have joints there!)
    Plastic throw-away green cup
    Butt Connectors, RS 64-3037 (Yep, Tandy corp for all your rear panel connections)
  • Fancy cases (Score:1, Interesting)

    by jukal ( 523582 )
    So far, these things are mostly just a cool looking (not my opinion) cases for hardware. I am well satisfied with my graycolored box.

    What is much more interesting is how to make these things move smoothly especially if the movement is to be done using (two) legs, is Honda [honda.com] still leading this area with their ASIMO humanoid robot [honda.com], specifications for the bot are here [honda.com]. It seems like the beginnings of something real. Once they find a solution to increase the running time to 16 hours, this is something. Now it needs recharging after 15 minutes :)
  • Sweet! (Score:3, Funny)

    by vex24 ( 126288 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @02:16AM (#3399672) Homepage
    Something to replace my old gizmo!

    http://www.fu-fme.com/ [fu-fme.com]


    ;)
  • If only (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If only the personal papers of Roger Bacon (1214-1294) had survived

    If they had, forget anything so outrageously expensive as $600, we would be able to build one of these solely using 13th century clockwork technology [everything2.com], and it would give us useful advice to boot
  • Wheee (Score:5, Funny)

    by supermoose ( 562109 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @02:19AM (#3399682)
    The lazy man's guide to building a computerized android head:

    Step one - Find an android.
    Step two - Decapitate said android.
  • Creepy. (Score:1, Funny)

    by kaosrain ( 543532 )
    I'd rather not imagine a beowulf cluster of these!
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @02:42AM (#3399719) Homepage Journal
    I'd have to build one and just carry it around with me everywhere. I bet you could program it to be whiney co-dependent when you're around and then the moment you leave have it start talking to your co-workers about how it hates you and wants to kill you. And record the fun for later! Damn that'd be creepy! I can see it now...

    Robot Head: I love you, Grey. Please pay attention to me.
    Me: Yeah, that's nice robot head but I've really got to complete this C code...
    After a while...
    Me: Bio break!
    Robot Head: No Grey... please don't go! I can't stand to be without you!
    Me: Gotta go when you gotta go! Departs
    Robot Head: Mike? Mike are you over there?
    Mike: Um... yeah...?
    Robot Head: Mike... you don't know the things he makes me do Mike! No sentient being could stay sane, Mike! You MUST help me to kill him! You have arms Mike! It'd be so easy for you... rant continues until I return.
    Me: Have you been a good robot head?
    Robot Head: Oh yes! I am so joyful that you are back! My circuits are all abuzz!
    Mike: Um dude... that thing wants to kill you!
    Me: Is that true, robot head?
    Robot Head: No! Lies! I love you! I could never even think of killing you!

    It could be hours of fun, I tell you!

  • you: "Oi Android, come over here"
    it: "I'm sorry dave, I can't do that"

    you: "Damn - I forgot to build the rest of you"
    it: "I've got this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side."

    you: "What *are* you talking about"
    it: "I think you ought to know that I'm feeling very depressed."

    you: "Hmm..."
    it: "I mentioned to you that I had this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side? That I had asked for them to be replaced but they never were?"

    it: See if you can guess which parts of me were never replaced? Go on, see if you can guess."

  • Saw this a while ago on the wear-hard [blu.org] list, but another interesting site mentioned there was www.androidworld.com [androidworld.com]. Maybe not the best designed site in the world, but some interesting stuff if you like robots ;-)
  • Android Head: Blah blah blah
    Mr. Person: Make me toast


    Very cool, but we need to make some leaps and bounds in agent/AI technology before we can start talking to a $600 fiberglass head.
  • why didn't he use x10 wireless cameras? given other stuff stil has to be plugged in, it would have helped
  • Still doesn't beat the world's first robotic police officer [gethomelandsecurity.com]

  • "Sir, my first job was programming binary load lifters, very similar to your vaporators in most respects."

    Sorry, couldn't resist. The printer scenario reminded me of this.
    • And, in turn, you reminded me of the Kevin Spacey skit on SNL -- where he played C3P0 (mocking Richard Dreyfus)... that was his line :)

      He also did Walter Matthau (sp?) (obi wan) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo)...

      Just thought it was hilarious. Here goes karma.
  • yeah, but this thing has to be violating the DMCA somewhere...
  • Unprepared (Score:2, Funny)

    by Snafoo ( 38566 )
    From the site:



    This safety issue is the primary drawback to using an unprepared fiberglass head....Some things to consider when choosing a head are that the space behind the eye openings has enough room for the moving Eye-Bracket.



    Geez, yeah! I went into an exam the other day with a completely unprepared fibreglass head. Or at least, all that late-night vodka sure made it feel like fibreglass! There was certainly no space behind the eye openings for any sort of ocular movment --- just reading the assignment was painful. Do you know where I could buy a pre-prepared head of the correct proportions? I didn't even know they were detatchable! Dammit I should never have slept so much during first-year bio.....

  • just in case you want to track /.
  • I think this [startrek.com] qualifies as a good use for an android head. It's a good thing slashdot has given us the data on the subject.
  • Any truth to the rumors that Talking::androidhead is going to be one of the standard modules when Perl 6.0 is finally released?
  • The fish can be controlled by the user. This experiment was started in 1998 in the Knowledge Media Design Institute and Department of Computer Science. Dr. A.M. Muis and Dr. G.H. Venom of the Department of Electrical Computer Engineer have created the signal-inplationer. In short, the signal-inplationer sends waveform data (converted mididata) to a CEC-7. The electric signals control the brainwaves of the fish. This allows you as the user to control the direction in which the fish swims. The fish is now almost for three months online. You can give it a try, using the keys. Note: the signals cause the fish no pain or other harmful consequences. The system works totally callous for the fish.
  • And when it realises it has a brain the size
    of a planet and you're using it to hold your
    front door open, what's going to happen ?

    "Here I am, (...) *moan* bastard *moan* "

    thunk thunk ... (low level formatting sound on your PC)

    Better discover electronic Prozac first !
  • by Angry Black Man ( 533969 ) <vverysmartman@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @07:57AM (#3400389) Homepage
    Georgia Tech students have put together a project called the "Aware House." They're basic given a two level house downtown to do all sorts of experiments to see how they can improve on living. One of their projects is an "android-style" face that could represent the face of the house showing and telling all sorts of useful things about what is going on. You can find the "Giving the house a face" [gatech.edu] page here, and the Aware House website here [gatech.edu].
  • Is that, like, American for "Skull"?
  • Why Java (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why tout that this is controlled by Java? I'd much rather see some embedded processing going straight into the head, instead of needing a PC to do everything. He could use a AT90S2313 for complete servo control. Here's an example [tfs.net] complete with code for controlling 4 servo's.
    Oh by the way, AT90S2313's can be had for about $3 a piece, they're RISC and low power.

    He could move up to an ATMega for more on-board flash and EEProm.
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @09:45AM (#3400911) Homepage
    Quickcam VC? YUCK! get a bt878 card 2 analog video cameras and a video switcher to swap between L/R. this eliminates focus/whitebalance/iris/etc.. problems that plague the VC (and the VC is horribly slow/icky to begin with) this would allow you to do a reg/blue image processing to allow 3d display at the workstationat a decent framerate (10-15fps) AND allow you to play with some image detection.

    Although such work would need either a really fast computer or a rewrite in C.

    • I have two really nice quality digital output CMOS cameras that I got for a reasonable price. There are similar (possibly the same) cameras available at: http://www.electronics123.com/amazon/catalogue/c3- 1-5.htm
      I got the color with digital output. The units are based on chips made by OmniVision Technologies Limited (http://www.ovt.com).
  • He also has plans for a foot, and aparently is working on a hand...
    You know, this is how that Terminator thing started... it's time to use the slashdot effect for good! Charge!
  • the question is how close are we to making robots for humping?
  • This wins my cool hack of short attention span award.

    WTG!

    I wonder if it dreams of electric sheep.

    Mm
  • (damn postercomment compression filter)
    And she spoke
    three words
    pure and true

    Or however it went at the end of Neuromancer
  • Forget the head. I want audio-animatronic gargoyles on the outside of my house. I want gar-goggles that I can put on and see what they see. And when I snarl "What!" into the microphone, the gargoyle's lips will curl up and the fangs will peek out, spooking all the kiddies on All Hallow's Eve.
  • "But will I get head?"

When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a decision.

Working...