Your own Top Agent to break the ice with gorgeous Bond-girls! He also can stand guard at your party, club, office, he will work anywhere there may be a chance for adventure!
This Top Agent randomly raises his drinking arm (or whatever you want that hand to hold, both hands are pose-able) and randomly looks left and right to check for danger.
Power? No problem! 110 VAC US / Japan household power or EU standard 220 VAC is fine as well.
Hang on…what about your Bugatti? Is it protected while you fill it up at the petrol station? At night? You can actually take Top Agent’s torso off his legs and put him in your car. He plugs into your lighter-socket.
At home, in your car, your Top Agent is always on guard and ready to entertain, protect, and seduce women! Just plug him in.
We are finding that more and more students, kids, parents, people from nearly all age groups want to be involved in some kind of animatronic. Some want to play with animatronic robotic eyes, some want an arm, some a hand, and some want a whole robot.
But there is one barrier common to all:
Not many can afford animatronics.
The transition from a “toy” like the cool animatronic monkey head from years back to a full-on advanced PIDD controlled electric, hydraulic, or pneumatic animatronic robot is a HUGE leap. But some have such a passion for having an animatronic that they have bought that monkey, for example, hacked into it, and started re-wiring, re-programming, re-building the whole thing! That is a LOT of work!
We recognize the need, and know that right now EVERYBODY is on a budget. So why not make an in-between? An animatronic platform that you can immediately play with out of the box BUT also encourages you to get in the guts of it, make new facial motions with more servos, plug in ANY controller you want and program it with simple codes or even stretch it to use complex computer vision algorithms.
Many skins are available for one animatronic skull
5 years in development and leveraging technologies and manufacturing processes we have recently discovered we have a way of giving you what you want at a decent price.
PLUS you can change the skins! No kidding. One skull, many faces.
Those of you out there making animatronics at a professional level know that we typically go the other way: start with the sculpt, then to the underskull, then mechanize. This is different, but the Mecha Hitsu Gen2 can be put to work immediately in your theme park, Halloween display, research labs, etc. No huge overhead costs, no long lead-time waiting for the custom sculpt, molding, scanning, modeling, cnc’ing, assembly and programming of a Custom Android.
We will be posting videos of the Mecha Hitsu Gen2 from clients that have made exceptional animatronic displays, research, demonstrations and more using their Mecha Hitsu Gen2 platform.
The human hand is one of the most complex appendages in the world. At least 29 small bones, 34 muscles, and about 123 ligaments.
Now, make me a robot hand.
There have been thousands of designs of “robot” hands spanning centuries. Humans trying to replicate their own functionality with mechanical devices, biomimicry. Some designs boil all the functionality and complexity of a hand into only a few actuators (or motor, servo, one device that acts as a muscle would). A simple example would be a homemade cable hand. Some designers have taken an extreme route using the hand as a gigantic car crushing form of entertainment as “The Hand of Man” does. Some have pushed the extreme limits of today’s technology to make, as much as possible, a robotic hand that has all the degrees of freedom that a real human hand does, like the ongoing DEXMART project or even Shadow Robotic’s Hand .
What we take for granted in our own human hands becomes painfully apparent as soon as you start to design one.
How many degrees of freedom do I need? What exact positions should it be able to achieve? How much force do I need at each joint? How am I going to transmit the actuators motion all the way down to a small fingertip?
Most importantly: how much is this going to cost???
Because there are those of us out there that do not have $100,000 sitting in our bank accounts just taking up space, and we at the same time do not want a $50 piece of copper tubes and wire from a hardware store fashioned into a “hand”. There needs to be an in-between.
The Custom Entertainment Solutions’ “DYN Hand Gen1” has fit this bill.
DYN Hand Gen1
It does capture 11 degrees of freedom most important to research teams.
It does have a skin.
And most importantly it is affordable.
Controlled by simple PWM inputs and powered by a single 6 VDC supply this hand can be immediately put to use by even novice roboticists. If you have programmed motion for a hobby servo you can program for the industrial strength servos inside the DYN Hand Gen1.
I personally look forward to what research this hand will be part of…
Ever since Douglas Englebart developed the fist mouse prototype in 1963, people have tried to find better ways to interact with computers. Nearly 50 years later, almost all work done on a computer is still done with a mouse.
Of course, it would be nice to simply talk to a computer screen and have it not only type for us but recognize commands. This is already happening (and has been for many years now with companies like Nuance, even in robotic toys like Pleo who can recognize voice commands and react according to internal software).
Talking AT a robot is one way, as mentioned above, to control it. But what about talking WITH a robot? What would be necessary for you, as a human, to understand what the robot is trying to tell you?
A lot of work has been done in this area of human-machine interface. Now that we have the processing power, computer vision systems, and extremely talented research teams the direction is logical: Emotions. Expressions. A Face, not just a screen.
Mecha ToMoMi Head
Therein lies the challenge. Animatronic faces have been around since Walt Disney and his Imagineering team created the first audio-animatronic figure, Abraham Lincoln, for the 1694 New York World’s Fair. While it was an amazing leap in entertainment and education, the face was very simplistic. Mouth open / close, eyes left/right, and so on.
To actually create emotions is not simple. There are roughly 52 muscles in a human face that create subtle motions that, as it turns out, are very critical to re-create in a robot face. There are many attempts at doing this. The issue lies in the fact that if you are trying to create absolute realism and miss even a small, subtle part of that motion it becomes terrifying, not entertaining. And certainly NOT something you would want to be next to.
The solution is the Mecha ToMoMi head from Custom Entertainment Solutions. Right now Technion Institute (having the talent and standards exceeding even M.I.T.) is using the ToMoMi head to study human interactions to a robot face. The head is sculpted intentionally “fake”, as opposed to trying to be absolutely realistic. The face is perfectly white, also intentional to move farther away from a “real” human face. The back of the head is open, not covered in hair or some other attempt at realism. Using this approach, scientists can program in emotions easily and avoid the “uncanny valley”. The ultimate result is a very emotive head, with CMOS supermicro color video cameras in each eye, that is fit for a bipedal robot.
No more mouse.
No more talking AT the robot.
The future is talking WITH a robot that is pleasant to look at and interact with.
Not long ago you were privileged to have an MIThandyboard or a Turtle or maybe even a sumo-bot project in your hands. Saying these words a few years ago to most crowds would cause a glazed stare from the crowd as if lobsters were crawling from your ears.
The HRP-4C - Japanese Supermodel Robot
Now we have bioloids, walking, fighting robots fully functioning humanoid robots that kids are familiar with and more importantly, excited about.
Now that robotics have come to be a household word, it is fantastic that also at the same time companies have been created that can customize or completely build from scratch exactly what you want. And fast. And not at DARPA-level budgets!
A great new example is the Willow PR2 robot. From high-level thinkers involved with Google and Stanford University has come this latest iteration of a truly open-source software personal robot. This is an amazing step towards custom robotics. Not only can the researcher / end user dive into the mechanics of the robot BUT they are also able to utilize its many sensors and motors through an open portal into the robot’s code. It can become what you make it, behaviorally speaking.
But what about custom mechanisms? What about custom “skins”, panels, aesthetic but important features of a “personal robot”? This is where those companies skilled in special effects and prosthetics can play an important role… viagra
In this new era where we see robots on TV making our cars, cleaning our floors, doing life-critical surgery, and “simply” zapping our corneas with a laser we have managed to slip into a state where “robots” are just another tool to help us.
Those still feeling let down that we don’t have flying cars just yet haven’t stopped and looked around: the science fiction dream of robots being in our households, military soldiers, factory workers, and more is HAPPENING!
And it is progressing fast…
Asimo Development Process (click to enlarge)
Look around the world. Asimo, a breakthrough in humanoid technology. I watched it run across a stage years ago now and had to stop myself from thinking “aaahhhhh, that’s just a kid in a suit”. No, this robotic masterpiece is emulating a human. Some would say – perhaps if you put an “animatronic” skin on this you could call this a very, very expensive animatronic.
Not ten years ago in a 4th year mechatronics class Kam Leang taught us to program a MIT HandyBoard microcontroller, hack ultrasonic rangefinders from Polaroid cameras, and more to create a truly autonomous robotic hockey player. Hit a button, select defense or offense programs, and play two on two on a 8 foot long wood floor ‘rink’ with goals at magnetic north and south (so our hacked mini-van digital compasses could give us feedback to allow us to score on the OTHER guys goal!).
Now this technology is “simple”. True, there was a lot of mid-level electrical engineering involved and more than 10 digital and 8 analog inputs to manage a 2 motor differential drive H-bridge. But now we can simply go to “The Robot Shop” online and buy a kit / controller that has most all that in it. With instructions.
Aldebaran NAO (click to enlarge)
…Or simply buy a full humanoid biped to play around with. The Aldebaran NAO is a perfect example. It even comes in a well-designed plastic skin.
Animatronics and Robotics… In most minds these are two completely different topics. “Animatronics” used to refer to a mechanical, perhaps mechatronic “gag” or puppet that had some mechanisms in it. True, it is a large and very loose definition.
From complex large scale hydraulics and extremely sensitive control systems for large dinosaurs to “Bun Raku” rod puppetry I have seen (and been responsible for making) a lot of “animatronics”.
Bun Raku - Traditional Japanese Puppet Theater
“Robotics” we think of usually as a highly complex specialized system that involves system architecture, control theory, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, systems integration, and many times YEARS to produce something that is not presented to us as a hobby kit.
Take another look…
Custom Entertainment Solutions
Roboticists themselves have a hard time nailing down the term. Wikipedia defines it as “The word robot can refer to both physical robots and virtual software agents, but the latter are usually referred to as bots.”  There is no consensus on which machines qualify as robots but there is general agreement among experts, and the public, that robots tend to do some or all of the following: move around, operate a mechanical limb, sense and manipulate their environment, and exhibit intelligent behavior — especially behavior which mimics humans or other animals. “
How exactly does this differ from “animatronics” as we know them today?
In the custom animatronic designs we create at Custom Entertainment Solutions nearly all of the systems require at least one microprocessor to move many mechanical limbs to emulate a living creature. Or even control a robotic figure.
The future will produce not just more “robots”, but interactive advanced mechatronic creations that will emulate us. Androids, simulacrum, bots, automatons, “skin jobs”, all good names. I propose a new one: