A lot of 3D printers have ‘bot’ somewhere in the name, and rightly so; they are a rudimentary form of robots. So it makes sense that humanoid robots and 3D printers go hand in hand (extruder?) too. The open source, 3D printable humanoid robot project called InMoov is still making steady progress. But there’s another printable robot that’s on Kickstarter called MAKI.
Tim Payne, co-founder of Hello Robo, is the designer of MAKI. From the website: “Hello Robo was founded with the vision of making personal robotics more accessible and affordable for everyone. To realize this vision, we are developing open source robots which can also be replicated using a desktop 3D printer. This enables educators and enthusiasts alike, anywhere, to create, share and expand upon each others work.” MAKI will be open source, but not freely distributed, at least not at first. Maybe after it’s developed it will be freely shared. It’s difficult to say what MAKI can do besides track objects, which requires a combination of paid and open-source software, though the goal is to get it to HRI (human-robot interaction) status. MAKI is compatible with Arduino IDE and ROS, so with the appropriate libraries MAKI can gain intelligence.
Robotics are great learning tools for students, as they combine mathematics and science in an interactive manner. They can also be incredibly useful; robots are especially adept at handling data sets and doing complex computations. Imagine being able to ask MAKI how many cups of flour you need for a specific cake, or how long it will take for grandpa to drive in from Boston, or what the volume of an irregularly shaped container is. The MAKI printable files are available for a $30 pledge, a full kit with all necessary electronics hardware with parts printed in nylon by Shapeways is available for a $2,985 pledge, and a fully assembled MAKI is available for $3,200.