My love of robots started in my early teens. Like most teenagers my first exposure to robots were from films such as 2001, Star Wars, Lost in Space, Star Trek, and Forbidden Planet. I love the idea of a robotic companion. However, for some reason I have always been drawn to robots that are not human like in appearance. Androids kind of creep me out, R2D2 was cool, but C3PO was a pompous dick.
My favorite companion robots were from the movie Silent Running. In the movie there were three service robots named Drone 1, Drone 2, and Drone 3. Later in the film Freeman Lowell named the drones after Donald Duck’s nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. I looked them up on Wikipedia and found that their full names were Huebert, Deuteronomy, and Louis. Not the robots, the ducks.
Anyway, I just loved these little drones. They were strictly utilitarian in function and appearance; however they walked on two legs. Well walked is a strong word, it was more like waddled like ducks. I was nine years old when the movie came out in 1972. I really wanted to build my own drone, but all I had at the time were Legos. Over the years I have built many robots, most were failures or dead end projects, but I learned a lot and had fun.
Now some forty years later I feel the desire to make another attempt at building a little companion robot again, this time in the general shape of the Drones from Silent Running. I know it isn’t really a practical design for a robot, but what the hell. And mine won’t be a bipedal walker like the drones in the movie. Maybe someday in the future when I have “FU” money I will attempt a biped walker (waddler?), but for now I will settle with what I can make. For now it will be a miniature version of a Silent Running drone, kind of a table top version if you have a really large table. When complete it will probably fit into an 8” x 8” box.
So I will periodically post updates on the progress of this project. Here are some of the specifics:
Construction material: Aluminum.
Brains: Arduino Mega, and maybe an Imp or X-bee for internet access. Not sure yet about internet connectivity.
Brawn: One miniature arm for picking up stuff, two wheel drive via 2 amp encoded gear motors and maybe some other surprises.
Sensors: Infrared range detection, Ultrasonic range detection, Compass module, visual light detection, PIR human detection, microphone.
Indicators: OLED full color screen, indicator LEDs, Connection for a flat panel monitor or TV, speaker, flash light, and some cool under wheel lights, just for the hell of it.
Power: Two MiMH battery packs at 7.6v each. One at 1000mah for the brains, and one at 2400mah for the drive system.
I am open to suggestions for a name, but for now I am going with Drone 4, or maybe Scrooge McDuck.