Building Stompy: A giant, open-source robot

‘Stompy’ is the name of a crowd-funded, six-legged open source robot

Identifying a gap in the market has been the key to many successful open source projects. In the case of the participants in Project Hexapod, a group of robotics enthusiasts based at the Artisan Asylum makerspace in Massachusetts, they identified a clear lack of six-legged, rideable robots.

Members of Project Hexapod, which comprises three instructors, one teaching assistant, and 15 students, have launched a crowdfunding Kickstarter project to raise $65,000 to build ‘Stompy’: A arachnid-esque, six-legged, 1800kg hydraulic robot.

Stompy will be 18 feet wide and will seat two people and have a ground clearance of six feet. Best of all, Project Hexapod will be “releasing our plans, our CAD, our diagrams, the presentations from all the lectures we gave in class, our lists of materials and parts” under an open source licence.

The Kickstarter fund drive launched on 3 August and ends on 2 September, with the project having raised over $45,600 of its $65,000 goal. If the Kickstarter effort manages to raise $125,000 within the deadline, the plan is to add “flame effects” to the robot, which is an obvious omission in the original spec.

Although the idea might seem slightly mad scientist-esque, according to Project Hexapod a Stompy-style robot could have practical applications in the wake of natural disasters because of its ability to navigate rubble-strewn areas. In addition, the construction techniques used to construct Stompy will be “an order or magnitude or two” cheaper than current techniques “and will make giant robots affordable to small groups of enthusiasts everywhere”.

So far Project Hexapod has successfully created low cost computer controlled hydraulic joint designs and built a half-scale prototype leg and created an engine and power unit for Stompy. A design for the robot’s chassis is almost complete and parts for a full-scale prototype leg have been ordered.

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