While some are worrying about high-efficiency this and fuel-economic that, others are putting the electrons pulsing through their cognitive, übercreative brain cages to much better use creating
“an open-source, 18ft wide, 4,000 pound, 6-legged hydraulic robot that you can ride.” Project Hexapod is a robotics class turned Kickstarter project that hit its initial funding goal of $65,000 last week. It’s happening. So yeah, sit the children down and explain to them as calmly as possible that the giant robots are coming. Here’s a look.

Stompy: The Hexapod Project

The 4-month class at Artisan’s Asylum Makerspace in Sommerville, Ma has a team of 3 instructors, 15 students and 1 TA. We’ll be airing an interview with instructors of the project, Gui Cavalcanti, Dan Cody, and James Whong, but first, we wanted to give you a heads up on the project, so you’re sure to help them get to the next level of funding.

At $95,000, we’ll drop in what we call the “Performance Upgrade”. We’ll integrate a number of new sensors that will let us more accurately detect and respond to rough terrain, allowing for a smooth ride over a much greater variety of terrain. We’ll upgrade our hydraulic powerplant to allow for a higher ground speed. We’ll also add sensors that will allow for some amount of autonomy, for future robot development.

Higher ground speeds… A walking Hexapod is nice to travel in, but one that can hit 60 on the freeway? Let’s make it happen.

If you have any doubt they can do it, first, you’ll want to know that the three have been working on many types of robotic devices. Gui was part of the team at Boston Dynamics working on the BigDog project. They also have a crack team of Robotics Engineers, Program and Control Engineers, Electrical Engineers and Physicists, many from the esteemed Olin College of Engineering.

They’re building the bot as a “Giant Robot Design” class at the Artisans’s Asylum makerspace in Somerville, MA. The class is not meant to be the end of giant robot either. In fact, it’s just the beginning. With the solutions they’re discovering for large hydraulic-controlled appendages, hobbyist robitics is about to be scaled up several notches of awesome, and they’re releasing the plans to everyone when it’s finished.

Once we finish this robot, we’re releasing our plans, our CAD, our diagrams, the presentations from all the lectures we gave in class, our lists of materials and parts, everything. The construction and control techniques we’re using will drop the cost of controlled hydraulics by an order of magnitude or two from where they are now, and will make giant robots affordable to small groups of enthusiasts everywhere.

We’re backing the project, and if you want to as well, take a look at the video below that explains all about it, then get on board.

If you’re interested in the development of the Hexapod, the Hexapod Project blog is a must read. SAnd stay tuned for the upcoming interview with Gui and Dan on Engineer vs Designer, Monday, August 27th.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.