This is how it all ends, my friends. They pull us in with their human-like emotions and then crush our wills to live… and also maybe our faces.

The mechanical and overly productive counterparts of society, many are anxious to release upon civilization, has seen some intense development as of late, Recon bots and the amphibious sort, but nothing quite captures the heart like the subtle grimace of Nexi, the first MDS.

Here’s what to appreciate about the design, done mostly in SolidWorks… and some images to analyze for weak points.

MDS (Mobile Dextrous Social) was a joint project by Personal Robots Group and Xitome Designs. It was the TIME #17 “Best Innovations of 2008” and is currently available for purchase through Xitome Designs.

It’s features include a gyroscopic 2 wheeled base (RMP-200), two 7 DOF Xitome 322c Hands, and enough actuators, controls and sensors to have you both crying together watching Star Trek II the Wrath of Kahn.

I had a chance to ask John McBean, with Xitome who did the mechanical design of the guts of the MDS, about the creation of the cute lil’ guy.

We actually worked with another guy who did the design of the face shells using Maya. The shells were imported (via IGS) and many features were added (mounting holes, bosses, LED holes, etc). The overall project took about a year, and the exchange of files between Maya and SolidWorks (both directions, using STLs and IGES) went very smoothly! Other than the complex curvatures in the face shells, everything else was designed in SolidWorks. The parts are pretty simple, but there are a lot of them! I’m working now on the hands and a new torso.

You’ll want to have a look through the images below and to get a real sense of just how dexterous this robot is, check out the videos as well. It ma be a while till you open the garage door and see a

The Concept

The product

The Mechanics


Josh is founder and editor at, 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.