Building your own robot sounds like an expensive undertaking, but Intel is preparing to sell a kit that will let you do just that for a mere $1,600. Okay, that’s still kind of pricey, but the kit comes with all the internals, plus the plans to 3D-print the rest. Intel calls this custom robot Jimmy, and it made its debut at the recent Code Conference.
The kit, which is expected to go on sale later this year, will come with a battery, motors, wiring, and an Intel Edison chip to give the robot its smarts. Edison is a low-power, low-cost computing solution that consists of an Atom processor, WiFi, storage, and RAM on a single chip.
The robot itself is about two feet tall and made of plain white plastic, but that’s the neat thing about 3D printing — builders will be able to change that. Want your robot to have horns? No problem, just modify the file and print it like that. Jimmy’s shell could even be printed from other materials.
Intel has designed the basic robot to do things like speak through text-to-voice, pick up and move objects, post Tweets, and dance (sort of). Because Jimmy is open source, developers and tinkerers will be able to build whatever functions they want. The company plans to eventually offer an app marketplace where developers can make new functionality available to other robot builders, so you won’t need to be an expert roboticist to make Jimmy do neat stuff.
The $1,600 price is still far from an impulse buy, and most people still don’t have a 3D printer handy, but the prices are coming down. There are several consumer-grade 3D printers that cost around $1,000, and cheaper ones are on the way. Intel also plans to offer more robot kits for sale later on the same 21st Century Robot site, some of which could be more affordable.