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First Video of DARwin Mini

October 30, 2013

Yesterday I reported on the new line of low-cost, open-source products Robotis is preparing to appeal to new, casual, or budget-conscious humanoid robot hobbyists.  These include the OpenCM-9.04 controller, the XL-320 servo, and an easy-to-use lithium-ion battery pack.  What I failed to mention was, perhaps, the flagship product of the new entry-level line: the DARWIN-mini humanoid robot.

Standing roughly half the height of the famous DARwIn-OP robot, and probably using the new XL-320 servos, the new humanoid is expected to be substantially cheaper than its full-size brethren.  But how well does it move?  You can judge for yourself in this video, captured this week by Lem Fugitt at RobotWorld 2013, where several DARWIN-minis get down, Gangnam style.

Of course dancing in place is easier than walking, but Robotis isn’t new at this game; they’re unlikely to release a robot that can’t walk pretty well.  And clearly, the movements of these robots are smooth and quick.

When you double the size of a robot, you increase its mass roughly eightfold.  Lever arms increase linearly, of course, which means that the total torque needed for any joint increased by a total factor of about sixteen.  This is why building large robots is so much harder (and more expensive) than building small ones.

In this case, Robotis has gone the other way; by halving the size of the robot, they can get away with servos 1/16th as strong, in theory at least.  While hard numbers are hard to come by, we can make some estimates: the full-size DARwIn is 455 mm tall and weighs about 3 kg, so the Mini version looks to be about 225 mm tall, and might weigh maybe 400 g.  At that size, the new 4 kg cm servos might well be strong enough to account for the motion we see.

An announcement by Bill Kim, CEO of Robotis, explains that the DARWIN-mini is more expandable than any other humanoid, with a variety of optional sensors and other parts, and compatibility with KIDSLAB parts.  It’s also well suited to 3D printing and other hacking.

Plus, the thing is darned cute — I just want to dunk it in my coffee!

What do you think?  Is DARWIN-mini the start of a revolution, or too lightweight to be interesting?  Weigh in with your thoughts below!

[Via Robots-Dreams, I,Bioloid, Robosavvy]

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