Project Hexapod was founded by myself, James Whong, and Dan Cody, and is an effort to create an open-source, giant, rideable hydraulic hexapod robot called Stompy. Each of us had dreamed of one day building robots large enough to ride on, and we started working on the idea seriously in October of 2011. The effort took shape as a class at Artisan’s Asylum; over the course of 4 months, we taught a group of 15 students the ins and outs of working with robotic technology at large scales. Class exercises included creating robot control systems in simulation, designing and fabricating a half-scale prototype leg, designing a full-scale prototype leg, and starting development of the power unit and chassis. If you’d like to learn more about the class portion of robot development, check out my Robotics Intensive: Rideable Hexapod page. Ultimately, all of the development work led to the creation of a Kickstarter campaign to fund the actual robot:

We raised $97,817 with our Kickstarter campaign through the sale of swag (T-shirts, bumper stickers, wristbands, and more) and the offer of rides, drives, and sponsorships. The team then set to the task of developing our control systems on the full-scale prototype leg, while simultaneously working on the hydraulic power unit and mechanical design of the final robot.

My role on the team has largely been one of instructor and lead mechanical designer, responsible for the overall mechanical and hydraulic system design of the robot. Recently, I’ve also taken on the role of videographer; we’ve been posting video updates to our website to show our progress, and you can check them out at the Project Hexapod Youtube Channel.

We’re currently in the process of manufacturing the hydraulic powerplant, legs, and chassis of the final robot. We’ll soon switch gears to assembling, testing, and controlling the robot as a whole; we expect the robot to be done by late 2013.