My objective this week was to do some research and find a robotic head neck system. We are planning on mimicking a robotic head neck system that already exists and making a few changes to it so that it fulfills our criteria. The following are a few of the robotic heads that I found:
David Ng has a company in Hong Kong, which is now making android heads for sale to the public. The head is completely customized to pictures the customer sends in using 3D Studio Max. The skulls are cut with a laser cutter. The skin is silicone and it even has facial muscles (it can smile and frown). The eyes move too.
Here is another head project, which YFX Studios has done for the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). It looks real too. This head has 9 DOF. They are using the firefly digital cameras from Point Grey Research in Vancouver, BC. for eyes.
Fumio Hara of the Science University of Tokyo has built a robotic head of a Japanese woman, which is controlled by 24 hydraulic cylinders, which can change its facial expression to one of six common human expressions. It took Hara 10 million yen and three years' work with the help of his unpaid students to build Roberta. Thiw was clearly too expensive for us.
Hossein Mobahi from the Azad University, Tehran-South Campus, Tehran, Iran has developed an animatronic face. The face is comprised of eight degrees of freedom. Its controllable features are eyes, eyebrows, jaw and neck. Aryan's brain enables it to autonomously detect human face or hands and to track them. Aryan can express its emotion in his face, according to its perceived visual stimulation. The brain software runs on a standard PC with a 200MHz Intel Pentium Processor and under Linux OS.
I spent this week once again finding Robotic heads. I found a few more interesting models. Here are a few examples:
They are building an android head at Android World Inc. They have sculpted Valerie's head out of oil-based clay and cast our molds in Ultracal30. The face will be made from foam latex and will have cables embedded in it so that face muscles can be operated from inside the head with RC-type servos. They plan to offer components of the head or the full head as a kit for robotics laboratories to use as an AI teaching tool. Below is the head with the eyes mounted in it. It also has the teeth mounted in the jaws and the lower jaw hinged to the upper jaw. They have the molds for the face and head completed.
The Robot Group of Austin Texas has a head project, which they call the Babbling Head. Brooks Coleman, Alex Iles, and Bill Craig constructed it. The eyeballs are hammered silver with LED lights illuminating the iris centers. The eyeballs are also servo controlled and capable of rolling. The neck and the lips are made of soft plastic for mobility. The lips are molded black silicon and the neck pipe piece is a dryer vent pipe. This robot is fitted with an exhibit controller board that operates a series of servo motors that move the lips, eyeballs and neck areas. A sound synthesizer provides the computer voice simulated speech that brings the Babbling Robot Head to life.
This is the last week that we are spending on research for a robotic head neck system. I found that Patrick M. Rael has built an animatronic head as the first step of his android project. His android is called Robot Maxamilian or R.Max for short.
It is possible to build a computer-driven, life-size, android robot head for cost of materials of about $600.00. The android head has two color video-camera eyes with the video going both into a window on the PC and into an image processing Java application. The robot has six servo motors controlling: (1) base of the head spins, (2,3) each eye moves left/right, (4) both eyes move up/down, (5,6) each eye-lid opens/closes. All servo motors are controlled through a Java application. The user supplies the computer (PC). The head is the most difficult part to find. It was found at a mannequin services shop. It is made of fiberglass. Some things to consider when choosing a head are that the space behind the eye openings has enough room for the moving Eye-Bracket. The width of head must accommodate both eye-cams mounted on a bracket. Also of consideration is to ensure the eye bracket can be removed with the rest of the Cranium Chassis.
The Eye Bracket is the mounting point for both eye-cams. It's a 1/8" X 3/4" X 7" aluminum bar that looks like a wide letter 'U' . Each eye-cam is bolted to the bracket in such a way as to allow free rotation. An oversized bolt inserted through the eye bracket is tightened into the eye-cam. Two nuts are tightened against each other at the precise point as to maintain a minuscule gap. This allows the eye-cam to rotate freely. On both ends of the U are holes, which attach to mounting studs on the inner wall of the head. The holes are drilled at points, which run through the centers of both eye-cams. The holes are elongated vertically to allow the eye-bracket to slide onto the studs from above. When attached to these mounting studs the eye bracket spins. This provides for up/down eye motion. Behind each eye-cam and attached indirectly to the Eye-Bracket are two sub-micro servos .The servos each attach to the backs of the eye-cams via a tie-rod to ball-joints. The ball-joints are glued to the eye-cams with goop. The servos are attached to a copper bracket, which is connected to the eye bracket. A ball-joint is mounted on the left-underside of the eye bracket. This connects through a tie-rod to a servo mounted on the bottom of the Cranium-Chassis. This servo controls up/down eye-cam motion. The eye cameras are Logitech (formerly Connectix) Color Quick-Cams (Figure 3). One has a parallel port interface and the other has a USB port (Universal Serial Bus). Their software is designed to allow only one to be active at a time, although they can be switched back and forth in the software. The parallel port should be set to ECP mode in the pre-boot PC bios settings for fastest image throughput. The eye-cams are menu-configured by the author to snapshot their image once per second to disk files named lefteye.jpg and righteye.jpg respectively. Two flat, round donuts were cut out of a green iridescent plastic cup. They're glued onto the cams to give RMax green eyes. The glue unexpectedly bubbled underneath, appearing like glitter, and the resulting texture is aesthetically pleasing. The eyelids are constructed of the thick plastic wrapping that accompanies common goods enclosed in plastic (Figures 3,5). The eye-lid plastic has to be able to take a 90-degree bend and maintain it. A ball-joint is mounted on top. From that ball-joint, through a tie-rod, is another ball-joint connected to a sub-micro servo. These two servos are attached with plastic tie-wrap onto the front Chassis handle. Aluminum tape is taped onto the front of the plastic eye-lids for a shiny appearance.The spinning base consists of an inverted brass plant-holder. Inside is a vertically mounted front bicycle wheel hub. A 1" hole is cut in the center of the brass through which the bicycle hub bolt protrudes. The top hub flange is bolted directly into the brass. The thick aluminum plate is bolted to the protruding hub bolt. It is on this plate that the head rests. A sail servo is attached directly to the lower hub flange. This servo's rotor is attached to the lower threaded hub bolt via ball joints and a tie rod. As the servo motor turns, it turns the hub bolt which turns the head.