Robotics

Six-legged programmable robot is a technical toy for tinkerers

Six-legged programmable robot ...
Hexa is a programmable robot designed to be accessible enough for people to tinker with
Hexa is a programmable robot designed to be accessible enough for people to tinker with
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Basic functions, like movement, are already built-in to Hexa, allowing users to set simple commands without having to worry about coding the specifics
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Basic functions, like movement, are already built-in to Hexa, allowing users to set simple commands without having to worry about coding the specifics
Hexa is a programmable robot designed to be accessible enough for people to tinker with
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Hexa is a programmable robot designed to be accessible enough for people to tinker with
To navigate, Hexa is equipped with an accelerometer, infrared sensor and 720p camera
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To navigate, Hexa is equipped with an accelerometer, infrared sensor and 720p camera
Hexa is currently the subject of a Kickstarter fundraising campaign
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Hexa is currently the subject of a Kickstarter fundraising campaign
Hexa can be programmed with If/Then statements, telling the robot to perform actions in response to certain stimuli
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Hexa can be programmed with If/Then statements, telling the robot to perform actions in response to certain stimuli
Users can upload Hexa skills to a Skill store, and download other ones to test out
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Users can upload Hexa skills to a Skill store, and download other ones to test out
Hexa stands 4.7 in (12 cm) high and 20 in (51 cm) across
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Hexa stands 4.7 in (12 cm) high and 20 in (51 cm) across
Input can come from things like voice commands, gestures, light, temperature, or signals from phones and computers, and Hexa can react by walking, waving, grabbing, sending data or controlling connected Internet of Things devices
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Input can come from things like voice commands, gestures, light, temperature, or signals from phones and computers, and Hexa can react by walking, waving, grabbing, sending data or controlling connected Internet of Things devices
Hexa is a toy for tinkerers, aimed squarely at the kind of people who’d drool at the thought of a Raspberry Pi with legs and eyes
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Hexa is a toy for tinkerers, aimed squarely at the kind of people who’d drool at the thought of a Raspberry Pi with legs and eyes

Parents wanting to get their kids into coding from an early age are spoiled for choice, with toys like Vortex, Codeybot, Photon and Cozmo, but there aren't many gadgets for an older audience wanting to try their hand at programming. Currently on Kickstarter, Hexa is a six-legged, sensor-laden robot that's essentially a blank slate for people to program their own functionality into, and share those skills across a social network of tinkerers.

Robots are on their way to integrating into our everyday lives, but besides maybe playing with a Spiderman toy or controlling a BB-8, many people don't get a chance to really experiment with them. That's the problem that Vincross, the company behind Hexa, was aiming to address with its programmable insectoid droid.

The six-legged robot stands 4.7 in (12 cm) high and 20 in (51 cm) across, and it will navigate the world by way of an accelerometer, infrared sensor and a 720p camera, complete with night vision mode. To keep things simple, Hexa's basic functions, like movement, will be built into the robot, letting users program it with commands like "walk forward," rather than having to wade through coding specifics to get it going.

The robot gets its smarts from a Linux-based system that Vincross calls MIND, designed to be the toolbox that users fiddle with to get Hexa doing what they want it to do. Essentially, programming boils down to setting up If/Then statements, telling the robot to do certain actions in response to certain stimuli.

Hexa can be programmed with If/Then statements, telling the robot to perform actions in response to certain stimuli
Hexa can be programmed with If/Then statements, telling the robot to perform actions in response to certain stimuli

Input can come from things like voice commands, gestures, light, temperature, or signals from phones and computers, and Hexa can react by walking, waving, grabbing, sending data or controlling connected Internet of Things devices.

Those behaviors can be coded in through either a developer kit based on the Go programming language, or through a more visual, user-friendly simulator. Once a user has created something they're particularly proud of (like, say, a light-activated dance routine) they can share it with the rest of the Hexa hivemind by uploading it to the Skill store.

From the companion app, users can download, try out and build on sections of code made by the community. An Explore mode in the app also lets users drive Hexa directly, with a live robot's-eye view video feed.

Hexa is a toy for tinkerers, aimed squarely at the kind of people who'd drool at the thought of a Raspberry Pi with legs and eyes. If that's you, the robot is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, where it's already raised over half of its US$100,000 goal, with 29 days still to go.

Pledges for the robot itself start at US$499, with higher rewards adding wireless charging and other goodies. If all goes to plan, the Hexa should be scuttling into backers' homes in February 2018.

Check out Hexa in action in the campaign video below.

Source: Vincross

HEXA: Programmable, Highly Maneuverable Robot

2 comments
JamesDemello
My first thought is, wow, expensive. I have made my own walking, waddling, stumbling robots with a handful of servos and an Arduino and a couple of sensors - that was exciting, doing it all from scratch. So, this kind of prefabbed robot doesn't appeal to me - though I'm sure there are many folks out there to whom it would appeal. I've seen lots of these kinds of robots and the downer is that yeah, they are cute for a while but their movement and interaction with the world is really limited, and no number of users will change that limitation. And dumbing down the coding probably is detrimental to the users cognitive health.
Dan Lewis
I'm holding out for a rugged version the kids can take out into the backyard, or just the living room floor. I don't think this model can handle an 8 yr old.