Here is some preliminary work towards an open robotics platform inspired by the Red Dwarf Skutters for doing simple household chores or simple manufacturing assistance. Such a device, with dog-like proportions, could perhaps be useful for things like picking up, sorting, or storing or retrieving small objects (like LEGO or toys or tools). It would be the poor man's version of the awesome Willow Garage PR2, and might even eventually use Willow Garage's free and open source Robot OS (ROS) at some point. :-)

Note that "Scutters" and "Scutter" is sometimes used with a "c" instead of a "k" as an alternate spelling.

I brough this idea up in July 2010 on the open manufacturing mailing list. Related threads are here or here or here.

I built a small scale paper model just to get a "feel" for a Skutter device (on July 24th, 2010). It's amazing what just actually building something, no matter how simple or crude or small, helps you learn about how the parts might fit together. It only took a few minutes while my kid was watching, and involved one piece of paper, some small scissors, and a bit of transparent tape. Now all the project needs is some sensors, actuators, computing power, software, more solid physical infrastructure, a community wiki, testing, and detailed assembly plans. :-)

first paper skutter picture 001
First (scale-model) paper skutter from its port side.

first paper skutter picture 002
First paper skutter from its starboard side.

first paper skutter picture 003
First paper skutter attempting to hook up an old scanner from the local recycling center.

first paper skutter picture 004
First paper skutter sorting LEGO.

I just picked up the scanner that same day from a local recycling center, and it may have some useful parts in it (like a timing belt or a slide) for the project (or similar robotics project, like a 3D printer to make parts for this project).

Here is a blog entry by someone with more serious paper aspirations and skills: Projects: Bob, the Skutter.

If this project really got going, it presumably would move to its own blog or Wiki. For now, it's just something to think about.

Copyright 2010 Paul D. Fernhout. License for the content on this page: Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0.