This week at the Code Conference in California the Jimmy Research Humanoid robot was unveiled. This is the first open source robotic development platform released as part of the 21st Century Robot Project, the brainchild of futurist Brian David Johnson of Intel, representing the collaboration of developers at University of Southern California, Olin College and Trossen Robotics. The Project proposes a whole new method of developing a robot, emphasizing creativity, sharing of information and rapid development.
Jimmy’s internal skeleton is made of 5052 aircraft aluminium, and it is designed to be fully modular and expandable. The exterior nylon housing parts are 3D printable, allowing for aesthetic customization, thus having the potential to make every Jimmy robot unique.
The nerve center of Jimmy is an Intel NUC D54250WYK equipped with a 4th generation Intel Core i5-4250U CPU, 4 GB of DDR3 RAM expandable to 16 GB and 32 GB SSD storage.
Multiple options for wireless connectivity are available, through Xbee, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The NUC also features 6 USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, HDMI and DisplayPort digital video output, a Gigabit Ethernet port, SATA, 2 mini-PCIe slots and 8-channel audio.
The robot has 20 DOF, each joint being powered by Dynamixel servos — 12 MX-106T, 6 MX-64T and 2 MX-28T. The servos are interfaced with the Intel NUC through the Robotis CM-730 microcontroller, which will be replaced later this year by the Arbotix-PRO microcontroller, developed in-house by Trossen Robotics. The 4-cell LiPo battery pack, providing about 59 VAh (14.8V, 4Ah) of energy which translates into an average of 45 minutes of operation on a single charge. The robot is equipped with a gyroscope, an accelerometer, cameras and a microphone. It is almost 69 cm tall (27 inches), weighs 6 kg and can walk at speeds up to 30 cm/s (1 km/h).
“A Robot Is: Imagined first. Easy to build. Completely open source. Fiercely social. Intentionally iterative. Filled with humanity and dreams. Thinking for her/him/itself.”
— 21st Century Robot Manifesto
Part of 21st Century Robot Project is creating a unified software framework for humanoid robots. Jimmy is available with either Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS, a fully featured desktop OS, or the Yocto Project Poky OpenEmbedded Linux with a custom created 21C Robots layer, allowing for unified support independent of hardware configuration.
Based on these specifications we can tell that Jimmy Research Humanoid is an extremely advanced development platform, aimed at scientific environments and advanced software developers. Software is written in open source C++ environment.
Developers say the platform is based on the very versatile open-source DarwIn-OP framework, created by Robotis and Virginia Tech University, and is still under development. Among the features to be added multiple control interface solutions, REST APIs for communication over HTTP to ROS, Intel XDK and other software environments, enabling developers to create advanced functionality for the robot without in-depth knowledge of low-level functions, like servo commands for movement and such.
Jimmy Research Humanoid robot can be bought at a price of US$ 16,000, or about 12.000 EURO without EU taxes, and is available on special order.
Intel plans to release a consumer version of Jimmy later this year, with a much more friendlier price tag of US$ 1,600. The kit will include only parts that cannot be printed using a 3D printer, while models for the exterior plastic parts and software will be available online.
“Your robot will be completely different from mine; you customize it and program the artificial intelligence, not by having a PhD in robotics, but by downloading apps.”
— Brian David Johnson
The consumer variant of Jimmy will be based on the Intel Edison architecture, an Intel Atom SoC consisting of a dual-core CPU, a single core microcontroller, integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, RAM, internal storage and a 70-pin I/O interface supporting over 30 standards.
It supports Yocto Linux, Arduino, Python, Node.js and Wolfram, with open source software readily available.
In the medium term Intel aims at further expanding the 21st Century Robot platform, creating an online marketplace, where developers and users will be able to share or download models of parts for their robot, creating a true ecosystem where enthusiasts and professionals can share their knowledge.
Below you can find video presentations of Jimmy, as well as additional resources, and feel free to share your thoughts about this new robotic platform.