Meet Jimmy: An Open Source Biped Robot From Intel


Intel’s CEO [Brian Krzanich] stopped by the Re/Code conference to announce Jimmy, the first robot from the 21st Century Robot project. The project is the brainchild of [Brian David Johnson], Intel’s resident futurist. We love the project’s manifesto:

 Robot Is: Imagined first. Easy to build. Completely open source. Fiercely social. Intentionally iterative. Filled with humanity and dreams. Thinking for her/him/itself.

Jimmy may not be all those things yet, but he definitely is exciting. For starters, he wasn’t built in some secret lab at Intel HQ. Much of Jimmy’s construction took place at Trossen Robotics, a name well known to Hackaday. [Matt] and [Andrew] at Trossen describe all the details in their video down past the break.

This version of Jimmy is a research robot, which mean’s he’s not going to come cheap. Jimmy sports an Intel i5 NUC motherboard, 20 Dynamixel servos, a 5052 aluminum frame and a host of sensors. A  4S 14.8v 4000mAh LiPo battery will power Jimmy for 30 to 60 minutes between charges, so be sure to budget for a few spare packs. The most striking aspect of Jimmy is his 3D printed shell. The 21st Century Robot Project gave him large, friendly eyes and features, which will definitely help with the social aspect of their goals.

Jimmy is all about open source. He can run two flavors of Linux: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS or a custom version of Yocto Pokey. There is a lot to be said for running and developing on the same hardware. No specialized toolchains for cross compiling, no NFS shares to move binaries around. If you need to make a change, you can plug a monitor (or launch an VNC session) and do everything with Jimmy’s on-board computer. Jimmy’s software stack is based upon the DARwIn OP platform, and a ROS port is in the works.

We’re excited about Jimmy, but at $16,000 USD, he’s a bit outside our budget. Thankfully a smaller consumer version of Jimmy will soon be available for around 1/10th the cost.

36 thoughts on “Meet Jimmy: An Open Source Biped Robot From Intel

  1. We’re excited about Jimmy, but at $16,000 USD, he’s a bit outside our budget. Thankfully a smaller consumer version of Jimmy will soon be available for around 1/10th the cost. ….

    1/10th is still $1600, although it may well be worth the price (ha!), I still can’t see that being priced for consumers, or more accurately most consumers.

    1. You’ll be wanting a knock-off, then. Don’t worry – they’re coming. This system isn’t much different mechanically than all the other mechanical man shaped servo collections. But the time for the clones is coming soon:

      They’ll arrive via slow boat, cost 1/10th as much, perform nearly as well (sometimes) and be only mildly toxic to children and pets. They’ll also have many features not available on Jimmy:
      – you’ll be able to hear the servos at all times, so it won’t be able to sneak up on you.
      – They’ll be based on wonky processor cores that actually outperform the Intel hardware for minutes at a time, resting only when tired or when you want to demo it for someone.
      – It will be wifi and web enabled, with a variety of security options that allow people from all over the world to see through **your** robot’s eyes and listen to the onboard microphone.
      – The self test routine will be worthy of Linda Blair at her finest.
      – Most joints will double as cigar cutters in a pinch.
      – All of the parts will be easily replaceable except for the bearings, electronics and fasteners.
      – The operating system will be eerily reminiscent of android, apart from the RPN.
      – at two feet tall, it will be unlikely to actually main your pet
      – It will immediately create a new sub-genre of adult social media.
      – It will have an end-date so imminent that you’ll swear Philip K Dick set it himself.

      The downside is relatively minor: Everyone will have one.

    2. Personal computers use to cost $1,800 each for a current desktop box (1987-1995). Consumers bought them.Today Apple Air laptops are in that price range and people buy them. So yes, there is a market in that price range.

    1. The Al frame is probably stamped and bent sheet metal parts. 5052 bends a LOT better than 6061. As I recall, with 6061 your internal bend radius needs to be more than 3x the sheet thickness to not crack when bent.

      1. This is correct! All of the frames are bent sheet 5052 aluminum at 2-2.5mm thickness, which can be bent to accuracy easily without worry of it cracking. Generally speaking 6061 isn’t bent at this scale of part.

          1. We have done our own machining in-house in the past (my original Giger was milled in a week on a tiny sherline), but it’s fairly time consuming so we use a precision sheet metal manufacturer based in the US. With higher end robot platforms quality control is a must. We’ve used Rapid Sheet Metal for years and their work is flawless.

  2. Here’s a bit more updated walking gait test. Still work in progress and we have a long way to go:

    21st Century Robot – Jimmy!:

    We are working on a more affordable version which uses AX-12As and the Intel Edison, and stands about half the height, which will be released before end of the year.

    I’m the lead engineer on the project, if you guys have any questions I’d be more than happy to answer them!

    1. Cool video! That’s an interesting way to walk–rocking at a fixed frequency to allow stepping. Do you have plans to give it more dynamic balance for a more natural gait?

      1. Our team at USC has done a lot of work on a ZMP based gait. Currently the goals are to get the different levels of hardware platforms (with different configurations and options) published, and all of our core software framework and API squared away. Then we will continue work on additional walking gait options and features. Its an intentionally iterative process, and will probably take a few years to fully mature.

      1. Correct! The AX-12 version features 20x servos, which retail for about $45 a piece. That leaves the Edison, Edison Robotics Carrier, custom aluminum frame, 3D printed shells, ARM Cortex M3 subcontroller, and batteries, which also come included in the kit.

          1. Much easier said than done. There is no free lunch with servos, unfortunately. Do a quick search for videos of a humanoid robot built out of tower pro servos that is actually walking (or beyond that, walking well and with precision and stability).

            There’s a reason it hasn’t been done- precision, compliance control, and positional feedback are key in humanoids. Other types of robots are more forgiving.

      2. PC were in that price range for years (1987-1004). Many laptops are still in that range. That’s only $100 / month for 16 months. People spend more than that on cigarettes, beer and booze. And the price will fall as the units become more mainstream.

        1. I don’t know but would it be possible to design your own servo motors? I have seen some diy projects that changed the electronics in cheap analog servos to make digital ones but i could not find any project that created the servos from scratch. I find it hard to believe that you can’t build a servo with similar features for a lower price.

          1. I would love to eventually design a less expensive, high featured, open source servo. For the time being however, we have limited resources and have to spend them wisely. Servo manufacturing is no trivial task, even if we have the know-how to do it. Going with a servo such as the Dynamixel, which is a favorite in humanoid robotics and has a proven track record in the industry over the last 8 years, is a safer choice and allows us to focus more on the areas of the project that need the most work- such as expanding the software and making it more accessible to those without high level programming skills.

  3. he looks nice, but he definitely is just a Darwin-OP in different clothing (don’t underestimate the difficulty of that, by the way). We use them in the lab all the time ( software: – hoping to have an rpi/raspiro port in the future).

    The exciting robots at the moment for us are the nimbro-OP (slightly more expensive, ~90cm), and the Poppy robot (similar price, ~85cm). This guy is way overspecced – coming from someone who works with robots daily. Pretty good strength for getting bottles of beer for you though!

  4. I was surprised to see “Intel” and “open source” in the same sentence, but maybe they are doing more with the community than I am aware of.

    I think this robot is very cool and I look forward to seeing more like this.

  5. Intel has this open source because this is not an avenue for profit. It’s PR and marketing tactics. I’m not against this. I’ve seen a revitalization in Intel’s marketing campaign recently. They have a bit of money to throw at the consumers perception of the company. That is all. Nothing they profit from is anywhere near open source.

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