Noodle Ft is a robotic — an artistically designed robotic — that may be a character from Sarah Petkus’ webcomic Gravity Highway. This webcomic explores a post-human universe inhabited by robots, and dives deep into these robots’ exploration of the trash left behind from a human civilization.
Sarah’s not simply drawing these robots. She’s bringing them to life. The character Noodle Ft, so named as a result of his legs are encased in pool noodles, has been made actual with an aluminum skeleton, a PCB mind, and infrared detecting eyes. On the 2016 Hackaday SuperConference Sarah gave a chat on the challenges of constructing this robotic actual and the specifics of constructing her robotic dig its toes into carpet, slobber everywhere in the flooring, and style with its synthetic tongue.
Since final yr’s discuss on Noodle Ft, Sarah has vastly improved the gripping power of her noodle’s toes. During the last two years of development the mechanism to increase grippy, cat-like toenails has moved from low cost pastime servos to solenoids to a intelligent cam system. Whereas these toe toes labored, the grip was by no means fairly proper, and the world isn’t fully lined in shag carpet. After the break we’ll take a better have a look at the enhancements that Sarah made to the design and the way she got here up with the concepts for every new iteration.
The design for these toes modified after Sarah visited JPL and noticed the inspiration for these gripping toes, a robotic designed to crawl on asteroids and the ceilings of Martian lava tubes. Right here, the reply to Noodle Ft’s lack of grip was easy – simply add extra toes.
However final yr’s implementation of Noodle Ft wasn’t function full. One factor Sarah actually needed within the noodle toes was a tongue, equally able to tasting human companions and leaving a snail path of wetness in its wake. A tongue is a extremely unorthodox robotic accent, however Sarah got here up with one thing that just about works, and does it whereas trying the half.
The design of Noodle Ft’s tongue is now centered round a silicone basting brush, generally discovered in all places from the native Greenback Retailer to Mattress Tub and Past. This basting brush consists of tremendous silicone hairs hooked up to a container designed to dispense barbecue sauce. It’s easy, and it virtually seems to be like a tongue, besides.
After all, Noodle Ft isn’t the one robotic Sarah has been engaged on. She’s already constructed a judgmental toaster and is fairly far alongside in constructing a balancing pink flamingo. All of that is wonderful work, and although judgmental toasters, moist noodle toes, and autonomous garden flamingos aren’t truly helpful, they’re unbelievable artwork items that push the boundaries of what a creative robotic might be.