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Maxwell the Robot - designed and built by Mark Medonis

Maxwell Robot Head
click for larger view

The Maxwell head is controlled by RC servos, five in all. Two move the head up and down, left and right. Two more servos move the eyes up and down, left and right. The fifth servo moves the jaw. Joysticks control head and eye motion.

The voice and jaw motion are controlled by a software program on the PC that combines speech synthesis and real time lip sync generation. You can type in any dialogue, and when you click the button Maxwell speaks and his jaw moves accordingly.

Here is a video clip taken in July 2012, testing a face tracking program I put together using Processing and OpenCV:

Here's a older video clip of Maxwell speech operation, taken at the Cyborg Camp conference in 2008:

Maxwell Software

Detail photos of Maxwell's construction can be found here.

Maxwell Head Kit Complete
Includes five servos, servo controller, PC software: $350.00

Maxwell Robot Head Assembled
Don't want to assemble a kit? Get the complete Maxwell ready to go! $500.00

Maxwell Head Kit Mechanical only
Wood parts, plastic face only (no servos or servo controller) Price: 150.00

Assembly Instructions:
Kit Contents.pdf ( 300kB download )
Shoulder Assembly Shoulder_assby.pdf ( 572kB download )
Neck Assembly Neck_assby.pdf (844kB download)

Assembly Photos

Servo info


Maxwell Head, Torso, and Mobile Base

Here is a photo of the Maxwell head mounted onto a torso and mobile base. The bucket inside the torso contains a speaker, the bucket is suspended by the handles so that it can vibrate with the speaker and create a metallic echo sound. This sound is more robot like, as the speech synthesizer is so good it doesn't match with the robot look of the head.

The mobile base contains a Pentium III PC running Windows 98, which runs the Visual BASIC program that controls the servos and speech. There is also a P.A. amplifier in the rack, to boost the volume of the sound coming from the sound card up to levels audible in noisy public places.

Also, there is an audio processor in the rack that provides a delay to the audio, in order to more closely synch with the jaw servo. If the sound and jaw movement happen at exactly the same time, it looks wrong. The human eye expects the jaw motion to precede the audio slightly, by approximately 60 milliseconds in my rough testing. This is somewhat objective, and also is due to the particular mechanical design of Maxwell's jaw.


How Does Maxwell the robot work?

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