Quite possibly one of the more wilder Kickstarter projects to date, a group of nineteen students at Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, Massachusetts have teamed up to develop a rideable hydraulic robot named Stompy. Sitting several feet off the ground, a person will be able to ride and possibly drive Stompy once the students complete the robot design.
With six waterjet-cut steel legs, Stompy has a diameter of 18-feet and weighs approximately 4000 pounds. When the robot design was around 2,500 pounds during the concept phase, the students planned on using a 135-horsepower propane engine to power the robot. However, the specifications on the engine may have been increased due to the increased weight.
With a sizable ground clearance, the students hope to enable Stompy to walk across highly uneven ground as well as mountainous areas. The students also believe that Stompy will be able to navigate through seven to eight feet of water, possible ideal for areas that see yearly flooding. According to estimations, Stompy will easily be able to carry 1,000 pounds at a speed of 2 to 3 miles per hour and can go up to 4,000 pounds at 1 mile per hour.
Called Project Hexapod, the students hope to initially raise $65,000 to build the first Stompy prototype and are more than 25 percent to that goal with 28 days left on the Kickstarter project. The group has also setup three levels of upgrades assuming that enough money is contributed to the project.
If the Kickstarter project reaches $95,000, the team will add more sensors for adjusting to rocky terrain and increase the speed with a higher quality hydraulic powerplant. At the $125,000 level, the team will add shooting flame effects, a sound system, a new paint job and an animatronic head to give Stompy some personality. At the $300,000 level, the team is going to purchase their own waterjet cutter for the school and allow the public to use it to build their own robots.
Similar to other Kickstarter projects, there are different rewards for various price points. Between $5 to $100, backers can earn such awards as a bumper sticker, a wristband, a “Robot Evolution” t-shirt or a photo signed by the entire team.
At the $200 level, backers can choose between having 10 characters of their choice welded onto Stompy or choosing an inanimate object for Stompy to crush with a giant steel leg. Riding on Stompy will cost a donation of $300 and actually driving Stompy will cost backers at least $1,000. At levels beyond $1,000, the team is trying to sell sponsorship ad placements on the robot similar to NASCAR.
Assuming that the Kickstarter project is completely funded, the group plans to host a series of demo days to give rides on Stompy in addition to offering people the ability to drive. The teams to complete construction and testing of Stompy by May 2013 and is currently working on completing the design of Stompy’s chassis. The group is also posting updates on their progress on the official Project Hexapod blog. Anyone interested in seeing Stompy will likely have to travel to Somerville, Massachusetts to view the completed robot.