Robert Lam, akaÂ Unclebob, is perfecting a toy that he hopes will help bringÂ robotics to the masses using an Ultimaker.
Lam, 36, said programmable robots generally go for $1,000 in Hong Kong, but thatÂ his will only cost around $100.Â â€śSo one-tenth of the cost. That way ordinary people can play around with robots,â€ťÂ he said.Â â€śRight now, very few people can afford them.â€ť
He is creating a small robot, calledÂ Wahoo,Â which will be programmable by smartphone. While most robots controlled byÂ smartphones move back and forth on wheels, Lamâ€™s is a biped robot, meaning that it walks on two legs.â€śMaking a robot walk with legs is very difficult, even for big robots. Itâ€™s hard to program it to walk very smoothly,â€ťÂ he said.
Lam keeps manufacturing costs low by investing in an Ultimaker 3D printer.Â ” 3D printing allows makers to create robot parts that would be incredibly difficult, costly, or time intensive using traditional processes. Ultimaker is a very fast and reliable 3D printer. It allows me to focus less on maintainance and more on getting the job done!â€ť
Lam, who formally worked in IT in the financial industry, became interested in robotics two years ago after buying a Lego Mindstorm toy. He then moved on to a pricier robot made by Korean company Robotis and programmed it to do kung-fu moves. Thatâ€™s when things started to get really interesting.
A video of his kung-fu fighting robot caught the attention of Robotis officials, who invited him to Korea to take part in a robot kung-fu competition. His robot lost; the hobby stuck. He realized that in Korea and Japan robot parts are comparatively cheap.Â â€śIn fact, the kids in Korea have lots of robots,â€ťÂ he said.
Accessible robotic toys arenâ€™t his ultimate goal.Â â€śI would really love to make robots more sophisticated and start a robot research-and-development company that can make robots to help people,â€ťÂ he said.Â â€śI hope this toy can fund me into doing something bigger and change peopleâ€™s lives.â€ť