I am currently in Taiwan where Chinese is the lingua franca. I do not speak Chinese! Whenever, I try to communicate with my Chinese friends, all interaction is dependent upon my phone. I want to interact with Chinese speakers through a much more exciting medium: an animatronic robot.
The goal of this project is to build a friendly robot that can complete a variety of communication tasks: translation, interpretation, suggestions, comedy!
I had the chance to demonstrate RobotGPT at the Taipei Makerfaire. The robot exhibit was pretty popular and a lot of Taiwanese folk has fun interacting with it. In particular, elders found it to be an accessible way to play with AI tools for the first time.
I went through the process of creating the lens for the eye. Even after extensive sanding of the eyes, I was not happy with the surface finish. For future iterations, I will need to print the mold positive with a finer layer resolution. Tbh, it kind of looks like the eyes have cataracts.
I am in Taiwan until November 30. Ideally, I want to present this project at MakerFaire Taiwan on November 18th. Also I am going to Saudi Arabia from October 30th - November 5th. Oh and I also want to finish my BabelFish glasses at some point. Essentially, I have no time to get this project done. But unreasonable schedules are my forte!!
Below I have outlined a rough timetable of how I want to complete this project:
October 16th - October 20th
Conceptual design work
October 23rd - October 27th
Make eye mechanism
Make mouth interface
Film short reel of animatronic robot saying ni-hao
A few months ago, I saw this well edited YouTube video:
The robot in this video is simply a work of art! I want to build a similar robot geared specifically for translation purposes. Instead of always asking my Taiwanese friends to translate for me, I can refer to this robot!
The centerpiece of this robot is definitely the eye mechanism. They were expertly designed as an open-source project by Will Cogley. In terms of the mouth, I defintely want something that is visually embedded with the robot acoustics but I do not want to plagarize this project entirely. Considering that this is supposed to be a translator bot, I should probably add a section where viewers can read the robot's speech in both english and chinese.