Roboy the Robot. Source: Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich
Roboy the Robot. Source: Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich

Roboy is a humanoid robot capable of expressing emotions and moving his limbs. Roboy was created in 9 months at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich. Instead of motors, Roboy has 48 muscles, and the bones, joints, tendons, and coiled springs are all 3D printed. The robot’s hands were 3D printed in one piece, including the joints, small cable channels, and spring mounting. Roboy is soft and flexible and he uses his muscles to move like a human.

The goal of Roboy is to help scientists and researchers better understand how the brain and muscles interact. Roboy can move his limbs and say things like “I can be happy,” with appropriate facial expressions, or “I can be angry,” with a red face. He can sing, dance, wave, snore and wink. Roboy is also programmed to recognize human faces.

15 partners and over 40 engineers helped to create Roboy. The project was funded primarily through crowd-sourcing. “Financing the project through sponsorship and crowd-funding enables us to implement an extremely ambitious project in an academic environment”, said Professor Rolf Pfeifer, who can look back on a comprehensive body of research activity from his 25 years as head of the AI Lab. Everyone who supports the project will have their name or company logo engraved on Roboy.

The University of Zurich’s website states, “Roboy, a soft robot, is a more advanced version of his famous brother, Ecce. Thanks to his construction as a tendon-driven robot modeled on human beings (normal robots have their motors in their joints), Roboy moves almost as elegantly as a human. What's more, at a later point in the project, Roboy will be covered with soft skin, so that interacting with him becomes safer and more pleasant.”

“Creating humanoid robots presents researchers with great challenges. Elements such as quick, smooth movements or robust, flexible yet soft skin are difficult to recreate. Fundamental new findings are needed for this purpose. It is precisely through projects like Roboy that innovation is possible. The findings from its predecessor Ecce are being evaluated, leading to improvements and new materials. A robotics platform is being created to investigate and further develop the principles of tendon-driven drive technology in robotics,” the website states.

Roboy will be going on school tours starting in July 2014 and has upcoming tours in Parma, Bern, Liestal, Zurich, and other locations. To learn more, visit Roboy’s webpage