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InMoov: how to build an open source humanoid robot

InMoov is an open-source humanoid robot whose pieces can be printed with a 3D printer. It was born from a project by Gael Langevin - French sculptor with a passion for robots - and is composed of about 500 pieces. Around InMoov, a community of experts and enthusiasts from all over the world was born, exchanging tips for assembling and programming the robot.

Discovery of InMoov the humanoid robot printed in 3D 

In 2012, Gaël Langevin imagined a futuristic prosthesis. Today, his humanoid robot named InMoov is printed by makers all over the world. Let’s have a look at how he discovered the InMoov? 

What prompted the InMoov project? 

In 2012 to enrich his work, Gael Langevin bought a small 3D printer. A request for a quote for the creation of a futuristic prosthesis, but which was not conclusive, made him want to use the 3D printer to create it himself. So during his free time, he modeled and printed a hand and a forearm. Having benefited for several years from Linux and Blender, he decided to contribute in his own way to this notion of sharing available on the Internet by making available the files of this hand on Thingiverse.

The enthusiasm of the community was dazzling; it made him wanted to find solutions to motorize and control this hand via his computer. It was while searching for an OpenSource medium that he discovered Arduino, an electronic platform supported by a huge and growing community of Makers, international hackers.

Once the solutions were found, he again shared all his information on his InMoov site.

From that moment, he decided to move forward and create a complete humanoid robot, available and reproducible by all, and make it a development platform for Makers, schools, and universities. So he designed all parts in a 12 cm 3 format so that any small printer can reproduce them.

What were the different stages of realization of the InMoov robot? 

After the hand, he created a biceps then a shoulder. This was relatively easy; once the right arm created under Blender, he made motorization (axial symmetry) of this arm to obtain and print the left arm. He had two functional arms that he immediately shared on the Internet.

He had to find a solution to synchronize these two arms to continue the creation of his robot. Looking for long hours on the Internet, at night, and yes, it's the only free time that he can give himself; he came across IRobotLab, a Java OpenSource service, through which he met Greg Perry, a character incredible with whom he immediately hooked.

The InMoov project represents a great international impact, not only for makers and students but also for the world of research. Researchers at the University of Lincoln, England, agree with Haddadin who said in 2009 that physical interaction and human-robot collaboration had become a topic of growing importance and a major focus in research. Thus, a replica of InMoov, called MARC (Multi-Actuated Robotic Companion), was printed and assembled to be the object of study of a research project on human-computer interaction, supervised by Dr. John Murray.

The South American continent is also concerned. We had the chance to meet the Colombian engineer Daniel Cuartas Quiceno who used the InMoov hand to study robotics alternatives and used a direct non-invasive neural interface (EEG) for motion control.

The next steps of the project:

He also created another hand, which also serves as prosthesis, where all the components are included in a miniaturized way: the motors, an Arduino mini-board, the electronic drivers, and the Advancer Technologies card for muscular sensory sensors. Always in the spirit OpenSource and OpenAccess, almost all parts will be downloadable. However, he planned to print two that will be on sale on the site to fund the rest of his project. This new hand will help many people who need prostheses!

In fact, with Greg Perry, he is considering interesting applications and improvements for InMoov and the hundreds of replicas that already exist in the world. Being all connected to the same database, the update of information and capabilities of the robot can be direct and automatic for all InMoov. For example, they can learn to recognize new objects and name them and share them with the community.

How to build an open-source humanoid robot with a 3D printer at home

InMoov has almost human arms and hands

Designed for university students, makers and hobbyists, InMoov is a robot to be built for adults, a project in progress that is now growing due to the contribution of a community of robotics enthusiasts who are trying - at all latitudes - in the construction and programming of this humanoid robot, exchanging information and suggestions online. For the moment, InMoov is composed of the head, arms, and bust; it has no legs and moves on wheels.

Its appearance is a bit if you will need a cross between Robo Thespian, the entertainment humanoid of the Engineered Arts, and C3PO, one of the most famous Star Wars robots. He remembers them both in appearance.

With its 50 degrees of freedom - 32 in the hands, 10 in the arms, 6 in the head, and 2 in the trunk - InMoov is one of the most sophisticated humanoid robots around. His movements are extremely realistic, especially those of the hands - as prehensile and flexible as those of Asimo, the smartest robot in the world - with which he manages to grab a ball and play Chinese morra.

InMoov and Arduino

InMoov has a total of 28 servomotors, sees through two video cameras, and responds to voice commands, for now only in English. Moreover, due to sensors of various kinds, it recognizes faces and the surrounding environment.

The "brain" of inmoov is an Arduino-based microcontroller that communicates with the servo motors and sensors through a series of electronic cards - the so-called Nerve Board - purchased on the store of inmoov.

InMoov is programmed from a PC using MyRobotLab, open-source software based on the JavaScript language, which can be downloaded for free from the official website.

InMoov, to build it "enough" $1500

Assembling InMoov is not an easy task, patience, and a lot of free time is needed. For this reason, we advise the less experienced to concentrate, at least initially, on the creation of a single part of the robot.

The finger-building kit, for example, can be a good starting point. The InMoov store costs $ 37.6 

The $1500 is needed, obviously excluding the cost of the 3D printer to complete the entire project.

The main components of the arm will be:

- 3D printer mechanical parts

- six servo motors

- 1Arduino board

- 1HC-06 Bluetooth module

- 1Android tablet

- 1 power supply

For the realization of the projectInMoov, you need to use various tools practically all open-source.

- CURA software for driving the 3D printer

- 3D printer 

- PC with Ubuntu Linux

- Arduino IDE

-Software - Android Studio software (JAVA)


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