12th March 2012
Piccolo: The DIY pocket-sized robot
By Nigel Brown

Did you know you can purchase your very own pocket-sized robot for just $70? No, well meet Piccolo, the open-source platform robot that you assemble yourself and within minutes can have sketching and even 3D printing. In fact, its development potential depends on how much time you put in.

The pocket-sized CNC robot, a joint project between technology studio Diatom and researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Computational Design Lab, can sketch and doodle while also possessing a unique depth engine that means it can accurately draw on 3D objects.

Doodles, laser cutting, and 3D printing

You can even change the tool head for small-scale laser cutting, 3D printing, and other drawing applications. Furthermore, due to its open sourced platform the possibilities of development are put in the hands of programmers and enthusiasts encouraging all to push the concept forward. Exactly how far the concept can develop is not just in the hands of the inventors, we could all make a difference.

A statement on Piccolo.cc explains the aim of the invention: “Piccolo is a pocket-sized stand-alone CNC platform. For under $70, you will be able to assemble your personal Arduino-compatible kit for tinkering, and playing with basic CNC output. Be it plotting a quick graffiti, printing a one-off business card on the fly, or multiple Piccolos working together to create a large mural, this kit provides a platform for experimenting with 2D or 3D digital fabrication at a small scale.

A depth of possibilities

“We are currently refining the Piccolo prototype into an open-source design that is simple, quick to assemble, and easy to use, and is entirely composed of digitally manufactured components and inexpensive off-the-shelf hardware.

“The Piccolo project includes Arduino and Processing libraries, to use Piccolo in a variety of ways such as moving autonomously or responding to sensors and data, whilst providing an accessible educational tool and a new output for Processing sketches.”

The concept asks a number of questions about the future relationship between technology and humans, but how the project progresses is purely down to how quickly people can develop software for the robot, so really, it’s over to you. Let us know how you get on.

Watch this video to see Piccolo in action.

For more information go to www.piccolo.cc or www.diatom.cc

For related articles please read:

The robot that can draw your portrait

Robofold: Industrial interiors from car plant robots

Four letter words: Robot word association

Meet the robot artist that can draw your portrait

Robots you can wear: Fashion cybernetics

Valse Automatique: Displaying music in physical form

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