System Components

Below are links to information needed to build an android, along with various projects attempting such. Also included are references to traditional robotics parts that may find use in a humanoid.

The World of Androids lists some complete walker kits. These links are for either individual parts or tools to use once your android can walk.

McKibben Artificial Muscles

The Air Muscle is a small, light, and simple actuator. If consists of a rubber tube covered with a tough plastic mesh/net that shortens when the rubber tube is inflated. It is soft, has good power to mass ratio, and has qualities similar to biomuscle. It requires a compressed air source.

Shadow Robotics Group is known for its use of air muscles in their designs.

The Shadow project biped

Imagesco Air Muscle

Untethered pneumatic walking metamere robot using air muscles

Biologically Inspired Robotics Lab applies biological insight to the field of robotics

Air Muscle at the BioRobotics Lab

Pneumatic Parts from Special Effect Supply is a source for some of the extras needed for a pneumatic design.

Bobby a household robot by Walter Fritz

Venderbilt Intelligent Robotics Labs builds humanoid robots using McKibben muscles. They also have an interesting control architecture.

Muscle Wire

Muscle wire is made of nitinol, a nickel-titanium alloy that can assume different shapes at different temperatures. An electric current heats the wire, which will shrink up to 8%. One problem is the heat generated, and the need for the wire to cool to return to the unstreched state. Peltier Effect coolers (like those use to cool CPU's) have been used to improve cycle time.

Muscle Wire FAQ

Hot wire muscle a non-Nitinol based muscle.

Shape memory alloy (SMA) actuators

Shape memory alloy (SMA) and smart materials links

Stiquito online reference. A small Nitinol-powered hexapod kit.

DYNALLOY Flexinol wires.


Vision is the standard way of gaining a large quantity of information about the world around us. Vision systems must extract both object identification and map the world for collision avoidance and navigation. These links point to both explanations of the computations required and some source code that can be used for such tasks.

Computer Vision--A Modern Approach a college-level textbook on computer vision available online by David Forsyth and Jean Ponce.

Vision Code by the Robust Image Understanding Lab.

Computer Vision Source Code links by CMU.

Intel Open Source Computer Vision Library.

Depth Discontinuities using Pixel-to-Pixel Stereo with source code.

Primitive Vision: basic visual signals eyes detect.

ASC16 (same controller at Robostore).

Miscellaneous Robotics

NAVLAB has done vision and driving research for years. SKIMER was partially modeled on their ALVINN system. Want to see cars that drive themselves?

Vision Based Behavioral Robotics Thesis: Design and Implementation of Opinion-Based Behaviors for an Autonomous Mobile Robot with Vision By Lee Rossey.

Micropilot UAV kits. Got a project that involves Unmanned Arial Vehicles? GPS way-points and remote control, and "package drop" capability.

NASA’s Cool Robot Of The Week.

BrainBo. A massive IQ boost for the AIBO by AIBOpet. LAN connection to the PC that does Voice recognition and provides the brains. A design we plan to emulate.

Miscellaneous Parts

Here are some items not usually listed that you may find worth experimenting with:

Infra-Red Sensors. Analog and digital range-finding sensors.

RS-232 Data Acquisition Module w/11 12 bit A/D ports. A low-cost, fully assembled item.

MondoTronics RoboStore. Online store with lots of robotic kits and parts.