Fritz - the Robot Puppet on Kickstarter
John Hayes posted on April 02, 2013 |

Fritz is a "robot puppet" that is just launching on Kickstarter. We spoke with the brains behind the project, and even got an insider peek at the CAD models behind the design.

Fritz is a programmable robot puppet that does facial expressions and movements. Users can control Fritz from a computer interface, manipulating expressions by moving eyes, lips, eyelids, brows, mouth and jaw. It's currently on fire on Kickstarter, after going up only yesterday.

In addition to making Fritz roughly human sized and proportional, the team had the following design goals for the moveable parts:

  • Eyes, horizontal (90 degrees) and vertical (80 degrees)
  • Eyelids 45 degrees for each top and bottom
  • Eyebrows, 80 degrees rotation
  • Lip corners, 90 degrees rotation
  • Jaw, rotate to give up and down motion, 35 degrees
  • Neck rotate, 140 degrees
  • Neck tilt, 60 degrees

In the advanced model, there are 13 servos (11 micro size and 2 standard). In the basic version there are 5 micro servos (2 in each eye, and 1 for jaw). Other electronics components in the BOM are:

  • Aruduino Uno R3 board
  • Servo motor shield
  • Battery box for 4AA's
  • Can be powered with AC adapter
  • Basic model can be powered with USB connection only

You can see how this all comes together in their Kickstarter video here:

Fritz is the brainchild (so to speak) of electronics engineer Kerwin Lumpkins and Computer Scientist Steven Gentner.

This isn't the first Kickstarter rodeo for Kerwin - he's launched 2 previous projects, so he knows a few things about how to make a Kickstarter work.

That's Steven on the left and Kerwin on the right.

Kerwin gave some excellent background on how to design for Kickstarter, laying out the electronics challenges that he solved to make Fritz a success. You can read that story here.

He also provided an excellent virtual tear-down of Fritz in a video that you can see here.

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