Arik Hesseldahl

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Intel Futurist Shows How You’ll Download and Program Your Own Robot Next Year

jimmy_robot_intelSo here’s a crazy idea that, when you think about it a bit, really isn’t so crazy anymore. If you could build your own robot, what would you have it do?

If you’re the type who’s into building stuff and coding, you may soon get your chance to answer that question for real, courtesy of an interesting project coming from the labs of chipmaker Intel.

The company’s futurist, Brian David Johnson (whom I interviewed a couple years ago) is in New York this weekend at the Maker Faire. He’s here to let folks get a look at Jimmy, an open source robot assembled from parts fabricated on a 3-D printer. He showed off Jimmy — or at least a non-working model of Jimmy — on CBS This Morning: Saturday today (video below).

Once assembled, Jimmy — or whatever you choose to name it — would be as readily programmable as a smartphone. You could also download and install apps that other people make as easily as you would install them on an iPhone or Android device.

Johnson said the plan is to create a kit that would be available for purchase for less than $1,000 no later than May of next year. He said he hopes to get the whole cost down to under $500. And if you’re in New York he’s also giving away copies of a book called “21st Century Robot” that contains the open source files for printing the robot parts. (The image above is a screen grab from a page of that book.)

Jimmy’s pretty popular at the Maker Faire, as you can see from a picture Johnson shared on Twitter. (By the way, Jimmy has his own Twitter account, too.)

Here’s the video from Johnson’s CBS interview.


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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo