The Raspberry Pi is a very popular choice for makers looking to power their robots and it’s no wonder why. It can do much more than control movement and when you throw in something like AI into the mix, the possibilities only multiply. Today we’ve got a neat little companion robot project to share you with created by maker Levent Erenler. This robot is known as Doly and it’s completely open source.
Doly's two eyes are round screens displaying interactive eyeball animations. As far as locomotion goes, it has tank tracks instead of wheels. According to Erenler, a big goal of the project was to create something that would encourage users to learn coding and animation. The end result is this 3D-printable robotic character.
Because the project is open source, you’ve got a great deal of flexibility when it comes to every aspect of its design. You can use any board which follows the Compute Module form factor but Erenler recommends the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4. The amount of RAM and storage you have will determine the complexity of what you can do with Doly.
In the example build, Erenler is using a Raspberry Pi CM4 to power the Doly robot. It has a variety of modules that enable it to interact with the world like an 8 MP Sony IMX219 camera (the official Raspberry Pi Camera Module 2 uses this sensor) alongside some IR edge sensors, two TOF sensors and a six-axis IMU sensor. The body is 3D which makes it easy to house all of the hardware. Inside you’ll also find an 18650 LiPo battery and a custom PCB.
Erenler provides a pre-compiled kernel image of Bullseye on a Google Drive that you can download and flash onto an SD card to use with Doly. It includes libraries you’ll need to take advantage of all of the modules it can use. There are example projects available in C++, as well, that you can use to get started.
Bear in mind that crowdfunding a project does guarantee you will receive the product. It’s more like an investment than a purchase. If you want to get a closer look at this Raspberry Pi project, check out the official Doly website and be sure to follow up with Erenler later if you’re interested in the Doly Kickstarter.
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Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.