Who wouldn’t want their own personal desktop robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That’s what Hexbot, a new Kickstarter project from Chinese robotics firm Hexbot Robotics, promises to deliver. Boasting a modular design, the robot arm features a wide range of different swappable end effectors — including pen holder, soft gripper, suction cup, and more.
“The main idea behind the arm is to design a low-cost desktop robotic arm that could be used by anyone anywhere with the minimum effort possible,” Henry Shan, CTO for Hexbot Robotics, told Digital Trends. “The modular design allows Hexbot to get rid of the unwanted screws on the end effector so that people could switch out modules in just one click. The extreme precision and repeatability allows all types of working scenarios. Best of all, due to our patented structural design, we are able to bring the revolutionary features and functionalities to the market with a much lower price, [compared] to existing products.”
There certainly seems to be an audience for Hexbot’s brand of high precision home robotics. The robot arm was seeking just $50,000 on Kickstarter, but has already earned more than $320,000 on the crowdfunding platform: having hit its original funding target within just five minutes of going live. The interest is almost certainly thanks to its versatility. Its creators note that it can be used for a wide range of applications depending on which API it’s paired with. It could be as useful for small scale manufacturing as it is for education or just plain old homebrew tinkering.
“Currently, we are working on controlling the robot with voice commands, so that people could actually control the arm with the help of Google Assistant in the future,” Shan continued.
As ever, we advise that anyone interested in Hexbot is aware of the risks with crowdfunding campaigns. These can include products that don’t ship on time, as expected or, in dire cases, at all. Nonetheless, if you understand these possibilities and still want to get involved, you can head over to the project’s Kickstarter page. Pledging for the basic kit will set to back $349, which includes the Hexbot robot arm, pen-holding module, power supply, and high-speed USB-C cable. Assorted add-ons — including modules for laser engraving and 3D printing, 3.5-inch touchscreen display, pneumatic kit, conveyor belt, and sliding retail — cost anywhere from an extra $50 to $869. Shipping is planned for October 2019.