Back when you were a child, chances are you pretended that your toys were alive and could walk around and talk to you of their own accord. Heck, for some of you out there, your toys probably did talk with you. Walking around and playing with you on the other hand was likely stuff that they only did within the confines of your mind.
That's about to change. In the very near future you'll be able to 3D print and assemble your very own humanoid robot to pal around with. At least, that's the goal of Project Poppy. INRIA Flowers, the design team behind Project Poppy, imagine a world where hordes of bipedal robots can be printed, assembled and even programmed by their owners. They've even made the project open source in an effort to further creativity and customization.
Every bit of Poppy, from its LCD screen face and dual camera eyes to its kid-sized feet, is either printable via your standard 3D printer or purchasable via your local consumer electronics store. So there's really nothing stopping you from creating a whole slough of robots and programming them to do your bidding.
Well, there's one thing: the current Poppy build can't quite walk on its own yet. It's getting close though, walking with a more human gait than almost any other human-inspired robot out there. Poppy's thighs are curved inward like a human's, offering better balance. Its feet flex, creating a natural heel-toe footfall, and its shoes provide useful balance data via an array of sensors.
If Poppy's next iteration is capable of waking on its own, its developers will consider it a success and, in an impressive show of generosity, will share their designs with other labs. Once that's done, you'll be able to get in on the action yourself, creating those imaginary friends of yours for real this time. Each Poppy robot will cost you a pretty penny, at about $11,000, but we're thinking that's a small price to pay for your own handmade robot friend.