Making a Walking AT-AT Toy Robot - James Burton's Creation Inspires

Category Engineering

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James Burton, an engineer and former toy designer, has created an unlicensed AT-AT toy which is a fully-functioning four-legged walking robot. He modified the original toy’s design by reconstructing it as a robot using 3D printing technology and programmed its quadrupedal system with each leg powered by three servo motors. He employed an Arduino Mega 2560 board to serve as the control system for the servo motors.

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Mechanical engineer, James Burton was inspired to create a better, walking version of the All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) toy from the original Star Wars trilogy. AT-ATs where hugely popular toys with fans of the early Star Wars movies, with officially-licensed Lego AT-AT kits on sale for nearly US$850. In the film franchise, the fictional AT-ATs formed part of the Imperial forces, the army of the Galactic Empire, a democratic federal union that spread across light-years of space, according to Star Wars fandom .

Burton’s AT-AT uses 3D printing technology and servo motors enabling movements that are balance and steel stable.

The iconic series of movies has long been recognized for its special effects, and credit for these effects has been attributed to ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) team, who was responsible for many of the imaginative fictional technology showcased in the films, including the colossal AT-AT walkers that wandered ominously across the icy expanses of the planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. Their popularity and unique look inspired many toy companies to create AT-AT replicas .

The legs were programmed to be tilt-steerable and pivotable.

Some robots boasted impeccable features, but very few were able to walk without significant assistance from the kid controlling it. The AT-AT’s large body and long legs making it very unbalanced, and likely to topple over at any moment. However, a former toy designer, robotic and mechanical engineer, has recently created an unlicensed AT-AT toy into a fully-functioning four-legged walking robot .

Watch James Burton talk about building a better AT-AT toy in the YouTube video below: Assembling an AT-AT “It means AT-ATs will work if Star Wars was real life. You would actually be able to send one into battle and it will walk along”, says James in the video. The engineer emphasizes that the robot is statistically stable, so it can take one leg off the ground and still stand, without needing to put the leg down again to for balance .

An Arduino Mega 2560 board is used as the control system for the servo motors.

James Bruton has built multiple versions of four legged-robots in the past. He started with the bipedal robot, a Star Wars gonk droid that walked along on two legs. Burton modified the original toy’s design by reconstructing it as a robot using 3D printing technology. The robot features a quadrupedal locomotion system, with each leg powered by three servo motors, contributing to its movement. “I thought if I can make something that walks on two legs, then four legs should be easy, but what I didn’t consider was that the gonk droid has big flat feet and the typically robot dogs have much smaller pointy feet which is why it took me so many versions to make a robot dog that walked well,” Burton said .

It uses the universal DSM remote transmitter to receive commands.

Bruton employed an Arduino Mega 2560 board to serve as the control system for the servo motors. This setup allowed the board to receive commands via a DSM radio receiver, using the universal DSM remote transmitter, he says in the video. Cinematic reality Originally an AT-AT walker was a four-legged transport and combat vehicle used by the Imperial forces in Star Wars. Contrary to Burton’s design, the Star Wars model stands at more than 20 meters tall, with blast-impervious armor plating, “these massive constructs are used as much for psychological effect as they are for tactical advantage,” states Star Wars fandom .

The official Lego AT-AT kits can cost up to US$850.

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