by David Geer
William Huff is a roboticist and makeup/special effects (FX) guru who is famous for
his movie animatronics puppets and his work in films such as, “The Curious Case of
Benjamin Buttons,” “Thor,” “The Watchmen,” “Austin Powers ( 2 and 3),” and “Master
and Commander.” It is from this extensive background that “ALAN” comes from. ALAN,
the Android kit is the product of 3D modeling and 3D printing technology which will
soon be available to enthusiasts and professionals everywhere.
10 SERVO 11.2015
ALAN, the Android Kit
Head and shoulders above the crowd!
“Several kits will be available from a basic low cost shell type kit
with no hardware, to fully assembled robots with no paint, and
finally fully painted robots that are ready for immediate use by the
higher end consumer. This presents users with choices that match
their budgets,” Huff explained.
ALAN has many layers of technology and creativity so that
roboticists can transform the kit using any face or personality they
find applicable. Let’s look a little closer at what waits inside ALAN.
Location, Station, Preparation
In the modest offices of Robomodix in Portland, OR and their
manufacturing arm in Burbank, CA, Huff and his staff of seven
(three in the main office and four on hand at the manufacturing
plant) design, mold, and handcraft the parts. These are not overly-simplified injection molded parts.
There is a reason Huff avoids this approach. “The process of
pressure injection limits many design features that we want to keep
in our robots,” said Huff.
Huff and his team separate themselves from the rest of the
robot design crowd in matters of aesthetics, materials, and
mechanisms. “It’s our opinion that robot aesthetics have not
evolved much. Aren’t you tired of black and white, smooth surface
robots dominating the market?” Huff asked. So, Huff and his crew
seek to quickly push new color varieties and intricate design
features into the accelerating development of the robot platform.
“Our exposure to robots has been largely through movies and
TV, which has developed an underlying subconscious expectation as
to how robots should appear. Those are the kinds of robots we
want to build,” announced Huff.
From 25 years of film industry robotics and make-up
experience, Huff and his colleagues are melding art and technology
into one. Using components such as silicone skins that are
fabricated using 3D designs and 3D printing, they create the same
kind of highly detailed look and feel for ALAN.
“Changing or resizing internal parts in software meant that we
ALAN skinless with the
moldings that will help
to enable his facial