overhead on the EZ-B controller.
The locomotion master control is guided by a teach
pendant RF interface (see Figure 3). This is a ruggedized
handheld device that simplifies “driving” ALTAIR around via
either fixed-definition movement angles or a joystick.
In case you’re wondering, the ALTAIR EZ: 2 is the
proposed educational/commercial version of the EZ:1
development robot. Should you expect to see either of
these ALTAIR robots begging for money on a crowdfunding
website? According to Ellis, “I am not sure crowdfunding
will work for me. To properly commercialize the ALTAIR
robots, it’s going to take an awful lot of money, and I
believe that investors are the best option. I have self-funded
my previous robot projects and will continue until the
ALTAIR robots are developed enough to attract funding
Like most brilliant people, Ellis makes robot design look
easy. However, getting from point A to point Z hasn’t
always been a piece of cake. In fact, Ellis claims, that “after
years of experimentation, the design has evolved and I
learned how to do things better.
For instance, regular high torque servos were very
troublesome in a number of ways, so I decided to design
my own servo. I developed worm driven ‘smart’ servos that
have high torque and run virtually silent with zero noise and
These smart servos (like the one shown in Figure 4)
are used in the arm and head pan/tilt mechanisms.
Furthermore, Ellis is a little bit like you and me. He says,
“To build a useful robot needs so much knowledge that
takes years to obtain for an individual — electrical systems,
electronics, mechanics, software and firmware; also 3D
design and general engineering. I have had to learn all
these skills over the last 40 years. In this time, I have been
able to learn enough skill in each category to now
(hopefully) make truly unique and useful robots.”
That kind of modesty should be instilled into more of
our robot makers and robots (see Figure 5).
So, where is Ellis and company going from here? Ellis
summarizes his future plans, as his “next steps are to
continue development; to further improve functionality to a
point where the robots have true commercial value
(become actually useful to their users).
I am also looking into the educational sectors where a
low cost (feature rich) modular robot platform like the EZ:1
could be of value to STEM curriculum and universities.”
We wish you luck, Tony. SV
Figure 5. ALTAIR meet Pepper, Pepper meet ALTAIR. (Okay, Pepper, who’s your Daddy now?)
Figure 6. A promotional banner for ALTAIR with a moving homage to its “vintage” SilentRunningroots.
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