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It is not uncommon to hear that many people don’t like bugs. Those tiny, many-legged creatures are the source of our worst nightmares. Robots, on the other hand, are fantastic. Whether they come to us as Furby-sized companions or giant robot protector of the Earth Gundams, they amuse and entertain us to no end. So when we heard of the open source project combining insect-like parts and robotics, we timidly decided to check it out.

At first glance, the robot looks more like a frog with its large eyes sitting on top of its head. But then you start counting the legs and there are way too many for it to be a mere amphibian. Maybe, it’s a distant, robotic cousin of the pill bug.

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As an open source project, this robot is very customizable. Open source means that the designs are free to download, produce, modify and market with no licensing fee. Open source is the anti-thesis to proprietary, top-secret, big company business. Instead of one brilliant mind guarding all the secrets, open source allows many brilliant minds, and literally anyone, the chance to help mold a project in any way shape or form.

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Being free to download, you could have your very own Shellmo printed right from your own 3-D printer. Or if you don’t own one, there are plenty of companies to print it for you. Most of the parts can be changed to your heart’s content. Color, accessories and number of legs are just the beginning of what is available for modification. Even people who are disgusted by bugs won’t be able to resist this super cute robot!

One really sweet feature of this robot is its “heart”. Just as Build-a-Bear stores around the world place a stuffed heart into all of their bears, Shellmo’s creator wants to show the same sort of love! And the heart isn’t just a random accessory. It is a functioning heart that gives users a bit of “flickering feedback” based on the activities of the Shellmo!

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The way to control Shellmo is also very easy. Currently, it is controlled through Bluetooth by your computer or through an Android app on your phone! It seems really easy to make Shellmo do all kinds of entertaining things!


The future for Shellmo is entirely up to the community, but its creator has some good ideas already. He hopes to design even more “shells” so that the look is even more customizable. He also hopes to produce designs for an even smaller version that would be about the size of your palm. He even has combined his love of Lego blocks with his love of Shellmo and made a version where you can easily snap on Lego pieces! With a design like that, the possibilities in design are truly infinite!

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Anyone can join and help, and the project is always looking for new interested parties. All the information can be found on the Shellmo website, and you can join the community from there too! If the idea of a bug-like robot doesn’t make you a bit squeamish, maybe you should try your hand at it and build your own Shellmo!

Source: Shellmo via Net Lab
Images: Shellmo