The Meccanoid G15KS is a brand new robot humanoid from the makers of one of my old childhood toys, Meccano*. The company, which went bust some years ago, has been bought by a Canadian company and they’ve revived the name by bringing out a couple of cool new robots, the Meccanoids, which went on sale on 20 September. Luckily, I was in Leicester that day, where there was a shop with one in stock, so I went over there and picked one up.

About 9 hours of building later (there are nearly 1200 parts) Meccanoid was complete. And what a robot it is:

  • It is 122 cm (about 4 feet) tall, and is by far the largest of my robots;
  • It has 8 servos, three in each arm for shoulder and arm movement, a neck servo to look around, and a head servo to tilt its head quizically;
  • Its eyes are very large, expressive, and change colour depending on what it is doing;
  • It doesn’t walk, but moves around with two motors attached to its feet;
  • It can be programmed by moving its arms and head. You can make it do several things at the same time by recording one movement, then rewinding and recording the next, and so on;
  • It has an excellent voice recognition system for telling it what to do;
  • It has speech, which is programmed by over 1000 phrases, including some excellent jokes;
  • It will be programmable in a more conventional way, but the software to do this hasn’t been released yet.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that it doesn’t actually walk, but maybe that will come with a future upgrade. Certainly its brain is more capable – it can control far more than just the 8 servos, for example. But other than that, it is absolutely brilliant, and will be a great robot to have at some forthcoming RobotFun birthday parties!

*Building stuff from Meccano was always a challenge. There were lots of metal parts with what are now called ‘functional sharp points’, also known as accidents waiting to happen, tiny pieces and an infuriating tendency for parts just not to bolt together properly. Also, many Meccano models needed you to bend pieces to make them fit, and, once bent, they would never straighten properly again. So I used to build models that didn’t need bent parts, like cranes. The Meccanoid uses plastic parts, and it uses the old Meccano nuts and bolts. But nearly all the parts have recesses to hold the nuts, so your robot won’t fall apart. Yay!!