Tom the Tortoise Thief

This four-legged walker “belly flops” to obtain items on the ground.

Jeremy Cook
a month agoRobotics

Slow and steady wins the race, or so they say, but you still don’t expect a slowly moving turtle to make off with your cash or credit card. That’s the idea behind Tom the Tortoise Thief by Bill Bob.

This 3D-printed tortoise model leisurely walks up to its target, then belly flops onto its stomach to pick things up using a piece of tape affixed to its underside. It’s quite a clever arrangement. Given its speed, one might actually forget that there was previously something on the ground by the time it walks off.

The device was made as a weekend project with parts on hand, including eight 2014-vintage TGY-90 servos, along with an ESP32 development board that was already attached to stripboard. The body is 3D-printed, with space for five servos – four for the legs and another on the front that wasn’t implemented. Each servo connects to a second servo in order to create a two-axis shoulder mechanism, which combine to push the robot forward in a quadruped gait.

The plan was to incorporate a 3.7V Li-ion batter for power with a boost converter. However, this converter wasn’t operational, so is now used while tethered to wall power. Control is via a Python script running on a PC, which connects to the slow-and-steady terrapin via WiFi.

The build is finished off with a paper head and "shell," which makes it cute enough to avert suspicion of its potentially nefarious intent. It's quite the clever use of parts on-hand, and a good reminder to keep unused electronics organized and ready to go for whenever inspiration strikes!

Jeremy Cook
Engineer, maker of random contraptions, love learning about tech. Write for various publications, including Hackster!
Related articles
Sponsored articles
Related articles