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Aug
9

Building Rapiro – interview highlights with Shota Ishiwatari

by Rob Zwetsloot

We spoke to the creator of Rapiro, the Raspberry Pi robot, about open source, Kickstarter and the future

With only nine days to go now, the Raprio Kickstarter has been a huge success. Thanks to notoriety from the Raspberry Pi foundation, and many open source blogs talking about it, the Raspberry Pi powered robot has over 300% of its funding already. We caught up with Shota Ishiwatari, creator of the Rapiro, and of the Necomimi robotic cat ears, to find out a bit more about the project and himself.

Ishiwatari is no stranger to robotics. At Univeristy his major was in Mechanical Engineering, and participated in RoboCup where his Rescue Robot team won first place for mobility in 2005. He has since then made the Necomimi cat ears and two robotic tails: “I think the success of Necomimi gave me self-confidence, and [a good reputation]”

“At first, this project started with two keywords in mind: 3D printing and the Raspberry Pi.” continued Ishiwatari. “Both of these terms had been used regularly around me in the previous year. So, I decided to develop a robot (RAPIRO) as a way to make use of both of these.”

What about the open source component?

“I believed that the Raspberry pi and Arduino were both globally popular and useful.” said Ishiwatari. “I didn’t really think about it much though. Of course, I’m not trying to get a free ride on open source. The current demonstrations are running on Raspbian, and I believe we are using only Raspbian and Arduino IDE at the moment to do this. We’re also using Julius for speech recognition.”

The Rapiro is also designed to be assembled using only a screwdriver – Ishiwatari told us why this was important:

“We’ve done this so that non-engineers and children can have a go at it. It’s also the reason the RAPIRO will be able to run without the Raspberry Pi. Programming Arduino is something even beginners can do, where as working with the Raspberry Pi can be harder. I think the RAPIRO kit will make a low cost educational platform. Of course, it will still be fun as toy or a hobby as well.”

You’ll be able to read the full interview in an upcoming issue of Linux User & Developer. You also still have time to back the Raprio, by heading to the Kickstarter page.

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