If there’s one thing stores are now well stocked with, it’s Baby Yoda toys. And while you can shell out hundreds of dollars for a startlingly lifelike replica of Grogu, this DIY does what all the others can’t: automatically follow you everywhere you go like a curious 50-year-old toddler.
Creator Manuel Ahumada wanted his Baby Yoda replica to be smarter than all the rest, so he designed and 3D-printed a custom robotic frame with moving arms, a head that inquisitively looks up and down, and a set of wheels so his Grogu could get around faster than the tiny-legged character in The Mandalorian could. The creation was stuffed inside a gutted off-the-shelf Baby Yoda toy, while electronics, including a Raspberry Pi, servos, and electric motors were added to bring the recreation to life.
Like many of the toy versions of Baby Yoda, Ahumada’s version can be controlled remotely using a PlayStation 4 controller talking to the onboard Raspberry Pi over Bluetooth, but for more autonomy, a series of movements can also be performed, recorded, and played back making Grogu appear more lifelike all on his own.
Things get even more interesting when the Child is given his own smartphone that he holds in front of him. It may look like he’s checking social media, but the smartphone is actually running Intel’s OpenBot app, which uses machine learning models to process a live feed from the device’s camera. In this case, the app scans the video for the presence of a human, identifies them, tracks their location and movements, and then automatically controls Baby Yoda’s wheeled platform to follow the person wherever they go.
It’s impressive to see just how quickly a surprisingly capable robot can be thrown together today using off-the-shelf parts like a Raspberry Pi and a smartphone. Earlier this year, Mattel released its own robotic Baby Yoda toy that follows you around like a needy dependent, but it also requires you to carry around a remote control. It’s cuter than Ahumada’s creation which, we’ll be the first to admit, is kind of creepy, but kudos to him for totally one-upping all the big toy companies.