“Loki” is named after the Norse god of Mischief.  Since with Robotics, “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong… and usually break something important”, Loki seemed like an appropriate name.  Loki is just under 80lbs, and 4 feet tall.

Loki builds upon the software of Seeker and Mr. Roboto, including remote control and diagnostics over WiFi, but adds more capable vision processing, speech recognition, indoor pathfinding (Using A*), basic Artificial Intelligence, and general refinement of the architecture.

Loki Design

The “body” of Loki is built completely from scratch, using mostly aluminum.  The unique design allows a laptop computer to double as the robot brains, and also as a display screen in Loki’s “chest”.

The Cameras are two Logitech Notebook Pro webcams, to allow me to experiment with stereo vision. (I have basic stereo vision working with OpenCV, but not happy with the depth perception yet.)

The laptop software is programmed in C++ and C#.  The PC gets sensor data and controls power and lights via a processor board connected through USB.  Most of my robots use a PIC processor (Mark III board), which is programmed using the CCS “C” compiler, but in early 2013 I replaced the PIC on Loki with an Arduino..The I/O is expanded with several I2C chips; one in the head, and one in each arm.  Sensor inputs include 2 PIR motion detectors, 10 IR range detectors, 2 Ultrasonic rangers, 4 bumpers, an electronic compass, and motor speed and direction monitors for each wheel.  Head motion and arms are handled by Dynamixel servos.  The shoulder joints are custom chain-drive driven by precisely controlled motors, using a Kerr motor controller.

Click on a link below for hardware design info, or the source code.  See the Seeker documentation for an overview of the source code to get the “big picture”.  Also, the source code .zip has latest hardware schematic info, etc:




33 Responses to Loki

  1. Darrell says:

    Awesome work and website! I hope I have time to build a Loki one day!



  3. I really like your Robots – As well as fun watching them and giving commands – you have them doing things, that is to say, they’re not just web cams on wheels. Your application of the notebook for a brain is inspiring and I’m doing the same with our robot using a 10 inch screen netbook. Special thanks for sharing your knowledge and passion. Your Robots are incredible and a delight to see in action.


  4. Mel Addison says:

    Hey Dave,

    I just got my Qbo robot in. Since you and I cross paths all the time, I expect that may be your next step. He is programmed in ROS which you are getting into, I understand.

    Mel (MovieMaker)

  5. Kevin says:

    Hello Mr. Dave
    I am a vb,asp.net c#,coldfusion and java programmer. I wanted to get into programmer robots like the ones you have created. I hope you can afford some time an point me in the right direction. I thank you for your time and amazing contribution to robotics.

    • dshinsel says:

      I’ll try, but my time is pretty scarce 🙂
      The good news is all the code is C# or C++, and pretty well documented, so hopefully you wont have too much trouble. My main advice; start small. Build an easier robot and work your way up.

  6. adi purnama says:

    thank you for sharing. you are good people. I hope one day can become like you. sorry for bad English.

  7. Deven says:

    Great job on Loki! He’s like a robot you would see in movies. How much did it cost for you to make him?

  8. Laura Lemmons says:

    I was thinking, could you make Loki a twitter? I guarantee you he’ll have LOTS of followers!

  9. alfred says:

    Good job, very compliments to you!
    I’ve a question for you: can I have the body size of your robot?
    I want to realize a robot like yours.
    see you,

  10. Rick says:


    Does Loki rely on the laser? Thats the only part I don’t think I’m going to be able to afford anytime soon and didn’t know if it can be easily disabled in the code.


    • dshinsel says:

      No, the laser range finder is not needed. I installed it before the Kinect was available. Kinect is great for doing object detection and obstacle avoidance.

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  12. Mohamed says:

    Hi Dave could you please send me instructions on how to make the hand at Mohamedrahimtola@gmail.com

  13. adam says:

    how do you power up loki and can you put up a video of you making loki

  14. adam says:

    can you send me the instructions of how to build loki robot 1

    I am 11 and I want to build your robot


    • dshinsel says:

      Hi Adam,
      Loki is pretty hard to build. You should start with something smaller and work your way up.
      I built 8 robots before I built Loki. I suggest Lego Mindstorms or Arduino to get started.

  15. adam says:

    dave I would like to meet up with you

  16. Robotik says:

    Hi Dave, how the odometry calibration works with the landmarks exactly? I have found the place in the code where the adjustment is carried out, but I’m can not figure it … What landmarks do you use?

  17. Damien says:

    How much would it cost to build loki with materials? or do you sell a final version of him, thanks you.

    • dshinsel says:

      I think you could probably build Loki for about $3,000 – $5,000, and would take about a month to build (full time).
      Sorry, I don’t build robots to sell. Maybe some day…

  18. I’ve posted this robot on my website about robotics
    However, I couldn’t classify it.
    This is not a telepresence robot, not a humanoid.
    However, just a robot sounds proudly.

  19. Danny Cilone says:

    Hi Dave

    Dave when i enable the arms, it turns blue but won’t enable. any thoughts on what i can check? My Kerr controllers are working properly. my ports are set up properly not sure what to check. Also my RX64 controller won’t enable and my dynamixel for my neck servos sometimes flashes a red error.
    any help would be appreciated. thank you


  20. Ashish says:

    I am a big fan lf loki eyes ! I am building something similar but now in a phase of getting the drive and safety sensors working. So still have time to get to the robot head, would need some tips from u then 🙂

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