Mule is a concept for a lightweight personal ground drone that aids in transportation of both people and miscellaneous objects. Adam Boroughs and I sculpted and prototyped the concept while attending Western Washington University. We collaborated with Artefact Group in Seattle for design and testing feedback.
The idea stemmed from the desire to combine a solution for the “last mile problem” with the versatile functionality of robotic mules similar to Amazon’s warehouse drones. This would address a gap in the consumer spectrum for people who wanted to move heavy objects with them or handle inventory at small businesses.
We began testing the feasibility and comfort of interacting with a robot that follows you around. This was centered around grocery shopping as it presented many spatial challenges. We also met with our robotics department and validated rough dimensions of the required internal components for the device.
Internal and external tests were conducted on multiple users to determine the final functions and shape.
The result features a light array that illuminates in the direction of the user. This direction is determined by a remote that the user holds.
The drone features four omni-directional wheels sized appropriately for sidewalk bumps and interior floors.
Attachments slide over the top lip where they are locked in by a pin that extends while the unit is moving.
In order to validate the size, weight, and appearance; a full-scale appearance model was constructed.