For Design Nature at Olin College in Fall 2011, I worked in a team of five to design, prototype and build a biomimetic penguin toy for 4th grade students. Our team researched our target users and designed a toy and complimentary game for the children to play. We studied penguin motion and designed a simple and effective cam-based walking system which allowed the penguin to navigate which its familiar waddling motion and turn left or right. The system was driven by three of hobby servo motors and was constructed of laser-cut Delrin plastic covered with a custom paper mache skin.
The final penguin waddles around a blue "iceberg" playing surface collecting fish with a magnetic fishing pole which is affixed to an actuating arm. The actuation is controlled by a remote control which allows the player to move forward and back, steer and lower the fishing pole. At the end of the semester, a class of fourth grade students came and tested the toy, which proved to be captivating and entertaining.