Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) recently received top honors in multiple categories at an international competition focused on designing affordable, classroom-friendly robots.
The team from CSAIL Director Daniela Rus’ Distributed Robotics Lab earned first place in the hardware and curriculum categories for a printable, origami-inspired Segway robot dubbed SEG at the “Ultra-Affordable Robot” competition sponsored by the African Robotics Network (AFRON) and the IEEE Robotics and Automaton Society.
The design by Rus, Ankur Mehta, Joseph DelPreto, Benjamin Shaya and Lindsay Sanneman, allows an individual to build a printable, Atmel AVR-powered (tinyAVR/Arduino Pro depending on version) robot for as little as $20, in just five steps.
The small robot – made of polyester – moves around on two large wheels and is capable of avoiding obstacles with an onboard sensing and navigation system. The team also adapted graphical drag-and-drop software that’s convenient for first-time programmers, while simultaneously developing a curriculum that teaches students some basic control systems to implement with SEG.
“We’re excited to have been able to make some really encouraging upgrades to our prototype in such a way that it is more effective, more intuitive and more affordable,” said Mehta. “With this kind of progress, we envision a future where robots that can help you with important daily tasks could be printed for a few dollars from your desktop printer.”
Interested in learning more? You can check out the project’s official page here, along with the relevant files and instructions.