Young Makers can build their own customized, self-balancing robots as they explore programming and 3D design.
The brainchild of Seattle startup Socially Shaped, Roby is a 3D-printed robotic machine that not only drives on four wheels, but can walk on two. If it falls, it can even pick itself up again with its two arms.
The open-source robotic platform features a programmable on-board computer along with an Arduino remote controller. Developed as a way to introduce young Makers to programming and basic electronic principles, users can customize a personality for their bot, as well as add new attributes like computer vision, sensors and voice recognition.
“Roby is not just an entertaining robot, it’s a robotic learning platform. When you build Roby you will have an opportunity to learn in a fun and engaging way,” its creators explain.
In piecing together one’s very own Roby, Makers will have the unique ability to master programming languages, explore Arduino and Raspberry Pi, acquire rudimentary skills in Linux-based operating systems, and dabble with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth communication. Moreover, a child can leverage 3D printing to put a personal touch on their design.
For its Kickstarter launch, the team has unveiled three Roby kits — Roby Junior, Roby Standard and Roby Genius — each varying in price, capabilities and levels of complexity. What’s nice is that the Maker-friendly platform is also entirely upgradeable, so that a a user can graduate from one stage to the next.
Designed for novices, Roby Junior is an autonomous, RC robot controlled by an Arduino. Aside from the Atmel based board, the kit includes a pair of DC motors, a shield to drive the motors, an ultrasonic sensor to help Roby avoid obstacles and a remote control for enhanced entertainment.
Meanwhile, Roby Standard is an intermediate set for those seeking a little more adventure. The self-balancing bot can walk (well, sort of) on two wheels and is equipped with a pair arms to help it stand up should it fall. Beyond that, it can speed down a driveway in race car-like fashion or be outfitted with a set of tracks for some off-road fun. This Roby, which is a step up from the Junior model, features an Arduino, a custom shield, an ultra-sonic distance sensor, a gyroscope for self-balance, high-grade NEMA17 stepper motors for precision, servo motors for its arms, in addition to a few other electronic components.
As a Maker progresses with their Roby, they will ultimately arrive at the aptly dubbed Genius. Like its name would suggest, this gadget packs an on-board Raspberry Pi that can carry out countless actions and respond to voice commands. Not only does this kit ship with everything found in the Standard, Genius boasts a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module for IoT exploration, a color graphical screen, a video camera, a microphone and a speaker.
It’s always refreshing to see new DIY platforms, such as mBot to LocoRobo, emerge in an effort to introduce children to STEM-related fields. Is Roby right for you? Head over to its Kickstarter campaign, where the Socially Shaped team is seeking $25,000. Shipment is expected to begin in August 2015.
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