Design, build and race your own 3D-printed cars with Cannybots


The next generation of toys is here! Cannybots can be assembled like LEGO and programmed from your mobile device.


Since their inception back in the 1950s, Matchbox cars have become an iconic accessory that can be found atop any child’s holiday wish list and in just about every playroom. However, in this day and age, kids are overexposed to the latest and greatest smart devices, which have seemingly replaced those good ol’ toys of the past. This is an issue that the one London-based startup is looking to solve, realizing that the toys that we have today are not engaging enough compared to the media accessible through our mobile gadgets. And so, Cannybot was born.

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The creators of Cannybot are hoping to better bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds with their smartphone-controlled toy that enables kids to build and program their own race car sets. The DIY kit contains all of the parts necessary for someone to bring their car to life, such as a base, a top, a spoiler, motors and motor brackets, wheels, a switch, a rechargeable battery, a USB cable and a screwdriver. Aside from all that, Cannybot will come with stickers that let users personalize their vehicle along with a six-foot-long track to ride it on.

Geared towards the young Maker community, each Cannybot can be assembled in LEGO-like fashion and boasts several capabilities, which range from color detection and line following to autonomous navigation. Impressively, the kit’s default motors allow a vehicle to reach a straight line speed of up to 1.2m/sec (4ft/sec), and the robot has independently powered wheels that give it the agility to spin on the spot and quickly accelerate.

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And that’s just the beginning. Billed as the next generation of toys, Cannybot gives children the opportunity to design and 3D print their own plaything, and then engage with them in ways like never before. There are different ways to interact with the robot. Using its accompanying joypad mobile app, users can race against others, throw it into freestyle mode and drive it around the living room like an RC car, as well as do battle in sumo and jousting fights. It even features a Bluetooth interface that enables Cannybot to be controlled from almost any BLE device, including a Pebble watch. Plus, users can chat with Cannybot via its own CannyTalk app, which is based on a proprietary Natural Language Processing interface.

“CannyTalk is really clever; it understands the commands irrespective of the way they are written. For example, if you want to instruct the robot to move forward, you can use any of the following commands: Move forward, step forward, go forward, etc. All these result in the same action of Cannybot moving forward,” the team explains.” It is even robust to typos – Mvoe Forwards, Mov Forward, Move fkrwad will also result in the same action. You can use CannyTalk to control all high level aspects of Cannybots and even use it to create the Logic to solve a complex maze.”

In terms of electronics, each Cannybot is driven by a small yet powerful Arduino-compatible ARM Cortex-M0+ core, and is packed with BLE, a dual channel motor controller, LEDs, IR and RGB sensors. The robot’s hardware supports a number of programming options from the more simple CannyTalk to more advanced languages like Python and Java using either a Raspberry Pi, a smartphone, a tablet or PC. Each Cannybot design can be customized through Autodesk’s browser-based TinkerCAD software, and employ a 3D printer to produce the chassis of the robot in various shapes and colors.

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If you think about it, Matchbox was invented in the UK and went on to revolutionize toy cars. Coincidence that Cannybot originates from there as well? The future of playtime has arrived! Interested? Race over to its Kickstarter page, where the team is currently seeking $40,000. Delivery is slated for February 2016.

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