With Kamigami, engineering is for everyone. Build your own bug bot and then control it with your phone.
STEM education has been a growing venture in schools across the country, with even the President himself making it a priority to encourage students as young as grade-school to pursue the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. After all, these fields are changing the world rapidly within the areas of innovation, economic growth and employment. But let’s face it; these subjects don’t come easy to everyone, so how do we instill STEM in kids? A team of UC Berkeley graduates found a way to pique children’s interests, while also inspiring the next generation of Makers. Meet Kamigami, an origami-style robot you can build and program by yourself — no engineering degree necessary.
Kamigami is the brainchild of Dash Robotics, a startup founded by Berkeley engineers Nick Kohut and Andrew Gillies. The company firmly believes in STEM education, and that the power of innovating is for everyone. Kamigami was created with this belief in notion, and it has proven to be an educational and affordable way for kids to get an early start in robotics, engineerin and biology.
Now live on Kickstarter, these robots come in a DIY kit comprised of laser-cut body components, a motor, a transmission, a rechargeable battery, a microUSB port, and plug-and-play electronics. The assembly takes less than an hour and instructional videos online shows you how it comes together. Plus, the robot’s behavior can be programmed and controlled all through Kamigami’s accompanying mobile app (for iOS and Android).
Each Kamigami can be configured with a unique set of behaviors and characteristics through a drag-and-drop interface, opening up a range of possible modes that take advantage of the robot’s integrated sensors and functions. So what type of games is it capable of? For starters, sumo wrestling (first to fall of a table loses), relay races (one robot can’t run until it’s tagged by another), tank battles (take turns trying to get into firing position) and IR laser tag, to name just a few.
And unlike other DIY robotic kits before it, biology comes into play in the automation of each Kamigami. In fact, the bots take into account animals and mimics their locomotion through its built-in linkages and motors. The robot’s chassis is made of a patent-pending material (an extremely durable plastic composite) that allows it to fold up through an origami-like process. This material doesn’t fatigue or wear, which makes for a more durable robot.
The mechanics of the robot itself are custom designed, and packed with processing power and sensors. The main microprocessor features a Cortex-M0 core and a Bluetooth Smart radio. Plus, the cockroach-ish unit is packed with an array of sensors including ambient light, infrared detectors and emitter, a gyroscope and an accelerometer. The electronics also entail motor drivers, charging circuitry and an accessory header for expandability. The infrared emitter and detectors enable each bot to send and receive signals from its mobile app, as well as communicate with other Kamigamis. The gadget runs on a rechargeable battery, with about 30-45 minutes of play time.
Sound like a bug bot you’d love to have? Crawl over to its Kickstarter campaign, where Dash Robotics is currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is expected to get underway in March 2016.