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Engineering Materials
DIY: Build Your Own Robotic Bug
10/2/2013

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A crowdfunded DIY version of the cockroach-like DASH robot invented by engineering students at UC Berkeley can run across different kinds of surfaces.
 (Source: Dash Robotics)

A crowdfunded DIY version of the cockroach-like DASH robot invented by engineering students at UC Berkeley can run across different kinds of surfaces.
(Source: Dash Robotics)

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Elizabeth M
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DIY for future innovation
Elizabeth M   10/2/2013 8:08:28 AM
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Great slideshow, Ann. It's really cool to see how hobbyists or really anyone who wants to learn more about robotics has access to innovative and cutting-edge technology. I think these types of efforts can lead to future innovation in the robotics space and also perhaps even encourage more interest in STEM education for kids to help create the future generations of engineers.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: DIY for future innovation
Ann R. Thryft   10/2/2013 7:43:30 PM
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Thanks, Elizabeth. I agree about the STEM aspect, and was glad to see that mentioned by the inventors.

Elizabeth M
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Re: DIY for future innovation
Elizabeth M   10/3/2013 3:16:11 AM
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Yes, I know STEM education was a big goal for awhile of the federal government to boost U.S. competitiveness overseas. It may have fallen by the wayside given many other problems that are more prominent, so it's good to see private inventors leading the charge as well.

The Designist
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Re: DIY for future innovation
The Designist   10/3/2013 10:06:42 AM
You bring up a good point about education and toys.  But STEM has nothing to do with it (IMHO).  Why do we believe we were born just yesterday?  Do we not remember all the cool toys we grew up with?  For example that stupid laughing bag with the disc in it?  They key is not STEM, but individual curiosity.  Lord knows how many toys I took aport just to learn.  Heck I bet I was also not the only one who played with a crystal and an earphone - outside of school.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink.

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: DIY for future innovation
Ann R. Thryft   10/4/2013 1:51:42 PM
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I think the key is both individual curiosity and STEM. The thing that STEM can provide is stimulation, which not all kids get equal amounts of. When I was a kid we already had science and other cool programs in school, which now don't exist anymore. That's why we need STEM.

Rob Spiegel
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All the little robots
Rob Spiegel   10/2/2013 12:42:33 PM
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Nice slideshow, Ann. Nice to see some light shined on this tiny corner of the robot world. There's a whole bunch of gadget sites that show off tiny robots used primarily as toys and learning devices.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: All the little robots
Ann R. Thryft   10/2/2013 7:47:38 PM
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Rob, I really liked the STEM aspect of this. But I especially liked the fact that it was originally a full-blown robotics project in a university lab and then became a separate entrepreneurial project that achieves multiple goals: help crowdsource the beta phase of the design, serve as a useful and fun tool for educating a wide array of people about robotics, and also let engineers start a company.

Charles Murray
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Re: All the little robots
Charles Murray   10/2/2013 8:32:58 PM
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I agree, Rob. Seems like university engineering programs could take this up as a freshman project. We keep hearing how important hands-on learning is for engineering students. Well, here it is.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: All the little robots
Rob Spiegel   10/3/2013 11:34:36 AM
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Add to all of this the work National Instruments is doing to get kids involved in robot-building competitions: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=268354&itc=dn_features_element&

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: All the little robots
Ann R. Thryft   10/7/2013 12:38:30 PM
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Rob, thanks for that link. How cool that LEGOs are a big part of this.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: All the little robots
Rob Spiegel   10/7/2013 1:18:56 PM
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Yes, Lego jumped into the future a few years ago. that's great for kids and great for Lego. They had already moved into the space left empty when plasctic models vanished, and now they're grabbing the fun of robotics.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: All the little robots
Ann R. Thryft   10/9/2013 12:32:46 PM
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Rob, thanks for that info and perspective. That seems like a natural match: robotics and LEGO technology. It's also a forward-thinking move on the company's part. But...why did plastic models vanish?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: All the little robots
Rob Spiegel   10/9/2013 12:48:11 PM
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Ann, I don't know why plastic models vanished. I would imagine you can still find some online, but they used be everywhere, from drug stores to grocery stores. There was a multi-year gap before Lego picked up the slack with their complicated toys that required detailed instructions to build. When I started buying them for my kids, I thought, "Wow, these are similar to the old plastic models."

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: All the little robots
Ann R. Thryft   10/9/2013 1:00:37 PM
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Thanks, Rob. I find that puzzling. Maybe it was because of concerns about glue sniffing. I wonder what replaced them before LEGOs.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: All the little robots
Rob Spiegel   10/9/2013 2:11:30 PM
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I'll bet glue sniffing was the problem. Legos snap together, so that's not a problem. I had the feeling that as the Lego models emerged -- they came in slowly -- suddenly Lego realized there was a real demand for instruction-based complicated toys. Then there was a whole wave of these toys.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: All the little robots
Ann R. Thryft   10/10/2013 12:28:09 PM
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Thanks, Rob, that makes sense.

scifi tech guy
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D.I.Y. robots and "skinning them.
scifi tech guy   10/4/2013 9:01:22 PM
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Hello, Ann: long time no post. The robot bug looks neat and reasonably priced too. I went to the Maker Faire a few weeks ago and saw a lot of interesting devices for building objects. I may have missed them, but, I saw little in the way of construction of housings for ro, not so much. You could buy robot kits and Arduino controllers ( and servos to do the moving) for D.I.Y. and I appreciate the availibility. Maybe this is going to be new area of developement where artists and fashion designers could become groundbreakers.

 

I must look at your links for much new material you have. I may speak on the growth of the D.I.Y. robots, as a panel member, in November.

 

Thank you for the site! Earl.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: D.I.Y. robots and "skinning them.
Ann R. Thryft   10/7/2013 12:35:04 PM
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Earl, thanks for your comments and glad we can help expand your horizons on robots. Interesting to hear that DIY robotics is growing. It certainly seems so from what I've seen. I'll be interested to find out what Dash Robotics comes up with after they've gotten more input from their beta customers.



Nancy Golden
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Bug Off
Nancy Golden   10/6/2013 5:01:42 PM
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While this is a great idea that could really help stir the imagination with a minimal effort to start - I would like to see a cuter version. I am afraid if I see anything going across my kitchen floor that even remotely resembles a cockroach - it will be smush first - ask questions later...

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Bug Off
Ann R. Thryft   10/7/2013 12:35:45 PM
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Nancy, I agree with you about the "ick, a bug" aspect. OTOH, these don't really look much like cockroaches, though their movements are creepily similar. I'm sure a cuter body could be designed, but not using this cheaper fabrication technology. Perhaps some of Dash Robotics' beta customers will come up with a clever way to make them more attractive and still cheap to fabricate.

Nancy Golden
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Re: Bug Off
Nancy Golden   10/7/2013 4:09:33 PM
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Ann, perhaps they could sell an accessory kit like Barbie dolls do so you can "dress up" your bug. For the guys - they could come with sports teams logos... 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Bug Off
Ann R. Thryft   10/7/2013 4:27:37 PM
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Thanks, Nancy, that gave me a good laugh. Although I'd definitely prefer something besides "dressup" doll accessory kits. How about making it look like a spaceship or like the Mars rovers?

Nancy Golden
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Re: Bug Off
Nancy Golden   10/7/2013 9:36:46 PM
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Agreed, Ann - I never played with dolls when I was a kid. I had quite a large collection of horse statues though - tiny horses have my vote. I'm a big NASA fan and like your space idea too. Accessories really aren't a bad idea - it adds to the creativity of the project and makes it kid friendly. It's funny how some people think science and art are independent of each other. It takes a great deal of creativity to be an engineer!

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Bug Off
Ann R. Thryft   10/8/2013 11:47:33 AM
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Nancy, you sound like me as a kid--I had lots of plastic horses and no dolls. But I also made things out of the cylindrical Quaker Oats boxes like airplanes and spaceships.

AnandY
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RE: DIY for future innovation
AnandY   10/8/2013 8:18:38 AM
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When I first heard of the word bug from your heading, the first thing that ran through my mind was the secret listening device used by secret agents and spies. I mean, the robot bug thing is inventive and fascinating but I hope in future it will be made into a more useful purpose other than being just a kids' toy.

Ann R. Thryft
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RE: DIY for future innovation
Ann R. Thryft   10/9/2013 12:35:42 PM
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AnandY, thanks for the laugh. I think it will be awhile before we'll have DIY kits for building *that* kind of bug. Or else they'll come with high-powered magnifying equipment. This bug is a beta version that will hopefully be improved by Dash Robotics' beta customers.

Ann R. Thryft
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Sold out but there's a waiting list
Ann R. Thryft   10/17/2013 6:50:46 PM
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BTW, Dash Robotics exceeded their funding goal and pre-sold out the first production run. But you can still get on a waiting list for the next run at the company website.

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