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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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, 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."
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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!
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.
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.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
The first photos made with a 3D-printed telescope are here and they're not as fuzzy as you might expect. A team from the University of Sheffield beat NASA to the goal. The photos of the Moon were made with a reflecting telescope that cost the research team £100 to make (about $161 US).
A tiny humanoid robot has safely piloted a small plane all the way from cold start to takeoff, landing and coming to a full stop on the plane's designated runway. Yes, it happened in a pilot training simulation -- but the research team isn't far away from doing it in the real world.
Some in the US have welcomed 3D printing for boosting local economies and bringing some offshored manufacturing back onshore. Meanwhile, China is wielding its power of numbers, and its very different relationships between government, education, and industry, to kickstart a homegrown industry.
You can find out practically everything you need to know about engineering plastics as alternatives to other materials at the 2014 IAPD Plastics Expo. Admission is free for engineers, designers, specifiers, and OEMs, as well as students and faculty.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.