I don't know why this type of robot would need a GPS, although someone will find a use for it. I was tempted to support this effort and get a robot starter kit in return, but I already have too many projects underway. Perhaps I'll jump in when the Multiplo robot "Erector set" becomes a commercial product.
Robots for kids young and older have become quite the robust market. A quick Google search reveals a wide range from simple Lego-like kits to more sophisticated projects. They are a contemporary version of the Erector kits. Nice to see.
Hi, Rob. This project appealed to me because of the open-source hardware and software. Anyone with the proper equipment can duplicate the robot parts. I bet schools and clubs could get a local firm to cut out parts on a laser cutter for free or for a small cost. We could talk with kids all day about computer programming (yawn), but they'd rather have a basic "robot" that could move and figure out how to make it do something. The key involves excellent teaching guides, lab exercised for students, and tutorial info so the kids can learn more on their own and create thrir own projects.
Hi Jon, Agreed. The idea of taking a software object from a computer screen and making it tangible is the underlining concept that Seymour Papert of MIT developed for the LEGO Mindstorms kit. Seymour created Logo software back in the late 70's to allow kids to explore computer programming concepts using a triangle as the virtual robot. He called the triangle a "turtle" and based on his research found kids wanting it to be a real robot they can interact with. Seymour then created a salad bowl looking robot which was programmable using switches. Several years later (1998) the original LEGO Mindstorms RCX programmable brick was born.
As you stated, Open Source Hardware is becoming the mainstream trend in rapidly developing cool electronics using passionate makers as design and test engineers for product development tasks. The Multiplo robot has a lot of appeal because of its open hardware and software architecture and the fact it uses the Arduino I see all kinds of cool shields and accessories being developed. Based on the many development actitivies that can spawn from Multiplo, I see this robot being the flagship of tech startup businesses that can play a role in stimulate the economy.
Jon, I wonder how the capabilities of this system would compare to Lego Mindstorms. Could it enable someone to do robotic things that Mindstorms couldn't do? One big difference is the use of open source.
The Multiplo system builds on the popular--and inexpensive--Arduino-type computer boards. Many third-party companies and entrepreneurs offer compatible boards for wireless control, servo-motor drivers, and so on, which makes the Multiplo more flexible than the LEGO system--at least in my opinion. With LEGO's Mindstorms you pretty much get locked into LEGO products.
Hi, ttemple. The Raspberry Pi looks interesting but I haven't bought one yet. Many people and companies make excellent hardware. Students and teachers need good educational materials to go with them. Unfortunately, not all companies or groups have the money or people to create such materials or to write them in a way that people find helpful. Take a look and see if you can find good teaching/learning materials before you jump into anything.
I'll take a closer look at the Raspberry Pi. Keep in mind that this board might not be a good choice for engineers who want to create a product around the board's Broadcom chip because Broadcom does not plan to sell the chip except to very large equipment manufacturers that can buy large quantities.
Jon, it's a good idea to promote the business ideas. As of now robots are too far from common people and if some freeware or open kits are available, I think atleast half of the enthusiastic peoples may have a try.
The Minibloq software used to program the Arduino based Multiplo robots is quite interesting in that it looks like the LEGO Mindstorms iconic programming language. Too bad I couldn't have mentioned Minibloq in my book Learn Electronics with Arduino. I plan on investigating this software as I start developing Arduino projects for my new book Arduino Robotics Controllers this weekend. If time permits, I'll probably do a Gadget Freak project for Design News readers to try it out themselves in a couple of weeks. Here's the link to Minibloq software.
Hi gsmith, Thanks for the interest in my book as well as the one I'm currently writing.In addition, I'll be working on a webpage devoted to Arduino and electronics. I will add Arduino projects using the Minibloq software as well. What course are you teaching using the Arduino?
The Raspberry Pi is a complete computer system. Although it had some general purpose IO, I believe its original use was geared towards programming. It is worth registering on element14 to see all the projects based on the RPi. You can also buy a breakout board for the GPIO there too. Since a full fledge OS is needed for the board, doing simple robotics projects might be more cumbersome. Take a PIC10F, write a few lines of code that sends a square wave down one of the IO lines, that's it. With a full OS you can do that, but you also have to handle everything else happening in the OS. However, if you want to put in a screen on a robot, the RPi has building in HDMI out with graphics power that rivals the latest smartphones.
HI Cabe, Yes I'm definitely looking into the Rapberry Pi based on the I/O attributes you've mentioned. I'm currently writing 2 new books on the Arduino but would like to develop a book on the Raspberry Pi to illustrate the ease and power of this Linux based embedded system platform.
I went to the element14 Web site (element14 is part of distributors Newark and Farnell) to get more information about the Raspberry Pi computer because a new board with more memory just cdame out. Unfortunately the Element14 Community section of the company's Web site requires registration even to get basic product specs. Click on an interesting screen and the data appears for a few seconds, then a black screen with a sign-in form appears. If you close this window, you go back to the main page. This is a rotten way to treat potential customers. Raspberrt Pi? Phooey.
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