Two kits are presented here for those trying to build a robot for the first time. The first is the GoPiGo, a complete robot kit from Dexter Industries and the second is TiddlyBot, a simple fun robot with lots of features. Both kits are great for introducing anyone to the exciting world of robotics and doing it in a fun and simple way. Building robots is a great way for learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), including basic robotics and programming.
Apart from the robot itself, the GoPiGo kit comprises a full Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi or RBPi, USB and camera expansion for less than $100. You can turn GoPiGo into a full-fledged Wi-Fi robot for exploring unreachable corners of a closet. The inclusion of RBPi makes the possibilities endless. You can even control the robot with your mobile or phone over local Wi-Fi network.
GoPiGo has an acrylic robot body and associated hardware or mounting the RBPi and the Pi camera. It has a control board for motors, controls and extra hardware other than the encoders, wheels and motors.
You need only a screwdriver to assemble the kit. The kit comes with its power source in the form of an 8XAA battery pack along with its connector. You can use your desktop to program GoPiGo directly downloading the program wirelessly or via a USB stick.
The use of the Pi camera along with the RBPi increases the potential of GoPiGo many times over. There is a servo camera mount with the kit and it allows the camera to turn a full half-circle. This increases the robot’s potential for dynamic exploration – for details visit here.
If you are looking for something a little less complicated, TiddlyBot is sure to help. Under RBPi control, TiddlyBot begins with robot like movements, using a multi-colored light and progressing to line drawing and following. This is great for teaching children how to program robots as well as for simply playing games.
You can program TiddlyBot using any smartphone, tablet or PC with the provided Blocky Interface, out of the box. It has a web interface for remote control. Use TiddlyBot as a squiggly bot and draw programmatically or let it run freestyle. Use several pens with different colors to make modern art. Makers of TiddlyBot run many workshops for enabling young people pick up nuances of robot building and programming.
What can you do with these two simple but exciting robots? For starters, here are some suggestions:
• Use Wi-Fi To remotely explore a house or office
• Deliver drinks remotely
• Make sneak attacks on unsuspecting people
• Use it for herding pets and babies
• Use it for remote monitoring an event
The greatest benefit of both the robot kits is the inclusion of the Pi camera, which gives the robots their vision. You can monitor where they are going and manoeuver them remotely. This opens up possibilities of several awesome projects. You can make your robots follow hand motions, navigate and map rooms, track objects, follow faces, check on pets remotely, find lost stuff under the couch and so much more – the possibilities are endless.