Mar 28, 2017 | By Benedict

A Kickstarter campaign for the Niryo One, an open source 3D printed 6-axis robotic arm, has more than doubled its €20,000 target after just a couple of days. The 3D printed robot is powered by Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Robot Operating System.

With STEM subjects finally starting to receive a higher priority within education, there is a greater need than ever for for affordable, user-friendly equipment that helps students learn about technical topics. 3D printers are now almost commonplace in schools, while other digital technology is slowly being phased in as well. That technology includes robots, and a new, classroom-friendly, 3D printed robot from French startup Niryo that has taken the internet by storm almost overnight. Is this the perfect machine for teaching robotics? Kickstarter backers seem to think so.

The Niryo One, which launched on Kickstarter over the weekend, is a 6-axis robotic arm made for makers, educators, and small companies. The body of the robot is 3D printed, and its brains are powered by Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Robot Operating System technology. In addition to the physical arm itself, Lille-based Niryo also plans to build a complete set of cloud services for the Niryo One in order to help out its growing community of users.

There are, of course, other robotic arms out there which makers, educators, and small companies can use to learn about robotics. The reason why many individuals, schools, and businesses never purchase such equipment, however, is usually cost-related. Backers of the Niryo Kickstarter campaign are able to secure a Niryo One for as little as €549 (early bird, print your own parts), and this is why the startup thinks its product is perfectly positioned to make a big impact in education and elsewhere.

“If you want to get a robotic arm for your home, your school, or your small company, you will have to spend between $20,000 and $200,000, and most companies will not even bother selling a robot to you,” Niryo says. “Our goal is to make robotics accessible for everyone.”

According to Niryo, having six axes allows its new robotic arm to perform tasks that have hitherto been exclusively done by industrial machines. The arm can pick and place objects with a suction pump, gripper, or electromagnet; it can automate a 3D printer; it can drill holes in objects; it can carry out useful household tasks; it can even—if used creatively—entertain your children.

That all sounds very convenient, but the sticking point for most users—especially in the field of education—will be how easy the Niryo One is to use. We haven’t seen one up close, but the interface flexibility afforded by the device seems very impressive: users can move the robot around with their hands to program simple tasks; they can use smartphones and gaming joypads to control the arm; and of course advanced users can get stuck into G-code instructions for the robot and its Raspberry Pi 3 board.

The Niryo One is even completely open source, so even high-level educators and companies could stretch the limits of the 3D printed robotics arm to suit their own needs. The open nature of the device also allows users to modify the physical aspects of the machine, such as its 3D printed components—this itself could be an engaging STEM activity for classrooms of a certain skill level, while other activities could include controlling stepper and servo motors, programming with Python and C++, and using RAMPS 1.4 shield.

One feature of the Niryo One that seems particularly geared to group learning projects (or even homework!) is associated cloud service, to which Kickstarter backers will receive Beta access. “Web and mobile applications will be both connected to the robot and to the internet (Niryo cloud service),” the startup says. “That way you can switch from web to mobile, or mobile to web, and keep everything synchronized.”

This cloud service currently allows users to control the Niryo One from anywhere, to stream video of the robot’s operation, and to apply free updates to it. It is still, however, in development, and Niryo will add more features in accordance with user needs and suggestions.

The Kickstarter campaign for the Niryo One currently stands at above €40,000, more than double its €20,000 goal. The campaign still has 28 days left to run, and backers can choose from a range of products, from the simple Mini Niryo One (€119) to a fully assembled Niryo One complete with 3D printed parts (€849 early bird). Estimated delivery is September 2017.

 

 

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