May 12, 2017 | By Tess

Slant Robotics, a robotics company from Boise, Idaho, has launched a Kickstarter campaign for its latest toy: a 3D printed Arduino robot geared towards promoting STEM education. Called LittleBot, the cute 3D printed device is particularly focused on teaching kids engineering, programming, and robotics.

Often, the best way to learn something is to approach it in a hands-on manner. This is certainly true of robotics, though many schools have been limited by the availability and accessibility of the technology, which is often quite expensive.

Fortunately, that’s where Slant Robotics comes in. With its new LittleBot 3D printed robot, the company is aiming to offer kids a fun way to learn about robotics—without breaking the bank. The kid-friendly bot is now available via Kickstarter for as low as $45.

The smiling LittleBot consists of a cube-shaped 3D printed body, simple electronics (easy enough for kids to learn with), ultrasonic sensors (which double as eyes), dual drive motors and wheels, and an Arduino set up on a custom circuit board.

The beauty of the product is that it is built to be taken apart, examined, rebuilt, and customized in order to help show kids the basics of electronics, programming, 3D design, and 3D printing.

“Every inventor has a story from their childhood where they ruined their mom's vacuum cleaner or their own toys, trying to ‘find out how it worked,’" Slant says in its Kickstarter. "We wanted to create a robotic toy that not only could be taken apart to ‘see how it works’ but encourages that kind of exploration so that a new generation of engineers and scientists can be created."

The impressive little robot can be programmed to do a number of things, including dancing, wall following, obstacle avoidance, cleaning (by pushing a sponge), and even battling with other LittleBots. The 3D printed robot was also designed to be used in tandem with various kid-friendly programming and design platforms, such as Blockly and Scratch (programming), or TinkerCAD (3D design).

For instance, kids can use TinkerCAD to design parts or accessories for the STEM robot that can be 3D printed and physically attached to LittleBot. The robot’s outer structure (which is itself 3D printed) features a number of small mounting tabs which could be used to attach extra parts.

The Arduino and circuit board that power LittleBot were also designed with expandability in mind. “The board allows for maximum expandability, including other servos, and more sensors. Its Bluetooth dock also allows you to connect to smart devices and create apps for the robot with tools like App Inventor,” says Slant.

In terms of usability, LittleBot has two main modes: remote and autonomous. The former lets users control the robot’s movements via an Android smartphone app, while the autonomous setting means that LittleBot is navigating its environment using its two sensor-eyes. Last, but definitely not least, LittleBot’s software is entirely open source.

Through the Kickstarter campaign, backers can choose from a number of different reward options. The cheapest one ($45) is an early-bird deal for the LittleBot maker kit, which includes the 3D printing files for the bot, as well as all the electronics and mechanics needed to make it run. The LittleBot Basic Kit (which includes the 3D printed shell) is available for $55, while a fully assembled Basic LittleBot is available for $65. A number of more advanced options, which include extra features for the 3D printed robot, are also available.

With just under a month left of its Kickstarter campaign, Slant Robotics has already raised more than a third of its $3,000 goal. If you think you or your child could benefit from learning STEM in a fun and interactive way, we suggest checking LittleBot out.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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