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Unboxing my secret robot addiction - part 1
Well, not so secret really. Crowdfunding has a lot to answer for!
Unboxing a robot is such fun! (as long as the robot ships while you can still remember backing the campaign) What are the best robot crowdfunding campaigns that you’ve supported?
My love affair with robots began young, although the first things I built weren’t robots, they were model rockets. By the time I turned ten, I had graduated to soldering and building my own basic circuits, then I was introduced to Heathkit and fell in love. My father got me to build the equipment for the physics lab at the University of Newcastle in Australia, chart recorders, oscilloscopes etc. None of that Heathkit Junior stuff.
But having cut my teeth on ‘real’ stuff, I wasn’t interested in toy robots. I ended up studying film, television and radio technology instead, from satellite broadcasts to multitrack sound and vision mixing. I got the best of both worlds, as was able to learn everything analogue and all the newest digital technologies.
Fast forward and I realized that we were entering the age of real robots and also crowdfunding! It’s just so tempting to support interesting robots, but I seem to have become a robot hoarder. So to keep this under control it’s time to follow the best cognitive behavioral therapies and log exactly how many impulsive robot purchases I’ve actually made. Perhaps I will be more mindful in future.
But who am I kidding! Today I unboxed the Luwo XGO raspberry pi robot dog (with arm) and it’s currently on charge, waiting to be played with. 🙂.
Printrbot: your first 3D printer - $499
I learned so much about 3D printing from that little printer! And at the time, $499 was the cheapest 3D printer you could find anywhere, with a heated bed too. As long as you didn’t mind building it and then building your own case. Thank you to Brook Drumm and Maker Faire. Promised Feb 2012 and delivered mid 2012, perhaps even earlier!
NinjaBlocks - $411
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Not quite a robot but a good collection of internet enabled sensors and thinkers, with options to add your own actuators... so almost all you need! Promised for May 2012 and delivered May 2012 as far as I can see. Unheard of!!
Oddwerx - $499 (sadly not a successful campaign
From our friends at Ologic! Just add smartphone and you have an autonomous mobile robot complete with two custom personalities built into the Oddwerx ap and expandable by design. Out of the box Oddwerx had interchangeable tracks and wheels, bluetooth connectivity. Plus they won the Silicon Valley Robotics region of the first (and only) Global Cloud Robotics Hackathon and placed 2nd overall.
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Roominate - $199
Again it’s almost a robot. Roominate was a customizable electronics kit allowing builders to decorate and furnish rooms with working appliances; lights, fans, model tvs, etc. My daughters and nieces loved it. The founding team, Alice, Bettina and Jennifer were all computer science students who wanted to encourage more girls to use technology to express their creativity and problem solving skills. Bonus points, one of the founding team is also the daughter of Rodney Brooks, so definitely robotics in the story there! Promised for Nov 2012 and delivered in Nov or Dec 2012. Such efficiency!
Kinetic Creatures - $150
Motorized cardboard kinetic animals. I could have added some ultrasonic or light sensors and made a basic robot out of them, but mainly I loved the motion. I’m a huge fan of Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests, the evolving wind powered kinetic creations. Promised for Sep 2012 and delivered by Nov 2012.
Hexy the Hexapod - $220
Super satisfying build and Hexy is still going strong, aside from the ultrasonic sensors needing to be glued in place, also some of the joints, because after moving around for a while the little screws strip the plexi, or the motors. Arcbotics did a great job of providing open robotics for fun and education, and the files for building your own Hexy or Sparki are still available. Promised for Sep 2012 and delivered by March 2013. Not bad.
Botiful - $199
What a beautiful robot! Botiful was the first affordable video conference robot, fully integrating skype calls, as well as offering an app marketplace. Perhaps Botiful should have been reissued during the pandemic! But then the founder, Claire Delauney has been pretty busy since 2012 with larger robot projects. After Botiful, Claire led advanced robotics projects at Google X under the umbrella of Google Robotics. Then she was the Co-Founder and VP of Engineering for Otto. Then Director of Engineering at Uber. Then VP of Engineering at NVIDIA until recently, where she led the team developing ISAAC and robotics. Promised for Nov 2012 and delivered by Feb or March 2013. Again, not bad!
Cardboard Robot: open smart phone camera crane and robotic arm - $175
Promised for Dec 2012 and received Dec 2012. That’s amazing! I had a lot of fun with this robot, and it was a hit at outreach days for Robot Garden (our makerspace in Livermore is still going strong). It wasn’t very accurate, or repeatable, but just look at the size and reach! Plus cardboard. Thanks Ken Ihara!
Linkbot from Barobo - $139
Linkbot was a double NSF grant awardee for development of modular robotics. In partnership with UC Davis, Barobo developed a Linkbot curriculum to teach math and programming to middle and high schools.
But wait…. there’s more!! Part two coming up. What are the best robot crowdfunding campaigns that you’ve supported?