UPDATE: Kickstarter crowd funding has begun for Edison
AN inexpensive programmable robot is being developed to help teach young students across the globe about how technology works.
The South Australian company Microbric is the brainchild of electronics engineer Brenton O’Brien, who is launching a crowd funding campaign to build educational robots for international export.
The aim of the project was to significantly reduce the cost of implementing robotics in primary and secondary schools.
"I've had very strong interest from South America, Singapore and the United Kingdom after dealing with education-based businesses in these countries and I'm confident these distributors will place orders in the immediate future," he said.
Prohibitive costs and the complexity of current robotic products result in schools choosing cheaper options to incorporate technological learning in the classrooms.
O'Brien believes that will change with the release of his Edison robot.
"There are currently robot products available, which are excellent, but cost around $400 to $500 each," he said.
"I'm pricing the Edison at $30 each for a class of 30 students."
He said the aim of the project was to significantly reduce the cost of implementing robotics in primary and secondary schools by making available a programmable robot that costs less than a typical school textbook.
"We've had interest from overseas educational distributors as this is an extremely exciting project that will break down the existing cost barriers and revolutionise the take up of robotics in schools across the world," O'Brien said.
He said the computer software that programs and operates the robot is based a graphical programming language with drag and drop icons that form the robot's program.
"By creating a structure or 'sentence' of these icons together students can make the robot drive a specific distance, react to sound, light and even obstacles in the robot's way."
The Edison is compatible with LEGO ® building blocks and also has built-in programs that are activated by driving over barcodes.
The company, which already makes other programmable robots, is aiming to raise at least $20,000 through Kickstarter on July 29. The money will help cover manufacturing costs for 5000 robots which will then be sent to backers and distributors around the world.
"We expect to begin mass production of the robot as soon as the Kickstarter campaign is complete," O'Brien said.