Thursday, 27 June 2013

mOwayduino Arduino robot with Scratch, Python and Java Support

The mOwayduino is a smart-looking mini robot vehicle based on the Arduino platform and with support for multiple popular programming languages.

This combination makes it an interesting option for use in education or at home to teach kids useful tech skills while creating fun robotics projects.

mOwayduino from Minirobots is currently running an Indiegogo crowdfunding project to get going.

Update: The mOwayduino team have decided that they have sufficient support to make the robot even if they don't reach their original campaign goal. You've got until Monday 29th July to support the campaign and get one of the first units.

This cute little robot comes ready assembled and he is self-contained, his brains are an Arduino Leonardo board, though you can add extras to extend his capabilities. This means the focus is on the programming rather than the assembly of a robot.

My boys have a Big Trak programmable tank which is really popular when kids come round to play, they love making it chase each other! The mOwayduino takes that concept much further.

mOwayduino has a range of sensors that can be used to avoid collisions and react to light. It even has an accelerometer so you can pick your robot up and use it as a controller! That's a fun touch.

The robot can be programmed using Scratch (great for younger kids), Python or Java (both used as professional programming languages.) This provides a platform that's the modern version of the LOGO turtle with lots more flexibility. Note that you need to pay extra to get the libraries for these languages.

The rechargeable (via USB) battery is very convenient. 

You get an RF USB dongle for communicating wirelessly with your robot. There's also an option to add Wi-fi support so your robot can be part of the internet of things. Minirobots is also working on iOS and Android apps that will enable interaction.

And you can add a camera and even a custom expansion board to provide scope for even more projects. There's definitely scope here for some really interesting projects.

The project is also working on CE mark and FCC certification - safety is very important when developing a gadget that will be used by kids.

We've seen quite a few robots and robot kits recently like the iPhone-based Romo, the Raspberry Pi-based BrickPi and of course the upcoming LEGO Mindstorms EV3. So how does mOwayduino fit in?

It looks like mOwayduino provides a nice balance between being low cost and easy to get started with but still being very hackable. The appearance is very consumer friendly, it doesn't look all scary and techie so that should make it appeal to parents and kids who might not be immediately drawn to technology.

Robot toys and games are currently increasing in popularity. mOwayduino should be a great option for kids who want to be able to customize a robot and come up with their own games for it. He could also be a good prototyping platform for anyone who wants to develop such a toy.

And did I mention he's very cute.

SupportmOwayduino on Indiegogo

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