Friday, 14 July 2017

IronBot Chap - DIY Robot for Kids on Indiegogo

RoboSpace, a robot maker from China, are back on Indiegogo with IronBot Mate, a new buildable robot for kids with graphical coding. 

They previously ran a successful campaign to launch an IronBot walking robot

The new IronBot Chap robot is built from metal parts that are screwed together. The robot comes as a kit to be assembled by children. 

There's a remote control app and programming via a custom graphical drag and drop app. 

The Indiegogo Early Bird pricing is very competitive at $49 plus shipping (44% off retail) for the IronBot Chap. 

The models you can build look great. My 10 year old is obsessed with tracks so he loves that these are included in the base kit. As well as the motors that control the tracks/wheels you also get an additional servo which really extends what you can do. 

IronBot Chap uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery which comes with a charger. That's very convenient. 

IronBot Chap can also work with a phone to use vision and AI services to create an interactive robot. This looks very interesting. 

There's also an IronBot Mate add-on which allows much more complex robots to be built on the Chap base. 

It's a shame that the colours (Blue or Red or Black) and naming (Chap and Mate) are so masculine! It's harder to think of a stronger way of telling girls that this product isn't for them (no a pink one called Chapette wouldn't help!) This may be partly a culture and translation issue, but we're just seeing too many blue robots for kids. Of course lots of girls will love IronBot as it is but others will feel it's not for them which is a shame as creating your own robot companion is an awesome thing for girls to do.

We find that having good quality tutorial material is a key factor in whether families (and schools) without deep technical expertise get the most from a robot kit like this. This could be an issue here as IronBot may find it hard to product high quality English language resources. (Their campaign text and video are poorly translated.)

Overall, IronBot Chap looks like an interesting addition to the programmable robots space. The hardware looks great. It's an affordable, adaptable kit with a rechargeable battery and a graphical programming app. The AI capabilities bring the robot up to date and mean that kids can experience all aspects of developing a robot companion.

Check out the IronBot Chap robot campaign on Indiegogo.

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