And then there were robots! Invented to make human life easier, robots are artificial beings, some even super forms of human, that commit no mistakes whatsoever. Robots are supposed to not just reduce the workloads of human beings, but execute the tasks faster and with much more efficiency.
In the last few years, there has been a tremendous amount of evolution and implementation of this concept. So much that robotics has slowly made its way through to education. Children are now taught to build robot arms and other parts since a tender age. The evolution has traveled a long road and has now crept up into, hold your breath for this one, Lego blocks as well!
Australian company Microbric has developed a robot named Edison - an affordable and programmable one with Lego-compatible faces that have been designed to encourage children in Robotics. Its faces can be connected with other Lego blocks to enlarge its size or with another robot (Edison of course!). Its reasonable price structure of just $39 makes it all the more attractive.
What Edison has to offer?
This is how this baby wonder works:
- Edison is equipped with infrared data transmitting LEDs on its sides, which work as obstacle detectors to sense any obstacle near it and navigate around that.
- Edison is programmable by an easy and open programming language, EdWare, which is compatible with Windows. EdWare can then be loaded on to Edison via EdComm cable. It is an easy-to-use programming language designed especially for kids.
- Edison runs on a Freescale 8-bit processor and requires four AAA batteries, which keep it running for over an hour.
- Edison can receive infrared data from other Edison robots as well.
- It can also be controlled by a simple TV/DVD remote.
- It is also equipped with a line tracking sensor.
- Edison comes with a few pre-programmed software as well, which get activated when it moves over a barcode.
- Edison has two light sensors on both its sides.
- It runs on two wheels, has three control buttons on its top, and two LES lights in front. Quite the di-wheeler, don’t you think?
- What more, Edison went through the car test and emerged unscathed! If you are wondering what the car test is, then let me tell you — Edison was actually run over by a car for a test and it earned full marks!
What all can Edison do?
Edison can work through the following quite easily:
- Navigate its way around obstacles
- Make its way along a straight line while on the go
- Play musical tunes and beeps
- Communicate with other Edison robots
- Respond to clapping
- Follow a light source
Amazing right? And that too for a mere $39! There have been other robots in the market as well before Edison. But they were not as affordable as Edison. This Australian company has pledged to donate one Edison robot for every $30 they receive.
EdWare and EdComm
Edison, as discussed earlier, can be programmed with the EdWare programming language that comes with the EdPack 1 comprising the Edison and EdComm cable. EdWare is a very simple programming language, which uses “drag” and “drop” options to operate. The instructions it uses are “Control”, “Read”, “Data”, and “Flow”. All you need to do is, download the program on your desktop. Now the question is, how to load it in Edison? That is what the EdComm cable is for. Once you have loaded EdWare in your desktop, connect one end of the EdComm cable at the headphone socket of your computer and the other in the receiver socket of Edison. The EdComm socket uses audio-encoded data to transfer the EdWare programme to Edison.
New Plans for Edison
The workers at Microbric are ambitious enough to think of taking Edison to the next level. They have amazing plans for Edison:
- Increase Edison’s online activities
- Create iOS and Android apps to program Edison
- Integrate Edison in classrooms
- Make all children robot-friendly
With such awesome future plans and its already outstanding performance, Edison is sure to shoot for the stars. Robotics has traveled into children’s activities for quite some time now. But making it budget-friendly was the challenge. Edison has achieved that goal and is aiming for more already. Still there's a lot more to come from them.