30 Nov ROBOTIC VISION STUDENT SHIPS OUT HIS “KICKSTARTER” ROBOTS
The dream for one PhD student from the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision to provide an easily accessible robotics platform for schools has become a reality.
James Mount began shipping out his BBot robots today. The BBots were created as part of a Kickstarter campaign, where James had to reach a goal of $500 to get the project up and going. He reached that goal in July, a week before the Kickstarter deadline. He was then able to begin the design and assembly process.
James created 17 BBots to send to schools and individuals around Australia. BBots are easy-to-use, inexpensive robotic vehicles with several modes to help introduce kids to robotics and the scientific process. They don’t require any programming or mechanical design skills to get started.
James’ mother is a school teacher, so he wanted to figure out how he could give back and help schools.
“This allowed me to combine my family’s background in education with my expertise in robotics,” said James. “I think robotics is a great teaching tool that can engage and excite students.”
Over the last four months, James has been his own one man assembly line, working in his spare time.
“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster. It’s been challenging at times, but in the end it’s been worthwhile. I hope that the people who supported the project are happy with the BBot, whether they want to use it to teach or just learn from.”
The goal of the BBot project is to engage kids and help them understand the scientific process. For example one of the worksheets uses BBot’s differential drive system to help kids explore the scientific concepts of hypothesising and experimental design. The workshop challenges students to think scientifically by asking them what they think BBot will do if both wheels are running at the same speed, if one wheel is running faster than the other, or if one wheel isn’t running at all.
James is working toward his PhD at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). His
PhD supervisor is Associate Professor Michael Milford, a Chief Investigator at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision.
Milford challenged James to take on the project, as a way to help schools deal with a world where technology is constantly evolving.
“I hope this is the start of an inclusive movement to give everyone the basic scientific and technological awareness they need to prosper in this rapidly changing world,” said Milford.
The project started with a very basic design, and then evolved to what it is today. James said he couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.