Robots are intimidating, and starting from scratch with them is difficult no matter your age. To get a robot to do anything cool, you usually have to learn both hardware and software at the same time, and for people who don’t have a background in either of these things, overcoming that initial learning curve can be terrifying. BirdBrain Technologies, a spinoff from Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, has just released Hummingbird, a new DIY kit that promises to make building a robot as simple (and affordable) as possible.
We like how everything is included, with a clearly labelled board and color-coded wiring. It’s also cool that the wires simply snap in and out, eliminating the need for soldering, though (to be honest) soldering isn’t that difficult to learn, and building simple robots is a great way to get started. But, you know, soldering may not always be the safest option for children (or clumsy adults).
On the software front, the kit includes a Java-based drag-and-drop visual programming interface that requires no prior experience, and anyone with a passing interest in their iPhone should be able to get it working in no time.
Although this is referred to as a “kit,” there are no instructions that tell you what to build. It’s the best kind of robot kit: the kind where you can use your imagination and creativity to build your own robot. You may need some additional structural components (such as cardboard), but aside from that, all you need is a good idea to make whatever you want, which is (in essence) what makes robots so great. Take this kit, come up with an idea, and make it a reality.
The Hummingbird kit is intended for kids of ages 10 and up, although it’s not a bad way for people of any age to get familiar with getting hardware and software to work together. At $199 each, it might be a little more realistic to see the kit become part of an educational curriculum as opposed to something that kids will be able to buy for themselves, but if you’ve got a budding roboticist in your family who you’d like to foster, we’d say that this would be a pretty good investment.
The Hummingbird kit is designed for children aged 10 and up, but it’s a good way for people of any age to learn how to get hardware and software to work together. At $199 each, it may be more realistic to see the kit as part of an educational curriculum rather than something that kids can buy for themselves, but if you have a budding roboticist in your family who you’d like to foster, we’d say this is a pretty good investment.