Smartibot

A few weeks back the KickStarter for the Smartibot was fulfilled. A colourful flat box arrived with the familiar robot, teabot and unicorn on the front.

The motors and driver board were very similar to those that I’d used for the Stainless Steel Unicorn last year. There have been a few changes to the board and the silk screen looks better. The team have also added heatshrink to the motor connectors which is great as I’d had problems with the wires falling off when I’d assembled the beta version.

The Kit

The kit comes with three lots of cardboard templates, an instruction book, poster, battery box, motors, control board and even a couple of screwdrivers to help you assemble it.

You’ll need 4 AA batteries and a mobile phone or table that can download apps from Apple or Google.

The instructions have been designed to work without text, so you just follow along with the pictures. We built the teabot, “so it could take tea to Mummy”. The kit was fairly straightforward to assemble, the tricky bits being the nuts and bolts and getting the battery box in the right place. The instructions were clear although I felt the separation between each of the three projects could have been clearer, it was not initially obvious where the teabot instructions started.

The motors were powerful enough to transport tea and various other items around the house. The wheels did spin on the table so we followed the tip to put rubber bands around the wheels. The motors did sound like they were straining a bit on the carpet with a full load.

The app

The app for the kit is quite intuitive. It’s got a big icon for the remote control option and another for the AI controlled version.

The teabot was not really designed for AI control but that did not stop us loading it up with an IPad and getting it following various things around. It worked very well on tracking people both large and small. It was not so good on our test subjects for horses and potplants. I laughed for hours when my daughter’s long hair got detected as a dog.

What next?

The Smartibot is not quite complete. There’s a block based coding platform to be released so you can programme it yourself. I do hope that this incorporates the AI aspect so you could for example have the bot avoid collisions.

There’s also a lot of hardware on the board that’s not used. There’s a bunch of servo headers, a connector that is marked “audio” and some addtional 6 pin connectors at the bottom which can be used to connect “accessories”.

Conclusion

It is a well made and designed kit and the AI aspect works well. It’s easy to assemble and the robots work well. We had no issues with the electronics or software part of the kit. We did not try connecting up other things as the body of the robot but the examples I’ve seen mean that it is very flexible.

My main complaint would be that you need to disassemble each kit to move the motors to the next one. And perhaps the instructions could have better separation for the 3 different projects.

In it’s current form it is a great kit for building a simple remote or AI controlled bot. I’m really looking forward to see how it evolves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.