With the Create 2, iRobot has thrown open the guts of the Roomba floor cleaning robot to students, developers, and DIY-types.
The Create 2 robot, made from re-manufactured Roomba 600 series hardware, include the full array of LEDs, sensors and drive features and it was aimed at giving students the ability to program sounds and robotic behaviors like movement within a relatively simple programming environment. But this time around, the iRobot Create 2 unit will be released with a whole passel of 3D printable files.
The actual entry-level Roomba 630 will set you back $350, but the Create 2 platform is priced at a relatively inexpensive $199. The Create 2 is no robot vacuum. It doesn’t suck. Literally. While it retains design, maneuverability and charging elements, all the vacuum parts have gone missing in favor of a stripped-down deviced which amounts to a very accessible platform for robotics programming. For your money you get more than the Create 2 unit. iRobot also throws in some very detailed instructional materials and a cable to make it easy to move your sounds, directional commands and other data straight to the device from your computer. Additionally included in the package are 3D printable files along with detailed instructions to build new parts via 3D printing. This includes the printing and replacement of the bin with a cargo tray, as well as other interesting 3D printable parts.
“As a global leader in robotics technology, iRobot believes its greatest social responsibility is to ignite students’ passion for STEM-related careers through the excitement of robots,” said Colin Angle, chairman and chief executive officer of iRobot. “Robots have a cool factor unlike any other learning tool. Create 2, with its online resources, reliable hardware born of the award winning Roomba, and ease of customization simply delivers more robot than anything available to students and educators at or near its price. We are so excited to be able to make this available to the educational community.”
A bit like the $20 Green Bean Module from FirstBuild (which allows you to hack appliances) or the Belkin WeMo Maker Kit (which makes it possible to mess with garage door openers and sprinkler systems from an app), the Create 2 opens up the iRobot platform for control from your own micro-controller or wireless access from a PC. Communications to the robot can also be handled via a Serial to USB cable.
Perhaps most important to students and neophytes to robotics, the package includes basic programming examples from very simple to advanced, and they include “Light Bot,” a light painting tutorial which allows programmers to create LED images and “DJ Create 2,” essentially a rolling robotic DJ which lets programmers kick out the jams via a Bluetooth enabled mobile device.
One example of iRobot’s initiatives with STEM is National Robotics Week (held in 2015 from April 4th to April 12th across 50 states). iRobot founded National Robotics Week and continues to act as one of its lead organizers.
The Create 2 is now available in the United States as of December 10th, 2014, and at $199.99, it’s sure to be a gift that keeps on giving to anyone interested in robotics – or anyone interested in creatively annoying their housepets or roommates.
This is one mighty cool entry-level robotic platform from iRobot, and it’s certain that some interesting projects will result in the near future from students and programmers. It is the kind of STEM tool that will capture the imagination of students. Let’s hear your thoughts about the Create 2 in the Hacking the Roomba With 3D Printing forum thread on 3DPB.com