The Cannybots team went to an extensive amount of challenge, difficulty and effort to make things easy for kids to have fun and learn.
Indeed, it was no small feat to engineer a multi-faceted smart robot that can be assembled by kids like a Lego set, programmed by ages six to twelve, and then raced all over the house while being controlled remotely with a phone or tablet.
The team worked meticulously not just to create programming that would work best for a toy that kids could customize, but also to integrate 3D printing and robotics that would offer just the right of challenge, as we first discovered back in May.
“Going through the building process gives kids the hands-on experience of building a functional robot that they can also program,” said Anish Mampetta, CEO of Cannybots. “Programming is an essential skill today but it is not easy to get kids started. We are allowing kids to do this in a fun, interactive and rewarding way.”
With smart robot cars that automatically stay in their lanes, and even get themselves back on track, kids can enjoy classic racing, as well as embracing a host of other unique activities like jousting, sumo wrestling, and puzzle solving.
What really adds latitude to the racing element is that while kids (and let’s not leave out mom and dad, ’cause this looks like a lot of fun for every age) can either use tracks provided by Cannybots or print them out, the little robots will even run on simple black tape–meaning you can set up as large and intricate a track as you want–all over the house.
Cannybots are meant to offer a social experience, but are a great learning opportunity as well, arriving ready to be constructed–which means that right off the bat kids are building and getting insight into constructing the robots.
“On average children spend four hours a day playing games on their tablet which is not healthy. Cannybot is a smart toy that bring the magic of play back to the real world. It bridges the gap between digital and physical play while also introducing kids to programming, 3D-printing and robotics,” Mampetta told 3DPrint.com.
After that, they are involved in programming their Cannybots with CannyTalk, which is a great first computing language for them to learn as they continue to progress further into other languages. To top it off, kids can 3D print the Cannybots shells from home, and even customize and improve the open-source designs to their liking.
“The children use programming to solve puzzles, control Cannybots on race tracks, and create new game play styles,” added Mampetta. “It’s an interactive, social experience that brings friends and family together.”
The whole Cannybots package is such a comprehensive learning experience, all centered around play and social activity, and it has just been launched on Kickstarter, with the goal of reaching $40K in funding, meant to help with production kickoff everywhere rather than just in the UK and Europe as it stands now–and where it is already very popular. Those who pledge can receive great early bird discounts with single starter packs beginning as low as $89, ascending in price with volume, as well adding tracks. They also offer an educational discount beginning at $830 that comes with ten packages and more.
- Stickers for personalizing robots
The robots are able to run at impressive speeds up to four feet per second, but can be upgraded to go twice as fast. With differential drive offered by two independent wheels, they can also spin and take off a high speed.
Young users instantly learn about programming, telling the robots what they want them to do whether in solving puzzles, racing, or any of the other activities. Many hours went into making a programming language that would be easy for kids to access. The result was CannyTalk, which the team says is a very ‘natural language.’ They really hit the nail on the head though by offering a text-based interface–something nearly all young people today understand. Developed with the Computer Science Department at the University of Cambridge (UK), the program is able to convert English typed in by the kids, passing the appropriate commands to the robots so that they follow directions. (Find out more about CannyTalk here.)
- Go forward
- Turn right
- Set speed 255
- Show green
3D Printing of the shells is actually very easy, and allows for a lighter weight Cannybot. Aside from everything else kids are learning with the Cannybots experience, the whole world of digital design and customization is available for them through Tinkercad–and then they can engage in learning about 3D printing. If you don’t have access to a 3D printer, the Cannybots team suggests using 3D Hubs or a local 3D printing service bureau.
“We are really proud of the fact that we made Cannybots 3D printable. Going through the process of customising a Cannybot introduces kids to the digital manufacturing tools like CAD and 3D printing. We are preparing the kids for the technology of the future,” Mampetta told us.
This is a great way for kids to have an awesome time with family and friends while learning about science–as well as mechanics–and gaining an understanding of technology through real interaction with a very smart toy.[Update: The Kickstarter blew past its funding goal in the first two hours of the campaign–with, as of the time of this update, 105 backers already having pledged more than $56,000 within the first four hours! Several of the early bird reward levels have already been snapped up, but many remain as the campaign extends through November 12th.]
Check out the video below of the founders discussing Cannybots: