Robo Wunderkind is a new robotics kit that is so easy to use that even a kindergartener with no prior coding experience can build and control a robot. While he was studying computer science, Rustem Akishbekov would build robots using Arduino—the popular open-source electronics software and hardware. He found that although his friends were just as interested in creating robots as he was, they were too intimidated by the platform. So, he assembled a team of engineers and designers and set out to create something easier for beginners. Two years later, the Austrian startup is now launching Robo Wunderkind (German for “wonder child”), which they say makes learning coding and robotics as fun and simple as playing with LEGOs.
While there are a few other robotics kits on the market, this one stands out with its simple design. The system is made of colorful cubes which were chosen specifically because their size (3 inches) and square shape is easy for kids as young as five years old to manipulate. Although they look and feel simple, the cubes are actually embedded with sensors, motors, batteries, circuits, and other electronic components, such as laser pointers, cameras, and microphones. The system module also comes with 4GB of storage and an ARM Cortex-A8 processor. Each cube has its own function: there is a battery cube, a microcontroller cube, cubes with motors, a cube containing a Bluetooth module, and cubes with sensors. Data and energy transmission work wirelessly.
Kids (or adults!) connect the cubes together, the same way they would with LEGOs. In fact, LEGOs can be added to the cubes with a simple adapter piece. After building a robot, users can program it with an app that doesn’t require any coding skills. According to the Robo Wunderkind team, kids without any coding experience can use the app to program the robot they have built to do everything from driving through mazes, to reacting to noises or changes in light, or even reciting the weather forecast. For older kids, the kit is also compatible with MIT’s Scratch, a simple programming language recommended for ages eight and up. An API for more experienced programmers is also available.
A Kickstarter campaign is underway, and since they have already crowdsourced more than double their $70,000 goal, Robo Wunderkind is on track to deliver the first kits by July 2016.