September 20, 2013
Build Your Own Robot – Where To Start
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Once solely the stuff of science fiction, a number of online communities and companies are now making it easier for you to build your own robot. The online community at Let’s Make Robots is one of the more vibrant communities dedicated solely to helping people build their own robots. A “Start Here” tutorial is designed to help you to build your own robot within “a couple of hours,” but warns readers that they should expect to “use a good weekend” to get optimum results.
“There are other ‘How to get started building robots’ out there,” LMR founder Frits Lyneborg writes at the top of the tutorial. “This one is focusing on getting you around everything extremely fast. You need no knowledge of ... anything. And you will learn everything... well, the basics of everything ;)”
Besides the tutorial, the LMR website includes blogs, product reviews and forums all dedicated to helping you learn how to build your own robot. The site also has a section that allows builders to issue friendly challenges to one another as a way of helping individuals to advance their robot-making skills as well as build a sense of community among robot-building enthusiasts.
“The idea is that with challenges you can inspire people, like if you say to someone you are teaching; See, can you make this (knowing that if necessary you can make it yourself, and show how),” reads a statement on the Challenges page of the website.
In addition to LMR and other online resources, there are a variety of products and companies offering to help you build your own robot minion for a price. One such company, Dash Robotics, launched a successful crowd-funding campaign in September that will give people of all ages the opportunity to build an insect-inspired robot from a prefabricated kit.
The Dash bots come partially as a flat sheet, which is folded and assembled like origami. The kit also includes the motors and electronics needed to make the robot skitter across the ground. According to the company, it only takes about an hour to put the bug bot together.
The Dash bot may be the quickest and perhaps even easiest way to build your own robot, but it may not be the cheapest. A $40 pledge to the campaign gets you an ‘Alpha’ bot that can move but isn’t steerable. A fully-steerable Dash bot can be had for a $65 pledge.
Ultimately it's up to you how you want to start your career as a robot maker. While some people may be willing to dish out some cash for a prefabricated starter kit that promises a smooth introduction into the art of robot-making, others will prefer the challenge of starting from scratch.