The new Makeblock kit is a robotic gripper designed with LEGO-like modular system for making easy-to-assemble robots using mechanical parts and different kind of sensors. The new kit is called ‘Ultimate Robot Kit’.
For me it’s clear that they try to achieve the best imaginable kit for beginners in robotics and for anyone who needs a versatile platform with tracks, wheels, and a robotic gripper attached to the mobile platform. But, because the users have a limited number of different configurations (10 different configurations), and because it’s a little bit hard to replace or add other components that are not part of the kit, the word “ultimate” from the kit name could be easily replaced with the word “optimal”. So, the “optimal kit” is a good platform for learning more about how mobile platforms work with a robotic gripper for grasping objects.
If you choose to spend $399.99 to buy this kit, you should be sure that it’s what you want to be. If you want to use Arduino as controller, you can … and not. The kit includes Me Orion board, which is a mainboard based on Arduino Uno that allows you to program it via Scratch. In addition to the Arduino-compatible board, the kit is controllable via Bluetooth module using a remote control, a smartphone or a tablet. So, you have from where to choose to control your robot.
The kit contains parts such as sensors, metal geared motors, the Me Orion controller, programmable RGB LED strip, other mechanical parts and of course the robotic gripper. In theory, the kit has all you need to start building robots right from the unboxing, and this is great if we think that you don’t need to solder electronics and all the aluminum parts can be assembled with simple tools. All is missing from this kit are the batteries for the remote control, but this is a problem only if you want to use one of these to control the robot. Otherwise, your smartphone or tablet is the best remote controller.
The kit is well documented, and this is a good start for beginners. Inside the Makeblock community are available several tutorials and guides from where anyone can learn how to start assembling and programming the kit.
Sometimes is difficult to start learning new things, and robotics is not as simple as some think it is. So, if you want to have a good start, you need to pay attention at what you want to achieve, what you use, and what resource are available.