In the last months, several robotic kit projects parts of a niche market dominate the news especially coming from Kickstarter, but the only thing that really matters is the power of the products to come on the market and to accomplish its mission. A cheap price and an open-source body aren’t enough to become a successfully robot kit. I need to add many more features to a product able to break the rules and to become a hit on its niche market. TipToe is a new project with an open-source body and several abilities that makes it a unique product in the collection of new released kits for kids and hobbyists.
The TipToe robot kit is engineered for a quick introduction to robotics and is available at a retail price of $99.00. All the components from the box can be transformed into a functional robot in under 30 minutes using simple tools and without programming or electronic skills.
The robot is powered by four AAA batteries, which can move all of the six legs for a while.
With a built-in Bluetooth 4.0 module, the robot kit can be controlled via iPhone, iPad or iPod and using a simple application.
Perhaps a wheeled robot is the most common platform in education or for hobbyists, which is understandable since a robot on wheels is much quicker and operate well on flat surfaces. But according to some estimations, almost 80 percent of land cannot be accessed using wheels, which is an opportunity to add some legs to our robot.
Even the platform uses six legs to move forward or backward, its design includes only three servo motors. Featured with legs and with an open-source body, the robot price is much less than other kits of the same area due to its optimizations on the servo motor side and the controller.
On the software side, the robot kit operates under a fully integrated firmware and software with the hardware components. This is probably the best solution to reduce the limitation in the software and let the users to add new or improved functionalities.
The brain of TipToe is the RFduino module engineered as an Arduino compatible chip and with built-in Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity.
The kit comes in two versions. The basic version includes the 6 legged platforms with capabilities to move forward, backward, two adjustable colored LED’s able to express different emotional states, and a temperature sensor to report the ambient temperature. An advanced version has integrated all the basic features plus a carapace-like upper body feature, a sonar range sensor to measure the distance between the robot and an object, and a sound module used to beep, chirp, honk, play simple melodies, and more.
With its abilities, the TipToe robot kit looks like an Arduino platform that can be reprogrammed using a simple IDE and a computer. Depending on the programming skills, another option is to use an iPhone, iPad, or iPod and an application able to send wireless commands to the robot.
The application has an intuitive interface with a bunch of control options that can be touched on the screen to perform the appropriate action. By pressing the directional arrows, the robot is moved according to the direction of the arrow.
From the same interface, you’re able to change the color of the LED’s, play a sound, or control individual leg position to create your own walk style.