There’s one big problem with robots: cost. A good robotics kit will set you back at least $1,000, not including the software, and that’s too expensive for your average hobbyist maker, school teacher, or typical undergrad student. This problem makes robotics inaccessible.
We’ve seen what happens when tech tools gets cheaper. Arduino and Raspberry Pi have taken hardware out of the hands of the engineers and into the hands of any creative willing to write a few lines of code. The myRIO has brought LabVIEW Real Time programming to students, and you can see for yourself the incredible projects that has spawned. It’s about time that the same happened with robotics.
With this in mind, I’ve set out to build a low cost, open robotics platform. It’s called QuadBot, and in its first two weeks on Kickstarter it received 200% funding. The design and code is open source and I kept the cost low by designing a single controller board that also doubles as the mechanical frame. The chassis is 3D Printed and hardware is fully accessible with plug in terminals.
It’s an easy sell to most makers, which explains the rapid funding, but I wanted to expand the platform into academia and give makers access to more powerful programming. Enter LabVIEW. As former NI intern and creator of the NI Hexapod, it was a natural choice. LabVIEW is ideal for makers because it’s graphical and follows a visual style that appeals to people without a coding background. This is what makes it the ideal language to build into my robot platform.
My next step is to bring LabVIEW to makers by creating a LabVIEW API for QuadBot. If this ideal match can be completed, it will bridge the gap between making, academia, and robotics.
The robots will be shipping in April 2017, and the API and source code will be ready by then, so if you’re interested go and check out the Kickstarter and bag yourself a QuadBot.