About this project
As of Thursday, April 10, 2014, we are fully funded! Thank you for sharing this journey with us! Your support has meant the world to us and we can't wait to bring the Pi-Bot to you.
What did we do?
We have developed the perfect hands-on learning platform for both students and professional engineers to learn the hardware and software of robotics.
STRETCH GOALS (all reached!)
We will be adding a tri-color LED and buzzer in every Pi-Bot without any additional cost to our kits. The buzzers are especially fun for our younger audience and the tri-color LED will lighten up all of your robots :)
This stretch goal is a big one for us and you! It really is something special for electronics education. This is an interactive software interface specially designed to introduce users to electronics before getting started with their Pi-Bot. It is a graphical module that will allow you to interface your outputs (LEDs, sensors, buzzers) with your STEM Board without any programming. In seconds, you will be able to light up your LEDs and sound off your buzzer. You'll be able to see the reaction to distance and light variations as the sensors are moved around and reactions are plotted live on your monitor! This interface will work with any Arduino-compatible board and future Pi-Bot add-ons such as servo motors. This is a huge addition to our project that we can't wait to bring to you! The software will be available for backers to install from our website.
You've been asking and we've heard you! In addition, to our downloadable manual, we'd like to provide you with video tutorials including the following:
- Initial Set-Up
- Introduction to Electronics
- Gearbox Assembly
- Pi-Bot Programming with Arduino IDE
- Motor control
- Sensor interface
- Sample programs
We are collaborating with MiniBloq to set up a Pi-Bot specific graphical programming interface (drag-and-drop blocks). Users will also be able to see the generated source code as they transition to full-time C programming. We believe that this will be further beneficial for people of all ages with no programming knowledge. Please help us reach this new goal!
Our project has been featured on the following shows, sites, and tech blogs! We've had some great media so far - thank you for all the support!
Did you miss us Live on Participant Media's "TakePart Live" show? Check out Melissa and the Pi-Bot here!
Missed our Kickstarter Campaign Press? Thank you so much to all the media who supported us! Check them all out here:
The Pi-Bot Project
Our team has spent years testing all of the leading robotics kits on the market today. Although many have impressive features, they are either too complicated or overly simplistic... and always much too expensive. Today, a typical Arduino based robot usually costs over $150. Too often we spent money on kits that could not do much or were too costly to be practical. Not to mention, many of these kits used proprietary components that limited the scope of real-world usage.
We wanted to change this.
We are a team of engineers who are passionate about teaching robotics. We run hands-on robotics programs to excite students about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. We founded "STEM Center USA" which offers engaging programs at our "Robotics Creativity Center", in- and after-school classes at local schools, and seasonal camps. Our program is for K-16 students who work on cross-platform robotics integrating all the STEM fields. We started with just a few students and in the last year alone have been able to reach thousands - and we hope this is just the beginning!
We are so excited to present our Pi-Bot!
We engineered the Pi-Bot from the ground up through several design cycles to optimize function while staying affordable. We continue to work with students to make our designs appealing, and work with experts in the area of robotics to improve our designs.
We field tested our Pi-Bots with a small group of high school and college students. The response has been remarkable. This is the kit we wish we had growing up!
Pi-Bot is unique:
- Modular platform for interchangeable sensors
- Standardized Arduino C programming
- Novel chassis design minimizes weight while maintaining strength
- Fully accessible microprocessor for easy connections
- Slide in battery pack
- Additional microprocessors can be used simply replacing the support plate
- Develops practical knowledge by using real electronic components
- All for a low cost!
Our laser-cut chassis ensures high precision and durability. The unique "Pi" shape is optimized to minimize weight with high strength.
We give you the flexibility to design your own projects with included line following and ultrasonic distance sensors. The modular chassis allows sensors to be moved and positioned for your convenience. No soldering is needed to fully construct your Pi-Bot!
We are currently developing an assortment of new sensors and motors for even more capabilities in the future. The Pi-Bot kit is flexible and can be used for years.
Just as humans rely on skeletons, robots need a solid chassis to move around. Our Pi-Bot shape was not born overnight. In fact, we didn't even set out to design a “Pi” shaped robot! We explored various shapes and sizes, experimented with multiple CAD models and tried out numerous laser-cutting test cycles. We considered everything from a boring, but easy to make, rectangular chassis all the way to a circular “Pie" Bot (where sensors would be added on like toppings). Here’s a look at some of our original designs and prototypes!
After reviewing many, many options, we discovered the Pi shape was the most functional, practical and elegant. Who knew a “π” could be the most efficient robot chassis possible!?
Even within the Pi shape itself, we had numerous iterations. Our final design was subjected to finite element analysis and optimization. Our original Pi-Bot was about 2 times the height and had 4 DC motors with wheels. Our Pi-Bot today has evolved into a much more aerodynamic and speedier version with a gearbox.
To thank contributors of $75 or more, we will send you the latest design of our Pi-Bot. You will be given detailed step-by-step instructions for easy robot assembly, wiring, and programming. The latest library of sample codes will be accessible to all contributors, which you can build upon for your personalized robot.
Please note that our Pi-Bot uses Arduino technology and does not involve Raspberry Pi.
Our kit includes:
- Pi-shaped acrylic chassis (made locally in the US)
- STEM board - Arduino compatible microcontroller
- USB cable
- Motor controller
- Ball-bearing castor
- Ultrasonic distance sensor
- Line tracking sensor
- LEDs and resistors
- Wireset and jumpers
- Power switch
- Mounting brackets
- 4-AA battery holder
- Spacers and fasteners
- Easy to follow instructions
- No soldering required
Risks and challenges
Parts shown in the pictures depict a variety of Pi-Bot prototypes. Since we are continually improving our parts, your kit may contain components that are different from what is shown in the photos.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Pi existed long before all of us. Pi is an irrational number that fascinates all scientists and engineers. We use the name Pi-Bot because our robot uses the shape of Pi (the Greek letter). There is no better name for our robot than Pi-Bot.
We are a big fan of Raspberry Pi. However, our Pi-Bit does not use Raspberry Pi. It uses Arduino compatible microcontroller. We realize that there may be some confusion with Raspberry Pi and hence we clearly indicated in our story that Pi-Bot does not use Raspberry Pi.
In our story we show how we arrived at the shape of Pi as the chassis for the robot after optimization analysis. In that sense we have more do with actual Pi than Raspberry Pi. In this context it is also important to remember that Raspberry wanted to use Python (not Pi) originally which later became Pi (instead of Py).
Pi-Bot is designed for upper middle school students, high school students, college students, and adults. We currently use C programming language meant for this audience. Pi-Bot assembly and wiring can be intricate and is not designed for very young children. Younger kids may get involved with adult help.
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