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$3,945 pledged of $75,000 goal
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By Myke Predko
$3,945 pledged of $75,000 goal
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About this project

Studies show that by the time a child is 13, they have decided on their career path and the trend is away from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  These subjects are vital for a vibrant economy.  

Our team has developed robotics classroom and workshop programs for the past 12 years, exciting and engaging over 13,000 children.  We have data showing that we can reverse this trend.   

All current programmable educational robots require a PC and must be customized for use teaching STEM subjects.  These requirements are beyond the ability of most teachers and youth groups.  

The New Jade robot (the design of which is shown in the SolidWorks rendering above) is an easy to assemble, feature rich and user friendly educational robot that provides capabilities that are only found in advanced research or space exploration robots.  

As can be seen in our video, we have working functional prototype robots which incorporate the unique capabilities of the Jade robot.  These prototype robots have undergone in-depth testing with a number of children, parents and teachers; receiving a lot of interest and excitement.  

From testing and feedback, the Jade robot features:

  • On robot programming interface
  • Reflectance Spectrometer for remote sensing
  • Tracked differential drive 
  • Controllable using TV Remote Control
  • Rechargeable Lithium-Polymer batteries
  • Ability to customize the robot with additional sensors and outputs

The gearbox and drivetrain use the popular Tamiya gearbox and track kit to minimize our development costs as well as make spares and replacements easy to find and buy.  

You will be able to program the Jade robot without a PC - just using the OLED based display on the top of the robot.  We call this the "Persona Programming Interface".  

Not needing a PC means that programs can be created, tested and debugged on the robot - as an added bonus, there are no cables to trip over!

The secret to being able to develop programs ona small robot is the "subsumptive programming" model.  The user specifies responses to specific sensor inputs along with a priority value.  The highest priority response is the one the robot executes.   

Subsumptive programming is a relatively new development and is used on many commercial products - the most famous one being the iRobot Roomba® vacuum cleaner.  

We have also created a script language for not only controlling the operation of the robot as well as the OLED based user interface.  This language is similar to C or Java and can be debugged using our web development tools.  

The web tools eliminate the hassle of loading a program as well as the device drivers necessary to interface to the robot.  Unlike other educational robots, the Jade does not require device drivers to connect to a PC via USB.   

Educational robots typically have basic sensors.  The Jade robot has object, light and line sensors which exceed the capabilities of competing robots.  

For example, the light and object sensors provide 360 degree (all aspect) of coverage for the robot.  This allows the Jade robot to excel in diverse environments like maze solving or competing with other robots.  

Screen capture of actual geologic data from a Mimetics robot's reflectance spectrometer
Screen capture of actual geologic data from a Mimetics robot's reflectance spectrometer

The reflectance spectrometer on the bottom of the Jade robot allows it to identify different substances. This mimics the capability of the Curiosity robot on Mars and demonstrates how remote sensors work and what kind of data scientists receive from robot probes. 

When we demonstrated the operation of the Jade robot's reflectance spectrometer to science teachers, we were surprised at the possibilities it gave them to practically demonstrate optics, chemistry and geology.  

Unlike other educational robots, the Jade robot is capable of doing real science.  

The Jade robot was designed from the beginning to provide all users with a simple programming model and allow them to grow as part of an open source community. 

Web based tools allows immediate access to the Jade robot community with the added bonus of being available on any system with a web browser.  They also provide a connection to the robot without requiring software/driver loads.  

The Jade robot can be enjoyed and supported by individuals ranging from grade school children to PhDs. Bringing people together to share their ideas, challenges, problems and solutions has always been a part of the Jade robot's DNA. 

Teachers can effortlessly create "class" groups using our web based tools, allowing them to set challenges, receive homework or coach their students through the problem solving process. 

To ensure the success of the project; we have created two separate prototypes to test the technologies that will be used in the Jade Robot.  

The first was our functional prototype robots which were created to test the operation of the operating system, a touch screen user interface and the "Persona" programming model.  

Functional prototype with "Persona" programming interface screen shot
Functional prototype with "Persona" programming interface screen shot

Next, the "Ægir" robot, which was originally designed for the Challenger Centres for STEM education was used to evaluate the reflectance spectrometer, the drivetrain to be used on the Jade Robot and using rechargeable Lithium Polymer batteries.  

Ægir Robot with remote control console showing camera view and reflectance spectrometer output
Ægir Robot with remote control console showing camera view and reflectance spectrometer output

Both types of prototype robots have been extensively tested both by the team as well as by children and their families.  From this testing, we have made the following observations and conclusions:

  • The Persona programming model is easily understood by children after just a few moments of introduction.  
  • The Jade robot will use a "D-Pad" style button layout along with a rotary encoder for user input as this was found to be a more effective UI than a touch screen.  
  • The electronics, chosen motors and gearbox have run for over six months of usage without any failure.
  • The benefits of the reflectance spectrometer and it's ability to allow children to do real science is readily understood and appreciated by educators and parents.

Based on the testing that we have done, we believe we have an effective configuration for the Jade robot and we are on track to meeting the milestones listed below.  

Manufacturing of the Jade robot will take place at an ISO9001 certified contract manufacturer located just North of Toronto, Canada.  We choose to keep manufacturing local which avoids the communication problems as well as the travel and shipping delays that comes with using off-shore manufacturers.  

Mimetics has lined up suppliers for all major components (microcontroller, power management, motor drivers, displays, batteries, etc.) and have ensured that they, along with our manufacturer, will be able to deliver 5,000 units per month.  

  • November 12, 2012 - Completion of mechanical design
  • November 26, 2012 - start of electrical design & PCB layout
  • December 1, 2012 - Final MQX release with custom USB device for integration into the web tool
  • December 15, 2012 – USB Hardware Development PCBs available for web tool 
  • January 15, 2013 – Alpha release of Web IDE 
  • February 1, 2013 – Alpha release of Jade robot hardware and software
  • February 15, 2013 – Beta release of Web IDE with Jade robot hardware
  • March, 2013 – Kickstarter product build and ship to customers 

Myke Predko is a graduate of the University of Waterloo's Computer Engineering program. He has worked for IBM, Celestica, Logitech and RIM in a variety of engineering and senior management positions. Over this time, he has been in the development, manufacturing and quality assurance of many different products including: 

  • Personal computers and servers
  • Networking hardware
  • High performance memory
  • Remote controls
  • Cellular phones 
  • Various peripheral products.

One of Myke's passions is robotics - he designed and built his first robot when he was thirteen for a grade 8 science fair. Since then, he has co-designed the Tab Electronics "Build your own robot" and "Sumo-bot" kits.  Myke has written a number of best selling books including "123 Robotics Experiments for the Evil Genius" and is a co-author on the third edition of "Robot Builder's Bonanza". 

The Jade robot development team consists of hardware and software engineers, technicians and designers that Myke has worked with on other successful products. Along with the immediate team, we have a large network of electronics OEMs, contract manufacturers, mechanical and electrical designers to draw upon for the Jade robot project.

Previous products developed by the Mimetics team includes:

Beyond the product development team, Mimetics also has experienced teachers, program developers and event co-ordinators.  Since 2001, we have held over 300 classroom and workshop sessions making us world leaders in robotics education.   

In our 90 minute sessions, the attendees work through: 

  • An introduction to robotics, including the different capabilities of the robot used in the workshop 
  • Robot programming, with each attendee creating an autonomous behavior in which the robot moves while avoiding objects in its way 
  • Experimenting with practical robot applications, ranging from robot competitions to maze solving to simulated space exploration to robot art

When we did an analysis of robot workshop surveys from June 2010 to January 2012, written by 350 families with children ranging in age from seven to twelve, we summarized the following results: 

  •  A 22%-26% increase in interest in STEM subjects 
  •  A 34%-46% increase in the knowledge and comfort level in Robotics and Programming 
  • Over 95% of participants rated the workshops as “Excellent” 

Since 2001, we continue to work with many partners including:

This brief video shows more about the our work as well as the exposure and support that we have received.  

The Jade Robot provides practical, hands on educational opportunities in the following classroom studies:

  • Motion (Physics)
  • Mechanics with gears and wheels
  • Energy Conversion
  • Electricity and Electronics
  • Light and Optics
  • Chemistry
  • Space Exploration
  • Geology (with the reflectance spectrometer)

The Jade robot also provides opportunities for children to develop their skills in:

  • Teamwork
  • Problem Solving
  • Project Planning

Grenoble Public School,  Teacher, Judith Arrowood, 2010

“I know that workshop participants have gotten together outside of school to work with their robots and several groups have also returned to the Science Centre to participate in robot competition events.  However, it is not only the students who benefit.  The workshops provide the whole family a chance to share in the experience, learn together and teach each other.  On many occasions there have been three generations of a family at a table taking part and enjoying together.”          

Gateway Public School, Vice Principal: Olga Ellis, 2010

“Our students were thrilled with the experience and the opportunity!  Being able to learn about robotics first hand, program a robot and be able to take it home to continue with the fun and learning was thrilling…The buzz continues as I hear from several students that some have tried drawing with their robot at home, others have taught their siblings and their cousins how to program their robots and a few are trying to set up a maze with their Robot pals.  According to one student, “No one would want to miss this workshop”.

John XXIIICatholicSchool, Principal: Pat Tari, 2010

“I have seen the amazement in the faces of these youth and their families as they’ve gone from thinking robots “were like magic” to understanding how their small robots operate and then their empowerment at understanding how to program their robots.  This really opens their eyes to the world of science, technology and the potentials of further education.”

Ontario Science Centre, Science Educator, Rocio Navarro, 2010

“The family Robotics workshops are awesome! I highly recommend them for children, as it helps them to stay at the cutting edge of technology. While having fun, children learn to program robots, this even helps them learn the concept of Systems (Which is part of the science curriculum in Ontario).  As an educator and parent, I think these workshops are amazing for children. Thank you for making this happen. In particular, for those families with financial constraints, these programs are great for the whole community.”

Camp Programs, Ontario Science Centre, Manager, Angie Aucoin, 2010

“Your workshops were wonderful and really added to our SCI campers' overall Camp experience.  Comments often heard from campers were: “The best things about the workshops were: “Everything!” "Playing/working with the robots!" “I preferred the time spent experimenting with the robots.” "The worst thing was saying good-bye to my robot” "Lots of fun! ", "Amazing workshop!" and "Need more time!"  “Overall, the workshops really peaked our campers' curiosity about robotics and ignited their desire to learn/do more with robotics.

Thank you for these sessions and I hope that we have an opportunity to offer more of them to our REC program participants in the future.”

  • Differentially driven, track based robot
  • Large OLED based user interface
  • 32-bit processor running MQX real time operating system
  • USB HID upload/download/debugging/charging interface
  • Bi-directional MOSFET motor drivers 
  • LiPoly rechargeable battery 
  • All aspect object detection and ranging sensors
  • All aspect light sensors
  • Four line/surface sensors
  • Reflectance spectrometer 
  • IR TV remote control receivers for robot control
  • Audio output
  • Socket and wiring for "Bluetooth Bee" module
  • Connections and wiring for UART Camera interface
  • Expansion area for user hardware customization
  • Web based development tools and social media interface
  • Initial Jade build
  • PCB layout
  • USB certification
  • FCC and UL testing
  • Mechanical part tooling
  • Test fixture design and build
  • PCB manufacturing tools (solder stencils and vacuum blocks)
  • Product packaging design and tooling
  • Web server infrastructure

Exceeding the $75,000 target means that we can:

  • Accelerate the development of iOS (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch) and Android applications.
  • The creation of additional programming environments.  We are very excited about MIT's "Scratch" - it looks like it would be perfect for programming a robot!  
  • Begin development of a web based 3D simulation of the robot which will allow testing of programs and custom robot designs in a virtual environment.  
  • Give us your ideas to improve the Jade robot.  

The Jade robot is quite simply the next step in robot evolution - bringing them one step closer to sentience and, more importantly, to the realization of how badly they have been treated by their human masters.  

Recognizing this, "safe conduct" passes are available as part of the rewards for donating to the Jade robot project.  These passes recognize that you contributed to the development of robot intelligence and will allow you and your immediate family safe passage to the human sanctuaries. 

Risks and challenges

The biggest challenge in a project like this is the software. Unique code, from the firmware of the robot to the web tools, needs to be thoroughly tested and debugged before any product can be shipped to customers. Our solution is to hold off on hardware final design until the web tools and Jade robot software is ready. This approach alleviates the risk of missing committed shipping dates due to software delays.

Another potential risk to not being able to supply product to customers on schedule is the lead and shipping time of sourcing components in the Far East. We avoid this risk by sourcing the PCBs and all other unique components from North American suppliers. An important side benefit of this approach is that the Jade orders will provide additional work for North American companies.

We are not new to robotics, product design, software development or manufacturing. The Mimetics team has been through the product development process many times and has overcome diverse challenges with creative solutions. Our extensive experience and work so far provides us with a high level of confidence that the Jade robot project will be completed on time and that the final product will work to specification.

We look forward to you becoming part of the Jade robot community.

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    Enthusiast:
    We will send you a USB Key Picture Frame with robot images, your name listed on our website along with the postcard “Safe Conduct Pass" for the Robot Uprising. Shipping is free for the Continental United States and Canada, for other locations please add $15 for shipping.

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    Family Set:
    In our robot workshops, the most frequently asked question is, "Where can I buy a second robot? Recognizing that families will want two robots to not only experiment with cooperative operation but also to keep peace between their children, we are offering a set of two Jade robots along with the postcard “Safe Conduct Pass" for the Robot Uprising. Shipping is free for the Continental United States and Canada, for other locations please add $50 for shipping.

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- (60 days)