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Build an A.I. robot out of anything! From potatoes to clay, you can build your own robot and re-use the parts!
Build an A.I. robot out of anything! From potatoes to clay, you can build your own robot and re-use the parts!
1,194 backers pledged £69,453 to help bring this project to life.

Manufacturing almost finished

Posted by Ross Atkin (Creator)

Hello Everyone.

Apologies for the delay getting this update out, I wanted to get to the bottom of exactly where we currently are with all the aspects of production to make sure I am giving you accurate information.

I’m afraid that having got to the bottom of that it is not great news. We should have been packing and sending out completed kits this week and we are not. Manufacturing of everything (cardboard parts, boxes, motors, battery boxes, marbles, elastic bands, wheel couplings, screws, tools) is complete apart from the circuit boards. They are close to completion, and I’ll explain in detail what happened with them below, but first, as Christmas is a very hard deadline that it looks likely we will miss it for many of you, I’d better explain all of that.

For backers in the UK I think it is likely that you will receive your robots by Christmas Eve but I am not 100% sure about that.

For backers in the EU and US I think you will receive your robots either between Christmas and New Years Eve or in the first week of January.

For backers everywhere else I think you will receive your robots in either the first or second week of January.

I have been waking up a night worrying about ruining Christmas, so here are my proposals for stopping that happening, if you have bought your Smartibot as a gift for someone:

1. If you still want your Smartibot, but need a body-double to stand-in for it on Christmas day, I have done a paper craft version with a box that explains the situation to the recipient. You can print out and fold this at home (if you’re a previous backers and have a Fizzbit, the Smartibot stand-in is Fizzbit compatible). If paper crafting is too much effort but you still need a stand-in there is also a simple card with product images that you can print out and just fold in half. Next week I will also put up a video on the YouTube channel that you could show to recipients apologising to them and showing them what they will receive in the next week or two.

Papercraft Stand-in and Box
Papercraft Stand-in and Box
Papercraft Stand-in and Box Back
Papercraft Stand-in and Box Back

2. If you need your pledge money back to buy the intended recipient a different gift, and no longer want your Smartibot, then if you can let me know by this Friday (the 7th) I will refund your pledge.

It is very disappointing to be looking like not hitting the schedule we told you we would meet, and obviously only being out by a week or two is not much consolation when that deadline is Christmas, so writing this update feels pretty bad.

Despite great work from Ting, Janek and our suppliers, it seems to have been an collection of small, seemingly individually insignificant pieces of bad luck, that have ended up accumulating to generate an unexpected delay that is longer than our contingency.

Around the time we began ordering everything in October we discovered that the circuit board was perpetually reseting itself when it was plugged in to certain computers, and other devices, using the USB connector. We had not spotted the issue before because it did not happen on all devices, and had not been happening on the devices we had been using in our testing. We realised that if you did have a device that it happened with it would be extremely annoying so we had better fix it.

It took us longer than it should have to work out a fix for this (we ended up adding a capacitor) and update the board design. This pushed the order date for the board manufacturing back. It seems that after the updated design was released and the order placed there was a delay with the payment going through (that it took a few days for us to find out about), which I think caused us to miss our production slot, meaning that when the process actually started it was on a longer lead time than we had originally expected. This means that, having expected to receive boards last week, we will actually receive them next week. As everything else is done (see pictures below) and going to the kitting factory on Thursday, kitting will happen as soon as the boards arrive, and all robots will be packed and sent out before Christmas, it is just that many of them unfortunately will spend the big day in transit.

Completed cardboard parts and packaging
Completed cardboard parts and packaging
Motors with wire-protecting heat shrink and capacitors
Motors with wire-protecting heat shrink and capacitors
Electronic components awaiting board assembly
Electronic components awaiting board assembly

In the previous update I promised to tell you about where we were with Software so here goes. Despite some setbacks we are on track. Akram has been working really hard on the apps. The reconfigurable controller is done (and looks and feels great) and we should be submitting the final iOS app to the App Store for approval this weekend (to ensure it is approved before Christmas).

We have got the A.I. up and running on Android, and it works but we have been surprised at how much less optimised the hardware seems to be for doing A.I. processing, so we have not been able to achieve the same maximum frame rates we have been able to get on iOS (though these are actually too fast for the robot). Top end Android phone are able to achieve the frame rates we used in the demos in the Kickstarter video but older and lower spec phones may struggle. They will still work great as controllers, and the A.I. should still work, the robot may just seem a bit dopey. Because the approvals process for Google Play is faster than for the App Store, we will get the Android version of the app finished after the iOS one is in for approval.

We have been working hard to get the MakeCode integration up and running since after the campaign finished but it has unfortunately proven more difficult than we had expected. We will continue working on it but don’t want our lack of progress to hold up you programming your robots, so we have integrated with a similar, browser-based, JavaScript and Blocks based programming tool, called Espruino. If you are used to programming in MakeCode you should be able to switch to Espruino really easily as it looks and feels almost identical.

We hope very much to be able to work with Microsoft to bring you MakeCode integration in 2019, but right now we have not been able to proceed with the integration without their help.

The good news is that the actual programming flow with Espurino is actually much better than MakeCode because it works much better over Bluetooth and you do not have to go through the process of compiling and transferring hex files to the circuit board you are programming. You just hit the send button and the code on the board updates immediately. I am putting together a custom version of Espurino with special blocks for all the Smartibot functionality which should make programming your robot really straightforward if you have never programmed before and want to try.

You should receive the survey, where you will be able to put in the address you want your robot(s) sent to tomorrow. If you don't see it please check your spam folder.

I’ll update you again when the robots are in the mail. Please accept all of our apologies if you don’t end up receiving your robot in time for the big day, we all feel terrible about letting you down.

As always thanks so much for your support, and today also for your understanding, 


Alan Arnett, Nathan Nguyen, and 45 more people like this update.


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    1. Corey Hastings

      Thank you for the update!! Manufacturing is always fun, especially around this time of the year with the holidays. Considering you will only be sightly off your intended target date, you are doing fantastic!

      Anyone who was planning on giving these as gifts when they originally pledged probably have never backed a Kickstarter before, so they do not understand the delay process as much. Hopefully your transparency has helped open their eyes into this world, so they can realize that manufacturing and logistic deadlines are often not met for a whole slew of reasons.

      Keep up the great work, and I cannot wait to play with this with my daughters!

    2. Missing avatar

      Budi Jap on

      Hi Ross,

      Thanks for the update. I was looking forward to giving it to my kids for Christmas. But, since this is a surprise present for them, it doesn't matter if they don't get it on Christmas day. I think, it is better to receive it late with high quality than to receive it early and be broken quickly. Don't lose sleep over this. And, please enjoy your Christmas too :)

    3. Missing avatar

      Richard Stunt on

      Alright - so all but one is understanding and generous.....
      Don't let him keep you awake at nights....the rest of us are reasonable and understanding. These things take time, and I seem to remember that you said you would hit the target of Christmas if everything went to plan. It hasn't gone to plan, and so it will be a bit late. Thanks for the cards - it's something to give and spreads the anticipation. Since we'll be moving around over the Christmas period, it also gives me notice and lets me change the delivery address so I can guarantee that son will get his present at new year. Thanks for your honesty. It's refreshing!

    4. Missing avatar

      Gary Fenton on

      Thanks for the update. KS projects never run on time, so if you're only 2 weeks late then that's good going! From experience, it's better for creators to take their time and get it right rather than rush and end up with something that's incomplete or doesn't work. Sure, some backers get angry about it but they probably lack the wounds of years of crowd funding experience!
      My kids don't know I'm getting them a Smartibot so it won't hurt them to receive it in the new year. It's good to spread presents out over time rather than one big hit.

    5. Ben Harvey on

      Basically what they all said! Don't worry about it, you are making something good and you want it to be good quality, everyone in their right mind will be more than willing to wait for it!

    6. Tim Meakins

      A week or two late on a Tech KickStarter?!?!
      How dare you!
      It's supposed to be AT LEAST a year behind schedule!

    7. Irreverent Ink on

      How kind of all the posters beneath to speak on all purchasers behalf.

      I for one am pissed off that my nephew won't get his Christmas present at Christmas. I guess I'll buy him something else instead.

    8. Missing avatar

      Kevin Lincoln on

      Hi team,
      Thanks for the update and hard work.
      Looking forward to receiving whenever.
      It's always risky with such projects.
      Good luck and I hope you get a break for Christmas.

    9. Missing avatar

      Arnaud Guitard on

      Hi smartibot’s team, thanks for the update!
      Don’t rush for christmas, take your time, everyone will understand

    10. Missing avatar


      thanks for your update, and now get some sleep ...

    11. Mad Hamish on

      Maybe if I'm lucky mine will turn up just after xmas and not before otherwise the wife will claim it counts as an extra pressie and therefore she'll be due one as well!
      To echo others, well done for the honesty and relax, things happen despite the best intentions & plans of all of us.

    12. Coleen Worrall on

      More than happy to wait, it means that my children will have something else to look forward to once all the wrapping paper has disappeared, it makes it so much more exciting!! Love your post and your honesty, really appreciated, delays happen, awesomeness takes time :-)

    13. Missing avatar

      Steve Hartley on

      Hi Ross and the team, Thanks for the honest update. like most people happy to wait, and dont lose any more sleep over it :)

    14. Missing avatar

      Frank Mosch on

      I can only echo the other posters feelings. We can easily wait this one out. Thanks for the clear communication and for trying to accommodate those that might insist on the Christmas deadline. If only all Kickstarter projects were so open, honest and well-run. Keep it up and enjoy sending your babies out a bit too... ;)

    15. Missing avatar

      Malcolm Napier on

      Hi Ross, I didn't back this because I wanted to give it as a Christmas present. I backed it because I thought it was a good idea and I still think that. So, don't worry or feel bad on my behalf. Also, I happen to live in the UK. Please feel free to use my pledge elsewhere if someone desperately needs it. I am quite happy to place myself at the back of the queue if it helps.

    16. Missing avatar

      Atila Giant on

      Hi Ross, don't worry about being a couple of weeks late. It happens on Kickstarter and people are usually understanding about it.

    17. Henrik Norinder on

      Hey Ross and the team, thanks for letting us know, and I for one could only say: worth waiting for. So, take the time to get some sleep! If too many want a refund, let us know and we will pledge for more.

    18. janice mann on

      Ross, Thanks for being honest instead of trying to give this understandable delay some kind of unbelievable ass-covering spin. Sleep well.

    19. Missing avatar

      Greg on

      Hey Ross, thanks for the message. I almost forgot about this one. I can’t wait to see it when it arrives. It’s always fun getting Christmas extended a few days. Besides, Orthodox Christmas is thirteen days later. Don’t worry about me, I’m excited as ever. W(`0`)W

    20. Matt Johnson on

      Thanks for the straightforward update and don't lose any more sleep over it. We can Wait! Keep up the good work!

    21. Ricken Eriksen on

      The kids will have a birthday next year aswell. So they will make it through. 😊
      Don't worry about it.

      And if you are getting to many refunds and feeling that you are at risk for not making ends meet, I can get an extra kit to even the field for you.

    22. Missing avatar

      Dan Abel on

      thanks for finding a way for my to give a gift

    23. Hugo Alves on

      I imagine that you will be flooded with comments from disappointed backers soon so I just want to thank you for your honesty and transparency. Looking forward for receiving mine.

    24. Missing avatar

      Dominic Jenner on

      Hay don't beat yourself up Ross, these things happen. I would much rather recieve my smartibot late than never.