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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.

Smartbots have landed!

Posted by Ross Atkin (Creator)

Hello Everyone,

So it looks like, once they actually shipped Smartibots moved a bit faster than we had been expecting. I received word of people getting them in Asia at the end of last week and it seems most UK backers got theirs on Monday, there has been word later this week of them arriving in Germany, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand and the USA later this week. It’s been really wonderful seeing built Smartibots pop up on social media, playing, making themselves useful and bothering cats (there has been more of this than I had expected). I've pulled some of the posts into a bit of a story here. Please do keep them coming they are really wonderful to see.

As it all happened a bit quicker than I has expected and UPS only actually delivered the kits that I was supposed to get a week and a half before anyone else, last Friday afternoon (after some of you had got kits in the regular shipping channel), I’ve been struggling a bit to keep up with all the comments and messages, make sure all the software is tested and deployed and get all the instruction videos shot and tutorials written up, which is why this update is a few days late.

Anyway from social media it looks like a lot of you have found the apps and are up and running but for those that aren’t here are the links to the app on The App Store and Google Play. There is a video on how to get up and running wit the apps and one on how to build the A.I. bot on the instructions page, along with troubleshooting advice. You can also program your Smartibots with the Web IDE and I've put together a tutorial covering how to do this with both the blocks editor and JavaScript.

Whilst I was waiting for my kits to arrive I worked on some project tutorials. I thought you might like to see how everyone’s preferences for tutorial types (and programming platforms) aggregated together so here are the data:

Graphs of your preferences in the survey for types of tutorials and programming methods
Graphs of your preferences in the survey for types of tutorials and programming methods

There was a pretty solid majority for household materials and packaging so I started with one of those, and I also wanted to do one that was fairly quick and didn’t need any bits that you don’t get in the kit, so I present to you your new pint-sized friend, MilkBot:

I’m also about 75% of the way through one that uses 3D printing; a little 4 wheel drive car which has been quite fun. I’ll post the video and CAD files for that next week, I think if you subscribe on YouTube you’ll get an alert. 

SmartiRover tutorial and CAD files coming next week
SmartiRover tutorial and CAD files coming next week

I’m aiming to get a video up with a new project idea at least every two weeks and it would be great to hear the kind of things you would like to see how to make. The next one I’m planning is a hacked toy and it will either be a £6 animatronic puppy or something with Lego. Again if you’ve got strong views either way let me know.

So the easy bit of this update is out of the way it’s time to deal with things that still aren’t quite running to plan. 

The first thing is that, despite our best efforts to weed out bad components and get the kitting right it sounds like some people have experienced some problems. 

I’ve backed Kickstarters where the thing has arrived, hasn’t worked when I’ve tried to use it and ended up languishing in a drawer. I really don't want that fate to befall to any Smartibots! 

If you are having problems please let me know and we will get you up and running. I’ve covered the issues that have come up so far in the troubleshooting section under the setup and build videos (on the instructions page). 

The most significant issue seems to be battery boxes with loose connections, which a few enterprising backers have fixed with their soldering irons, but if you have a bad battery box, and you let me know, I’ll mail you another one. 

The next thing, which is *really* annoying is the flat-head screw drivers. The ones that got sent to the kitting company ended up larger than the ones we had sampled so don't fit particularly well in the screw terminals [face palm]. You can make it work, but if you have another small flat head screw driver I’d probably use that instead. 

The last thing kits-wise is it seems that a few undersize marbles made it into some kits, if you’ve got more than one marble that falls through the hole in the cardboard let me know and I’ll send you more marbles (we tried to minimise this risk by putting one more marble than you need in each kit but it sounds like that hasn’t worked perfectly).

The other area where things aren’t running totally to plan is some software features. There are three things we are still working on. We expect all three to be resolved in the next three weeks, here they are with explanations of where we are and why they aren’t done yet.

1) A.I. capability in the Android app

In many years of app development Akram and I have got used to broadly equivalent features and capabilities on iOS and Android so it was a bit of a shock, when we started implementing the A.I. on Android, how far ahead Core ML on iOS was. On iPhones we have been able to get the model to run at frame rates up to 20 fps, much faster than we actually need to control Smartibot. We bought a Pixel 2, which is pretty high spec Android hardware, and we struggled to get 3 fps which is right on the limit of not being fast enough to be much use. We have been trying to work out how to improve this and we’ve found some newer implementations of TensorFlow, one of which runs in the GPU rather than the main processor (which is the same way it works on iOS). Akram is currently working on implementing the Smartibot A.I. on this new platform but it still in beta so it is a bit slow going. He thinks it will take another week and a half or so but we are a bit worried the experience still won’t be as good as the one we have on iOS. We assumed that you were probably more interested in getting the A.I. up and running before the reconfigurable controllers so we will do them after. I’ll be providing more frequent updates on Akram’s progress in the main comments section.

2) Genius Kit Boards and Servo functions

There have been many happy consequences of giving up on trying to get MakeCode to work and switching to Espruino for the programming environment (most notably the really slick programming over bluetooth, easy integration with web apps, and very useful terminal function). One of the unhappy consequences was having to dump all of the code Janek had written to make the two extra circuit boards from the Genius Kit, and the PWM chip on the main circuit board (which controls the servo outputs), work and start again. Needing to do this coincided with Janek moving country and then travelling a lot, so having very limited availability. He is now finally settled in, conveniently enough, in London, is working on it, and expects to be done by the end of the month. Genius Kit backers, please accept my further apologies. I know you have already waited patiently whilst we took longer than we had said to get you your kits and I am really sorry you are now having to wait even more to be able to use your extra boards. When the work is done I will update the Web IDE to include new blocks for the extra boards, put up a tutorial on using those blocks and also some JavaScript examples, and we will update the apps so they support the servo functions. I’ll write an update to let you know when it is all done but anything that starts working between now and the I will mention and link to in the main comments section.

OK, that’s basically it. We are in the middle of making a small tweak to the iOS app that will make it easer to program your own behaviour for your Smartibot triggered by the A.I. but that should be out over the weekend, or early next week, so look out for an update. It will be accompanied by a tutorial on how to actually program that sort of thing (which I am quite excited about putting together).

Thanks for reading all of this. Thanks for your patience. Thanks for your support. Thanks for all the posts on social media. Apologies again for the delay. Apologies for the things that still aren’t going quite right. But most importantly HAVE FUN WITH YOUR SMARTIBOTS!


K. Garcia, Nathan Nguyen, and 21 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Jose Luis Costa on

      Hi Ross, still nothing in here. Any idea when?? Thanks

    2. Emily Kelton on

      I sent the email again. Please let me know here if it still doesn’t show up. It was sent to the correct address before.

    3. ann crites on

      hi ross! thanks so much for the update and the tracking numbers. we got two of the three...looks like US mail still struggling to get the job done.

    4. Ross Atkin 2-time creator on

      Hi Darryll,
      Apologies that some of these are taking so long to get through the US mail system, and many thanks for your patience. Here is your tracking info:

    5. Missing avatar

      darryll schneider on

      Hi Ross,

      Kindly provide me with a tracking number for my bot. I still have not received it in the mail.

      Warm regards,
      Darryll Schneider

    6. Ross Atkin 2-time creator on

      @Stephen, Hugo, see DMs @Emily, no sign of the email at this end, please send to

    7. Missing avatar

      Abderrezak Mekkaoui on

      Hi Ross,
      Thanks for the nice project. I am from Rochester NY and have not received my bots yet.
      Tracking info would be helpful.

    8. Hugo Alves on

      Hey, haven't received mine. Any way I could get tracking details?

    9. Stephen Forte on

      Hello Ross-

      Love the Smartibot, my daughter and I put it together and have a problem with the battery pack. Not sure it is the exact one you describe above, we can't get the plug part to fit into the PCB's plug socket. If you can send us a new one or offer us a solution, that would be great. Thanks! ---Steve

    10. Emily Kelton on

      I sent an email last week with photos and a video of the barrel jack not working but have heard anything. I’m sure y’all are busy, but I’d love to be able to start playing. I tried sending a follow up email this morning and it bounced with a permanent error. Can you confirm if you got my original email? Thanks.

    11. Ross Atkin 2-time creator on

      @ann crites, here are the tracking details for your bots:
      It looks like they are still working their way through the US mail system, which seems to have been put to shame by all the other countries. Please accept my apologies, if I could improve it I would.

    12. ann crites on

      is there any tracking information? i still haven't received my smartibots. seeing plenty of people that have gotten them and can't figure out why there's this continued delay.

    13. Missing avatar

      Alessio on

      Hi from Italy Ross!
      I received my Smartibot some days ago and me and my son are very happy about it.
      I download the App on my Android smartphone.
      But there isn't the possibility to "follow cats" :-) When it will be available?

    14. Missing avatar

      David Williams on

      Hi there, any news on the additional sensors? I sent a couple of DMs already.

    15. Ross Atkin 2-time creator on

      @Emily, see response in the main comments section. Please email photos of the barrel jack to and we will work out what to do.

    16. Emily Kelton on

      How do I contact someone about a barrel jack that doesn't work, and a loose screw terminal? The screw terminal I could probably live with, but I can't plug the batteries in! :-(

    17. Ross Atkin 2-time creator on

      @Richard, Yep, we have some spare and I'm going to try and get them up on the shop next week (after Chinese New Year). @Alain, it looks like your bots have got held up at Canadian customs. I've DMed you the tracking details.

    18. Missing avatar

      Alain Chevalier on

      Hello Ross,
      I live near Montreal in Canada and I receiced nothing as of February 8th.
      Can not wait neither.

    19. Richard Hyde

      Can one but replacement card board? I hate to have to buy a new kit each time the little guy damages it

    20. Ross Atkin 2-time creator on

      @Chris @Nathan see DMs

    21. Ross Atkin 2-time creator on

      Hi Stephen,
      Apologies, there was a bug in the button code in the blocks editor on the IDE (I shipped it in a bit of a hurry last week because people were getting bots before I thought they would be). I've just fixed it. The two buttons on the board (A and B) map to BTN 1 and BTN2 in the code. Things are slightly complicated because they are wired up differently so A/BTN1 is 'falling' on press wheras B/BTN 2 is 'rising' on press. (I think Janek wired them up that way so that the board can be switched into firmware flashing mode by the user). We did flash some minimal application firmware on the board when it was kitted but the decision not to flash more was the right one I think, because it affords more opportunity for users to get things working exactly as they want (and indeed understand how it all works), and also for us to improve the experience in the app (which we have already done since we have shipped) and add new features in the future. Connections S1-S10 are not switches, they are headers to connect Servo motors (or other things that can be controlled with a PWM signal) and are driven by the PWM chip at the bottom of the board. As you will see in the update we are still working on the JavaScript to enable this (we had to dump everything we had done before when we had to give up on MakeCode) so please accept my apologies that is's not done yet. If you want to connect switches I recommend using the connection points we put in just above each of the buttons. I'll also be uploading a tutorial and some code for using the two pads C1 and C2 as capacitive touch electrodes. Publishing the schematic is a good shout and is on the list. I'll try and get it up next week.

    22. Missing avatar

      Stephen Adams on

      Can you tell me how you program to use the buttons on the board?
      There is only Button A defined as BTN1.
      But Nothing for Button B or switches S1-S10.
      With the lack of circuit diagram or a board definition for Espruino, it pot luck if the blocky language can be used, as the Smartibot dos not correspond to the default Espruino code and has to have javascript functions specially written for it, as you have demonstrated by giving us the code for the SetLED ad MOTOR Commands in javascript.
      This should have been installed before the kit was shipped.

    23. Chris Bamborough on

      Hi Ross, I’ve recently moved and have a postal redirect set up, however I’ve realised ups are delivering in Australia, is it possible to change my address or check on the status of delivery? Thanks

    24. Nathan Nguyen on

      Great to see them finally coming! Would you mind sending me a tracking number? Can't wait!