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Playful immersion in advanced STEM. Teachable robots solve kid-built mazes with artificial intelligence. Supports 2 Hexbug Spiders.
Playful immersion in advanced STEM. Teachable robots solve kid-built mazes with artificial intelligence. Supports 2 Hexbug Spiders.
Playful immersion in advanced STEM. Teachable robots solve kid-built mazes with artificial intelligence. Supports 2 Hexbug Spiders.
391 backers pledged $33,762 to help bring this project to life.

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    1. Missing avatar

      Joe Nicholson 3 days ago

      Well Its may 18th I have not received my pledge. the first shipment got stuck at the post office and returned. The second one shows the last scan as April 17th nothing after that. I have tried email you many times. This is absurd, I either want the items or I want a refund.

    2. Alexander Senger on April 2

      Hi Brad. I have just found a bit of time to play with the updated version of your app. Here are some thoughts:
      + The 'educational visualizations' are great - especially the one showing 'known paths'. It's much easier to understand what's going on this way.
      + Setup is still a bit flaky. I needed several attempts to get the whole system running. In my experience there are quite a lot of points of failure (connection IR-blaster to smart device, volume level, capability of the smart device to drive the IR-blaster, video settings, selected channel on the bot, line of sight of IR-blaster). So it's easy to get stuck without any hint where the problem might be.
      + This time I used a (slightly) more powerful device. This enhances the experience noticeably.
      + One of the most persistent 'problems' I have seen is the (lack of) sense of direction of the bot. The known (and good) path to the target is shown clearly on the controller screen. However, the bot meanders off into the wrong direction and seems to need a bit of 'random walk' until it heads along the given path. To me it looks like the controlling algorithm often does not have a good clue into which direction the bot is actually pointing.
      + It would improve the gaming experience if the bot would keep a larger clearance around obstacles (if possible). Often it bumps into one of the decals due to some smallish directional error and 'hangs' there. This takes away a lot off the elegance and smoothness which otherwise seems to be quite possible.
      + It would be great to have other game modes than 'go to the target'. Watching the bot finding its way around obstacles is interesting but IMHO after a while one has seen most of it. There is little element of surprise. The modes 'sumo fight' or 'fetching' (similar to the game played with dogs) could be very interesting additions.

      Overall I think bots_alive is a very interesting platform with a lot of potential. I'm curious to see where you and Dash Robotics will take it.

      Thanks a lot!

    3. Brad Knox Creator on March 22

      Hi, everyone. There is a new version of the app available. It should address a few of the common bugs people have been experiencing.

      As before, setup info—and a new FAQ—can be found at https://botsalive.com/setup.

      Below are notes on the release.

      Improvements:
      - Added educational visualizations, reachable by top-left button
      - Experimental support for Pixel phones (does it work? email us at info@botsalive.com)
      - Small improvements to phone communication to IR blasters
      - Removed a bug that sometimes kept the app from trying to send any bot-control signals
      - General bug removal

      Known bugs/flaws that remain:
      - IR blaster appears very sensitive to the phone/tablet's volume level. With certain phones, sometimes a volume level that is working stops working until you change the volume (and maybe move it back to where it had once worked).
      - Certain iOS users have had IR blaster trouble. This update likely won't fix those specific cases.

    4. Brad Knox Creator on March 21

      Todd, :( indeed.

      Anyone who is waiting on improvements to phone compatibility with the IR blasters, I'm working on it all day today. I might be slow to respond to some messages, since I'm trying to knock those IR blaster issues out first.

    5. Todd Korn on March 20

      Comment says blaster is not supported by my Android phone? Do I need an exchange. So far no robot fun :(

    6. Brad Knox Creator on March 20

      Martin, thanks for your thoughts! Having some initial frustration sequence would help making it clear that it's changing modes; good thought. The IR should go up fairly high, still reaching the bots at least somewhat at the distance the vision starts to fail. The bot might slow down at that distance though, with only some IR signals reaching it.

      Brian, I'm disappointed to hear it's not working well. I responded to your emails. Could you check there and we'll troubleshoot?

    7. Brian Cutler
      Superbacker
      on March 20

      Brad, any ideas on what I need to do? Bot not moving but works with the remote. Shows hunting and resting only.

    8. Missing avatar

      Martin Crane on March 20

      Hi Brad

      Took the bot out for a test drive. Its great fun.

      A few observations light is very important the light brighter the better and shadows confuse the bot and frustrated it. I think some routine or bigger display to show it is frustrated as often when it is it completely stops. I found that the bot can take a while to get around even a simple wall. Also height allows a bigger field how so how high above the field can the IR go?

      The more decals would be good so you can make some elaborate mazes. Bit sometimes pushes the blocks.

    9. Brad Knox Creator on March 19

      Alexander, that's also quite helpful. I'll try to address/incorporate it in the next release.

      Also, I plan to share a printable PDF version of the add-on blocks. They won't be as nice as the real add-on blocks and won't be as matte—which helps keep the vision robust—but one of our December recipients had good functional results printing them out and putting them on plastic cups he cut in half. I'm focusing on implementing improvements and giving tech support for now though.

    10. Alexander Senger on March 19

      Brad, thank you for providing additional information!
      On the Samsung phone I used the video was indeed quite choppy - so a more powerful device might help a lot. I have witnessed the bots 'exploring', 'hunting' and 'celebrating' so far, resting and frustration not yet.

      To make the AI more interactive I would appreciate greatly if one could see the pre-computed path the bot is supposed to take on the screen. I think it would be fun to see how well the bot can follow that path, how the path is adjusted when the decals are moved, etc.
      Else an option to add more obstacle decals would be great. With a maximum of four available the mazes one can build are quite limited. Also it might be interesting to have a third kind of symbol available, which repels (not just blocks) the bot.

      I hope this helps a bit. Please let me know if you would like more input.

    11. Brian Cutler
      Superbacker
      on March 19

      Brad, ok but any idea on why no movement. Apple iPhone 8 and screen shows hunting or relaxing built no movement. Screen shows both green target and red obstacles.

    12. Brad Knox Creator on March 19

      Hi, Brian. The new IR blasters do require a battery (that is already in them). Battery-less IR devices have very limited range and never worked at all in our testing.

      We included 2 (I believe) spare batteries in each kit and will later release some tips on replacing them (takes 30 seconds once you know how and have some long nose pliers). The batteries are $0.10-$0.20 each on Amazon in any bulk and last through an hour or two of constant play. Batteries are still an annoyance though, even if they're necessary for the tech.

    13. Brian Cutler
      Superbacker
      on March 19

      Just to confirm. The small IR device requires NO batteries, right?

    14. Brad Knox Creator on March 18

      Alexander, one other thought: I could have been much clearer in the initial on-boarding screens that the robots have different modes, during each of which they exhibit different behavior. They only go directly for the blue when they're in "hunting" mode. They can also go into "exploring", "celebrating", "resting", and "frustrated!" modes.

    15. Brad Knox Creator on March 18

      John, thanks for sharing. It's great to hear your kids like it.

      Abdallah, can you email me at info@botsalive.com and we'll see if we can figure out what's going wrong?

      Alexander, that's very helpful feedback.

      The bots should hesitate, look around, and take small detours. They should, however, be fairly good at making their way to the blue block in the long run if there is a path (and if there's a tight squeeze or they might have to go close to the edge of the camera frame to get to the blue, they may not think there is a path). If you're seeing less effective behavior than that, you might be using a phone that doesn't have enough computational power for the current release. If the video looks choppy, then I'd recommend you use a more powerful phone/tablet if you have one or wait to see if I can make it more efficient for the next release.

      Regarding educational content, I have a few ideas of what could be added. Do you have any thoughts?

    16. Alexander Senger on March 18

      Received two bots a short while ago and tried the app just now.
      Getting the app to run needed a bit of fiddling: didn't work on an old iPhone and took a few attempts to get working on a Samsung. The audio connection to the IR blaster seems to be a bit flaky.

      Once everything was up and running it was fun to watch the little bot trying to get to the goal. I'm curious to see if performance will improve from learning as in the beginning the paths chosen by the AI were often quite erratic. Even simple setups seem to be quite a challenge.

      Haven't tried with two bots simultaneously, that will be interesting. Else my impression after the first runs is that bots_alive is fun to explore but that this toy might be a bit too limited to spark much interest in the long run. There seems to be little interaction possible (aside from placing the decals) and also not much insight into the internals of the AI available (which would be a great plus).

      Nonetheless, this was a very interesting and fun Kickstarter project. Thank you very much to all involved.

    17. Missing avatar

      Abdallah Atie on March 18

      Received my bots and tried the app, but not working... for some reason the bots just don't move...

      They work with the remote, and I can see them recognized on the app, but no movement, as if they are not receiving any commands...

    18. Missing avatar

      John Lamerand
      Superbacker
      on March 18

      Brad, your work is outstanding... I will be back to back whatever else you bring to KS. This week I'm having lunch with someone who wants to use AI and computer vision in a healthcare environment... bots alive will be a very good launching place for the discussion as the program has a foundation that is applicable in many 'real world' environments. Of course, the way people play is perhaps our greatest achievement... the kids are delighted.

    19. Brad Knox Creator on March 18

      The apps are available! Check out the most recent update.

    20. Missing avatar

      Tohru Ochiai
      Superbacker
      on March 17

      I received a reward in Japan today. Although not yet used it, first thank you.

    21. Brad Knox Creator on March 17

      The app comes out later today!

      I'll announce here and at https://botsalive.com/setup when it's available.

      In the meantime, I won't be answering any more comments or messages, allowing full focus on polishing the app and making it available.

    22. Brad Knox Creator on March 17

      Hi, chrisjej. Sorry to hear that we likely made a mistake. We'll look into that and get back to you.

    23. Missing avatar

      SK
      Superbacker
      on March 17

      Got it today. Same as Jean bit disappointed with the same Hexbugs colors.
      Anyway, think we can always get another one at Toy's r us or Amazon.
      Now, waiting for what I really pledge for, the app itself, with should be out by today?
      Thx.

    24. chrisjej
      Superbacker
      on March 17

      My backing was for 2 bots, but the parcel I received only contains one. Are you intending to ship the other bot separately?

    25. Brad Knox Creator on March 15

      Tim and Ritro, great to hear!

      Eric and anyone else with the same question: *USPS tracking number should be emailed to backers directly by stamps.com.*

      Jean Lou, sorry to hear you're disappointed about the Spider colors. In hindsight, I think it would have been worthwhile to ensure everyone gets different colors. The bright side is that you have all the more reason to decorate your robots now. :)

    26. Missing avatar

      Tim Hutman on March 14

      Just received and unpacked my bots in Australia.... looks awesome

    27. Missing avatar

      Ritro on March 14

      Hi Brad, despite the status at USPS they arrived today! Thanks, nice package.

      " Brad,
      The package (my package ) is still a "PRE-SHIPMENT INFO SENT TO USPS" from march 2 by USPS
      If you want that box to get empty, bring it to the post office! ;)
      Hi, Ritro. I'm not sure what's going on there. We'll look into it. "

    28. Jean Lou Castonguay Dionne on March 13

      Just received my kit. My only dissapointment is that both robots have exactly the same color. It will be way harder to figure out who is who in a race, unless I mark them :(
      Other than that, I am looking forward to the app.

    29. Missing avatar

      Eric Robert on March 13

      Hi Team, how do I get shipping information please?

      Eric.

    30. Brad Knox Creator on March 13

      :)

    31. Brian Cutler
      Superbacker
      on March 13

      4 days until robots invade

    32. Brad Knox Creator on March 13

      Hi, Ritro. I'm not sure what's going on there. We'll look into it.

      Martin, thanks for reaching out. We'll get back to you on the extra blocks.

      I mentioned this to Martin already, but for anyone else reading this: the new kits DO NOT include a micro USB charging cable. I believe we accidentally listed it as an item in the shipping package; it's needed for the previous IR blasters that were discontinued but not for the IR blasters that just went out in the larger shipment.

    33. Missing avatar

      Martin Crane on March 12

      Hi Brad

      I am sure i ordered the extra add-on blocks some months ago. I got my kit today but i did not receive the extra blocks. Are they in a separate shipping? also what is the micro usb charging cable? I did not receive this in my package either.

    34. Missing avatar

      Ritro on March 12

      Brad,
      The package (my package ) is still a "PRE-SHIPMENT INFO SENT TO USPS" from march 2 by USPS
      If you want that box to get empty, bring it to the post office! ;)

    35. Brad Knox Creator on March 7

      Jeanne, great to hear! We'll have the app to make them autonomous on March 17.

      - Brad

    36. Jeanne on March 5

      Ooooh! Just received my Bots today!! Having lots of fun with my cats!

    37. Brad Knox Creator on March 3

      We'll post an update a bit later, but I'm proud to announce we've shipped out about 230 kits in the past week. That's almost all of the address-survey responses we've received. If you haven't responded to our Kickstarter survey to supply your address, please do so!

      The accompanying app for the kits we're shipping out will be available by March 17. In the meantime, those who ordered Hexbug Spiders can play with them directly as Hexbug designed them, remote controlling them. They're pretty cool on their own, even before adding Bots Alive.

    38. Brad Knox Creator on March 3

      Ed, great to hear from you. The new app will be available by March 17. We're taking some more time to address feedback from the small number of kits we sent out for Christmas, and we look forward to sharing the new version.

      Hi, Michael. It's wonderful to hear that you're interested in the add-on set. I'm sorry to say though that the add-on vision blocks aren't currently available for purchase. We had them available for several months after the campaign and pointed to the purchase webpage in a few of our Kickstarter updates. I know it's hard to keep up with every email—at least it is for me—and I wish there had been a better way to reach every single person with the information. Ultimately, this Kickstarter product is a one-time, limited run product, and we won't be able to produce more units in the foreseeable future. *That said*, we will release (and please feel free to remind me) printable versions of the add-on blocks that let you DIY them. They won't be as nice as the official versions, unless you're a great craftsperson, but they should work fairly well with the computer vision and the robot(s). One of our backers already took this approach with his Christmas kit, using plastic cups that he cut in half and then stuck the vision markers on.

    39. Missing avatar

      Edward McLaughlin on March 2

      Brad,

      Just like to say we are enjoying our early shipment of bots and looking forward to the other set we ordered! Will there be updates on the software soon?
      Ed

    40. Missing avatar

      Michael on February 27

      My pledge included "Opt-in for a $15 add-on pack of 10 obstacle vision blocks in the post-campaign backer survey." When or how can we opt for the add-on pack?

    41. Brad Knox Creator on February 14

      Hi, Jeanne. We are!

      We'll share specific milestones (shipping, app availability) once they're completed, since my forecasting accuracy hasn't been fantastic so far. :)

    42. Jeanne on February 13

      Are you still on schedule to ship at the end of February?

    43. Brad Knox Creator on January 17

      Thanks for checking in, Ritro, Alexander, and Sebastian. I just sent an update to all of the backers. All good news this time!

      Please send me a message if you have any other questions.

    44. Sebastian Trella on January 17

      Did you already ship my reward? Or when will it happen?

    45. Alexander Senger on January 16

      @creator: Hi there!
      How are things going? Any (good) news on the new IR blasters?

      Thanks!

    46. Missing avatar

      Ritro on January 10

      Hi Brad, any news ?

    47. Brad Knox Creator on December 15

      Thanks for your kind words, Eds. ;)

    48. Missing avatar

      Edward McLaughlin on December 7

      Thanks again Brad. Your continued communication is what sets you apart from may other kickstarter companies, believe me. I am very excited to see what you and your team has for us. Thank you and good thoughts and well wishes are coming your way!

    49. Missing avatar

      Eddie T
      Superbacker
      on December 4

      I can see that you guys are doing the best you can for your backers. Top marks for sharing the information to us as well. Wishing your team the best for the future.

    50. Brad Knox Creator on December 4

      Hi, everyone.

      We expect to ship about 25 kits—the number we have IR blasters for—by Christmas. If you didn't see an email from us asking about the urgency of getting your kit(s) by Christmas, please check your spam filter, Gmail Tabs (that's where I lose emails...), etc. We'll take into account answers to that survey as late as we can.

      Great news: We've found a replacement model for the IR blaster and need to find a reliable source, which should be an easy task once we are no longer focused on the ~25 Christmas shipments. But until the new IR blasters are in our hands and tested thoroughly, nothing is 100% sure, as we've learned with our past IR blasters that were discontinued and then lost in shipping. (We did get a refund this month from the supplier, thankfully.) Nonetheless, the most likely outcome is that we can ship the remaining Bots Alive kits in January/February.

      We're grateful to all of our backers for both their initial support and their kind patience while we've been trying to handle this obstacle. We're genuinely sorry that most of our backers won't get Bots Alive by these holidays, but we are excited to be close to finally sharing it with you.

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