HAL-e: DIY Robot for Kids
HAL-e: DIY Robot for Kids
An engaging kit that demystifies robotics by illustrating basic robotic principles of mechanics, electrics, and computation.
An engaging kit that demystifies robotics by illustrating basic robotic principles of mechanics, electrics, and computation. Read more
About this project
HAL-e makes learning about programming and assembling robots affordable and accessible. Using open-source hardware and software, the kit simplifies basic robotics without taking away the value gained by hands-on-assembly. Additionally, after being built, HAL-e is an effective tool in teaching step-based programming to children.
What is HAL-e?
At first, she's merely an Arduino, a chassis, a key pad, motors, wheels, battery pack, and a few screws. However, with our detailed instruction manual and a couple of hours of work, she becomes a robot aimed at children ages 7-13. Robots in educating children tend toward two extremes, either click-and-play toys or hopelessly complicated, requiring an adult with an electrical engineering degree to construct. We want to break that pattern and provide actual learning in the process. HAL-e is simple, with informative instructions that carefully detail not just assembly, but the principles that enable her to work. This straightforward approach to robotics comes from our desire to keep the robot straightforward and understandable for elementary school students.
That same simplicity is present in HAL-e even after she's built. The key-pad allows anyone to tell the robot where to go using a sequence of button pushes, which viscerally teaches kids about step-based programming. Anywhere with a level surface and ground level obstructions (think your kitchen floor!) is a maze that HAL-e can be taught to navigate with up to 50 consecutive commands.
Why do we need your help?
We want to keep HAL-e accessible, not just in assembly, but also in price. In order to do that, we need funding to buy the motors, wheels, and other components in bulk. We would like to custom print the motor driver, which is only cost effective with great volume. It may seem excessive to get the driver custom made, but it would greatly simplify the construction. Looking ahead, we'd like to expand the HAL-e line with more sensors and accessible computer based programming for children.
What comes inside a kit?
We're offering a couple options because people have different needs when it comes to robots, depending on where you're using it (school or at home) and what you have access to (laser cutter or a classroom full of kids).
All HAL-e kits come with:
- Pre-programmed Arduino Mainboard
- Motor driver board
- Battery pack
- Nuts and bolts
- Chassis (note: chassis do not come in the w/out chassis option)
- Detailed construction instructions and Lesson Plans
Risks and challenges
A major challenge that might arise is how to help our customers when they have questions. Robotics, even when streamlined, is complex and we won't be there in person to help. We hope to address this by setting up an email account specifically for questions about assembly and use, along with a question board that we will monitor. Our hope is that the instructions and parent or teacher guides will be detailed enough to avoid these problems, but we have no intention of making our customers feel abandoned.
Additionally, we will have to put together all our kits and ship them. As such, if we have a high demand for HAL-e, it may take a while to get all the kits out. We intend that our backers have HAL-e around 1-2 months after the Kickstarter ends, but if we have an exceptionally large demand we'll be faced with choosing whether or not to do fulfillment on our own. Either, we'd do it by hand and there'd be a bit of a backlog or we would outsource and have to set that up and make sure there's sufficient quality control. Additionally, while we've sourced for our prototypes and the final product, we don't know whether or not all of our suppliers will be able to handle the demand if we get more than about 200 HAL-e orders.
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