Funded! This project was successfully funded on September 27, 2013.

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Flutter is an open source ARM-powered wireless Arduino with 1000m+ (3200 ft) range and 256-bit AES hardware encryption.

Now ships internationally!

What is Flutter?

Flutter is a wireless electronics development platform based on Arduino. With over 3200ft (1km) of usable range, a powerful ARM processor, and integrated encryption, Flutter makes it easy for you to build projects that communicate across the house, across the neighborhood, and beyond.

Whether you want to check the temperature of a beer-brewing setup, have your mailbox send you a text message when the mailman arrives, control a swarm of flying robots, or just turn on your lights with your phone, Flutter gives you the range, power, and flexibility to do it.

We’re not just building circuit boards though. Our goal is simple: make it easier for engineers, makers, builders, and hackers to go farther with their projects than ever before. Even if it's their first time. We’re going to arrange and keep a set of basic electronics tutorials so getting started with Flutter is as easy as possible.

Getting Connected

Creating Flutter networks is easy, even if it’s just two boards. Specify networks in Arduino code or configure Flutter with our mobile app. Once configured, devices can enter and exit the network seamlessly. This makes it extremely easy to set up a network at home (or anywhere else) where all of your projects can reliably communicate. Flutter is like a second network for your devices.

Multiple options

Building wireless projects shouldn’t have to be expensive. Flutter was built from the ground up with cost in mind, that’s why our boards start at just $20. We’ve worked hard to keep costs as low as possible and deliver you a quality product you can afford to use in as many projects as you’d like. To accomplish this, we're designing two boards:

Flutter Basic ($20)
Still under development, the Flutter basic is tiny and simple. You get all the features of Flutter (including 1km range) in a circuit board with an low-profile integrated antenna, rather than the large antenna shown in the video. Featuring micro USB for power and programming, components on both sides to reduce size, an LED, and a button, as well as plenty of digital and analog I/O.

Flutter Pro ($30)
Prototypes of this board are what is shown in our video. The Flutter Pro adds battery charging, a professional screw mount antenna, an additional button, and more memory for more code.

Our super awesome Nintendo remote. Just 5 wires to solder. Or buy a fully finished one with our "A Challenger Appears" reward level!
Our super awesome Nintendo remote. Just 5 wires to solder. Or buy a fully finished one with our "A Challenger Appears" reward level!

Shields

We've designed a handful of shields for Flutter, focused on getting started and connecting networks. Every Flutter board that ships comes with our Breakout board and socket headers.

Breakout Board
The Flutter Breakout board is basically a socket for your Flutter Board, letting you build projects you can easily remove Flutter from. This is great for projects you don't use all the time! Every board ordered comes with at least one of these breakouts (with sockets) so you can get going quickly!

Flutter Breakout Shield on our Super Nintendo Controller mod
Flutter Breakout Shield on our Super Nintendo Controller mod
RC Shield
The RC shield makes it easy to hook up Flutter to a standard hobby R/C car like the one shown in the video (just two plugs, no soldering). 

It's not just for remote control cars though, the RC shield features a buzzer, DC jack, a few FETs for switching things on, plugs for 4 R/C servos (for use with quads), and a temperature sensor.

The FET switches on the board allow you to easily control LED lights (say, headlights and tail lights for a car), or just turn on a solenoid valve for watering the plants.

Our RC shield. Two plugs to drive! Also useful for other applications
Our RC shield. Two plugs to drive! Also useful for other applications
Network Shield (Flutter Base Station)

The Network Shield connects to your home router and creates a bridge between your mobile devices, the Internet, and Flutter. The Network Shield gives you all the benefits of our mobile app but also lets you use Flutter to interact with the web: send a tweet, log sensor data to the web, or build a web page that controls your real world projects. Giving you a second network in your home with 100x the coverage of your wifi network, the Network Shield is perfect for connecting your projects to each other, your mobile devices, and the web.

This shield features a Texas Instruments wifi module with special SmartConfig setup that lets you connect Flutter to any 802.11b/g wifi network with just a few taps on our mobile app. And also features an ethernet jack for a simple solid connection between Flutter and the outside world.

Bluetooth Shield
The Bluetooth Shield connects your phone or tablet directly to nearby Flutter networks, even if you have no wifi, cellular coverage, or Internet. Perfect for times when you want to use Flutter in the wilderness and still control it with a mobile device. The Shield is available in two variants: Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy or traditional Bluetooth 2.1. Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy compliments Flutter’s low power usage for solar and battery-powered applications, and is compatible with most newer Android devices as well as the iPhone 4s (and newer). Bluetooth 2.1 works with all Android devices and computers, but does not work with iOS. When the campaign is over you can choose which version of the shield you’d prefer via an emailed survey. This way you don’t have to worry about what phone you might have 6 months from now.

Features

Range

One of the most important features of any wireless system is its range and reliability. We use wifi every day, but take a few steps down the driveway and coverage quickly becomes scarce. Flutter is a different kind of wireless system, completely self-contained with over a half-mile range. This allows for a wireless platform without borders, and no longer being chained to a router means your projects are free to follow you out the front door, through the yard, and down the street.

Flutter's range superimposed over Golden Gate park
Flutter's range superimposed over Golden Gate park


Security

As with any wireless device, security is extremely important. Since information leaving your antenna can be picked up by anyone nearby (and information coming into your antenna could have come from anywhere) it’s important to have a system in place that verifies who you are talking to in a secure way that’s also easy to use.

To make Flutter as secure as possible, we’re building in special cryptographic hardware and integrating cryptography into every layer of the software, giving the user ultimate control over who can and cannot communicate with their devices.

Integrated Cryptography

In addition to software for handling encryption and decryption of data, flutter uses the cryptographic chip as the hardware element of the security system. Built specifically for use in high security applications, the Atmel ATSHA204 is based around secure storage for protecting your encryption keys.

Using the chip’s features, Flutter networks are able to use extremely strong encryption and other cryptographic techniques to keep your network secure.

Open Source

Flutter’s goal will always be to provide the community with access to inexpensive and reliable wireless technology, and so Open Source was a natural marriage for our project. Every aspect of our system will be made available, from schematics, board designs, the bill of materials, right down to the firmware and mobile app. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to build or improve upon our foundation. 

Mesh Networking

Flutter’s wireless technology seamlessly routes messages across multiple devices to reach their final destination. Want to send lots of data across longer distances? Drop another Flutterboard in between and let Flutter handle the rest. Got an ambitious project that requires a huge network? We’ve got you covered there, too. Flutter is designed to scale from two devices to thousands, and our flexible tagging system means you won’t lose track between the lights in your bedroom and the lights in the kitchen.

Versatility & Mobile

Flutter easily connects to other computer networks either via USB to a PC or many modern Android phones, over wifi or ethernet with our Flutter Network Shield, or over bluetooth with our Bluetooth Shield. Bluetooth is especially useful with mobile since it allows your phone to connect directly to the Flutter network without requiring Internet access or a wifi router.

Flutter’s direct USB capability and our comprehensive set of shields means that no matter what you build with Flutter it’s always possible to communicate with the network using your phone.

We plan to develop a free, open source mobile app to provide users with an easy way to configure alerts and display project data on their phone. Use buttons and sliders to send commands to any device or browse and edit your network configuration and device tags, Flutter makes it extremely easy to manage multiple devices.


Potential Applications

You love finding innovative ways to take on everyday tasks, whether it’s dimming your lights with your smartphone, getting text notifications when the doorbell rings or the mail arrives, or even building your own quadcopter. Whatever the task at hand you can rely on Flutter to be versatile and robust enough to take on the challenge:

Flutter displaying data with an inexpensive display
Flutter displaying data with an inexpensive display


Light, Water, and Temperature Sensors
By connecting simple sensors with Flutter you can easily collect environmental data like temperature or light, water, and humidity levels. Which means you can do anything from measuring the humidity in your greenhouse, to building a wireless beer brewing setup, monitoring the temperature in your grill, monitoring sunlight for solar applications, or even checking the Ph levels in your pool. And that’s just with a couple cheap sensors.

Quadcopters
With its powerful CPU and long range radio, Flutter is an excellent platform for building quadcopters. Flutter’s protocol is designed just as much for reading a few sensors as it is for hardcore robotics applications so the user has ultimate control over what the protocol is doing.

Self-Diagnosis and Spectrum Analyzer
Flutter can even be used to diagnose itself. Because Flutter has bare metal access to the radio hardware, you can easily listen to the radio waves around you and plot the data. We'll even build some of this functionality into the app for basic diagnosis.

RC Cars
Hooking up Flutter to an RC car is dead simple. Whether you just want to drive it with an SNES controller for fun or use it for swarm robotics research, Flutter makes it easy.

Project Status

The evolution of Flutter
The evolution of Flutter

Everything you’ve seen so far is a functional prototype; the demos in the video are 100% real and were done live, but Flutter is still under development.

We designed the prototypes using the Sparkfun Arduino Pro Mini board as the basis, but its limited speed and RAM mean that there’s only enough room for simple programs. We want flutter to be as flexible as possible, so we’re going to design new boards around the Atmel SAM3s, an affordable but powerful ARM CPU with plenty of speed and storage space for any project you can think of.

We’re also working on evaluating a better radio, as Texas Instruments announced the code-compatible successor (TI CC1200) to our current radio chip (TI CC1101) about two months ago. We’ve got samples and are already doing new board layouts, and it looks like a serious improvement across the board, with higher transmit power, better receive sensitivity, higher data rates, and better low power modes. It’s the radio Flutter was always made for!

Changing the CPU and radio (and adding the encryption chip, which our prototypes lacked), means a complete redesign of the Flutter boards, but we know it will be worth it. We’ve spent months building Arduino libraries, learning about radio design, developing our business plan, and doing real world testing. We now have a comprehensive plan for developing the hardware and radio protocol that will make Flutter everything the community needs.

Estimated Schedule

  • New prototypes based on final design: 4-6 weeks
  • Hardware finalization, testing, & certification: 2-4 months
  • Beta SW ready; First HW shipments to early backers: 2-3 months

We will then work on shipping final hardware and getting the software to full release status as soon as possible.

This projection places initial early backer shipments at around 6 to 8 months from the campaign’s end; sometime around March 2014.

Why We Need Kickstarter

We will use the funds from the Kickstarter campaign to develop the final hardware, get it FCC certified, and develop the software for the protocol, encryption, and general Arduino support. We will also develop mobile apps for Android and iOS which allow you to easily interact with Flutter projects using your phone.

Specifically, we need to: redesign the Flutter Pro for ARM+Encryption+New Radio, and then design the Flutter Basic to match. During this process, we will also develop the Flutter protocol beyond the libraries we have now (already 1000's of lines of our code) to include mesh support, tagging, and the associated protocol features required to support that.

We're building an entire ecosystem of open source software to allow everyone from app developers, to hardware hackers, web developers, and even total beginners to dive into Flutter and make the most out of it. The more funding we get the more of that we can make a reality, but at the very least we will have the hardware, protocol/software, and mobile apps for both iOS and Android. 

About Us

Flutter's goal is simple: make it easier for engineers, makers, builders, and hackers to go farther with their projects than ever before. Even if it's their first time.

We've been hacking electronics and building our own projects our whole lives, and we've found nearly all of our projects could have benefited from wireless, but it was always too expensive. We realized that integrating wireless directly onto the main board would drastically reduce the cost, and we were able to make Flutter.

Add-ons a'la Carte:

Yay! We have an a’la carte menu now!

Flutter Shirt (tee or tank): $20
Flutter Basic: $20
Flutter Pro: $30
Shield Shield: $5
Bluetooth Shield: $35
Network Shield: $55
RC Shield: $18
Breakout Shield: $2 Starter Kit: $30
3D printed SNES back: $35
1000 mAh lipo battery for SNES back: $15 

To add any of the above items to your pledge, simply pledge the additional amount above the reward tier you're receiving. For example, if you're pledged at the $45 level and would like to add a Flutter Pro board as well, pledge $75 ($45 + $30). When the campaign is over, we'll collect your a’la carte orders via an emailed survey.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

We've designed many production circuit boards, and have direct experience manufacturing circuit board runs on the order of hundreds of boards. Managing runs of thousands of circuit boards will introduce some new elements to that process, but with our team's experience and our expert advisors we're confident that we can successfully execute the manufacturing run.

Designing a radio product requires FCC certification, which can be a challenge, but initial testing of our prototype radios' performance shows efficient operation, with real world performance very closely matching the Texas Instruments' reference designs, and among our advisors is a hardcore Silicon Valley radio expert, who has spent over 35 years advancing radio technology.

We love new challenges and can't wait to work through them all - we're 100% committed to delivering a quality product and supporting it for years to come.

FAQ

  • Yes! Flutter is now available to individuals in Canada, the UK, EU, Australia and New Zealand. In order to account for the different restrictions in various regions, users will be able to switch between the 868 and 915 mHz bands via software.

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  • Absolutely! Our whole family of products is available as add-ons:

    Flutter Shirt (tee or tank): $20
    Flutter Basic: $20
    Flutter Pro: $30
    Shield Shield: $5
    Bluetooth Shield: $35
    Network Shield: $55
    RC Shield: $18
    Breakout Shield: $2
    Starter Kit: $30
    3D printed SNES back: $35
    1000 mAh lipo battery for SNES back: $15

    To add any of the above items to your pledge, simply pledge the additional amount above the reward tier you're receiving. For example, if you're pledged at the $45 level and would like to add a Flutter Pro board as well, pledge $75 ($45 + $30). When the campaign is over, we'll collect your a’la carte orders via an emailed survey.

    Additionally, you may upgrade any Basic boards in your pledge to Pro boards by adding $10 per board to your pledge.

    Last updated:
  • Yes, we do! Here's a full list of what's for sale:

    T-Shirt [$20]
    We offer a few options for shirts. Shirts are available as BB401 tees and BB408 tanks and are American Apparel 50/50 Cotton/poly blend fabric - one of the most comfortable fabrics we have found for everyday wearing, sleeping, or really anything. The fitting sizes are unix and silk screened on both sides using a printing process that doesn’t leave any ink behind, instead leaving a totally smooth shirt surface for maximum comfort. These are really sweet shirts!

    The shirt’s artwork will be based on the shirts in the video with some minor changes, but will still feature the mesh network of open hardware nodes. Show your support for Internet of things and open hardware!

    Flutter Basic [$20]
    The Flutter Basic gives you all of Flutter’s features, including 1000+m range, with an onboard antenna to save space.

    Flutter Pro [$30]
    The Flutter Pro has all the features of the Basic, but adds battery charging and a screw mount antenna.

    Shield Shield [$5]
    The Shield Shield is a simple shield that gives Flutter the same pinout as the Arduino Uno, so you can use Flutter with your existing 3.3v compatible Arduino shields. Many shields were only designed for 5v operation, so make sure your shield works with 3.3 volts if you are unsure! We will offer a 5v level shifting Shield Shield some time after the campaign ends.

    Bluetooth Shield [$35]
    The Bluetooth Shield connects your phone or tablet directly to nearby Flutter networks, even if you have no wifi, cellular coverage, or Internet. Perfect for times when you want to use Flutter in the wilderness and still control it with a mobile device.

    The Shield is available in two variants: Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy or traditional Bluetooth 2.1. Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy compliments Flutter’s low power usage for solar and battery-powered applications, and is compatible with most newer Android devices as well as the iPhone 4s (and newer). Bluetooth 2.1 works with all Android devices and computers, but does not work with iOS.

    When the campaign is over you can choose which version of the shield you’d prefer via an emailed survey. This way you don’t have to worry about what phone you might have 6 months from now.

    Network Shield [$55]
    The Network Shield connects to your home router and creates a bridge between your mobile devices, the Internet, and Flutter. The Network Shield gives you all the benefits of our mobile app but also lets you use Flutter to interact with the web: send a tweet, log sensor data to the web, or build a web page that controls your real world projects. Giving you a second network in your home with 100x the coverage of your wifi network, the Network Shield is perfect for connecting your projects to each other, your mobile devices, and the web.

    This shield features a Texas Instruments wifi module with special SmartConfig setup that lets you connect Flutter to any 802.11b/g wifi network with just a few taps on our mobile app. And also features an ethernet jack for a simple solid connection between Flutter and the outside world.

    RC Shield [$18]
    The RC Shield makes it easy to hook up Flutter to a standard hobby-style remote control car like the one shown in the video.

    Not just for remote control cars though, the RC Shield features a buzzer, DC jack, some FETs for switching things on, plugs for 4 R/C servos (for use with quads), and a temperature sensor. The FET switches on the board allow you to easily control LED lights (for example, headlights and tail lights for a car), or just turn on a solenoid valve for watering the plants.

    Breakout Board [$2]
    The Flutter Breakout is basically a socket for your Flutter board. This allows you to easily detach Flutter from your projects; great for projects you don't use all the time! Every board ordered comes with at least one of these breakouts (with sockets) so you can quickly get started.

    3D printed SNES back [$35]
    This is a special 3D printed replacement back for a Super Nintendo Controller that lets you build your own Flutter SNES Remote just like the one in our “A Challenger Appears” reward level!

    1000 mAh lipo battery [$10]
    A lithium battery for Flutter Pro. Great for our Flutter SNES Remote and many other projects!

    Starter Kit [$30]
    Our Starter Kit includes a handful of sensors and other devices to help get you building wireless projects. The kit includes: a solar panel, wall power supply, buzzer, sensors for light, temperature, motion, and humidity, and a few other things you’ll find useful in your projects. The Solar Panel alone can power a Flutter board and some sensors, and can even be used to recharge a lithium battery on the Flutter Pro!

    Starter kit contents:

    Power:
    12v DC adapter (plugs into RC shield)
    DC Solar Panel (sufficient for powering Flutter and most sensors).

    Prototyping:
    Solderless Bread Board
    M-M Jumper Wires
    F-F Jumper Wires
    Basic Resistor Set
    Breadboard Buttons

    Sensors:
    Room motion (PIR)
    Light (Photocell)
    Humidity & Temperature (DHT11 or similar)
    Temperature (TMP36 or similar)
    Magnetic field strength (for sensing magnets)

    Output:
    Small Servo
    Buzzer
    LEDs

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  • Sort of. You can plug Flutter into your laptop and could likely use it as a data connection, but we won't have official code support for that right away, and it won't be nearly as fast as WiFi (Flutter is made for small projects, and they don't usually need to stream HD video like WiFi does!).

    Flutter isn't WiFi, and it doesn't talk directly to WiFi devices, but you *can* plug flutter into your computer and send and receive data to and from another Flutter unit, so if you have the Flutter Base Station or a Flutter board plugged into another PC with network access, it should be possible to run data over the connection.

    Last updated:
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    56 backers

    CHOOSE WISELY - 1x Flutter Basic OR 1x T-Shirt. Build a project with a friend or just rep our project in a super comfy 50/50 cotton/poly blend American Apparel shirt (tee or tank), made in California. $5 shipping to anywhere in the US included. International backers NOTE! Flutter radio hardware is US only, but you can still get a shirt! International shipping not included, we will collect shipping amounts before sending out your shirt!

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    200 backers All gone!

    +++ Early backer special +++ | KONAMI CODE - Get started building connected projects with 2x Flutter Basic boards, 2 USB cables, and 2 Flutter Breakout kits.

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    6 backers

    INTERNATIONAL BACKER! - Currently Flutter is US only. Show your support for Flutter with a super high quality American Apparel shirt (tank or tee, 50/50 cotton poly blend, unisex), manufactured in California. -- Canada & Mexico add $10 for shipping; everywhere else add $15.

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    410 backers

    HELLO WORLD - This is it, our Flutter Basic Kit! Get started building connected projects with 2x basic boards, 2 USB cables, and 2 Flutter Breakout kits.

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    92 backers

    INTERNATIONAL HELLO WORLD - For international backers (Canada, UK, EU, Australia and New Zealand). Our basic kit. Get started building connected projects with these goodies! 2x Flutter Basic Boards, 2x Breakouts, 2x USB Cables. See our FAQ for Add-On items.

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    222 backers

    ADVENTURE TIME - 1x Flutter Basic, 1x Flutter Pro, 1x RC shield, plus 2x USB & Breakouts.

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    147 backers

    INDIE DEVELOPER KIT (price adjusted) - 2x Flutter Basic, 1x Flutter Pro. 3x USB & Breakouts. Get started with Mesh!

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    26 backers Limited (5 left of 31)

    INDIE DEVELOPER KIT - 2x Flutter Basic, 1x Flutter Pro. 3x USB & Breakouts. Get started with Mesh!

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    42 backers

    Goodie Bag - 2x Flutter Basic, 1x Flutter Pro, 1x RC Shield, 1x Shield shield, 1x Proto Kit (breadboard, wires, sensors, servo, and a few other things to get prototyping), 1x Flutter Backer Shirt (Tank or Tee). 3x USB & Breakouts

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    31 backers

    INTERNATIONAL GOODIE BAG - For international backers (Canada, UK, EU, Australia and New Zealand). Now the fun really begins! This level includes our Starter Kit which features a breadboard with wires and resistors, a servo, a solar panel, and some sensors. Monitor anything from a microbrew setup to a greenhouse, with this reward level your imagination is the limit. 2x Flutter Basic Boards, 1x Flutter Pro Board, 1x RC Shield, 1x Shield Shield, 1x Starter Kit, 1x Shirt (tee or tank), 3x Breakouts, 3x USB Cables. See our FAQ for Add-On items.

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    124 backers

    It's not Skynet - 2x Flutter Basic, 2x Flutter Pro, 1x RC Shield, 1x Shield shield, and the Flutter Network Shield. 4x USB and 5x (one extra) Breakouts

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    67 backers

    Dr Wario's Lab - 2x Flutter Basic, 2x Flutter Pro, 1x RC Shield, 1x Shield shield, 1x Flutter Network Shield, 1x Bluetooth Shield, 1x Starter Kit, 4x USB and 6x (two extra) Breakouts.

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    20 backers Limited (80 left of 100)

    A Challenger Appears - This rad level comes with a finished, hand wired SNES controller made by the Flutter team, with an integrated battery and a socket for Flutter right on the back! Also includes 3x Flutter Basic, 2x Flutter Pro, 1x RC Shield, 1x Shield shield, 1x Flutter Network Shield, 1x Bluetooth Shield, 1x Starter Kit, 5x USB and 6x (two extra) Breakouts.

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    23 backers

    It's not -not- Skynet - 5x Flutter Basic, 5x Flutter Pro, 4x RC Shield, 2x Shield shield, 1x Flutter Network Shield, 1x Bluetooth Shield, 1x Starter Kit, 10x USB and 12x (two extra) Breakouts. We'd appreciate it if any autonomous swarms you build adhere to the three laws of robotics.

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    10 backers

    INTERNATIONAL SKYNET - 5x Flutter Basic, 5x Flutter Pro, 4x RC Shield, 2x Shield shield, 1x Flutter Network Shield, 1x Bluetooth Shield, 1x Starter Kit, 10x USB and 12x (two extra) Breakouts. We'd appreciate it if any autonomous swarms you build adhere to the three laws of robotics. See our FAQ for Add-On items.

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Funding period

- (30 days)