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$2,419 pledged of $3,000 goal
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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

$2,419 pledged of $3,000 goal
backers

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

What is a prototype?

A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:

Proof of Concept

Explorations that test ideas and functionality.

Functional Prototype

Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.

Appearance Prototype

Looks like the final product, but is not functional.

Design Prototype

Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.

Production Prototype

Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.

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Prototype Gallery

These photos and videos provide a detailed look at this project’s development.

About this project

Why Everyone Should Know Robotics

Robotics is the most multidisciplinary field in engineering. It encompasses everything from electronics to neuroscience, helping to prepare students for any number of careers in the STEM fields. But this breadth is not always obvious, or interesting, especially to kids who are just getting started. 

The Critter
The Critter

So we created a robot that is different from any other. It let's kids see that entirely new "creatures" can be created with robotics and technology that do not exist. They can see that they don't have to be limited by biology, or even past engineering, they can create things that are entirely new with robotics.

We wanted to show kids that robots can be something completely new and exciting.

What Kids Can Learn from the Critter

  • 3D Printing and CAD
  • Robotics (Sensing, locomotion, construction)
  • Electronics (Servos, microcontrollers, sensors)
  • Programming (Arduino C or graphical languages)
  • The Self-Motiviation that comes with building something.

The Details of the Design.

The Critter is the fifth robot in the LittleBot family of 3D printed arduino robots. We had already made arms and wheeled robots, we knew that with the next one we wanted a walking robot. But while creating the new walking robot we had to ensure that we met the same quality of design for easy assembly that we established with all of our other kits.

Walking

Walking robots are generally pretty complex. They generally require a lot of calibration, precision, and special programming to operate effectively. When we decided to build a walking robot we knew that it couldn't be a traditional system. We needed something that was easy and rugged enough for kids to build while still being interesting enough for hobbyists at higher levels.

Mudskippers Partially Inspired the Critter Design
Mudskippers Partially Inspired the Critter Design

We took a little inspiration from mudskippers and the first animals to crawl out of the ocean. We knew that it would be a belly-dragger, and that is where the similarity ended.

The LittleBot uses its two front legs to drag itself along. This gives it many of the capabilities of walking robots, such as traversing difficult terrains, while not having the downsides (falling over when a program is bad). This lets new roboticists experiment with code without having to worry about damaging the robot as much.

Easy to Build

  • Largely Snap Together Constuction (The kit only has 12 screws)
  • Arduino Based
  • 3D Printed

Since we simplified how the walking was to be done we were able to use many of the standards we created with our previous kits. 

Side and Bottom views of the Critter Legs
Side and Bottom views of the Critter Legs

The Legs themselves only have 8 screws (4 apiece), and since we design for 3D printing a large majority of makers and schools can build the kits from scratch without a great deal of difficulty.

The electronics of the Critter are based around the Meped board. This custom PCB allows simple connection of bluetooth, sensors and even wifi. The board greatly reduces the complexity of  the electronics. Instead of having to go through complicated circuit diagrams it is basically just plug and play. Using this board within a few minutes you have a robot that can see the world with its ultrasonic eyes and start moving.

The Main Arduino PCB
The Main Arduino PCB

Every single plastic part on the Critter is 3D printed. Since we designed it this way there are only 6 3D printed parts in the Kit and less than 2 dozen parts total (not counting the 12 screws). Making the Critter 3D printed ensured that anyone can build one anywhere in the world to take advantage of what it can offer.

The other advantage of 3D printing is that students can change and add to it. We will be releasing details of the Critter design so that kids can design new features like feet for his legs that provide different amounts of traction, or even extra sensors added to his shell.

Easy to Reprogram

Since the Critter is a based entirely on Arduino its code is very well supported. We work to post tutorials and explanations of the code on each of our robot kits. And the wider Arduino community provides resources and tutorials on basic programming concepts.

Program with Arduino C or tools like Blockly and Scratch
Program with Arduino C or tools like Blockly and Scratch

Additionally, since the Critter uses Arduino it can be programmed with graphic programming tools such as Scratch and Blockly, reducing the stress on new programmers to learn syntax.

Just Fun to Play With

The Critter can be operated with an Android app that we have created. The app allows for "driving" the Critter around, activating "Autonomous Wander Mode," (where they Critter uses his eyes and various internal behaviors to wander) and executing various motions such as waving and dancing.

 

The Current Critter App UI
The Current Critter App UI

If we exceed our initial goal for the campaign we will add a "Training App" where you will be able to use bluetooth and USB to teach the Critter your own motions, much as we have implemented with the LittleArms.

What You Get

Maker Kit

If you have a 3D printer and would like to make those parts yourself go right ahead. We will send you all the other parts and the 3D printing files.

The Maker Kit
The Maker Kit

Full Kit

Everything you need to build a full Critter. You just provide the batteries

Full Kit
Full Kit

Developer Kit

The Full Kit with a few extras (assembly required). We added the Developer Kit for those that intend to spend a lot of time reprogramming and adding to the Critter. The Power Supply allows you to keep his servos powered as you program different gaits and behaviors. The extra breadboards give you the electrical space you might need to add other sensors and peripherals. 

The Developer Kit
The Developer Kit

Assembled Kit

Assembled and ready to go. Add batteries and connect your Android device to start using him.

The Assembled Kit
The Assembled Kit

 

Risks and challenges

The Critter is the fifth robot in the LittleBot family. It is the fifth robot in that group that we have brought to Kickstarter. We have successfully fulfilled, on time, all of the previous campaigns. This is not our first rodeo.

The Critter is going to be produced in the Slant 3D printing factory. That printer farm has the capability to produce thousands of parts per week and we have already booked time. As soon as the campaign ends and the design has been fully tweaked for production printing will start.

The rest of the components are in inventory if necessary. But we prefer to order batches specifically for this project. Our suppliers are reliable and we have proven that by using them on past projects. Either way we will get the parts.

The largest time sink will be in the prep of support materials (tutorials, videos, etc.) and making any final design tweaks to the Critter to make it as close to perfect as we can. We generally spend several weeks ironing out the kinks in our products after the launch.

With all of this we plan to start deliveries 3-4 weeks after the campaign ends. Getting the Critter kits to you for Christmas.

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    Pledge $49 or more About $49

    Critter Maker Kit

    3D Printer your own parts. We will send all the servos and control boards that you need to build the Critter

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    • Electronics and Mechanics
    • 3D Printing Files
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    Critter Full Kit

    All the Parts you need to make your own Critter.

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    Developer Kit

    This full kit includes, a wall power supply, extra breadboards and jumper wires. So you can easily add peripherals and code without running out of power as it sits on your desk.

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    Assembled Critter Kit

    Fully assembled kit. Take it out of the box, add batteries and connect the app.

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    Critter Full Kit Pair

    All the Parts you need to make your own Critter. Twice. Build a pair and use them to battle and explore together.

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    Group Set

    5x Critter Full Kits for maker groups and classrooms.

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    Early Bird: Critter Maker Kit

    3D Print your own parts. We will send all the servos, control boards and other parts that you need to build the Critter

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    • Electronics and Mechanics
    • 3D Printing Files
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    Pledge $57 or more About $57

    Early Bird: Critter Full Kit

    All the Parts you need to make your own Critter.

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    • 3D Printed Parts
    • Electronics and Mechanics
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