A robot has been designed for home and school use by a Canadian start-up company. It acts very much like the Curiosity Rover that touched down on Mars recently. Fortunately, this robot comes with a lower price tag.
Developed by the tech company Mimetics and called the Jade Robot™, the device has been designed to support Science, Math and Technology curricula for school children from grades 4 to 12.
The robot has a a 32-bit processor, advanced obstacle sensors, a spectrometer, built-in USB and Bluetooth interfaces, plus optional cameras and grippers. The Jade Robot offers open source, Java-like programming. Some of the features are shown in the video clip below:
The designers spent time in Canadian schools to develop the robot, and spoke with over 600 young people to find out what would be most interesting to help them learn in a fun way. Talking with Canadian Electronics, Myke Predko, CTO and Roboticist at Mimetics, said: "Teachers in schools are looking for ways to get STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] concepts across to students at an early age. Robots are a great way to communicate these principles in the schools, but when we looked around for one to use, we couldn’t find a unit that was practical, so we began creating a product that incorporates what we have learned."
The robot was recently demonstrated on the Discovery Channel's Daily Planet show. Here, Myke Predko, Mimetic’s Chief Roboticist, demonstrated to co-host Ziya Tong how this incredibly advanced robot emulates many of the features of the Mars Curiosity Rover, such as remote programming and mineral spectrometry.
Artist's impression of Curiosity rover on the Martian surface
Despite the sophisticated features, retailing at $299, the Jade Robot is about $1.8 billion dollars cheaper than Curiosity, making it affordable for many education institutions and home hobbyists. The robot does not require a computer to operate it, which increases the flexibility of the device.