We’re back again with another batch of Kickstarter projects that are worth paying attention to so they can reach their goal. This month is centered about a theme of robotics, but of various sizes and purposes you don’t expect in everyday life. Normally we would see robots as human-sized figures helping in our daily routines. The boom of telepresence robots allowed us to see robotics in a different way in which they can be served for different purposes in smaller sizes. What we got featured here is one robot mostly made up from cardboard and another one made solely for oceanic exploration.
First up is The Cardboard Robot, which is more of a robotic arm and smartphone camera on a crane as described on Kickstarter. This is made by Ken Ihara, a Harvard graduate who currently lives in Melbourne, Australia. The robot can reach objects at about six feet. The robotic arm part of it can pick up objects such as stuffed animals without you bending down to get it (an Elmo doll is demonstrated on the video of the Kickstarter link). The other part allows you attach smartphones to the robot to take sweeping shots or video of what you want. All of this can be plugged into a computer via an USB port to be fully programmable. Ihara’s Cardboard Robot is a prototype, but he is using Kickstarter for a $10,000 goal to get more cardboard, wood, and plastic pieces for more models. He also mentions in the video that these robots are cheap at $200 if you want one compared to spending $100,000 on a normal robot that has similar duties. Seeing robots being made with such limited material is crazy and proves that they can made with anything as your imagination is the limit. In other words, you don’t need to spend ridiculous amounts of money on certain materials to make a robot.
The other robotic project featured this month is the OpenROV, an open source underwater robot. The team behind this is from San Francisco and made up of three guys: Eric Stackpole, David Lang, and Bran Sorem. The main purpose of this robot, or in their terms a robotic submarine, is a make oceanic exploration easier for everyone. Eric first started the project and then others joined in pursuing in the same interests. Now, there is a decent sized OpenROV community from over 50 countries that have the same goal in mind. The robot itself weighs about 2.5 km and it is the size of a shoebox as said on their video for Kickstarter. From one test, it has gone in the ocean water depths of 20m, but the small size does allow it to be tested in bathtubs before it was ready for the big leagues that is the ocean. The reason that the guys wanted funding from Kickstarter for the project is to allow more people to get kits and join along with the community they’re already building up. The OpenROV has already been getting high praise from the New York Times and National Geographic, so robots like these can be the future for oceanic exploration without risking a team of people underwater in case something bad happens.
Kickstarter projects in the world of robotics like the Cardboard Robot and the OpenROV are just the beginning for them expanding to new and different heights. They are not going to be as one-dimensional as most of us thought they would be in a few years, but there can be a future for both expensive and inexpensive robots. The premier crowdfunding website has provided a great gateway for such inexpensive projects as these to happen along with having a great ambition of changing the future. I hope more projects that have the same ambition as Ken Ihara and the OpenROV are out there to prove that our imagination should not be limited by high cost.
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