I have just been introduced to the Edison Robots. I was shown a box of them that are going to be used to teach programming(coding) and robotics in a local primary school. They looked vaguely familiar.
The company behind the Edison is Microbric and they have been around for a while. They concluded an Kickstarter campaign in 2014, raising over $100,000. Somehow I missed this campaign at the time, but they managed to raise enough to create a ‘block based’ programming environment for the robots what will run in a browser, Windows, iOS, Android and Linux (including on the Raspberry Pi).
I had to delve a little deeper on the programming side though. I had dealt with the original Microbric robots, which could have a programming cable attached, but weren’t really programmable. They came with some pre-programmed actions, like ‘follow the line’, as well as playing the theme songs of the local AFL Football teams. The way these programs were selected was also novel. They could be made to run over and read a barcode which was read by a light sensor. It was also possible to hold them up to a computer screen, but this was a little bit unreliable. A the time I tried to manually decode the barcodes, but without success. There was a programming cable available (based on a Nokia phone cable) but it’s use was unsupported at the time I was looking at it. I don’t know if this ever changed.
On the other hand, programming the Edison with the Edware software is a great addition and a great introduction to robotic programming for students. The software is Python based under the hood, is available under a Free and Open Source license (GPLv2) and is available on Github.
Some things I would like to try with the Edison:
- Attach a pen and get the robot to write a message, or draw a picture.
- Build a robot arm that can move chess pieces.
One interesting application can be found here: Chocolate Rotomolding Machine (YouTube).
The MeetEdison website recommends the following Lego Kit – 42032 Compact Tracked Loader – as a good way of getting parts useful for building more advanced robots and machines. Details are in the EdBook3.