QuadBot – Robot Teaches 3D Printing, Coding and Electronics

EngiMake has launched a robotics platform to bring accessible robotics to the masses.

Josh Elijah and Jack Scott-Reeve taught workshops in various London makerspaces are were surprised that most people were turned off by robotics. The general impression was that robots are too hard and difficult to understand for people without engineering degrees. The quote they often heard was “that’s cool, but I could never do it.” The pair worked with their team at EngiMake to develop a robotics platform that is accessible for beginners and allows expansion and progression to more complex robotics.

EngiMake’s project QuadBot is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund their first run of production parts. QuadBot is a 3D printable, programmable walking robot that weighs less than one kilogram when fully assembled. Arduino C++ and Ardublockly Graphical are the main software recommended for programming but the platform is open source and EngiMake encourages open source experimentation.

Josh Elijah answered some questions for us about QuadBot’s development. He said that the choice between snap-together or fastener attached couplings was one of the most critical design decisions. Snap parts will reduce cost and simplify construction but 3D printed parts don’t always work reliably with snap. Ultimately the decision was made to use screws to attach the leg pieces, but embedding the motors in the 3D components reduced the number of parts.

The biggest design challenges were making the robot tough enough to be played with by kids, but still allow for open source experimentation. Designing parts for repeatable 3D printing required much of the design focus time, along with finding the right balance between making the robot feel like a toy and a hardcore hobbyist project at the same time. Creating the PCB was another challenge that required enough structure to handle 6 Amperes of current while acting as part of the robot’s mechanical frame.

Josh also said that 3D printing posed a problem in terms of scope and scale. Print times are unforgiving so this first run has a limited number of kits available. If large enough demand is found the company might move to injection molding in future runs. Future iterations of QuadBot are planned to more fully integrate the Arduino platform, allowing for many different sensors to be used with the platform.

There are several teach-yourself-robotics kits, and more being released every day. QuadBot stands out because of the unique visuals, the commitment to open source, and the ability to buy just the components and print the body out on your own. The crowdfunding campaign ends on January 9, 2017 and if successful first parts are expected to ship in April 2017.