The FanBot is a very simple robot based on a small PCB with microcontroller by Peter Brier, some LEDs as eyes and mouth, and a servo to allow the robot to wave its arms:
Over a thousand boards have been produced, along with accessories to let children create a little cardboard robot with their own name and a little program to store a personalised sequence of LED blinks and servo movements. The µC is an ARM LPC11U24 chip, donated by NXP – which has plenty of power, but more importantly: can be programmed by powering it up as a USB memory stick.
Wednesday was the kick-off / trial day, with 120 kids dropping by and creating their own FanBot. The FanBots will all be used for the main event to cheer on the main RoboCup contestants. Here’s a quick impression of the first 80 “fans” (it’s a huge task to get them all up there, checked, stapled, and connected – not to mention the power/network setup!):
It’s a really wonderful project, IMO: lots of young kids get exposed to new technology, learning about robots by building their own, and creating a huge collection of truly individual and personal robots, all cheering together!
The RoboCup championship itself uses more sophisticated robots, such as these:
Many more pictures of this event can already be found on the RoboCup 2013 website and on their Flickr group. The event has only just started so if you’re in the neighbourhood: it’s free, and bound to be oodles of fun for kids of any age!
Myra and I had a wonderful time, and I even had a chance to see Asimo in action, live!
And JeeLabs ended up getting a spot on the sponsor page – not bad, eh?
Update – Forgot to mention that one of the requirements of RoboCup is that everything must be made open source after the event. This means that any advances made can be used by anyone else in the next year. What a fantastic way to stimulate shared progress!