The little robot creatures from bots_alive are more than simple playthings. They are tiny autonomous robotic creatures (Hexbug Spider), supplied with an AI, which makes them seem a bit like biological creatures.
But then, they might be a lot of fun to play with for (almost) all ages. They come with special obstacles in red and blue colors. The tiny robots will try to make their way towards the blue obstacle and avoid all red ones in their way.
The bots_alive solution could also help significantly in educational use. Teaching kids about robotics, engineering, and computer science is a very contested field at the moment, and all products are welcome in schools as long as they are not too pricey.
They also work together with a companion app on your iOS or Android smartphone. Run the app and point the camera at the little robots. The augmented reality overlays will simplify what the robots see and calculate. It’s fascinating to understand the calculations and decisions of these robotic creatures in real-time.
On Kickstarter, they state, “Our goal is to make robots whose behavior appears alive more than any machine you’ve interacted with. bots_alive robots hesitate, look around curiously, and make mistakes. They’re unpredictable. All of this comes from a new category of character artificial intelligence that we’re pioneering. It started at the MIT Media Lab in research by founder Brad Knox.”
There is a lot of potential in this solution as you can test out how AI would behave in a physical environment, which you set, and how the robot facilitates the movements to follow the “command” of the AI. If they continue further develop the software and the hardware alike, this can possibly become a greatly entertaining and educative “toy.”
They are currently running a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign until the 16th of February. The product gig has only been launched recently but has already achieved its funding goal of $15,000, backed by 165 supporters. Check it out yourself. A complete kit with decals, five vision blocks, an IR Blaster, the mobile app and the actual Hexbug Spider has a campaign price of $60.
YouTube: bots_alive robot creatures (teaser)
Photo credit: bots_alive