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The Little Swarmbuddies That Could: Robotics Course Emphasizes Creativity in Engineering

Nancy Ouyang
July 22, 2014

Last year we covered a drawing robot arm by NarwhalEdu, and they’re back with a new robot that dances to music.

Today, NarwhalEdu is launching a second class that uses a Khan-Academy-meets-robots approach to teaching engineering at the high school level and up, with some programming experience required. The robots this time are called Swarmbuddies and fit in the palm of your hand. They are controlled wirelessly over bluetooth low energy and an Android and iPhone application is provided so that out of the box they can blink and move along to music or more directly with a graphical interface.

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The team of two MIT graduates came up with this latest idea while watching Kmel robotics‘ quadcopter formations. The wanted to make a lower-cost ground-based robot that could do similar things — create cool formations when you have more than one of them. To create the formations, they use the open-source Swistrack software and an inexpensive generic external USB webcam. They hope that creative and exciting engineering projects will encourage diverse students to pursue an interest in STEM (science, technology, and engineering) fields.

They released their last design files as open source on github and say they will do so this time as well when they ship.

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“The course has less mechanical tearing apart this time, the programming approach allow for cool results quite fast. You send it rgb and servo values and the processing is all on the computer side, so it can be programmed to work with almost anything (Scratch? Logo? all possible!).”

Their last course reached nearly 100 students, the results of which can be seen in this public kickstarter update, and they are excited to work with even more students this time around.

Check out the cool gif demos at The Little Swarmbuddies that Could by NarwhalEdu on Kickstarter, or, for more on their project, see NarwhalEdu.com, their website.

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