The August 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Dash Robotics Developing Indestructible Biomimetic Roachbots for Everyone

One of the coolest bio-inspired robots we've ever seen can now be yours

2 min read
Dash Robotics Developing Indestructible Biomimetic Roachbots for Everyone

Finally, finally, Dash Robotics has decided to take our money in exchange for one of their incredible bio-inspired robot toys.

If you're not familiar with Dash, you should probably go read this article. Or this article. Or this article. Yeah, we've been unapologetic fans of Dash for years, but it's always been one of those research robots that lives in a laboratory and rarely gets to come out and play. Until now, that is.

Somewhat remarkably, Dash has been turned from a research platform into a robot that you can buy, and even more remarkably, it's actually affordable. A beta version that includes a steerable robot (that you assemble yourself in an hour with a little bit of glue) along with a full electronics package is a mere $65. You can get it in absolutely any color you want, as long as it's either blue, orange, yellow, or black. The robot is controlled with Bluetooth via your mobile device, and a variety of on-board sensors will enable a range of apps, from obstacle avoidance to "photovore" behaviors.

One of the things that we like most about Dash (besides all of those other things) is how open its creators are to enabling you to make clever things with it:

We are developing a custom electronics package that is Arduino-compatible, uses Bluetooth 4 communication, has a dual motor driver, several LEDs and connects with Micro-USB. The battery can be charged through the Micro-USB connector and lasts about 40 minutes. The electronics are plug-and-play, so you can run Dash without any programming knowledge. But we’ve also made him hackable so you can take advantage of the sensors we’ve included, or even add your own. Out of the box, you will have access to:

  • Gyroscope
  • Visible light sensor
  • LEDs (red, green, yellow)
  • IR emitters and sensors
  • I/O pins for expandability
  • Bluetooth Low Energy communications
  • Micro USB connector

The Beta Dash (which is probably the one you want) isn't called Beta just for fun. By participating in this crowdfunding campaign, you'll be helping figure out what the next generation of Dash will be like. It's probably safe to say that the next generation will also be a lot bigger than this first one, which is limited to just a thousand robots. 

Expect the Beta Dash kits to ship in early 2014, and expect them to sell out way, way before that.

[ Dash Robotics ]

[ Dragon Innovation ]

The Conversation (0)

How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

Keep Reading ↓Show less