From Vincross, the folks who brought you the HEXA robot, is a new Kickstarter for MIND KIT, a modular robotics development platform that you can use to build that robot that you’ve always wanted but doesn’t exist yet.
“A robot that keeps hugging you and won’t leave you alone” is either the best thing ever, or a horror movie. Worth the risk, I’d say. It’s nice that the system is so modular, and also that it looks like there’s a strong emphasis on manipulation, which you don’t always get from robotics kits that tend to be primarily mobile bases and not much else out of the box. There’s also some built-in functionality, like map-making that works with the mobile base and lidar module.
Specs-wise, the brain module contains a quad-core 1.2 GHz processor with 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. It’s got integrated wireless networking of course, and you’ll either be excited or infuriated by the six USB-C ports. The servo controller module will run 20 different servos at once, and the battery module has a capacity of 2500 mAh. There are a variety of sensors that you can add, and a selection of bases, making the overall strength of this kit the fact that it’s very easy to mix and match different components to get exactly the hardware configuration you want.
With MIND KIT, you can not only build robot rover, tank and arm in no time, but also you will get powered to make your own robot. MIND KIT provide a lot of fantastic modules and unlimited possibilities. There’s no ceiling on what you can create.
We thought it would be fun to create a robot that would sit on your kitchen table and respond to voice controls for things like ’Pass the salt and pepper.’ Using MIND KIT, we were able to easily achieve this vision.
Every time we talk about one of these kits, we try to make sure to keep it in a realistic context. If you get a kit like this, you can build all kinds of things, if you know how. And there’s no ceiling on what you can create, as long as you’re willing to put in the time, effort, and perhaps money into creating it. The Vincross team was “able to easily achieve [their] vision” for a salt-and-pepper-passing robot, which is a great example, but remember that they’re also the team that designed and built the robot, so it’s not at all surprising that it’s easy for them to get it to do cool stuff.
This is a concern with every robotics kit like this, not just the MIND KIT. If this is the right robotics development kit for you, you probably know it. If you’re not sure, perhaps because you’re new to robotics hardware or because you have a specific idea that you want to execute on, consider very carefully before you spend several hundred dollars.
Having said that, Vincross is trying to make things a bit easier through software:
A consumer robotics-oriented OS didn’t exist. So we created a new one. With MIND, there’s no need to know underlying hardware and complex mechanics, which means individuals are free to focus on building applications that bring ideas to life.
MIND is based on the Linux kernel and is optimized for robots. It integrates various libraries and drivers to easily control the robot hardware and network. With MIND, you choose how you want to develop and build, using either a Golang-powered SDK or a sandbox-style 3D Simulator.
MIND can also be integrated with both ROS and OpenCV, although it doesn’t look like there’s a graphical programming interface, so again, make sure this is the right robot for you.
As far as robotics kits go, MIND KIT is medium affordable on Kickstarter— expect to pledge in the medium hundreds of dollars for the modules you want. It’s currently just over 50 percent funded, and if the $100k goal is reached, the hardware should ship in September of this year.
[ Kickstarter ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.