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AntBo: A Robot Pet Anyone Can Build!

Antbo: An affordable robot pet that takes less than an hour to build while teaching the basic principles of robotics and coding. (Photo credit: DFRobot)

Robotics and open source hardware provider DFRobot has announced the launch of its new Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for its latest self-learning robotics product, Antbo. Created to encourage children and teenagers to learn, discover and build in an interactive capacity, the company’s newest offering will specifically target maker, design and coding enthusiasts to help foster their skills. The campaign will run through May 20, and will look to raise funds for continued product development.

Unlike traditional robots, Antbo is equipped with a set of self-learning and “bionic” capabilities so it can analyze and understand its surroundings through user interaction for increased environmental awareness, and faster, more fluid movement. Additionally, Antbo’s emotional functions allow it to develop a form of affection for its creator over time through the use of lighting and voice control. As the relationship between Antbo and its creator strengthens, so will the robot’s “feelings” of happiness.

Mimicking the habits and behaviors of a real pet, Antbo’s emotional functions enable it to respond to certain scenarios such as trembling when threatened, turning its head when being analytical or showing affection when loved. Based on user preference and coding customization, Antbo has the ability to learn through sound, vibration, and light. Different colors and movements will indicate the robot’s various emotional states (e.g., happiness, shyness, anger, fear, and disapproval.) Users will also be able to monitor Antbo’s key metrics and accomplishments, from the number of steps it can walk, to the advancements in both its navigational and emotional skill level.

“We want to encourage today’s youth to create and design by actually producing something they can use, teach and then learn from,” said Ricky Ye, CEO, DFRobot. “We believe that Antbo’s collaborative features and unique DIY approach will provide kids with the perfect tools to help them gain a better understanding of robotics, machinery and programming from an early age.

The bot’s easy-to-assemble configuration actively urges interaction between parents and their children to provide a fun and intuitive experience that will simultaneously educate them to master basic programming knowledge. Users will be required to assemble the Antbo as part of the educational function of the product, as well as upgrade its movement sensors via PC or mobile using programming software such as WhenDo, Arduino IDE, and Scratch.

Additionally, Antbo will have an exclusive mobile app aimed strictly for entertainment purposes akin to DFRobot’s previous robotic incarnation, the Vortex. Advanced users will have the freedom for further customizing their Antbo by 3D printing new removable shells for their robot. It’s an approach that merges the physical and digital worlds through a game-ified methodology that is equal parts challenging and exciting.

Antbo was designed to mirror the inherent mobility of insects found in nature for a more organic feel that gives its target audience the feeling of engaging with an actual insect. The product is suggested for ages 6 and up.

DFRobot is a robotics and open source hardware provider that is dedicated to creating innovative, user-friendly products that foster a strong community of learning. DFRobot collaborates with multiple tech giants including Intel and Microsoft and has a product catalog boasting over 1,000 components and widgets including sensors, robotic platforms, communication modules and 3D printers. DFRobot is one of the early evangelists of the Maker Movement and strongly supports greater access to the maker culture.

By supporting the Indiegogo campaign, backers can pre-order the Antbo for $69 with their contributions. Robots will ship to backers in Fall 2016. For more information visit www.DFRobot.com.

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