Saturday, May 15, 2021
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New Open-Source Robot with Magnetic-Mount Sensors

Designed to teach children about robotics, ScratchArduino features sensors that clip in place with magnets. Photo courtesy of ScratchArduino.

An interesting educational robot is searching for funding on Kickstarter. Based on the open-source Arduino platform, Scratch Duino features sensors that snap into one of five slots using magnets. Kits will include two light sensors, two contact sensors, two reflective object sensors, and an infared eye. Two empty sensor shells will also be included, so roboticists can add their own sensors. Robot enthusiasts can program the robot using MIT’s drag-and-drop Scratch language.

A team of teachers, designers and programmers, who are dedicated to keeping the project open-source, designed the robot. While Scratch Duino has won two Google Rise awards, finding financial backers who support their open-source ideals has been challenging.

The combination of snap-on sensors and easy programming could make this robot quite useful for younger children with low frustration levels. It’s reminiscent of Modular Robotics’ MOSS system, but putting the innards in plain view makes it seem less like a toy, and more like a starting point for educational conversations.

There’s also something oddly compelling about the ScratchArduino Kickstarter video, which features synth-pop, a pink polo shirt, and Finnish accents. Hopefully, it will help them find the $105,000 the Scratch Duino team needs to start mass-producing the robot.

Donate $145 and you can get one of 50 do-it-yourself kits with clear, plastic cases. Plywood and colored plastic cases are also available.