Kamigami – your own cockroach-inspired origami robot
Kamigami are tiny programmable robots designed to appeal to kids aged eight and up. They feature tool-free DIY construction, simple iOS app control, and an array of sensors that let them work together or against one another. The little robots are currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.
Kamigami are based on the scientific Dash robot announced in 2014, which you might remember it from a study where it was used to mimic gecko behavior, flipping over the edges of tables. The new robots have the same core design as the Dash, and feature the same rapid six-legged movement inspired by cockroaches and lizards (they'll move at up to 6 ft or 1.8 m/sec). They're much more colorful this time around, however, with interchangeable shells that snap onto the chassis – something that should make them more appealing to kids.
Users assemble the Kamigami robots themselves in what the company describes as "an origami-like fashion." The whole process requires no tools, glue or soldering, and can be completed in under an hour.
At the core of the product is a small circuit board, combined with an array of 10 sensors, including a light sensor, IR sensor, gyroscope and accelerometer. The finished robot measures 4.5 inches (11.2 cm) long and has a rechargeable battery, with 30 minutes of microUSB charging providing 45 minutes to an hour of use.
The miniature robots are controlled via a mobile app, connecting via Bluetooth (they'll work up to 30 m or 100 ft away), and there's a simple drag-and-drop interface to assign behavior and characteristics. The iOS app will be ready in January, with an Android version to follow in March.
There are individual and team modes included, and players can designate the effect of their own Kamigami's IR signal on other players' robots, providing cooperative and competitive functions.
For example, you can set up two robots in a sumo wrestling mode where they try and knock each other off a table, or run a relay race where one robot has to be IR tagged by another to start moving. Luckily, the hardware is designed to be durable, and should stand up to falls and collisions.
The Kamigami robots will have to hit their Kickstarter goal if they're to make it to market. They're off to a good start in that regard, over 25 percent of the way to the US$50,000 goal, with 29 days left to go.
If you're interested in reserving a unit should the campaign be successful, then you'll be happy to learn that they're pretty low cost, coming in at $49 with a single shell. Those units are scheduled to ship in March, but you can pay an extra $10 (raising the price to $59) for early delivery in January 2016.