FOSSBot: An Open Source and Open Design Educational Robot


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In the last few years, the interest in the use of robots in STEM education has risen. However, their main drawback is the high cost, which makes it almost impossible for schools to have one robot per student. Another drawback is the proprietary nature of commercial solutions, which limits the ability to expand or adapt the robot to educational needs. Different robot kit versions, which have different electronics and programming interfaces and target different age groups, make the decision of educators on which robot to use in STEM education even more complicated. In this work, we propose a new low-cost 3D-printable and unified software-based solution that can cover the needs of all age groups, from kindergarten children to university students. The solution is driven by open source and open hardware ideas, with which, we believe we will help educators in their work. We provide detail on the 3D-printable robot parts and its list of electronics that allow for a wide range of educational activities to be supported, and explain its flexible software stack that supports four different operating modes. The modes cover the needs of users that do not know or want to program the robot, users that prefer block-based programming and less or more experienced programmers who want to take full control of the robot. The robot implements the principles of continuous integration and deployment and allows for easy updates to the latest software version through its web-based administration panel. Though, in its first steps of development and testing, the proposed robot has a huge potential, due to its open nature and the community of students, researchers and educators, that potential has kept growing. A pilot at selected schools, a performance evaluation of various technical aspects and a comparison with state-of-the-art platforms will soon follow.
STEM, educational robotics, 3D-printable robot, Blockly, open design, open software
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