Using robotics educational kits is a new form of learning and researching where programming knowledge and electronics skills are applied. From beginners to advanced users, robotic kits are powerful tools that can provide help in learning and deeply understanding the robots and how they work.
Below is an overview of robotics educational kits with open platforms for both hardware and software. The openness to new applications and functionalities of platforms varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. From the mobile robotic platform, open source human-like robots and to robotic arms, I take a look over all of these robotic kits designed to enhance your efficiency and productivity in the field.
The article is structured in two main parts; one part includes the kits with microcontrollers while the second part is an overview of robotics platforms with operating systems.
Microcontroller Based Kits
Let’s take a look at microcontrolled based robotic platforms designed to be used in education for beginners and advanced users. Almost all robotic kits are designed as open-source platforms that make custom code easy for sharing and development.
Pololu 3pi Robot
3pi is a simple two wheels robot designed for beginner C programming skills. It is a great platform used to learn how to program an Atmel ATmega328P microcontroller and 32KB flash program memory. The idea behind the robot is to be used in line-following and maze-solving competitions. 3pi is powered by four AAA batteries and includes two electric motors, five sensors for tracking, mini LCD display with 8×2 character, and three buttons for the user.
Bae Bot is a simple platform dedicated to beginners in robotics and not requires electronics or programming experience to work with it. The brain of the robot is a BASIC Stamp 2 microcontroller programmed to be used for applications like infrared detection, line tracking and avoidance.
Pop-Bot is a complete low-cost wheeled robot Arduino compatible designed to be used in education. Its compatibility with Arduino creates a good environment for beginners to starts programming the Arduino board. The brain of the platform is ATmega168 microcontroller compatible with C programming language.
POB Robotics Suite
POB is a modular robotic kit in LEGO style and is based on LPC2103 ARM7TDMI microcontroller. For programming, the POB comes with a suite of software compatible with Mac OSX, Windows, Linux, and for mobile devices with iOS. It can be a great development platform for students or an educational platform for teachers.
VEX Classroom Lab Kit
VEX kit is powered by Cortex microcontroller designed to be programmed using easyC V4 for Cortex or ROBOTC for Cortex & PIC. With a modular design, the kit can be extended with different parts.
4 Wheel Drive Kit
This kit includes 4 omni-directional wheels and is Arduino compatible. With a low weight aluminum alloy body, the platform can host a wide range of sensors and actuators.
Mega Bot is a four wheel drive robotic platform for indoor and outdoor use. It is designed as a remotely operated platform with modular and re-configurable structure to host for a wide variety of sensors and equipment.
Thymio II is a pre-programmed platform with support for visual and text programming using Aseba Studio software. It has a wide range of sensors and color lights for body when a specific task is underway.
SAM r I
SAM r I is a wheeled platform kit designed to be used in education for beginners. The brain of the robot is an Atmel Mega8L microcontroller and programmed using a friendly interface of Sumo Sensei application.
The kit can be modified to be used in competitions like line tracking or soccer bot.
2WD Arduino Compatible Mobile Robot Kit
2WD Arduino kit is based on the Arduino microcontroller with support for IR and ultrasonic sensors. The platform is designed for expansion with other sensors and parts.
DFRobot 2WD MiniQ
MiniQ is two wheeled robotic kit Arduino compatible. It has a wireless programmed module and is controlled by an Atmega 328P microcontroller. The power is ensured by four AAA batteries.
PICAXE Microbot is a programmable robot powered by PICAXE 20X2 microcontroller with support for Windows, Linux and Mac.
Pop-Bot XT is a two wheeled Arduino compatible kit with an ATmel ATmega32U4 microcontroller.
Robo-Circle 3S 2WD
Robo-Circle is a complete kit that can be used by beginners in robotics and programming. It has support for graphically based iconic in programming with a structural support for a wide range of robotic parts.
TurtleBot 2 is an open-source platform designed for advanced programmers to start building applications. It comes with a wide range of sensors including Kinect technology.
CRX10 is four wheel drive platform designed to fit educational requirements for a mobile platform. Using a wide range of sensors, the robot can be used for applications like line or sound tracking, or to determine the position of the robot.
3WD Compact Omni-Directional Kit
Based on Arduino 328 microcontroller board, the 3WD kit is one of the most mobile robotic kits. It moves in any direction without changing the direction and speed. The platform comes with ultrasonic range sensors and an aluminum frame with support for other robot parts.
Dagu Mr. Tidy
Mr. Tidy is a versatile robotic platform very useful in educational trainings with topics like wheel control and programming robotic arm. Its brain is a Atmega1280-16AU microcontroller programmed using a free Integrated Development Environments (IDE) from the internet.
DFRobotShop Omni Rover 2.0
Full compatible Arduino board and controlled by ATMega328p microcontroller, the DFRobotShop Omni Rover 2.0 is an independent four wheel platform compatible with directly programming In-Circuit Serial Programming.
The 3WD Omni-Directional platform designed by Nexux Robot is an open-source platform Arduino microcontroller compatible and with support for C or C++ programming language.
4WD Arduino is an omni-directional platform with built-in ultrasonic and infrared sensors and controlled by Arduino microcontroller. The robot kit can be used by advanced students with C or C++ experience.
DFRobot 4WD MiniQ
MiniQ is four wheels drive platform Arduino compatible with an Atmega 328P microcontroller.
DFRobotShop Rover V2
Rover V2 is a versatile tracked robot Arduino compatible. The brain is an Arduino Uno microcontroller and support connection for DFRobot Bluetooth and APC220 wireless modules.
Mindstorm NXT 2.0
Lego Mindstorm robotic kit cannot be excluded from educational kits used for beginners and advanced programmers. The kit is used for a long list of robotic projects and can be programmed using the Lego interface. It has support for a wide range of accessories.
Deluxe is an iOS compatible platform with support for iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
Stacker Robot Kit
Stacker is a simple robotic arm kit designed for beginners without programming skills. The platform can be used as a framework for robotic parts like sensors, actuators, or a wireless module.
Trobot is a simple robotic platform with one robotic arm with six axis articulated powered by servo motors. The kit can be used in low costs educational projects.
AL5D robotic arm kit is a complete platform designed for advanced projects including flexibility and expandability. The platform can be programmed using FlowArm application compatible with Windows PC.
The Magic Wand
The Magic Wand is a simple kit with three types of sensors and one exploding brick.
PhantomX AX Hexapod Mark II
Mark II is one of the most advanced hexapod with an open source platform and ArbotiX Robocontroller compatible with Arduino board. Each leg has three degrees of freedom and uses advanced inverse kinematics driven gait engine.
Simple Hexapod is a simple platform designed for students with no experience in robotics.
Mobot is a multiple module system platform designed for educational purposes including science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. The platform has support for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X operating systems and graphical interface support for RobotController.
Educational Robotic Kits with Operating Systems
Based on operating systems and powerful computers, the platforms from this section are designed to be used for advanced robotic users with programming skills and electronics knowledge.
Eddie is a mobile platform with a laptop on the top compatible with Microsoft’s Robotics Developer Studio. The platform includes advanced technologies like 3D vision, Microsoft Kinect technology, infrared and ultrasonic sensors. Used for innovations and experiments, the platform is a great resource for advanced programmers with MRDS skills. Using the wide range of sensors and thousand lines of code, Eddie can drive autonomously or controlled using a wireless controller.
Based on Ubuntu Linux and Tekkotsu development framework, Calliope is a mobile platform based on iRobot vacuum cleaner and ASUS Eee 1000-series netbook. This educational robotic platform was designed in the labs of Carnegie Mellon University to fit requirements of advanced C++ programmers.
Guardian is a tracked combined with wheels robot based on ROS architecture. Designed for educational purposes, the platform can be used in indoor or outdoor applications with teleoperation capabilities.
CoroBot is all terrain wheeled mobile platform dual Windows – Linux OS and ROS compatible. It has a water resistant body and can be used for complex applications. The brain is a powerful Intel i7 CPU with 16 GB RAM. For storage is available an SSD card with 160 GB capacity.
Sentinel3 is an advanced mobile platform with MRDS support and autonomous navigation. The platform includes a wide range of sensors and technology. Sentinel is designed to excel in remote monitoring including a high-definition camera, wireless Internet connection, and the possibility of ensuring 24×7 continuous operations.
PC-BOT is a platform with an opened architecture and development support under Windows or Linux. It can be a complete tool for researchers into human-robot interaction. Used in education, the platform is a complete kit for competitions.
Jaguar Mobile Robotic Platform
Jaguar is a tracked mobile platform with support for a wider development technologies including MRDS, Microsoft Visual Studio, ROS, NI LabVIEW, MATLAB, or Java. It is designed to be an autonomous robotic platform with high resolution video/audio and optional laser scanner.
Jaco is an advanced robotic arm designed for advanced users with solid programming skills. The arm can be used for both services and industrial researchers. Connected to a PC the arm can be controlled using Kinova JACOsoft software and is fully compatible with Linux and Windows operating systems. Any user can have complete control over the hand movements using a comprehensive programming interface.
iCub is a Linux humanoid platform with strong features for human robot interaction. The brain of this little robotic child is an Intel Core2Duo 2.16 Mhz processor with hard task in thinking how the flexible hands, arms, and legs are moved. Based on C++ programming language, new algorithms can be developed for cognitive capabilities and developing new soft skills like learning or communication with humans.
NimbRo-OP can run on both Linux and Windows operating systems and is one of the most advanced platforms used in education or competitions. The robot features include walking, kicking, instability detection and tilt estimation.
DARwIn-OP is an open-source human like robot designed for exciting research and education activities. The brain of OP is an Intel Atom Z530 with 1.6 GHz. The platform integrates sophisticated sensors and enables a great mobility using 20 actuator modules.
NAO is an open-source robotic platform already used in many universities for research or as an educational platform. Its brain is an Intel Atom and run a Linux OS. Since being a fully programmable platform, NAO offer support for programming languages including C++, Python, .NET, Java, or MatLab.
Raven II is an open source platform used in surgery researches with the online telesurgery interface and based on the idea of daVinci Surgical System. The platform is Linux based with support for developing new algorithms.