Educational robots to introduce children to robotics, physics, programming

November 29, 2011

Thymio II robot (credit: EPFL)

EPFL scientists have developed an educational robot called Thymio II, designed to introduce children to technology in school and priced inexpensively (about 99 francs, or $110 U.S.).

Thymio II has sensors and associated LEDs, and can exhibit a wide range of behaviors that can be used in teaching physics and other subjects. Sensors include proximity sensors, ground-directed sensors (it can detect the edge of a table around which it’s circulating, or a line to follow), accelerometers, microphone, and temperature sensor. It also has a memory card for recording sound.

Basic behavior modes include “friend” (follows an object in front of it), “explorer” (avoids obstacles), “coward” (detects impacts and empty space), and “investigator” (follows a line on the ground). By hooking it up to a computer via USB cable, users can invent and program other behaviors, using open-source EPFL-developed software called Aseba .

No word if iOS and Android interfaces are planned, or about its availability in the U.S. and elsewhere.

More information [link]