Constructing an instructive tool to get students interested in technology and robotics is the challenge being initiated by a team of researchers directed by Fancesco Mondada, at EPFL’s Robotics Systems Laboratory.
In association with the University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL), Thymio II, a modern tiny white programmable robot, comprising LEDs and sensors, displaying a series of behaviors was developed. Each sensor is linked with a colored LED, which facilitates the visualization of every particular activity of the sensor. This robot made its first appearance in May during the EPFL’s robotics festival, and was demonstrated to teachers on November 25, as a module of a program held by the cantonal teacher’s college (HEP).
The 11x11 cm robot is furnished with proximity sensors, which can identify close objects, ground-directed sensors to identify the table edge around which the robot moves, accelerometers that can determine velocity, force, collision or gravity, a temperature sensor and a microphone. It has also been provided with a memory card for sound recording.
Employing Thymio II helps users to make the robot to adopt one of the basic modes of being a friend, which follows an object lying ahead, an explorer which avoids barriers, and a coward, which identifies empty space and impacts or an investigator which moves along a line on the ground. This robot, recognized as a teaching tool can be engaged to teach gravity, properties of temperature and light in physics and for various programming and internet concepts. It is economic, accessible and absolute.