SparkFun launches a comprehensive robotics system for hands-on learning experience

SparkFun launches a comprehensive robotics system for hands-on learning experience

Worcester Polytechnic Institute has developed an experiential robotics platform (XRP), a comprehensive robotics system, as part of their OpenSTEM platform. The purpose of the solution is to offer a solution for hands-on experience in the field of robotics, mainly aimed at middle and high school students and beginners.

The experiential robotics platform currently listed on SparkFun offers a structured learning path that starts with fundamental robotics concepts and gradually progresses to more advanced topics. Users can learn about robotics basics, driving, line following, sensor usage, robotic arm operation, and even autonomous robot development. The platform includes all the critical components and resources required to build and program a robot capable of performing several tasks, from basic to advanced.

The platform includes a coding environment that supports various programming languages and tools. This includes Blockly, a visual programming language suitable for beginners, Python for more advanced programming, and WPILib, a coding development tool commonly used in FIRST Robotics.

The hardware kit is designed to be easy to assemble without requiring specialized tools, soldering, or screws. This feature ensures that users can quickly and safely build their robots. The platform offers a variety of online activities and modules that are designed to be educational and engaging. These resources will likely cover many robotics-related topics and can be accessed remotely.

SparkFun Experiential Robotics Platform Controller Board

The central component of the kit is the XRP controller board that contains an onboard Raspberry Pi Pico W, which features the RP2040 microcontroller. The Raspberry Pi Pico is a powerful microcontroller that can be programmed to control various aspects of the robot. It can handle tasks like sensor data processing and motor control.

The kit includes a 6-DoF (Degrees of Freedom) IMU with a low-power accelerometer and gyroscope. This sensor allows the robot to detect its orientation and movement in three-dimensional space. The kit is equipped with two dual-channel motor drivers, which can control up to four motors in total. These motor drivers enable precise control of the robot’s movement.

The Qwiic connector is a convenient feature for easily integrating additional sensors and accessories into the robot. It simplifies the process of connecting and expanding the robot’s capabilities.

A battery holder is included to power the robot. The robot is normally powered by four AA batteries, but it can also be powered by an external supply of up to 11V via the barrel connector. This kit provides all the essential hardware components needed to build a functional robot for the Experiential Robotics Platform (XRP).

For interested engineers, the board is currently available for purchase on SparkFun’s official product page for $114.95.

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About Abhishek Jadhav

Abhishek Jadhav is an engineering student, RISC-V ambassador and a freelance technology and science writer with bylines at Wevolver, Electromaker, Embedded Computing Design, Electronics-Lab, Hackster, and EdgeIR.

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