Turning the original “maker” kit, the Erector Set, into a smart phone operated robot is what Spin Master (the company behind the popular Air Hogs brand) has done with its Meccano- brand, Meccanoid G15 and G 15KS. As would be expected for this type of iconic brand, a big part of the enjoyment is the “build” process.
As Spin Master’s Chief Creative Officer, Ben Varadi, points out, once the building is done, one has a functioning robot that moves, mimics its owner’s moves, listens and provides witty comments. As would be expected, builders are challenged to try different designs (e.g. how about configuring it as a dinosaur).
Introduced at International CES2015, the G15 (2 foot model) G15 KS (4 foot model) have between 6 to 10 motors that are controlled via a “”Meccabrain”: 8-channel micro controller with 64 Mb of flash memory — with firmware updates available through USB.”
Programming is accomplished via LIM (Learned Intelligent Movement – manually moving parts by the owner), via an avatar and through motion capture. It has pre-programmed commands and the owner can create and his own voice commands.
The Meccanoid could be a great way to learn about robotics without spending a fortune (approximately $150 or $250). Based on the reviews, one should be prepared to spend hours and maybe even days building the Meccanoid.
This might also be a good starter kit for a school wanting to start a robotics program, but are on a tight budget. One application that could be fun and useful would be to deploy this as sort of low-cost, mobile security guard (at least capture video of the thief before he steals the Meccanoid).