The latest $109 Texas Instruments robotics kit for college engineering classrooms could inspire a few budding robot designers.
Three seniors studying electrical engineering at the University of Florida gave the new TI-RSLK MAX a big thumbs up as a hands-on learning platform. It can be assembled in just 15 minutes or less and doesn’t require solder.
“In most of our classes, we learn all the basics of managing processors, ADCs, PWMs and such but we never get the chance to actually bring what we learn in classes directly into an application,” said one of the seniors, Sebastian Betancur, in a statement.
Students can learn how a real embedded processor can be used for fun, learning and industrial applications in the future, another senior said.
Aaron Barrera, also a senior, said it took just 10 minutes to assemble the kit, using online resources. In all, it took about 30 minutes to get the robot to move on its wheels.
Ayesha Mayhugh, a TI university product manager, said the robotics kit fits into the self-learning concept being encouraged in some universities and job settings. “We don’t know how our jobs are going to change in the future,” Mayhugh said. “Having the ability to bring these complex concepts to life and be a self-learning beyond what is taught in classrooms will be critical for success.”
Jon Valvano, an electrical and computer engineering professor at University of Texas at Austin collaborated with TI to develop the kit. It is designed for students to learn about circuits, software, interfaces, systems and the Internet of Things. “It’s done in a way that is fun and understandable [and is] educationally powerful,” he said.
The second-generation of the series that first launched in 2018 comes with a microcontroller development kit, sensors and a versatile chassis board. It can be made into a mobile learning robot capable of maze-solving. It is 6.5-inches in diameter with two small wheels that allow it to move forward and reverse on a dime when it encounters an obstacle sensed with spring sensors on a plastic bumper. Six AA batteries are needed but are not provided in the kit.
Programming and other functions are provided in a series of videos and online documents.