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Muribot Robotic Educational Platform

Muribot is a low-cost, easy to use, open-source and feature-rich learning tool for exploring programming, robotics, and STEM fields.

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The Muribot Robotic Educational Platform was created to make learning about programming and robotics fun and accessible. Designed to move either on a tabletop or the lab floor, the Muribot has no problem handling rough floor surfaces, carpets, and surface transition. The low cost means that our platform is available to everyone, from children to university students to professional researchers; making it the ideal solution for anyone wanting to experiment in swarm robotics, navigation, mapping, and AI.

Most other educational platforms on the market today or either extremely expensive, or lacking in features. We recognize that the interest in programming, robotics, and artificial intelligence is growing all the time, and wondered: what if we could create a low-cost platform, that was also as full featured as something you'd see in a lab?

My dream is to create an affordable high-quality open-source platform, that is as useful to an elementary school student as it is to a researcher, enabling people of all ages to explore those fields more freely than ever, without having to spend a lot of money to do it.

To bring this dream to life, I created Muribot. A $400 dollar robotic platform that is nearly as cheap as a LEGO Mindstorms platform, but with features comparable to one you might use at a university. We've packed this platform with an amazing set of features and functionality:

  • 8x Infrared Proximity Detectors
  • 8x Ambient Light Detectors
  • 2x Quadrature Wheel Encoders
  • 2x Line Detectors
  • 3-Axis Accelerometer
  • Yaw Rate Gyroscope
  • 3-Axis Magnetometer
  • Infrared Transceiver
  • 1MB On-board Memory
  • ~6-8 Hours Battery Life
  • Extension bus to add your own sensors and hardware!

As part of building and designing Muribot, I've spent the last two years and nearly $5,000 dollars of my own money towards refining the design, packing more features into a smaller and less expensive platform until I had the low-cost high-quality product you see here.

Muribot is a great resource for teachers and I'll be offering specialized pricing for educators. It's the perfect learning tool to complement any Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum. Muribot can be used to explore basic concepts such as:

  • Obstacle Avoidance
  • Maze Solving
  • Line Following
  • Follow/Avoid light
  • Shape Drawing
  • Odometry
  • Serial Communication

And some more advanced concepts:

  • PID Control Loops
  • Room Mapping/Path-finding
  • Signal Filtering
  • Sensor Fusion
  • Fuzzy Logic
  • Neural Networks
  • Swarm Robotics

  • 1 × Mainboard PCBs From Elecrow
  • 1 × IR/Ambient Light Sensor PCBs From Elecrow
  • 1 × Quadrature Encoder PCBs From Elecrow
  • 1 × 3D Printed Acyrlic Case Printed on a Form1+ with multiple colors available!
  • 1 × PIC18F46J50 MCU clocked @ 48MHz
  • 1 × PIC12F1822 Dual Quadrature Encoder Microprocessor
  • 1 × VCNL4010-GS08 Infrared Proximity and Ambient Light Sensor
  • 1 × CAT24M01-D 1MB CMOS Nonvolatile Memory
  • 1 × KXTC9-2050 +/-2G 3-axis Accelerometer
  • 1 × LIS3MDLTR +/-16G 3-axis Magnetometer

View all 15 components

  • ​Muribot 2.0 - The Ultimate Robotics Kit for Kids!

    Mid-Ohio Area Robotics05/13/2015 at 04:34 0 comments

    So our project isn't doing so well, things really aren't looking good for our Kickstarter.

    We have tons and tons of interest across the globe. We have a school in Pakistan that is looking to buy a bunch of Muribots, as well as one in the Ukraine. Unfortunately they probably won't be getting their Muribots.

    The main reason is this: Kids change their opinions and likes and desires constantly, and a parent isn't going to drop $250 on a platform for their kids. LEGO can get away with this because they are a trusted name and their kit is compatible with one of their already successful product lines, Technic.

    University students or people who are familiar with the technology just aren't impressed with it. University students are not usually able to use a different platform from whatever the university wants to provide either…which is something we didn't know.

    We really want to see Muribot be successful, we really don't want to cancel our funding goal. We have a lot of enthusiasm but enthusiasm doesn't secure a pledge for you or anyone else.

    It's very doubtful we'll be able to market Muribot to universities anytime soon, without the ability to freely refine our design, and the equipment to produce those refined versions; which we needed the Kickstarter to acquire. It's very doubtful we'll successfully market it in that direction.

    However we have kids, and we know what kids are looking for. We already have a great API, and we know its easy for kids to program. So after a lot of brainstorming we've refined our design, including what our users really wanted, and improved the design overall to gear it towards kids

    Muribot 2.0 - The Ultimate Robotics Kit for Kids!

    • Third part processor compatible
      • If your preferred processor supports I2C you can interface it to Muribot2.0!
    • Smaller: only 30-60mm in diameter!
    • Rugged Case: Made of ABS-like 3D printed plastic
    • Improved Battery Life: Reduced power for longer running times!
    • CMUCam Compatible
    • Packed with Sensors:
      • 3 IR Proximity Detectors
      • 2 Line Sensors
      • 6-axis IMU
      • Infrared Transmitter/Receiver
    • MicroSD
    • Pen/Market slot

    Muribot is still:

    • Still USB programmable and rechargeable!
    • Still crossplatfrom using MPLabX and our software!

    This kit only costs ~$60 bucks! ¼ the price of Muribot currently! If we'd known before what we know now about what our users and the people interested in it want we would have redesigned it prior to our Kickstarter.

    So what do you think of Muribot 2.0? Use the poll on our main blog to let us know! http://moarobotics.tumblr.com/post/118840159295/muribot-2-0-the-ultimate-robotics-kit-for-kids

  • Muribot - Now ARM/RasPi/Arduino compatible!

    Mid-Ohio Area Robotics05/08/2015 at 19:57 0 comments

    So after a lot of testing, we're proud to announce tha Muribot is 100% compatible with ARM, Raspbery Pi, Arduino, and many more! Basically if your hardware's got I2C, you can connect and run our platform with it.

    We have a 3D printed bracket that we will be making available for you to download and print, and we will sell them for <$10-15 (not sure on the price quite yet but we think that's a good estimate). You can use this bracket to secure an Arduino shield to our platform, and connect I2C and power (3.3v and 5v available!)

    This is REALLY BIG news in our opinion, it opens up our platform to a whole slew new range of possibilities, we're honestly surprised it took our backers to point out that this was possible! We've been marketing this all wrong!! :D

  • Muribot API

    Mid-Ohio Area Robotics05/08/2015 at 16:55 0 comments

    So today we were asked "Can you share more details about the embedded software API, and especially how does it deal with complex stuff like concurrency, reentrancy, and non-blocking , while keeping everything simple ?"

    Wow this is a nice technical question! When we were writing the API we actually thought a lot about this, the PIC is a single threaded platform by nature, but it's possible to implement a sort of pseudo-multithreading on the architecture very easily. We actually implement a very simple block multithreading model. On the PIC18F hardware we actually have 2 interrupt priority levels, so you can almost think of it as being 3 threads.

    The thread 0 is the main loop being clocked from the 48MHz system clock. Thread 1 runs is the low priority interrupt and it runs at 10Hz. A human normally responds to stimuli within 200-250mS, so we wanted an update speed that was similar, as our CEO does a lot of research into AI and autonomous navigation. Thread 2 is the high priority interrupt and runs at 1000Hz. It simply updates a counter we use to track the passage of time (in mS).

    Thread 0 - User Thread
    Thread 1 - Sensor Thread
    Thread 2 - Clocking Thread

    The ReadRam and WriteRam commands are the only commands that completely block the execution of the platform , simply because it hogs the I2C bus and we don't want to be writing spurious data. When other commands that need to block execution are issued, they block execution of the user code only. e.g. Move will only block when a distance or delay is given otherwise it returns immediately, and Turn will block until it turns the given angle. When a block occurs thread control is passed to Thread 1, so that the sensor data can be continuously monitored until the set time, distance, or angle has been reached.

    The clocking thread doesn't affect code execution in any way, so doesn't block anything.

    So lets take the following code for run through!:

    if(GetDist(0) > 200) // If we get a value > 200 (about 3") from proximity sensor 0
        Turn(15, 100, 0); // Turn 15 degrees at 100% full speed, with no wheel bias (turn in place)
    else
         Move(50, 50); // Move forward at 50% full speed
    
    

    First GetDist(0), which simply returns the value read from the sensor during the last sensor update

    Turn(15, 100, 0) will block, but during that time the sensors thread is still running, so once the robot detects is has turned >= 15 degrees it will stop and return.

    Move(50, 50) will return immediately however because it doesn't have a delay or distance specified.

    The user code then loops until the robot is turned of our an EndProg() command is issued which would halt execution of the platform. The code above results in a robot that drives forward at 50% speed until something is within 3" of proximity sensor 0 and then rotate until it is out of sight before proceeding (ignoring blind spots in the sensor view).

    The following code was actually written by our CEOs 8 year old daughter Sabrina, IR Line Following Demo by Sabrina S., who discovered you can follow lines using nothing but the proximity sensors.

    I hope this answers your questions! Let me know if I missed anything or if you have any questions. There are plenty of little tricks to using the API to get around what might seem like a limitation, so if I can expand on any you might see, let me know!

    TLDR;

    Concurrency - We use a simple block multithreading model where the user thread passes control to the sensor thread.

    Reentrancy - The PIC hardware stack is designed with two priority interrupts that perform context saving by default, so reentrancy was automatic.

    Non-blocking - Sensor updates are never blocked, and user code is only blocked when you'd be waiting for something to finish anyway.

  • ​First week: Answering Concerns

    Mid-Ohio Area Robotics05/07/2015 at 22:28 0 comments

    So lets recap the first week of our kickstarter, we basically got our press release posted out to over 50+ places across the US. We appeared in various publications such as Robohub, Atari.Ru, and Robotics.com.ua.

    Who's talking about Muribot

    Robohub - http://robohub.org/muribot-bringing-university-level-robotics-to-consumers-of-all-abilities/

    Colorado News Desk - http://www.coloradonewsdesk.com/story/35912/muribot-robotic-educational-platform-launches-on-kickstarter.html

    AIDreams.co.uk - http://aidreams.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=8176.msg34142#.VUqfp_mrTIU

    Softmachine.net - http://www.softmachine.net/2015/05/muribot-bringing-university-level-robotics-to-consumers-of-all-abilities/

    Atari.Ru - http://atari.ru/nauchnye-roboty-muribot-uchebnyj-komplekt-dlya-postroeniya-robotov/

    Robotics.com.ua - http://robotics.com.ua/news/research_robots/4517-muribot_training_package_for_building_robots

    As far as interest goes we are great! Lots of people are talking about Muribot and we're getting e-mails nonstop. But there's a problem, we have a fatal lack of backers currently. With our Twitter followers and Facebook fans combined, we have 256 people following us! If all of you guys pledged toward the $150 Build-Your-Own Muribot kit, we'd be 96% funded! If you all pledged toward the $250 fully assembled package, we'd be 160% funded!

    We've gotten quite a bit of feedback, mostly positive but also some negative ones, and I'd like to address some questions raised by the community.

    Concerns

    Q.Without mounting points how are we supposed to mount our own hardware?

    We actually have mounting points.We will be providing a 3D printable bracket that you will be able to attach your projects too. You can either print it yourself or buy it from us. This bracket clips onto the Muribot and provides a solid place to mount your hardware.

    Q. Why the I2C protocol and not SPI which is faster?

    Great questions! We chose 400khz I2C because it can be sampled on most inexpensive oscilloscopes very easily, the protocol itself is very simple to learn and to read on a scope as well. This way by probing the I2C expansion port an educator could easily demonstrate the protocol in action.

    Why not an ARM processor which only costs a few dollars more?

    The Muribot platform is supposed to facilitate the exploration of embedded platforms, to that end an ARM would be like a sledgehammer to a peanut. However, it's trivial to reprogram the PIC as an I2C slave and connected it to an ARM processor add-on. If you have a good idea, let us know at http://moarobotics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=2

    If you have a question for Mid-Ohio Area Robotics, leave a comment!!!! We're here to answer all your questions 24/7 while the kickstarter is going so drop us a line!

  • WOW! ​Microchip Technology Inc. loves us!

    Mid-Ohio Area Robotics05/07/2015 at 16:45 0 comments

    So this is happening!!

    Holy expletives! This is so awesome, I've always love their company and to see them get behind my project makes me incredibly happy! But WAIT! There's MOAR!

    Muribot is going to be featured in the June edition of Microchip's MicroSolutions magazine!!!!

    http://www.microchip.com/pagehandler/en-us/microsolutions

    I'm so happy and humbled they support Muribot, I spent a lot of time choosing between Atmel (too similar to really justify the switch), and ARM (a sledge-hammer to crack a peanut) and Microchip to figure out which one would give me the capacities I needed. Microchip proved to me again that they're the real leaders with microprocessors because the PIC18F46J50 is a perfect fit.

    So if you didn't already have enough of a reason before a Fortune 500 company got behind our project (And backed it!) now is the time! Come grab a slice of the robotics revolution, and you can receive your own Muribot to boot!

    http://kck.st/1c1V3Bu

    Also!

    Today until 5pm, we're having a special offer. The first 5 people to pledge $50-99 and everybody that pledges $100 or more gets one of our currently unreleased PICxies!

    Free early release hardware, robotics, and you get to help kids learn about coding and robotics? How could this not sound like a great thing to get behind. Join Microchip Technology and MOARobotics in making an impact in STEM education.

  • ​Day 5 Update!

    Mid-Ohio Area Robotics05/07/2015 at 01:45 0 comments

    Campaign Link - http://kck.st/1c1V3Bu

    So the PR train is really started to move, at the time of this writing, our press release has appeared in over 45 online news outlets and Robohub even covered us!

    http://robohub.org/muribot-bringing-university-level-robotics-to-consumers-of-all-abilities/

    We also have 3 more articles on the way! YAY! Its nice to see such interest in Muribot!

    However despite the interest, we only have 7 backers! This is really unfortunatly, as we actually need to have people pledging something, even if it's only $1. So if something is keeping you from backing our project be sure to let us know and we'll try and address your concerns.

    Right now between our twitter and Facebook users alone, if everyone opted to grab one Muribot, we would be funded tonight! It would be that easy to make it so we can afford to change the world!

    Our CEOs daughter has been having a blast with her Muribot, and has even decorated it herself! (She insisted!). She managed to improve one of the two line following demos to the point where we're considering ditching the line sensors on the bottom, she's quite the programmer!

  • $250 Robots for Everyone!

    Mid-Ohio Area Robotics05/03/2015 at 19:20 0 comments

    Our Kickstarter

    So today we decided to ditch the whole silly "educators discount" nonsense, and just apply that discount to everybody. It complicated our projections enough that we just decided it wasn't a good idea. Thus the kickstarter rewards silver-platinum have been restructured into the following:

    • Silver - Still 1 Muribot and all the goodies but now it only takes a pledge of $250.00!
    • Gold - Limited edition Golden Muribot, I expected it to cost more the make these, but it didn't cost significantly more to give the case a nice gold-leaf finish so these are only $300!
    • Platinum Gold - Just 2 Muribots, with all the goodies of course, this is now $450.

    Now we're actually happy we haven't had any backers for those levels yet! Or else we would be stuck with those pledge levels!! These ones are much more in line with our "don't be greedy" philosophy and will definitely provide us with the funds we need after kickstarters fee, taxes, and rewarding our backers.

    Currently we only have 1 backer, which is just silly! There's got to be more people out there than this guy, who are deeply interested in STEM education. Come oooooon, we know you're out there!

    Starting this week, you can expect to see Muribot in a few articles on the web :D and we've also partnered with Ayudos and Backercamp for promotion. we have a about 42 people locally who are ready to support the kickstarter but they don't want to do it unless it's going to be successful since they could just give us the money. That's annoying, but at the same time it's nice to have such local support so thank you all.

    Check back here for the latest MurInformation regarding our kickstarter! We'll keep you posted!

  • Kickstarter Countdown #7/7 - LAUNCH part II

    Mid-Ohio Area Robotics05/01/2015 at 23:14 0 comments

    So today has been a hectic day for sure, we have a backer which I think is good! I've basically spent the day connecting across social media and blasting my project whenever possible. I've met a lot of great people, and there's been a lot of interesting developments.

    I have 3 places who are in the process of writing articles about my project! This is a great thing and I'm happy to work with them. I'll post links when possible! If you're interested in writing about the Muribot project e-mailmarketing@moarobotics.com ASAP! I'd love to work with you.

    image

    I'm currently going through and proofreading the final revision of the Manual! I should be able to post it within the next week or so for you to read. It's a project onto itself honestly but luckily it's been done for a long while now.

    Atmel and Microchip gave me a good laugh this morning by poking some fun at my choice of microcontrollers. They're both amazing companies and they're PR teams definitely are doing a great job.

    So that's it for today! Keep an eye on our twitter (http://www.twitter.com/moarobotics) and check out our kickstarter page if you haven't already! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/moar/muribot-robotic-educational-platform/

  • Kickstarter Countdown #7/7 - LAUNCH

    Mid-Ohio Area Robotics05/01/2015 at 12:36 0 comments

    So our project is live! Check it out!

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/moar/muribot-robotic-educational-platform/description

    We're very proud to be finally launching Muribot into the world, and we're happy you've stayed with us this last week to watch the countdown. If you have any questions, be sure to ask on the project page so I can start to compile a FAQ for everyone :D

    The launch of this project basically marks the completion about a 5-7 year long project that has taken a life of its own in ways I couldn't have imagined back when I started. But marks the beginning of a new one that will continue on as we gain the capacity to bring you many more low-cost educational electronics and robotics.

    Thank you all for standing by me, let's take the world by storm and make an impact together as a community.

  • Kickstarter Countdown 6/7 - Houston, we are go!

    Mid-Ohio Area Robotics05/01/2015 at 03:19 0 comments

    So everything is basically set to go, there's nothing left to do but wait at this point. Kickstarter is ready. I've checked and rechecked my numbers, my rewards. I've ran simulations making sure supplies can be bought, robots be built, and shipped in little boxes across the world! I'm SO excited to be on the precipice, about to unleash my robot onto the world. So lets go over the advantages my kickstarter will have over most kickstarters.

    Physical Units Ready to Go!
    A LOT of kickstarters begin with an idea and after getting funded produce their product. We simply couldn't ask for anybodies money unless we were sure we had something real. We didn't want to be caught off guard at any step of the process and avoid setbacks. When we were researching other projects, the one common trait shared among all the ones that had failed was they didn't have anything real to start out with. We're ready to produce Muribot, and that gives us a lot of confidence in our project and hopefully gives you confidence in us as well.

    Tested Manufacturing Processes
    Without a physical product to start with a lot of projects get caught off guard during production with an unforeseen expense, or setback. We've produced dozens of products and have a lot of experience with the bugs that can sneak into those processes. We've run the numbers and we will have no problem delivering Muribot rewards at all.

    Experienced People
    While I generally run everything at MOAR with only minimal assistance from a few professional friends, we've all had a hand in Muribot at some point or another. They are ready to help out as needed to produce units for the kickstarter rewards, and if Muribot really takes off permanently producing units for the world!

    I really hope you'll come support us at 8am EST May 1st, 2015. Come help us spread the love of robotics and programming across the globe.

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shamylmansoor wrote 04/18/2015 at 19:01 point

Would love to use your bot in my company LearnOBots (facebook.com/learnobots) in Pakistan! When are you planning to launch it?

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Mid-Ohio Area Robotics wrote 04/21/2015 at 13:01 point

Kickstarter will be launching at the end of April :D After that it'll be available on our  website, http://www.moarobotics.com/products/robotics/. Thank you for being interested!!

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zakqwy wrote 03/23/2015 at 18:10 point

Looks like an awesome platform! I understand not wanting to paste in a bunch of Tumblr project logs, but it would be nice to have an index to quickly access all the work you've already done. One suggestion for HaD.io: consider changing a bunch of the text in the Details section to links that send users back to your original logs, so we can quickly get up to speed on the product.

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zakqwy wrote 03/23/2015 at 18:11 point

Also--it's great to see some cool robotics stuff coming out of Cbus. I grew up in Clintonville so the area holds a special place in my heart!

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Mid-Ohio Area Robotics wrote 03/23/2015 at 23:00 point

Hey thanks for the feedback! I'll definitely try to do that, at least add a small index of some sort! I'm glad you think my work is cool and it's nice to see someone from around here taking interest!

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