UC Davis — a 100+ year old institution
of higher education — is encouraging
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering
and Math) educational enhancements
through the use of Mobots: a robot
module platform created by Engineering
Professor Harry H. Cheng and his
master's student Graham Ryland. The
plastic Mobots with their user-friendly
programming and software are already
in use in many area schools.
Let’s take a look at the robot's nature,
construction, modularity, technologies,
and applicability to the classroom.
A Mobot modular robot configuration. The Mobots
modules each have hardware interfaces that rotate,
as well as joints that move. Students can connect
and program a number of the modules to create
various robots with multiple capabilities.
The Mobots from Professor Cheng (and now Barobo
Robotics) are an entirely wireless (Bluetooth enabled)
modular robotics platform offering several degrees of
freedom per module which multiplies into many degrees of
freedom per robot as more Mobots are added.
These simple fun modules are completely safe and
easily snapped together, making them the “Tinker toys” of
educational robots, so to speak. Students apply math,
engineering, and programming skills to configure the
modules into robots that demonstrate the practical motion
and interaction capabilities of the platform.
While the modules can stand up to
heavy classroom use, they are constrained
from causing harm by software that
innately eliminates risky collisions and
movements. Students can interact with the
robots physically and up close while
programming them or actually running
The K- 12 STEM education platform
consists of individual Mobot modules, each
with four degrees of freedom plus their
add-ons. Each module can stand, crawl,
turn, roll and tumble, connect to other
modules, and turn attachable wheels and
parts. Mobots create 4 x 4 trucks, snakes,
dogs, humanoids, or anything a student
can imagine within the scope of any
combination of modules.
The Mobot modules are individually
programmable, and connected Mobots are
simultaneously controlled by their
programming via Bluetooth as mentioned. The platform
requires only a laptop or computer with Bluetooth. The
modules never require external wires. All the modules run
on two rechargeable 9V batteries which are included. These
give each module two hours of battery life.
Close-up of a created and
programmed robot pieced together
from the Mobot robotic modules
from a student.
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