A student demonstrates a Mobot robot that has a mobile
arm that can move objects.
So, they put the wheel on the back burner, knowing
that later it could become more affordable, and that it
might also be feasible to produce some limited number of
plastic printed units. However, this also presented
challenges as the design had to change to suit plastic
The design was adjusted further to reduce the wheel
wall thickness and rid some surface drafts for material
cost savings. They also had to move the rolling ring to the
inside of the wheel to eliminate the need for support
materials for the printing process. However, the engineers
ultimately liked the original injection molded wheel best,
and had a prototype made up of it.
Recognition and Funding by the
National Science Foundation
In April 2012, Barobo Robotics received a second round
of funding from the National Science Foundation worth
approx. $500,000 over two years. The west Sacramento
company had the potential to earn an additional $500,000
in funding over the next two years if the company could
effect some sales and land venture capital funding. Cheng
and Ryland started the robot company in 2011 and initially
received a $150,000 grant from the NSF.
This milestone is critical to turning Mobots into a
commercial product for the education sector. Professor
Cheng is eager to see students learn from the Mobots as
early as the third grade level.
The Mobot platform is recognized for its ability to turn
wheels at each end of a single module, crawl on its hinges,
and raise one end of its body and move around.
Cheng and Borabo Robotics are already working with
middle and high schools in their regional area. Students are
urged to design and build new parts for their robots using
3D printing procedures.
Professor Cheng also started the UC Davis K- 14
Outreach Center for Computing and STEM Education (
C-STEM). The C-STEM center held a RoboPlay Competition in
May 2012 to encourage local students to demonstrate their
new Mobot projects.
Younger and younger students in elementary schools
are learning robotics and complex skills such as high math
UC Davis STEM Center
and robot programming. With the goal of extending robotic
creation and instilling programmable intelligence to kids as
early as the third grade level, Mobots hope to be an
integral part of this building process. SV
SERVO 01.2013 15