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About Modular RoboticsWe make modular robotic construction systems for kids, because we believe that toys shape the way that children think about the world. Modular Robotics is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, where we design, engineer and manufacture our robots. We are a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University and are recipients of SBIR grant funding from the National Science Foundation. Modular Robotics designs, manufactures, and distributes innovative toy robot construction systems for children, adults, hobbyists, science museums, and schools.
Stu BarwickPrimary Contact
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About MOSSMOSS is a block-based robot construction system from Modular Robotics. Each block is a different part of a robot and combining those blocks in different ways yields a ginormous variety of robots. Think of them as building blocks for the 21st century; designed to help kids invent and build their own robotic creations. The goal of MOSS is to impart intuitive understanding of complex systems and design thinking. Within the MOSS system kids begin to build a basic understanding of mechanical construction, basic circuitry, kinematic motion, robotics, software integration and programming.
Despite this diversity of play experiences, the system is designed to be remarkably intuitive. Color-coded faces indicate what each block needs or does. Once you understand the basic principles there is no limit to what you can create. Power or data are passed through an elegant single button contact, while ground is passed through the steel spheres.** Over-molded magnets inside the corners of each block’s ABS plastic shell provide connection points for inert steel spheres, bridging the gap between each block. The wonderful part of these spheres is that they create simple motion primitives like ball joints, hinges and rigid construction. These elements combine to create wonderful kinematic creations.
What’s even better is that you don’t have to know how to program to play. Kids can play and experiment in a manner that they are used to, while getting instantaneous feedback about what is and isn’t working. As they become more comfortable with the system, they can expand their play experience to include reprogramming. MOSS supports two programing languages Scratch from MIT (block based and a good starting point) and C. Two languages that were chosen because of they can teach skills that extend beyond the play environment into the world around them.
MOSS was designed, prototyped, and engineered for two and half years with a grant from the National Science foundation. It debuted on Kickstarter in November 2013. The campaign surpassed the $100,000 funding goal in only 12 hours.
About CubeletsCubelets are magnetic blocks for children age 4+ that can be snapped together to make an endless variety of robots with no programming and no wires. You can build robots that drive around on a tabletop, respond to light, sound, and temperature with surprisingly lifelike behavior. Instead of programming that behavior, you snap the Cubelets together and watch the behavior emerge like a flock of birds or a swarm of bees.
Each Cubelet has a tiny computer inside of it and is a robot in its own right. When you put Cubelets together, you’re actually making a robot out of several smaller robots. Each Cubelet communicates with its neighbors, so you know that if two blocks are next to each other, they’re talking.
Each Cubelet in the kit has different equipment on board and a different default behavior. There are Sense Cubelets that act like our eyes and ears; they can sense light, temperature, and how far they are away from other objects. Just like with people, the senses are the inputs to the system.
On the flip side, the Action Cubelets act as outputs. They do things. Some have little motors inside of them so that they can drive around or spin one of their faces. There are Cubelets that make noise, shine a flashlight, or display their information through a light-up bar graph.
History of Modular Robotics
Eric Schweikardt (now Founder and CEO of Modular Robotics) received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant from the National Science Foundation to pursue roBlocks, an evolutionary design program for modular robotic constructions, the product that would eventually be called Cubelets.
Eric Schweikardt completed his PhD from the Computational Design Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University and as a result launched Modular Robotics.
Modular Robotics received its Phase II grant from the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR Phase II) program to continue developing Cubelets.
Opened a toy robot factory in Boulder, Colorado where all of Modular Robotics construction systems are developed, assembled, packaged and shipped.
Publicly introduced Cubelets after developing them for over three years.
Commercial manufacturing of Cubelets began along with the first pre-orders.
Jon Hiller joined the Modular Robotics team in Boulder and began developing a new robot project through a National Science Foundation post-doctoral funded fellowship. Modular Robotics started shipping Cubelets.
Announced $3M in venture funding from Foundry Group.
Established an education program to make thousands of tiny robots available to children in schools and museums across the country.
Launched the first generation of the Bluetooth Cubelet – 194,000 Cubelets in one!
Received a Phase I grant from the National Science Foundation to continue researching and developing MOSS, a kinematic robot construction system for kids.
Announced decision not to outsource operations and to manufacture all of the company’s robotic construction systems at its toy factory located in Boulder, Colorado.
Launched a Kickstarter campaign for MOSS and successfully raised over $360,000 in pledges for MOSS pre-orders.
Announced Lego Brick Adapters for Cubelets and Bluetooth Cubelet 2.0.
Received a Phase II grant for MOSS from the National Science Foundation to enhance the company’s educational materials including curriculum about how to reprogram MOSS.