A Shenzhen, China-based company, DJI is better known for unmanned aerial vehicles commonly known as drones for aerial photography and videography. The company is now introducing its first educational roving robot named the ‘RoboMaster S1,’ which is aimed primarily at children as a way to introduce them to artificial intelligence (A.I.), engineering, and robotics through coding and games.
The company says it has been in the development for two years and was inspired by DJI’s annual RoboMaster Robotics Competition for students. And hence the name is RoboMaster S1, while the S1 is meant to denote ‘Step 1.’ The robot comes in modules so that kids can piece it together and wire it up themselves to learn how it all comes together.
The roving robot features high-performance motors, four Mecanum wheels with 12 rollers apiece for omnidirectional movements, a mechanical gimbal, infrared and bead blasters, and a speaker. In addition, a tiny camera is mounted on it that can shoot HD video at up to 1080p.
The robot is powered by a brushless motor and a 2,400-mAh battery. The S1 has a total of 31 sensors to help it map the world around it, so you don’t have to be afraid to smash it against other robots, walls or objects you put in front of it. The S1 has a maximum speed of 8MPH, and its removable battery can last about 30-35 minutes on a single charge.
DJI combined all these specs with its computer vision and AI tech and made the RoboMaster S1 smart enough to automatically follow lines in the real world. The robot is also able to recognize hand and body gestures (including claps), it can follow you, too and perform unique movements when it encounters a fellow S1. The technology company is hoping that customers will use this to create your own courses, races and host your own robot battle with friends.
DJI’s first ground-level robot can be controlled manually with a smartphone app or dedicated controller and comes with a set of smart functions (as mentioned above) right out of the box. You will find three different modes – Road to Mastery, DIY Programming and RoboAcademy.
RoboMaster S1 has something for everyone, kids and beginners can learn to code with it and most advanced users can write Scratch 3.0 and Python code to customize their S1s to perform an even wider array of functions. These could be unique skills, adjusting the torque of the wheels or programming special counter attacks during an S1 battle royal.
The S1 will also ship unassembled, as DJI wants people to build it from the ground up. The company says that the process should take between two and hours, and it will come with goggles and visual markers that you can use to create your physical courses.
DJI believes that technology and robotics are best learned when it is fun and there is play-time involved. It seems that with the DJI RoboMaster S1 they have made a very good effort.
The DJI RoboMaster S1 is priced at $499 and is now available at the official DJI online store. Since the S1 is designed to be an educational product, DJI says it will offer special pricing to students and teachers, while it is yet unclear how much discount it will offer. It will only be available in the US, Japan, and mainland China.
For more information on all of the features and capabilities of the RoboMaster S1, you can visit the company’s website here.