Two thankful robots
pose for their creator.
ROBOT KITS AND
Three kits that got me started in the glamorous
and fulfilling world of robotics. By Arwen O’Reilly
Photograph by Arwen O’Reilly
Growing up, I read more Jane Austen than science heard about two kits in development: the PICO
fiction, and spent hours dreaming of the elegant Cricket and the Vex Robotics Design System.
past. But now, with more and more articles detailing the leaps and bounds in robotics (some good, Parallax Boe-Bot: Manual Labor
some bad), I’ve started to prick up my ears. If Parallax’s Boe-Bot is the classic workhorse of
our world will soon contain robot nurses for the the bunch, powered by two wheels with separate
elderly and robot tanks with remote-control guns, servo motors, and programmable in BASIC. Once
I need to start learning more about robotics. assembled, it looks like a small tank, with with
A robot kit seemed the best way to start, so I its squat metal chassis supporting the printed
checked out three: the Parallax Boe-Bot, the Lego circuit board. Boe-Bot’s thick instruction manual
Mindstorms Robotics Invention System 2.0, and slowly takes you through simple mechanics and
a kit based on the book 123 Robotics Experiments the basics of, well, BASIC – spending a sadistic-
for the Evil Genius. Each has its strong points; the ally long time on preliminaries before having you
choice is really about how you like to learn. I also actually start building.