Design and evaluation of a DIY construction system for educational robot kits
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Building a robot from scratch in an educational context can be a challenging prospect. While a multitude of projects exist that simplify the electronics and software aspects of a robot, the same cannot be said for construction systems for robotics. In this paper, we present our efforts to create a low-cost do-it-yourself construction system for small robots. We have created three different construction systems (laser-cut screw connectors, printed friction-fit connectors, and printed hybrid connectors) using small aluminium T-slot extrusions, based on prior work done by Industrial Design college students. Eighty-six secondary school students and 35 teachers tested these three systems during a five-day robotics contest where they had to build firefighting robots. Follow-up questionnaires and an expert evaluation were used to measure the usability, affective appraisal and functionality of the three systems in order to determine which system should serve as a basis for further design iterations. Overall, a clear preference was shown for the hybrid system, which relies on its interlocking shape as well as on a screw connection to create robot frames that are both quick to construct and very rigid once assembled. We believe our work represents a solid first step toward an inexpensive, “hackable” construction system for educational robotics.
KeywordsEducational robotics STEM DIY User experience Construction system 3D printing
The authors would like to thank everyone involved in the Dwengo CErrobotics project. In particular, we would like to thank Juan Pablo Carbajal from Ghent University and Dwengo, who co-organised the project and translated the questionnaires. The CErrobotics project would not have been possible without the support from the Google RISE 2013 program, the “Ministerio de Educación, Ciencia y Tecnología” of the “Gobierno de la province de Salta” and the U.F.I.De.T.
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