TRIBUNAL DESK: We at Team micro:bit have been overjoyed to bring you more than a year of micro:bit experiments, activities and entertainment, so we decided what better way to show our appreciation than to get in touch with our robotics buddies and cause a little havoc?
Making robots with the micro:bit has been some of our favourite activities and it can be a lot easier than you think. You – yes you, the one reading this – can make your own robots!
Team micro:bit had an awesome time putting together the Robots Replace Teachers video – not just because we got to cause some havoc in a high school but because we got to meet so many cool and interesting robots and their engineers.
We looked everywhere for robots to help us out – schools, research labs and even television shows – and after we finished filming, we got to know about the robots themselves and the humans that work with them.
OhBot and Marty
When it comes to micro:bits and micro robots working together, the engineers who work on OhBot and Marty are huge fans. Both of these robots are all about being expressive. In the Robots Replace Teachers video, OhBot helps the students in Robotics class (and are excellent headbangers) and Marty is a regular, sassy face across the video.
The OhBot can be programmed a bunch of different ways, including being controlled directly with the micro:bit. You’ll notice in the video that the students tilt their micro:bits left and right to turn OhBot’s head.
Marty is equally expressive with his waggly eyebrows and sweet dance moves. Marty can take instructions directly from micro:bit programming by attaching a ‘backpack’ with a slot for a micro:bit.
Dr Sandy Enoch, who’s one of Marty’s engineers, said: “We do need more people working in robotics. There’s already a shortage of people.”
If you have your own OhBot, the engineers behind it have shared a simple .hex file so you can get him moving with your micro:bit.
Click here and choose ‘save as’ to download the OhBot .hex file. If you want to edit it, it was made in the PXT editor.
If you don’t have an OhBot, no worries! You can experiment with coding and robotic emotions with the Smiley Buttons activity.
Sir Killalot and Ike
These are some mini and mighty robot friends! Chances are you’ve already heard of the fearsome Sir Killalot and his fellow House Robots from Robot Wars but you might not have met Ike – or rather, all 20 Ikes.
Sir K acted as an ultra-stern head prefect in the Robots Replace Teachers video. Littering is never a good thing, but with this guy keeping an eye out, you’re sure to be extra careful.
Ike was helping out as a caterer in the school canteen, delivering dessert to the students with a little help from his 19 identical friends.
The house robots look rather small on television, but they’re absolutely massive in real life. Dead Metal weighs 343kg, Matilda is a little heavier at 350kg but Sir Killalot rumbles in at a whopping 741kg.
The Ike robots are all designed to work in sync with each other. In the video the group of Ikes split into left and right teams. Programming them properly is key – if the algorithms they follow don’t match, they could end up all over the place!
“I’m very honoured to be part of this,” said Nick Cooper, one of the engineers for the house robots. “Engineering is one of the most creative subjects there is.”
These robots are surprisingly agile on wheels, and your micro:bit can burn some rubber too! We previously teamed up with the Robot Wars team for all kinds of battling buggies.
Click here to visit the Robot Wars meets the micro:bit page.
Ottobock and the Manchester Robot Orchestra
We wondered what might happen if Robots Replace Teachers but robots can also work alongside humans. Robotics have improved the development of prosthetic arms and legs. Ottobock researches and manufactures high-tech prosthetics and the company has literally changed lives with what they’ve made.
Robotic musicians are rocking out alongside more traditional performers. Music groups like the Manchester Robot Orchestra aim to break traditions on what makes up an orchestra and gives space to engineers and artists as well as musicians.
Alison McMurray, from Manchester University and part of the Manchester Robot Orchestra team said: “It’s creative and it’s fun. And that’s what engineering is all about.”
If you connect your micro:bit to speakers or headphones, there’s all kinds of awesome musical makes you can do with your micro:bit. Our micro:bit MusicFest page features step-by-step guides for making pop songs with the Python code editor.
If you’re looking to add some sports technology to your exercise routine, you can try out some of the micRIO:bit Olympics makes we’ve previously released featuring stopwatches, circuit trainers and more.
Pepper & Meccanoid
Pepper is adorable and was built by Softbank robotics. There are over 1000 Peppers out there in the world, a lot of them working as shop assistants in Japan. The Pepper that starred in Robots Replace Teachers is from London Design and Engineering UTC where she works with their researchers.
Meccanoid is made by the toy company Meccano, and are programmable robots designed for younger children. You can really start getting into coding at any age, eh?
In the film, Pepper directed a few different classes – she looks like she’d be a pretty relaxed teacher, don’t you think? Meccanoids assisted the Robot Wars prefects on cleanup duty. They’re a lot smaller than those metal behemoths, but that just means they can clean up in hard-to-reach places!
Joshua Button, Pepper’s engineer for the film, said; “It’s really interesting to start exploring what the future of education could look like.”
Pepper doesn’t talk very much in the Robots Replace Teachers video but when she’s not on set she can be quite chatty! You can also get your micro:bit to speak with a little Python programming. Read up on the instructions for micro:bit speech here.
REEM & Tiago
Coming at you live, all the way from sunny Barcelona… it’s REEM and Tiago! These robots are part of PAL Robotics, who specialise in robotics research for industry and home care. These robots could be helpful in both a factory and looking after the elderly – how multi-talented.
REEM looks imposing without a mouth, but she’s actually really gentle. She communicates with the touch-screen and speakers in her chest. Stern yet gentle sounds like a pretty good casting for a school headteacher. The REEM in Robots Replace Teachers moves around on wheels but she has a sibling, REEM-C, who walks around with two legs.
Tiago makes for an adorable science teacher. Look at him in those goggles! He has a claw-style hand for this film but it can be switched out for a human-like five fingered hand for more delicate tasks.
David Fernandez, who works at PAL Robotics, said: “Robots like REEM and Tiago are not something students get to see every day. Though we hope in the future it’s something they get to see more often.” BBC