Inventor: Shaun Kaufmann, Whittle Lab
Mentor: Dr. Marc Bax

The inventors are working to develop smart building blocks “with a nervous system” to make it quicker and easier to develop simple robots for new tasks.

The original vision is to produce an educational system which is straightforward enough to be used by children to build and use simple robots. For example, a remote-control car or flying machine, or a robot with integrated sensors.

When the appropriate blocks are assembled for the required robot design, a central “brain” block will be able to identify and communicate with the other blocks in the network using a proprietary control algorithm.

The initial software has been written and prototype electronic development boards have been created, but finalising the physical design of the blocks needs decisions to be made as to the applications and types of robots that would be supported. This is where the i-Team’s help is needed!

The questions for the i-Team to investigate are, firstly, whether there are industrial uses of the system beyond the initial educational market, and secondly, for each market of interest, what types of robots would be needed and what does this mean for the detailed blocks that need to be built. For example, wheels, rotors, types of sensors, final size and shape of the building blocks to make them as reusable as possible across multiple robots.