Build your own robots

All systems go: These children are fascinated by RERO, the 'reconfigurable robot'.

HOUSEHOLD robots are no longer mere fantasies of science fiction but a present reality.

Children will be able to build their own robots in the comfort of their homes thanks to an innovative invention by local company Cytron Technologies Sdn Bhd.

RERO, which stands for reconfigurable robot, was designed to be an educational robot building kit that is simple and safe for children.

“This product will be lab-tested for safety soon, and we have eliminated hazards like exposed circuits boards and tiny parts, so it is safe for kids aged 10 and above to handle them.

“We wanted kids to be exposed at an earlier age to improve understanding of the technology that our society depends on so heavily,” said Cytron Technologies representative Tan Eng Tong.

Building a robot can be as simple as snapping some basic modules together and the complexity of what is built is limited only to the imagination of its owner.

“This is different to the traditional robot models that are only designed to perform specific functions, like walking forward or jumping. RERO can be reconfigured to do something new whenever the child wants it to.

“In learning to programme different functions on RERO, it is also educational as you learn about the components of robotics,” he said.

Individual parts of the robot were made for customisation, keeping the builder’s interest and allowing for unique physical structures. RERO’s controller can be used for orientation, vibration, fall detection, balancing and other applications.

A convenient touch-screen has been included to reduce the amount of buttons needed and offers a teach mode for beginners.

“You can programme a simple movement for your robot without powering up your laptop. This is a very useful and powerful tool especially for those who want to avoid the hassle of computer programming,” he said.

There are four types of sensors that can be built into RERO thus giving it versatile functions. These are the sensors for light, touch, sound and distance (ultrasonic).

Launched as the first-of-its-kind Malaysian made product which took four years to complete, RERO had its public debut during the World Creative Robotics Challenge last year.

It proved to be easy and safe to use as there were no tiny screws and nuts involved in the patented construction system.

Numerous robots were successfully built by kids on the spot during the event.

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