bots_alive wants to turn mindless remote-control toys in semi-sentient creatures. The Kickstarter project, led by MIT Media Lab researcher Brad Knox, transforms the remote-control Hexbug Spider into an intelligent and autonomous creature. With a bit of computer vision and artificial intelligence, the robotic beings can sense, avoid and follow obstacles.
It’s a clever setup. You slap a computer vision decal atop the Hexbug Spider and plastic blocks, position your phone above the scene, and the app controls the Spider via infrared. The now bots_alive robot will explore and solve its way through the obstacle course. By utilizing a phone and its camera for the bot’s brains, the kit comes relatively cheap. $35 for the base kit which includes everything you need save for the Hexbug Spider (available for $20 on Amazon). One bots_alive kit supports two Hexbug Spider’s total.
Overall, what you’re backing is years of robotics research bundled up and executed in an easy-to-use phone app. bots_alive robots look and act like their organic counterparts. They perceive obstacles and plan accordingly to get to where they’re going. The crux of bots_alive is the “robots hesitate, look around curiously, and make mistakes.”
If you’re interested in owning a piece of machine sentience, back bots_alive on Kickstarter right now. The kit starts at $35 and ships in September. iOS and Android devices are supported.