Today’s Hardware Friday post doesn’t include any Microsoft code, tech, services or anything (actually the project is supported by Google!… :O )

So while I might get in trouble for this post, I just thought this was too cool not to share with you. Plus it makes for some great summer projects.

Frist Elliot Williams introduces…

Open Robots with Open Roberta

Kids, and Hackaday editors, love robots! The Open Roberta project (OR) takes advantage of this to teach kids about programming. And while the main focus is building a robot programming language that works for teaching grade-school and high-school kids, it’s also a part of a large open source robotics ecosystem that brings a lot more to the table than you might think. We talked with some folks at Google, one of the projects’ sponsors, about where the project is and where it’s going.

Building a robot can be very simple — assembling pre-configured parts or building something small, quick, and cute — or it can be an endeavour that takes years of sweat and tears. Either way, the skills involved in building the ‘bot aren’t necessarily the same as those it takes to program the firmware that drives it, and then eventually the higher-level software that makes it functional and easy to drive.

OR, as an educational project, makes it very, very easy for kids to start off programming robots, but it’s expandable as the user gets more experienced. And since everything is open source, it’s part of a whole ecosystem that makes it even more valuable. We think it’s worth a look (along with something significantly more complex like ROS) if you’re playing around with robotics.

System Architecture…


The Bots…


Open Roberta is interesting enough as a teaching tool for luring young kids into programming by giving them something tangible to move around — it’s a Turtle bot for the 2010’s with a lot more bells and whistles and a significantly richer programming language. But the fact that it’s entirely open source and moving toward a broader range of robotics platforms based on common single-board Linux computers makes it even more useful.

The Open Roberta team is very open to deploying on new hardware systems; they’re even thinking about adding an Arduino-based robot platform. So if you’re interested in getting a nicely-done higher-level interface for your own robot, even if just for use in the testing phases, you could do a lot worse than to make it interoperable with their ecosystem, either by hooking into OR directly or by using something like e3dev for your robot’s brain. You can hook up with the Open Roberta team via IRC on in #open-roberta.

[Click through to read the entire post]

Then Tony Hirst provides another getting started guide…

OpenRobertaLab – Simple Robot Programming Simulator and UI for Lego EV3 Bricks

Rather regretting not having done a deep dive into programming environments for the Lego EV3 somewhat earlier, I came across the inspired OpenRobertaLab (code, docs) only a couple of days ago.

OpenRobertaLab is a browser accessible environment that allows users to use blocks to program a simulated robot.

The OU Robotlab simulator supported a pen down option that meant you could trace the path taken by the robot – …

OpenRobertaLab also allows you to program a connected EV3 robot running leJOS, the community developed Java programming environment for the EV3s. It seems that it’s also possible to connect to a brick running ev3dev to OpenRobertaLab using the robertalab-ev3dev connector. This package is preinstalled in ev3dev, although it needs enabling (and the brick rebooting) to run. ssh into the brick and then from the brick commandline, run:

On connecting, you should hear a celebratory beep!

Note that this was as far as I got – Open Robertalab told me a more recent version of the brick firmware was available and suggested I installed it. Whilst claiming I may still be possible to run commands using old firmware, that didn’t seem to be the case?

As we well as accessing the public Open Robertalab environment on the web, you can also run your own server. There are a few dependencies required for this, so I put together a Docker container psychemedia/robertalab (Dockerfile) containing the server, which means you should be able to run it using Kitematic:

… [Read the post]

Want to learn more about Open Roberta?

Open Roberta

The Open Roberta project continues the Fraunhofer-Initiative »Roberta – Learning with Robots«. For more than ten years, this initiative enabled girls and boys to explore the world of robots and to learn about computer science, natural sciences and technology (STEM). The aim of Open Roberta is to overcome technical and professional barriers for teachers and students alike. The free cloud-based Platform »Open Roberta Lab” can be used at any time from any device using standard Internet browsers.

Open Roberta Lab

The programming environment »Open Roberta Lab” enables children and adolescents to program Lego Mindstorms EV3 robots. A variety of different programming blocks are provided to program motors, sensors and the EV3-Brick. Open Roberta Lab uses an approach of graphical programming so that beginners can seamlessly start coding. As a cloud-based application, the platform can be used without prior installation of specific software but runs in any popular browser, independent of operating system and device.

Open Source Community

The programming platform Roberta Open Lab is a completely open source development. Both the software and the open source developer tools are available via Fraunhofer servers. In a first step, the development team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems reached out to teachers, IT and education experts within the Roberta-network as well as to Universities and their students to involve them in the development work. In the second step, the open-source community has been opened to all interested programmers and programmers. Following the main idea of the Roberta project, this should especially addresses female students and encourages them to become role models for the next generation of students.

Innovation through Cooperation …

Roberta – Learning with Robots

A robot lady captured the youth

The Roberta initiative aims to engage and motivate girls and boys to take a sustained long-term interest in information technology, technology and the natural sciences. The Roberta training concept defines “sustained long-term motivation” as simultaneously imparting cognitive knowledge – in this instance from the world of MINT topics – and positive emotions. Only if both are achieved at the same time do students learn – or phrased differently achieve sustainable results. With more than 30,000 children and young people in over 600 documented Roberta courses – Roberta is now a permanent fixture in the German education landscape! Over the past ten years the concept, which was developed by Fraunhofer IAIS, has inspired thousands of young people, particularly girls, to take a more active interest in science and technology.

Finally a snap of the Lab,


Like I said on Wednesday, now go forth and Bot! 🙂

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