FOSSBot open design 3D printed educational robot is made with Raspberry Pi and off-the-shelf parts

FOSSBot is an “open design” 3D printed educational robot comprised of a Raspberry Pi SBC and various off-the-shelf modules, as well as open-source software that can be used for education purposes.

The FOSSBot DIY robot has been developed by the Harokopio University of Athens and the Greek Free and Open Source Software (GFOSS) community, and builds upon the “GSOC 2019 – A DIY robot kit for educators” with the main goal being to have a platform to “familiarize teachers with modern education models based on the S.T.E.A.M approach. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics)”.

FOSSbot Raspberry Pi 4-wheeled robot

FOSSbot key components:

  • SBC – Raspberry Pi Zero W, Raspberry Pi 3, or Raspberry Pi 4. Mechanically and electrically compatible Raspberry Pi alternatives could be an option too although part of the software would have to be modified
  • Storage – 32GB MicroSD card
  • Expansion board – Adafruit Perma-Proto HAT for Pi – No EEPROM to connect sensors and MCP3008 8-channel ADC chip
  • Interaction Features
    • Speaker
    • Front RGB LED
  • Sensors
    • Ultrasonic distance sensor
    • Battery Sensor
    • MPU6050 6-axis accelerometer and gyroscope
    • Odometers
    • IR Receiver
    • Line detection sensors
    • Light Sensors
  • Mechanical parts
    • 2x 66x26mm rubber wheels
    • 2x DC gear motor
    • 2x Codec disc encoder
    • 1x 12mm metal ball caster
    • L298N dual motor driver module
    • Bolts and nuts
  • General Features – LEGO compatible surface, hole in front for marker/ pencil attachment, special pulling loop
  • Power Supply – 3x 18650 3,400 mAh rechargeable batteries
DIY Raspberry Pi Robot
Some of the parts used or considered for the FOSSBot DIY robot

The software of FOSSbot is based on a modular stack comprised of Google Blockly, Python Jupyter, Python Flask which hosts FOSSBot’s UI, the core FOSSBot library written in Python which controls the robot’s hardware, and a user interface offering a way to control the robot without any programming knowledge.

The STL files for 3D printing (estimated to typically take around 36 hours in total), assembly instructions in Greek only for now, and software with basic instructions in English can be found on GitHub. You can learn more about the rationale behind the project and the technical choices made in a research paper published in August 2022. Collaborative seminars for all teachers of all specialties and levels will soon be available publicly both in Greek and in English. There’s also a FOSSBot simulator that should allow you to control a virtual robot using the same interface as the real thing.

DIY open design robot Raspberry Pi SBC

I found out about the DIY open design robot in the list of talks for FOSDEM 2023, and if you are interested in finding out more you could join the 15-minute presentation taking place this coming Sunday.

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