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30 September, 2015 - 09:22 By Tony Quested

Cambridge robot car creator smashes Kickstarter funding target

Cannybots  exceeds funding target

Cannybots, a Cambridge startup that has created an educational robot car, has smashed its funding target on Kickstarter after just one day.

It has raised $67,167 against a $40k goal and there is still 43 days of the campaign to roll.

Youngsters and schools can buy the kit, build the car, hook it up to their mobile and drive – and then they can tinker with the software through Scratch or Arduino. powered by ARM Cortex with embed. Cambridge University IP is at the core of the technology.

Cannybots are programmable smart toy robots that can be controlled from a smartphone or tablet and the hope is that the youngsters experimenting with the technology will become the Artificial Intelligence experts of tomorrow.

Cannybots encourage children to play and spend time together, rather than spending their days in front of screens playing virtual games online. They teach children about robotics, programming, design and 3D printing while they are playing.

Children receive a construction kit for their Cannybot containing all the parts and detailed instructions to build their robot. They can then be programmed and controlled from phone, tablet, PC or a Raspberry Pi.

“Going through the building process gives kids the hands-on experience of building a functional robot that they can also program,” said Anish Mampetta, CEO of Cannybots.

“Programming is an essential skill today but it is not easy to get kids started.  We are allowing kids to do this in a fun, interactive and rewarding way.” 
To introduce children to programming, the Cannybots team created a simple and intuitive app called ‘CannyTalk’.  The app uses a syntax-free programming environment that works like a friendly chat tool.

Using the app anyone can program the Cannybot using plain English. The complex Artificial Intelligence (AI) based engine behind CannyTalk is developed in association with researchers from the Computer Science department at the University of Cambridge in the UK.

“The children use programming to solve puzzles, control Cannybots on race tracks, and create new game play styles,” added Mampetta. “It’s an interactive, social experience that brings friends and family together.”

Once built and programmed, the bots can be used in a number of play scenarios such as high speed racing, time trials, sumo-wrestling, jousting and puzzle-solving. Apps and printable tracks are available for each game.

Children can also design new car bodies using free, easy to use, browser based CAD software from Cannybots’ partner Autodesk. The designs can be then easily 3D printed using any home 3D Printer.

The current version of Cannybots is already very popular and is being used in over 20 schools in the UK and Europe.

• Cannybots has now raised over $86000.

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