Can robot building go mainstream? The creators of Dash seem to think so. They've launched a crowdfunding drive for a robot kit that can be fully assembled at home in about an hour. Dash's main function is traversing across terrain quickly, and its creators say their robot is "perfect for the budding engineer, hobbyist, or kid looking to explore the exciting world" of robotics. Dash features an "animal-inspired" design (it looks very insect-like in action) and includes a variety of sensors that help it interact with its environment. Putting together any robot may seem like a tall order to newcomers, but part of Dash's charm is its simplicity.
It's referred to as an "origami" robot because the building process actually involves a fair bit of folding; Dash ships as a flat sheet of laser-cut components, and everything you need to have it up and (literally) running is included in the box — except for some household glue, that is. Once you've finished building Dash, you can control and steer the robot with any iOS device that features Bluetooth 4.0. (The company says it's working hard to implement Android support.) Dash can be charged over micro USB and runs for about 40 minutes on a full battery. And since it's Arduino-compatible, tinkerers have plenty of options for hacking the robot to their own liking.
Reserving an alpha Dash kit costs backers just $40, though the early model is unable to steer. $65 gets you the proper "flagship" robot, and backing the project with $100 will get you a pre-assembled Dash delivered to your door. Only 1,000 of the robots will be manufactured if Dash is funded, but the low price of entry raises exciting possibilities for educators and hobbyists.