Geneva, Switzerland—October 13, 2022 — just hours before 2022 first Global Challenge Opening Ceremony at Palexpo, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), in partnership with DEKA Research and Development Corp. Unveiled XRP (Experimental Robotics Platform) is a new robotics platform poised to change the rules of the game for the STEM education pipeline for generations to come.
XRP bots, which are still in beta form, are simple, inexpensive, easy to build and just as programmable as the more expensive bot.. XRP bots come with built-in educational and software support, and are designed to operate autonomously, perform basic tasks, navigate on their own, sense remotely, and manipulate their environment. Simple tool-free assembly allows for quick construction and parts can be easily replaced with a 3D printer. When they come to market next year, it’s 7 inches by 5 inches, and weighs less than 1 pound (17.78 cm by 12.7 cm, .45 km) –About the size of a box of chocolates – it would cost less than $50.
“Robots have proven to be very effective in stimulating interest in broad areas of science and technology across the full spectrum of student levels from kindergarten through college, but access to affordable tools and sustainable support systems is often a barrier,” Winston says. “Soboyejo, Interim President of WPI.” XRP was designed and built with this in mind, so that more young people from around the world can participate in the exciting activity of building and programming robots. Our world urgently needs more STEM professionals and business leaders with different expertise(s), experience, questions, and sentiments toward labs and boardroom tables—only then will we be able to create, translate, and publish new scientific insights and technologies that work for every one.”
All 185 teams representing 180 countries this year first Global Challenge XRP is given free to take back to their home countries. Teams are challenged to share groups with schools or other organizations interested in implementing or expanding bot programs. With groups, educators and students can also access free online courses, created and supported by WPI, on how to build, program, and control a robot, which they can scale using the same hardware with free software updates.
says Dean Kamen, a WPI alumnus and founder of first Global and DEKA, who partner with his university to engage and inspire young people who have been passionate about science, technology, engineering and mathematics for over 30 years. “The demand for this type of talent is intense, and having a global STEM workforce ready for the future is not just a societal need, it is good business. It is also essential to every aspect of life on this planet that we continue to empower and encourage children through Happily engaging them in activities like robotics. This will allow children to understand their own potential in using science – and the potential of science and technology – to solve the world’s biggest problems.”
“We have taken into account every aspect of the design and materials to ensure that it can not only perform to a high standard but remain affordable for everyone. Having a robot that weighs and costs less than a textbook — so every student in the classroom should probably have — has always been our guiding light.” Brad Miller
The actual idea of distributing an affordable robotic kit around the world has its origins in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when WPI students suddenly switched to remote learning in the spring of 2020 and FIRST needed to keep competitive robotics teams working together on different gateways. Both need to know how to make remote students small, relatively inexpensive robots to work on to gain hands-on experience. Eventually, WPI incorporated a commercially available robot kit that students could purchase and build at home into its curriculum. Then a similar version was used in first Bot competitions – those that were able to use the WPILib software, created by WPI first in 2009. From there, WPI and DEKA Research & Development Corp. They continue to work together to create XRP and help grow the global STEM pipeline with the support of an NSF grant through Engineering for Us All (E4USA) Deer.
Said David Rogers, chief development officer at DEKA, who worked closely with WPI on the development of the XRP program.
Unlike other platforms that require many upgrades to adapt to higher levels of robotics education, the popular programming language used in XRP kits will also allow students to easily transition to more complex projects.
“We have studied every aspect of the design and materials to ensure that it not only performs to a high standard but remains affordable for everyone,” said Brad Miller, former director of the WPI Robotics Resource Center and Senior Fellow in the STEM Education Initiative at WPI. “Having a robot that weighs and costs less than a textbook—so every student in the classroom should probably have—has always been our guiding light.”
said Joe Doiron, Director of WPI’s global lab The Global Initiative for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education.
Production will increase in the coming months to provide additional XRPs as needed. Meanwhile, WPI announces a larger STEM initiative in both first The Global Challenge Summit and XPrise will also be held in Geneva this week. The new Global STEM Education Initiative leverages the university’s expertise and resources to help other disadvantaged countries and schools in the United States provide high-quality, accessible STEM education. Through the programs, activities, and support this initiative provides, WPI will help educators around the world bring inspiration and potential into their classrooms.
“If you dream big, even when you have very limited resources, the size of your dreams determines your scope of influence,” Soboyejo says. “For me, just as important as getting kids interested in STEM, we need to encourage them to dream big and surround themselves with people who encourage and nurture that dream.”
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