We are so excited to finally reveal this kit to everyone who may want to pick one up! It is a comprehensive introduction to robotics that includes an easy-to-assemble hardware kit, coding environment, and online modules.
Here at SparkFun, we have been hard at work with partners from leading education and technology companies (including founding visionaries DEKA® and Worcester Polytechnic Institute® (WPI), as well as Raspberry Pi® Ltd., STMicroelectronics®, DigiKey®, and Dagurobot®) developing the latest in beginning robotics - the Experiential Robotics Platform (XRP)!
The XRP is an entry-level open-source robotics ecosystem intended to expand global participation in robotics, inspire future engineers, and serve as a springboard for STEM education for grades 8-12, electronics beginners, and robotics enthusiasts of any age. As of today, anyone can preorder the kit for delivery later this summer!
The platform includes everything needed to build and program a robot to perform beginning through advanced tasks progressing from fundamental robotics to driving, line following, using sensors, using a robotic arm, and integrating robotic autonomy. The best part? Set-up is easy and quick at around 5-10min for assembly! The kit includes the XRP Controller Board from SparkFun, an ultrasonic rangefinder, line follower, two motors with encoders, servo motor, Qwiic® cables, chassis, two wheels, two casters, and battery holder.
At the heart of the kit is the XRP Controller Board, which includes an on-board Raspberry Pi® Pico W featuring the RP2040 microcontroller; low-power accelerometer + gyroscope 6-DoF IMU (LSM6DSOX from STMicroelectronics); a Qwiic connector for easy integration of sensors and accessories; two dual-channel motor drivers for four motors total; two servo headers; a momentary button switch; and more.
The online modules, which serve as a comprehensive Introduction to Robotics, were developed by WPI through its OpenSTEM platform. The modules and progression of content have been tested with hundreds of users and have been refined to the current form, still in beta. The content offers a fun, engaging experience and asks users to solve real-world robotics challenges.
Learning to code may seem daunting, but Google’s Blockly* editor represents coding concepts as interlocking blocks, making your projects as easy as drag and drop! As your coding skills develop, XRP projects also support more advanced languages like MicroPython and Arduino. For those involved in FIRST Robotics, you will be pleased to know that WPILib, the FIRST Robotics coding tool, will also work with XRP.
*Blockly is a library from Google® for building beginner-friendly block-based programming languages.
We are incredibly excited and grateful to be able to team up with such amazing partners the likes of WPI, DEKA, Raspberry Pi, STMicroelectronics, DigiKey, and Dagu. We will keep you updated on the status of this awesome platform.
“The solutions to our most intractable problems are not coming through incremental improvements of existing technologies, but from new discoveries made by our kids. But without deep intuition for the first principles of science and technology – there will be no discoveries. What are we doing to cultivate this intuition? When you give kids apps and they stare at a screen – they are experiencing a level of abstraction that makes understanding impossible. It might as well be magic. They need to go deeper, and the XRP is a way to bring this experience to every student in the world.” - Dean Kamen, Founder, FIRST; Founder and President, DEKA
“The XRP has the power to expand access to STEM education opportunities across the globe and make sure diverse populations of teachers and students are included. This hands-on platform, combined with the WPI OpenSTEM curriculum, educational resources, and online community support, will help educators inspire future innovators and technology leaders.” - Grace J. Wang, President, WPI
"It is vital for the future of the technology industry that young people have opportunities to develop their enthusiasm for computer programming and electronics, ahead of their entry into the workforce. XRP, powered by Raspberry Pi silicon, will bring these opportunities to many more young people around the world." - Eben Upton, CEO Raspberry Pi
“At SparkFun, our primary focus has always been on making emerging technology accessible to everyone. XRP is not only a wonderful tool for education, but also a highly functional robotics board that hobbyists will enjoy. With the inclusion of Qwiic – the potential for add-on functionality is limitless.” - Glenn Samala, CEO, SparkFun
“Thanks to funding from NSF, we have spent the last three years exploring models to broaden participation in STEM — the XRP is the fruit of that research. We are grateful for all the thousands of students and educators all over the world who have piloted and provided feedback to make the XRP an effective introduction to robotics. We are also thankful to the partners who have rallied around the vision of robotics for everyone, everywhere.” - David Rogers, Chief Development Officer, DEKA