In keeping with the holiday season, I recently came across Robots.net's listing of their 2008 Top 10 Robot Christmas Gift Ideas - perfect for robot hobbyists and young aspiring roboticists. The gift ideas include various robotics construction kits, some inexpensive wind-up robots, an open-source programmable controller, a book on robotics history, and - in the number one spot - an inexpensive high-performance mobile robotics platform.
The mobile platform - the Pololu 3pi robot - seems well deserving of top choice and Robots.net's description as "one of the best beginner robots." Designed to excel in maze-solving competitions, it features two micro gearmotors, five reflectance sensors, an 8 x 2-character LCD, a buzzer, three user pushbuttons and a C-programmable ATmega168 microcontroller running at 20 MHz. It's available for $99.95 ($119 with a USB programmer and cable).
A short (3:28) video introducing the basic features and operation of the 3pi robot is available here:
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.