JIMU Robot: MeeBot 2.0 Kit
The MeeBot 2.0 kit contains all the parts needed to build a programmable robot friend. The central controller serves as both head and brain for the MeeBot; a pair of LED eyes capable of changing colors or even spinning in rainbow wheels gives the MeeBot a cheerful, wide-eyed expression. Six servo motors control the robot’s arms and legs, constructed from snap-together parts. The MeeBot’s chest holds a color sensor, allowing the robot to read and respond to the included color cards or to any colorful items kids want to try.
Instructions for the build and control of the MeeBot are included in a bluetooth-connected mobile app. The instructions appear in a fully rotatable 3D view, convenient for figuring out exactly how two components come together when their connection is non-intuitive. Build time is a couple of hours, and younger builders may require some help in distinguishing the many similar but non-identical parts; we found it useful to sort the pieces in advance.
The app offers simple direct control (and you’ll never see a more amusing twist of a forward step) or a series of pre-programed actions (our favorite was the elaborate dance that sometimes caused MeeBot to flip onto one leg and back up). Although our results were a little uneven, they were sufficient for us to understand which servo motors controlled which limbs, and we could hand-tweak the recorded operations to achieve the desired effect.
The tutorial covers how to use the Blockly coding language that drives MeeBot and the few pre-written programs are the best display of the robot’s full capabilities; the Disco operation takes the favorite dance action to a new level, adding music and rainbow-flashing eyes, and the Magic Show demonstrates the use of the color sensor. Playing with the color sensor was our favorite game; once we figured out that the color prompts had to be held VERY close to the sensor, we had a great time triggering the robot’s responses, and then expanding the code to recognize even more colors than it could initially handle.
The app does include a Create section for setting up new robotics designs but requires persistence to get everything working well; the documentation is limited, but the framework exists. The pieces contained with the set would limit this open-ended building, but in conjunction with other sets or even a healthy dose of creative reuse of other materials, MeeBot 2.0 is a powerful robotics kit.
Emily Crawford ©2020 Parents’ Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master’s in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.