JIMU Robot Mythical Series: FireBot Kit
The Jimu Robot Mythical Series: Firebot Kit is a challenging build-your-own-robot set for young robotics enthusiasts. The set supplies snap-together pieces with additional custom pieces for the dragon head and wings, motors (servo and DC), a touch sensor and a light unit, and a control box. A free mobile app provides the building instructions, and when building is complete the app is used for control and programming.
The app’s build environment offers 360-degree views of the model at each step, a useful feature to anyone who has ever puzzled over whether that connector goes in the third or fifth slot, etc. The “save progress” makes it easy to walk away from the long build time and resume construction later.
The Controls section of the app allows kids to drive their completed robot around remote-control style. The Actions section causes the robot to execute specific motions, from “Turn right” to “Have Fun” (silly, quick snapping motions), “Yawn,” or “Soar” (flapping the wings). Kids can create and save their own actions, directly controlling the angles and timings of the servo motors (a process which takes some trial and error, as there did not seem to be a tutorial for this).
Users can learn to program the robot through the Learn section of the app. A series of challenges takes the programmer from basic robot movements through light controls and sensor operations, learning conditionals, loops, and all the basics of beginning programming using the Blockly programming language (a language designed to allow kids to use the logic of programming without having to worry about failed syntax). Advanced programmers can bypass the tutorial and go directly to coding. Finally, the Community section of the app lets users see videos of other creations and watch some simple Jimu tutorials. Account holders can comment and share their own videos; content is monitored and we did not see any inappropriate material, but as with any social media, parents should be aware.
For young roboticists with some experience in more complex snap-together sets and who mainly want a robot to program and control without rebuilding, the Firebot is fun and the final result is impressive. The app is not quite perfect but future updates may remedy that. The programming environment is instructive and open-ended, and kids can take this Firebot to the limits of their imaginations.
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.