Robotics is a fascinating subject. It links computers to the physical world, allowing them to move around, sense their environment, and to interact with it. Building your own robot, however, has traditionally required that you spend a huge amount of time and energy to get even the most basic of robotic systems up and running. You need mechanical engineering skills to build the chassis or body, electronic engineering skills to wire up the motors and the sensors, and programming skills to animate the robot, to control its body to get it to do what you want. These barriers to entry mean that people entering into the field of robotics – either in search of a stimulating pastime, or perhaps as part of more formal research – can quickly be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work required. The initial dreams of building a robot to fetch your beer or to walk your dog get pushed further and further back, as more and more time is sucked up just getting the basics working.
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