Thymio is a small mobile robot that can be defined as well as an educational tool and as a toy. Its goal is to allow a wide audiance to discover the fascinating world of robots and technology through programming and playing with its numerous functionalities.
Its development has been done in collaboration with multiple actors. The MOBOTS group from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) took care of the mecanic and electronic development. The École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne (écal) brought a usefull expertise in design by chosing some visual features. This development has initially been initiated through the NCCR Robotics program.
Since its first steps, Thymio has the chance to beneficiate the contribution of a wide community. Teachers from all around the world chose it to accompagny them in class, allowing Thymio to develop a solid educational background through courses, tutorials, class sheets, etc. The community that develops and maintains Aseba, the software allowing Thymio to be easily programmed, makes programmation easy and accessible to everyone. An active community maintains and updates the collaborative website www.thymio.org translating its content and adding new experiments to do with Thymio.
And you who use Thymio at home, you are also part of the community. It is you who allowed Thymio to write such a beautiful story and we hope to make it last a long time.
The research robot marXbot has been developped for universities in the frame of the Swarmanoid project. It is a mobile modular robot that possesses numerous turrets like a rotative infra-red scanner or a attach system that allows several marXbot to grip each other. It is still used in different projects in Europe like Ascens .
Some Mobsya members contributed to the creation and development of the marXbot and also of some of its turrets. Their deep knowledge of this robot allowed them to give an effective technical support to every person who wanted to use this robot for research purpose.
Aseba is a set of tools allowing beginners to efficiently and easily program robots. For these reasons, Aseba is well suited to research and teaching. Contrary to other systems, Aseba is event-based. Aseba is open-source (license GNU Lesser General Public License). Aseba can be downloaded on www.thymio.org.
Aseba has initally been developed by Stéphane Magnenat during his doctorate in the MOBOTS group at EPFL. Nowadays, the community is composed of members of Mobsa, MOBOTS, ASL, EPFZ and of other individuals who help maintaining and developing these tools.
Aseba allows to program and debug in real time different robots or a single robot composed of several micro-controllers. Its accessible language, the instantaneous loading of its programs and its real time observation capabilities allow an easy approach of robots programing.
The most appreciated applications of Aseba, especially conceived for Thymio, is the VPL (Visual Programming Language). It allows everyone, even children from 5 years old, to program Thymio through image blocks without having to write a single line of code. It is also an incredible tool to introduce text programing because it can generate code from the image blocks and show the user what piece of code is responsible for each action.
Mobsya is partner of the ascens project, funded by the Future Emerging Technologies Proactive Initiative of the European Commission. The goal of the ASCENS project is to build ensembles in a way that combines the maturity and wide applicability of traditional software engineering approaches with the assurance about functional and non-functional properties provided by formal methods and the flexibility, low management overhead, and optimal utilization of resources promised by autonomic, adaptive, self-aware systems.
Mobsya contributes to the methodologies developed during the project through its experience in research robotics.
More specifically, through its members expertise, Mobsya developed some aspect of the marXbot robot and keeps on giving support about it. The development of a magnetic gripper, a claw that can grasp and release ferromagnetic objects, has been developed and then used in the autonomous construction domain. These grippers have been produced under the supervision of Mobsya.
Mobsya also went to Vilnius, Lutuany, for the ICT 2013 meeting. Mobsya organised demonstrations of the marXbot robot and of its magnetic gripper.
Mobsya is co-author of a project submitted to the Swiss National Science Foundatio (SNF). The goal of this project is to develop educational kits for public schools. This project is conducted between May 2014 and April 2016.
Gordana Gerber and Christophe Barraud will extract fundamental concepts from eight research project in robotics like Salamandra robotica. These concepts will then have to be turned into three kits, one for primary schools, one for secondary and one for high school. These kits will be centered around the Thymio robot when it is appropriate.
Once these kits will be done and brought into a class, a 15 minutes Skype session with the researcher concerned by the project will be held.
Photograph by Kostas Karakasiliotis
The Loterie Romande allowed Mobsya to start by funding the first production of Thymio II robots. Thanks to the generosity of this institution, Mobsya has been able to put 1'000 Thymio II on the market. Then, 2'000 other robots have been produced with a lot of improvements, again thanks to the Loterie Romande. Thank you very much, you allowed us to go on a wonderful adventure.
Mobsya is collaborating with the MOBOTS group of EPFL in the frame of a project that want to ally robotics, education and design in order to create a better educational tool. By hiring two designers, the MOBOTS group want to make two research projects evolve in a new direction.
First, a visual and interactive research around Thymio will allow to create attractive educational kits for children. Secondly, the designers will explore a new way to do robotics, using paper. Indeed, the goal of the Cellulo project is to create paper and cardboard based robots, a brand new way that has not been completely exploited yet.