Now Available: Experiential Robotics Platform (XRP) Kit - Beta, the Premier Introduction to Robotics and STEM
A consortium of leading educators and technology companies have announced the release of the XRP Kit - Beta, an entry-level open-source robotics ecosystem intended to expand global participation in robotics, inspire future engineers, and serve as a springboard for STEM education for grades 8-12, electronics beginners, and robotics enthusiasts of any age. As of today, anyone can preorder the XRP Kit through SparkFun® or DigiKey®.
Based on three years of pilots, the platform includes everything needed to build and program a robot to perform beginning through advanced tasks progressing from fundamental robotics to driving, line following, using sensors, using a robotic arm, and integrating robotic autonomy. The platform comprises:
- Easy-to-assemble hardware kit (no tools or soldering) includes the XRP Controller Board from SparkFun, an ultrasonic rangefinder, line follower, two motors with encoders, servo motor, Qwiic® cables, chassis, two wheels, two casters, and battery holder
- XRP Controller board includes an on-board Raspberry Pi® Pico W featuring the RP2040® microcontroller, low-power accelerometer + gyroscope 6-DoF IMU from STMicroelectronics®, Qwiic connector for easy sensor integration, two dual-channel motor drivers, two servo headers, a momentary button switch, and more
- Engaging online instructional modules developed by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute ® (WPI) through its OpenSTEM platform, tested with hundreds of users
- Coding environment includes Blockly tools/libraries, Python, and the FIRST® Robotics coding development tool, WPILib; the board is also Arduino ® compatible
The XRP is supported by a consortium, including founding visionaries DEKA and WPI, as well as SparkFun, Raspberry Pi Ltd., STMicroelectronics, DigiKey, and Dagurobot. This group has ensured a pricing structure that offers educators a 43% discount to significantly increase accessibility.
"The solutions to our most intractable problems are not coming through incremental improvements of existing technologies, but from new discoveries made by our kids. But without deep intuition for the first principles of science and technology – there will be no discoveries. What are we doing to cultivate this intuition? When you give kids apps and they stare at a screen – they are experiencing a level of abstraction that makes understanding impossible. It might as well be magic. They need to go deeper, and the XRP is a way to bring this experience to every student in the world," said Dean Kamen, Founder, FIRST and DEKA.
"The XRP has the power to expand access to STEM education opportunities across the globe and make sure diverse populations of teachers and students are included," said Grace J. Wang, PhD, President of WPI. "This hands-on platform, combined with the WPI OpenSTEM curriculum, educational resources, and online community support, will help educators inspire future innovators and technology leaders."
"It is vital for the future of the technology industry that young people have opportunities to develop their enthusiasm for computer programming and electronics, ahead of their entry into the workforce. XRP, powered by Raspberry Pi silicon, will bring these opportunities to many more young people around the world," said Eben Upton, CEO Raspberry Pi.
"At FIRST, we provide life-changing robotics programs that give young people the skills, confidence, and resilience to build a better world. We believe the XRP serves as an excellent bridge to our programs and have not only helped pilot the technology, but also have plans to provide it to rookie teams as a jumping off point for building and programming their robots," said Chris Rake, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at FIRST.
In addition to the FIRST Rookie kits, early adoption of XRP include kits for every middle/high school classroom in New Hampshire; pilots in Engineering for Us All (e4usa) sites; and support through the National Science Foundation (NSF).