A toy robot that can play soccer, dance, and walk, and is programmable by young children, has earned inventor Alexander Enoch a prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering award. Jim Drury reports.
Marty's been designed to turn schoolkids onto coding, by making robotics fun. UPSOT: ADVERT Walking robots easily grab children's attention, but are usually basic - and expensive. Marty consists of just three motors, but creator Alexander Enoch says the robot's legs give him great flexibility. SOUNDBITE (English) DR ALEXANDER (SANDY) ENOCH, INVENTOR OF MARTY, SAYING: "The legs stay parallel at all times, and we use springs inside the legs to carry some of the weight. So basically Marty can can balance on one leg without using any motor power, so that means it's a lot more energy efficient than a lot of toy robots are....So we've got a forward and backwards and a side to side, and then this twisting movement - and that's quite different to how a normal robot would walk. It reduces the number of motors, which means it's cheaper to make, it's easier to program, it's easier to use, and the battery lasts longer." 3D-printed, Marty is Raspberry Pi and Arduino compatible. Costing just 99 pounds per unit, Enoch thinks schools should buy the robots in bulk, giving kids hands-on experience of coding, a skill they're likely to need in adulthood. Younger kids like Juliette can program Marty using Scratch. She uses coding to make him dance. UPSOT: JULIETTE LAUGHING SOUNDBITE (English) JULIETTE, EIGHT YEAR OLD CODER, SAYING: "It's quite fun and...school's also fun...but it's not every day you get a chance to do robotics." Older students like 16-year-old Yannik, use more complex coding programs, such as Python. SOUNDBITE (English) YANNIK NELSON, 16 YEAR OLD STUDENT, SAYING: "I think it's great being able to learn robotics basically at any stage using one tool. It's really useful." Marty can be bought direct from start-up web firm Robotical and Enoch wants to expand the business to a global scale. He hopes that kids world-wide will soon be dancing to Marty's tune. UPSOT: MUSIC/MARTY DANCING