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CES 2021: Raspberry Pi-powered Robotics Kit

A new robotics kit that is both highly versatile yet simple to use is being launched onto the market by ed-tech pioneers pi-top.

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The Pi-top 4 Robotics Kit was billed as one of the “coolest” new computer devices of last year by Jeff Teper – Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive. The kit will be launched today at the virtual edition of CES.

The robotics toolset, which combines the power of the Raspberry Pi with the robust modularity of Lego Technic, is the long-awaited addition to the Pi-top product range.

The Pi-top combo caught the attention of Teper at the .Net Conference in November 2020. After catching a sneak preview, Teper tweeted: “In the last year of seeing so much creativity in remote education via #MicrosoftTeams, this is one of the coolest yet.”

Raspberry Pi computing has become increasingly important as ARM chips have become cheaper and more capable of running desktop environments. With the launch of Apple’s ARM-based computers, it’s no surprise that many people have started to use their Raspberry Pi 4 systems as desktop computer replacements for tasks like document editing and web browsing.

The Pi-top 4 has become a popular portable computer among the making community and in schools worldwide since it was launched in 2019. Makers and pupils are able to create a wide variety of electronics projects using the range of kits and accessories. These include a ‘bento box’ of components including LEDs, buzzers, connectors and sensors, the Pi-top touch display, and Bluetooth keyboard.

Coupled with the new Pi-top 4 Robotics Kit, makers will now be able to go that one step further in their creations, thanks to the device’s new electronic components such as a wide-angle camera, servos and motors. The kit itself is made up of strong metallic build plates and brackets that snap together with rivets in a number of configurations.

Whether designing an automated vehicle, creating a smart city, or making the coolest drone in the class, the Pi-top 4 Robotics Kit will be able to help.

Jesse Lozano, co-founder of Pi-top, said last night: “We’re really excited about the launch of the Pi-top 4 Robotics Kit. It’s the culmination of years of work by everyone at Pi-top and feels like the final piece of the puzzle. Our Pi-top family is complete (for the moment)!

“The sky’s the limit for anyone using our Pi-top 4 computer in conjunction with the Pi-top 4 Robotics Kit. Whether it’s a robot you’d like to make, or an environmental station or autonomous vehicle, these Pi-based solutions can help. We can’t wait to see what makers will create with our Raspberry Pi powered toolset.”

Another factor that makes the Pi-top 4 Robotics Kit stand out from other products on the market is that it offers users access to a powerful suite of open-source libraries. Makers will have the choice of working in any open-source software from Python to Robot Operating System (ROS) and deployments in a .Net environment.

Pi-top’s Robotics Kit is the culmination of more than six years of work which began in 2014 when Lozano and co-founder Ryan Dunwoody set out to create the world’s first 3D printed laptop. Pi-top now employs a global team and their products are used around the world in thousands of homes, maker spaces and schools.

The Pi-top 4 Robotics Kit with Expansion Plate will be available to buy in the US for $200 from Amazon, b8ta stores, Newark, Digi-Key, Chicago Electronics and Arrow. Other international outlets include Elmwood Electronics in Canada, Farnell in the UK and The Brainary in Australia.

South African availability has not yet been confirmed. The kits will likely be available from Pi Shop South Africa, Communica, and DIYElectronics later this year.

Click here to find out more about the Pi-top 4 Robotics Kit.

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