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The Finch is being made commercially available at www.finchrobot.com. Visit that site for more recent information about the Finch.
The Finch is a new robot for use in computer science education. The design philosophy behind the Finch can be boiled down to two principles:
1. Low cost
2. Highly interactive
We designed the Finch to be extremely low cost - eliminating many things that might be considered necessary on most mobile robots. The Finch has no batteries and very little on-board processing - instead, a USB tether provides power and communications, so that most processing can be done on the computer side. We estimate that the Finch can be sold for under $100 commercially.
While keeping costs down was important, we also wanted to ensure that the Finch was enjoyable and interesting to students and teachers. As the Finch is tethered, we see it as a highly interactive extension of the computer, enabling computer programs that can detect light levels, temperature, obstacles, or gesture (through an accelerometer), while having those programs simultaneously output through motion, light, or sound. Finally, we are integrating existing (and in many cases free) technologies available on the computer - thus the Finch can speak or play music through the computer speakers, read data from Internet RSS feeds through the computer ethernet, and eventually see through a computer's webcam or recognize sound from a computer microphone.
The Finch is currently programmable with Java 5 or later. We have recently gotten it working in Processing, and it may also get Myro support in the near future.
The video above is a demonstration of how you can use the Finch's accelerometer in a compelling program that demonstrates looping, reading data into variables, and if/else control structures. This program causes the Finch to always drive uphill.
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