Lollybot is an educational mobile robot designed to be built by high school or university students using simple tools and readily available parts for US $8.96. The body of the robot is made from a plug-and-play Universal Serial Bus (USB) game controller with wheels made from scavenged plastic bottle lids, paper-clip suspension, and a tail skid made from a wire coat hanger.
Lollybot was originally built as an entry in the 2012 African Robotics Network (AFRON) $10 Robot Design Challenge where it won the tethered robot category. The aim of the AFRON $10 Robot Design Challenge was to make robotics more accessible to African students by lowering the cost of robots. The competition encouraged both professional robot builders and hobbyists to build an educational robot for a target price of only US$10. In keeping with the goals of the challenge, Lollybot was designed so that high-school or university level students should be able to be build the robot themselves using readily available parts and tools.
Although Thailand has now moved from being a developing country to a newly industrialized country, Lollybot has also been used outside of Thailand. Since the original competition Lollybots have been built by groups of students at two universities in Northern Thailand as well as at Ashesi University College in Ghana. There have also been undergraduate projects based on Lollybot in Ghana and the USA.
Lollybot is simple enough for students to build it themselves from readily available parts using simple tools. Its goal, like the competition it was created for, is to inspire students and make robotics more accessible – not only with regards to the cost of the robot but also in terms of making robotics easier to understand.
Work is currently under way to re-write Lollybot’s control software and create some cheap but novel sensors like an audio digitizer and a heart-rate monitor.