By Roger, age 11
Riddle me this. Who can speed across the floor, wink at you, smile and even talk to you? He can pick up small objects and even throw a ball, yet he has no legs, no arms, no tongue, or even a mouth. It’s Dash the Robot, of course.
Dash visited Player Development recently. He brought with him Mr. Marvio from the IT section of the Education Department.
Mr. Marvio showed us how Dash can be controlled with the touch on the screen of your tablet. Go forward, back and even turn in circles. But be careful what you command him to do!
You have to put the commands in the right order.
When it was my turn to try, I wanted to shoot the ball into the basket. I commanded Dash to move forward and tapped go. I did not realize the shoot command was still in Dash’s memory, so I tapped go and he shot the ball and missed the basket.
There is a fancy word for the commands given in the right order. It is called an algorithm. An algorithm is the steps you take to do something, just one task or even a big project.
Dash is fast. He raced our fastest kid on a short flat course and he won.
You can record your voice on the tablet, send the words to Dash and then he will say them.
For a face, he has a big black circle which looks like an eye. Surrounding the eye is a series of LED lights that turn on and off. So you can make it look like Dash is winking or smiling.
Dash comes with a box of attachments. He has a set of claws than can be installed in seconds. This allows Dash to pick up small things. Off come the grippers and on goes the ball launch.
Dash can carry three light-weight, soft, plastic balls. The first one is baseball-size the other two are golf-ball size.
You can adjust how hard Dash will throw; reload, and another ball is ready to go. One of the boys pulled a trick on his brother. He sent the little guy to go say hi to Dash. He got down on his knees and crawled close to Dash. He said hi. Dash heard the voice and fired. One of the small balls bonked him right on the forehead.
Also, you can program Dash to do things on his own. He can be activated by sound or by just hitting go on the tablet. What fun!
After a while, Dash was tired and ready to go home.
I checked. Dash is a bit expensive – I saw him online for $175 – but what a machine and an interesting learning tool! Wow.
Mr. Marvio has brought Dash to do demonstration at many of the schools and is open to visiting clubs or other classes. So next time you see what looks like a pile of three balls with another on top, it is probably Dash. Say hi, but stand to the side. He can only throw straight ahead.