Dunking digestives with Dave the robot: How Nottingham is at the forefront of a robotic revolution

Video: Mime Industries Co-Owner Ben Gray talks robotic revolution. 

Could you live in a world where humans and robots live side by side? That futuristic world could be coming to Notts sooner than you think. Liam Hunt went to meet Dave, the robot arm teaching the future generations about this new technology.

Hidden in the heart of Radford, inside a small workshop, there is a robot revolution underway that could change the way we think about dunking digestives forever.

The MeArm Pi is a robotic arm simple enough for primary school children to construct in just half-an-hour and is powered by a computer that fits in the palm of your hands, the Raspberry Pi – no that’s not a dessert.

However, before this new age of technology could become a reality creators of the MeArm Pi, Mime Industries, called on the help of fellow robot fanatics to help bring Dave the robot to life.

Using a Kickstarter campaign they had hoped to raise £30,000 in 30 days but this goal was smashed in just seven and a half hours.

And by the 24 hour mark their £10,000 goal and already been doubled.

Mime Industries Co-Owner Ben Gray and his robotic arms.

The MeArm Pi is used to teach robotics in schools across Notts but Mime Industries Co-Owner Ben Gray wants more students to benefit from the arms.

“We’d love to work with more schools here in Nottingham, being a local company and being really passionate about education we really would like to inspire more children into learning how to code,” Ben says.

“With the half-an-hour build time it is something that can be done in a school lesson now and it is such a great tool for getting children into learning about science, technology, engineering and maths.

“Something we are really looking to do more of in the next 12 months is to reach out to schools and do some school workshops.”

Video: Ben shows us how it’s done.

The robot arm can be controlled using on-board joysticks or by programming it from the Rasberry Pi or via wifi.

Ben adds there is nothing to be feared about Dave or any of his robot friends.

“The future of robotic technology is that we will see more and more in the home; I think things like the robot vacuum cleaner is becoming so popular now,” he added.

“By using the MeArm Pi children and adults can see how simple it is to interact with a robot and how they aren’t something to be feared, they’re a tool.

“You shouldn’t fear a robot as much as you’d fear a screwdriver, they’re just something we will use to make our lives easier.”

Mime Industries was formed 6 months ago when co-owners Ben Gray and Ben Pirt combined their separate robotic companies Mirobot and MeArm.

Robot maker Jamie Buchan is part of the 4 man team who work for Mime Industries here in Nottingham and says the MeArm will help teach people of all ages about robotics.

“We get a lot of orders from schools and from people who want to use it to teach their kids to program,” says Jamie.

“There are a lot of people in the maker community who will get an arm and will be like ‘hey lets learn how to use programming tools’.

“Programming and computers will always be a part of society so being able to program from a very young age is just super useful.

“It’s an educational robot arm, it’s designed for education.”

What’s included?

  • Plastic parts for the structure of the arm
  • Allen key screws for easy assembling
  • Allen keys so you don’t need your own tools
  • 4 metal gear servos
  • A Raspberry Pi HAT with two on-board joysticks
  • The MeArm comes in both blue and orange

With 20 days to go, the Kickstarter currently totals £35,362 thanks to 627 individual backers.

Looking to the future, Ben believes Nottingham is at the forefront of this type of technology.

He added: “With robotics and technology playing more of a part in our lives I believe it’s important we aren’t just consumers of this, we are actually active in producing it.

“I think for Nottingham, Nottinghamshire and the UK in general we should really be at the forefront of this science and technology.”

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