16 July 2017

REVIEW: Ubtech Jimu Robot Mini Kit

The fun side of the robot apocalypse.

If we're being honest, whenever we report on a news story about new kind of robot (like this creepy thing from Boston Dynamics) we tend to veer towards the angle of ARGH! THEY'RE GONNA KILL US ALL ONE DAY!!! However, creating robots is a great thing to do and can help kids get a head start with STEM - something we're always very positive about. To that end, we check out a home robotics kit, the Ubtech Jimu Robot Mini Kit.

So what's this? Well, the Jimu Robot kits provide kids with everything they need to build and programme their own robot. The kits include LEGO Technic-like parts which can be assembled into a number of creations, small servo motors, a rechargeable battery pack, and a control unit. Kids can then move their robot around using the companion app (iOS and Android), and also programme it using drag-and-drop coding.

Although the Mini Kit has been designed for kids to build smaller and less complex robots, there are still 253 building blocks in it, along with four of the small servo motors. The instructions (which actually reside on the app and not in the box) allow kids to build three different robots with the parts; a dog thing, a duck thing, and a bull thing (although the dog and the bull are especially the same with a different head).

Weirdly, the building pieces themselves are exact replicas of Technic parts, but at about 75% the size. This means all the parts are very familiar (if you've built any LEGO Technic, that is), but its quite odd to make stuff with. However, once your brain adapts to accept that this ISN'T Technic, assembling any of the three robots is a pretty simple affair. They even include a very unLEGO like connector removal tool, which is jolly handy.

Wiring the electrical bits together is also very simple, and the few included wires are sized to length(ish) and tuck away beneath the main body panels. They also plug in and out of the ports quite smoothly, and it feels as if they could be used again and again. Actually, all the parts felt that way, so its nice to know that, once built, the kit can be disassembled many times over - something parents will like, especially because they've just forked over £100+ for it.

Once completed the robot can be controlled via the app, using a very user-friendly interface. As the kit creates quite small and compact robots, that control is essentially limited to walking backwards or forwards. But, if you open the coding element of the app, kids can programme the four servos to do more complicated things.

Although the Ubtech Jimu Robot Mini Kit is recommended for children aged eight years and more, we found that, when in simple control mode, kids far younger than that could very easily enjoy it. As the construction is very rugged and sturdy (unlike if they'd used a building brick system, and not the rods and pins) it can be quite roughly handled - within reason. The battery pack and control box are always deeply embedded within the build, they so seem well protected, and the servos, despite being positioned on the legs on all three builds, are solid enough.

This is the Mini Kit, so the things you can do with it are somewhat limited, but as a basis upon which to build an interest in STEM, it is great. We like that the two-legged and four-legged builds are very different, offering a range of challenges for controlling and coding the robots. We also like the parts themselves, particularly the small servo motors and wireless control unit. Kids could expand upon their creations with other Ubtech Jimu Robot sets, or go off-book and incorporate them into something truly original. Which is what STEM is all about.


Visit jimurobots.com

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