Local Tech Startup Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for Educational Robot
On 16th of May, Stellenbosch tech startup Sirkits announced the launch of their crowdfunding campaign on local platform Thundafund.com. This is their first push to fund the production of their new educational robot, Sir Henry. The campaign will be accepting donations and pre-orders of the robot from backers through 15th of June.
Sirkits was founded by electrical engineering students Jaco Swart and Jako Du Toit. Sirkits is a distributor of do-it-yourself robotics components and kits to hobbyist inventors (or “Makers”) of all ages and skill levels across South Africa. In March of 2017, they were awarded R25000 in prize money from Social Impact RSA. Now, they are launching a custom robot for high school students, powered by the Arduino chip; a popular microcontroller used by Makers as the brain for their robotic creations.
Sir Henry, as the robot is called, has the appearance of a cartoon cat driving in a vintage sports car. Under the hood he has rear-wheel drive, four internal bumpers to sense a collision, a distance sensor to detect distant obstacles, and Bluetooth which allows him to be controlled from any computer or smart device. Students can take apart and customize Sir Henry with no soldering.
The further goal of the Thundafund campaign will be to raise awareness among educators of the benefits of teaching robotics to students. Given the job market’s increasing demand for skills in computer science and automation, Sirkits hopes to expand their reach and work with like-minded organizations to make robotics accessible to under-resourced schools.
“Sir H is the perfect introduction to the world of Arduino and robotics. He provides a step-by-step build up from individual components to a full robot. Not only do you learn about robotics, but you have a cool robot to play with when the tinkering subsides,” says Jako Du Toit, Co-founder and Managing Director.
“Robotics as a tool is functional to problem-solving.” Says Tosca Ferndale, Marketing Manager. “Making the technology accessible will equip many young South Africans to solve the problems they face in an innovative and lasting way. As Nelson Mandela said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ Sir Henry is Sirkits’ contribution to that weapon.”
We think that this is a fun and creative way for schools to be introduced into the art of robotics. If you are interested in Sir Henry and how he can be used in your school or want to find out more about Sirkits, click here. You are also welcome to help fund this awesome project by clicking here.