Some of you think of DJI as only a drone company, others, myself included, think of them as more of a camera hardware company that likes to fly, so the new RoboMaster S1 ground robot may come as a surprise to all of us.
What is not a surprise here, DJI’s efforts toward STEM education and bringing RC electronics to kids of all ages. This is a pleasant project to compliment their higher-end line of commercial and professional drones.
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Our own C. Scott Brown once again attended a fun event with DJI in New York. At the event he learned all about this fun new project. From his notes, here is the general overview of the RoboMaster S1 robot.
Overview of the RoboMaster S1
While the RoboMaster S1 is made for anyone to enjoy, the inspiration comes from RoboMaster events in colleges in China. DJI is based in Shenzen, don’t forget. These robotics competitions are invaluable educational experiences, so DJI built a product that can help you learn outside of the classroom.
The DJI RoboMaster S1 is a ground-based robot and is the first dedicated educational product from the company. “S1” stands for Step 1. That said, they highly promote the Ryze Tello on their sites, including it as if it were one of their own. Tello comes in a number of versions, a few of which are geared toward learning how to code.
Before you can scoot around your living room, you’ll enjoy the experience of assembling the robot for yourself. DJI says it will take you 2-4 hours to put all the parts together for your RoboMaster S1 robot. The idea is that you learn what the components are, how they operate and how they all work in unison.
Once built, you can control the robot via Android or iOS app and take to simple RC fun, custom programming tasks and even multi-player competition.
RoboMaster S1 is built of DJI’s typically high-quality components, such as what we consider to be fairly excellent brushless motors. The chassis can “move in all directions,” the wheels are called Mecanum wheels, each with a dozen rollers for multi-directional maneuverability, and there are 31 sensors to perform navigation, mapping and other tasks. Best of all, there is a stabilized 1080p camera mounted on it, so you can enjoy the FPV experience.
When it comes to the multi-player aspect of the RoboMaster S1, a handful of those sensors are made for contact detection, ideal for use with the included gel bead blaster. Unleash a barrage of non-toxic beads on your opponents’ S1 and take on other challenges to win.
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Custom operation modes
With the app installed on your connected mobile device, you can take charge of the RoboMaster S1 manually, of you can follow one of the tutorials to learn how to code navigation. To assist, there are a few ready-to-rock built-in features that may be familiar to pilots of DJI’s consumer drones.
- Line follow – Program simple navigation paths using a combination of point to point lines.
- Vision Marker recognition – S1 recognizes 44 different Vision Markers, including numbers, letters and more. Great for challenges and navigation.
- Follow mode – Much like on DJI drones, the connected app can identify a human in the video stream, as longs as you don’t move too fast, don’t change course too quickly and don’t step out of view, the S1 will follow you around.
- Clap recognition – Program multiple actions based on a few different clap patterns.
- Gesture recognition – Again, like a few DJI drones, face the S1 and perform hand gestures to perform actions. One of the defaults on the drones is to make the shape of a box with your thumbs and index fingers, this captures a photo.
- S1 recognition – Finally, the S1 can recognize other S1 robots. Program one to chase and one to run away for a game of tag, or a number of other actions that you can control.
In the end, DJI built the new RoboMaster S1 as both an educational tool for folks new to robotics, as well as a powerful tool for experienced builders to take to competition. That includes several PWM ports to add third-party hardware, or just use the S1 as the brains to a whole new invention.
Price and availability
Students and teachers should reach out to DJI for custom pricing, the rest of us will be able to order the DJI RoboMaster S1 for $499 in the U.S., also available in Japan and China starting June 12th, 2019.
DJI has announced that further accessories and bundles will be coming soon, the PlayMore Kit will have things like an additional battery, extra gel beads, the control pad and more. Prices and exact release dates to be announced.
We have a review unit incoming, stay tuned for some additional coverage and our official opinions on the new robot. For now, will you be grabbing the new DJI RoboMaster S1?