For many, a hobby is just something we do on the sidelines that we enjoy. For two South African engineers, their love of creating robots in their spare time became a teaching tool for kids.
Rhidaa Benefeld and Tyrone van Balle realised their love for technology was only sparked when they were able to access to it after school.
“We imagined how much more advanced we would have been if we would have just started earlier. That’s when we decided to start RD9 Solutions and focus our love of technology and engineering skills to create a robotic platform which would provide access and skills to learners at an early stage,” said Benfeld.
RD9 Solutions, an educational technology start-up, which created the initial biped MiiA robot, have now expanded to the MiiA.bit robot which is quicker to assemble, more robust and allows for adaptation.
The MiiA.bit robot comes with an easy to assemble structure, servo motors, printed circuit board, microcontroller as well as a variety of sensors. It is powered by an Arduino Microcontroller which allows it to be fully programmable. This means the kids can customise the robot’s functionality.
“The goal with our company was to make technology accessible so that when students leave school, they have relevant skills that they can take forward into this 4IR future,” said Benefeld.
So far the company have hosted five robotic workshops with three schools, but are hoping to increase this number to give more South African students access to this fun, interactive robotics and programming activity.
“We see enormous potential in the kids today. These are kids who are born into technology, where babies of two years old already know how to use touch screens and navigate to different apps. This shouldn’t scare people, in fact, we should feel encouraged by this,” he said.
“Imagine a world where a 10 year old can create something that changes both her and her families lives, and disrupt industries in the process, from her bedroom. This is the world we should all be excited about and this is the world we are trying to create.”
Image: RD9 Solutions/Facebook