Why are affordable research robots important?
If a company or student wants to create a product or focus on a specific algorithm, affordable research robots remove the time needed to learn all the details of the mechanics, electronics, and software. Many underestimate this learning time, and it’s best to not get sidetracked from the primary goal.
Some qualifications: a “robot” must be able to navigate using a closed-loop algorithm. “Research” means it has space for expansion. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
[$68] Lowest Overall – Osoyoo, Elegoo
To our knowledge, the Osoyoo robot car is the most affordable product in the world that offers sensing, a chassis, motors, drivers, and a microcontroller.
The Elegoo Arduino robot car kit is a close second, popular on Amazon with 3,500 ratings. We are currently working on a competitor to these. It should cost about $10-20, being the world’s most affordable autonomous robot. Contact us if interested.
[$300 – $535] Prototyping Indoors – Viam, Yahboom, VEX
For those wanting slightly higher quality, there are various options. Viam costs about $300 after buying other parts, and they have a great fleet management platform for quick prototyping.
Yahboom’s Jetbot costs $535 and has a camera that can move, powered by the Jetson Nano, one of the world’s most powerful yet affordable Linux computers. VEX has an option around $450, and they are known as being the easiest to create custom robots while also having build instructions.
[$1900 – $2500] Industrial Indoors – Clearpath, Husarion, Ubiquity Robotics
Many of us who went to college for robotics learned on the Turtlebot. The Turtlebot 4 has a large platform, great ROS2 driver, and sensors.
There are also other close competitors. The ROSbot 2R uses the Raspberry Pi 4 and ROS to navigate using Lidar or cameras. The company Husarion has been around for a while, and has great documentation. Another closer runner-up is the Magni. At only $2500 it offers higher-quality materials, as well as an extensive community and great software packages to quickly get started.
[$500 + $1/hr] Prototyping Outdoors – Void Robotics
We created the Voidwalking solution to be the world’s most affordable outdoor solution. It can carry 50 lbs using GPS, is waterproof, and can be fully controlled using a cloud-synced app. You can also buy the whole solution for just $5500 for a lifetime of software maintenance and affordable replacement parts.
[$1500 + $160/mon] Industrial Outdoors – Intermode, Rover Robotics
Intermode is the only industrial outdoors option with an upfront payment under $3000 + $160/mon. It can handle 250 lbs of payload, can travel at 25 mph, and is extremely durable, using high-quality materials and interfaces with CAN 2.0B. For a little more, you can add a payload area with sensors.
We also want to mention a close runner-up: Rover Robotics. You can create a small robot with a payload area and sensor between $4500 – $10K, and their robots have a ROS2 driver, making it much easier to get started.
Because much customization is needed for the average industry product or college project, a good robot base is needed. We always recommend clients to not buy an expensive robot upfront because chances are there’s going to be many issues, such as proprietary IP or long-term ROI. We believe these robots are your best options for getting started with robotics. Let us know if any more affordable options become available!