May 28, 2020

DFRobot launches micro:Maqueen Plus to help K-12 schools tea

Bizclik Editor
4 min

SHANGHAI, May 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- DFRobot is launching micro:Maqueen Plus this week, the newest offer of its popular educational robot series of micro:Maqueen. The new product, adopting machine learning technology, is designed for K-12 educators to teach AI through teaching AI.

The newly launched micro:Maqueen Plus, created by open source hardware and STEM education solution provider DFRobot, is specially optimized in software and hardware for machine learning. In other words, unlike previous micro:Maqueen robots that are designed for programming, the new Maqueen is a Maqueen that learns.

The Maqueen Plus is different from other educational programming robots on the market, it is equipped with AI capable of machine learning and visual recognition. It is able to continuously improve its abilities to recognise lines, colours, signs, QR codes, etc. Maqueen Plus has become smarter and performs better in circumstances such as autopilot. This whole process provides a direct and detailed experience for students to explore ideas and outputs of AI technology.

With micro:Maqueen Plus, students can assemble a self-driving robot car by themselves. The body of Maqueen Plus contains few parts which can be assembled within minutes. And the AI-powered 'eye', an AI vision sensor which gives the car recognition abilities, is only one click away from becoming smart--with the learning button pressed, the sensor begins observing targets in its frame and learning to recognize the target with built-in AI visual ability. This machine learning process is easy to monitor, and with training and coding, students get the chance to develop further abilities and assign more tasks for the robot, as micro:Maqueen series offers many choices for further expansion.

"The best way to learn AI is to teach AI," said Liu, product manager of micro:Maqueen Plus. "We are looking for a feasible approach to introduce AI technology to today's STEM classroom. Being a STEM-based hardware, the first thing Maqueen Plus does is to make it possible for students to build physical projects, rather than just talking about AI technology in theory. In order to make it easy to incorporate with, the robot is compatible with popular platforms like micro:bit, so teachers don't have to spend much time on further trainings of robotics or AI-related algorithms. What's more, the robot is designed as a reusable educational hardware, with a friendly price no higher than current programming educational robots on the market that have no AI-based design."

Liu suggested that compared to previous micro:Maqueen, Maqueen Plus provides more flexible AI robot teaching programs, more functions and expansion ports. It has better power management, larger power supply capacity and chassis. Carrying abundant scientific and technological knowledge, it is not only suitable for classroom teaching, but can also be used for after school exercises and robot competitions.

According to a World Economic Forum report published in 2019, 89% of the US based companies are planning to adopt user and entity big data analytics by 2022, while more than 70% want to integrate the Internet of Things, explore web and app-enabled markets, and take advantage of machine learning and cloud computing. Meanwhile, a recent global McKinsey survey on young people and employers found that 40 per cent of employers cited a lack of skills as the main reason for entry level job vacancies. Furthermore, 60 per cent agreed that new graduates were not sufficiently prepared for the world of work. Those changes of demands in the job market require STEM education be able to adapt to these rapid advances and prepare students in a manner that encourages them to embrace new technologies.

"Making AI skills development a part of the curriculum as early as possible and looking at interactive resources which help students, and teachers, to break down complex concepts will help these technologies become more accessible. In doing so, we can prepare students with fundamental knowledge in these technical areas while giving them the broad skill set which is essential for later life." Ricky Ye, CEO of DFRobot, explained reasons for which the company is looking at new areas like AI in education.

"To help students get to grips with AI and overcome any misconceptions around robotics, first-hand experience in the classroom is the best place to start. While pupils use technology in everyday life, there is often little understanding of how these devices come into being and the processes that underscore their output. Consequently, resources which allow students to learn through play and create their own AI-powered devices can help to deepen their understanding and appreciation of coding technologies. Especially if they are projects which resonate with students' interests," Ricky said. 

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