DJI, which was founded over a decade ago by Hong Kong University of Science and Technology enrollee Frank Wang, is perhaps best known for drones like the Mavic Pro and Air, the Ronin S, the Matrice, and the Phantom 4. The RoboMaster S1 (or Step 1) is a ground-bound rover, unlike most members of the extended DJI family, and it features brushless motors that drive four Mecanum wheels (each with 12 rollers) attached to an omnidirectional chassis. A high-precision gimbal with an infrared Blaster launches nontoxic gel beads, and over 31 sensors help the S1 map and perceive the world. Sensors include six on its exterior casing and a first-person view (FPV) camera mounted on the top that livestreams footage to the companion RoboMaster app for smartphones. Under the hood, a system-on-chip and “industrial-grade” controller area network (CAN) bus cable handle processing and data transfer duties.
The S1 comes preloaded with interactive modes for play and competition. And for more sophisticated robotics enthusiasts who pick up an S1 when it goes on sale starting June 12, it fully supports programming languages such as Python and Scratch 3.0. Things like wheel torque and speed can be tuned and optimized by code alone, and made-from-scratch programs can be beamed wirelessly to the robot as custom skills.
Budding roboticists can tap preloaded computer vision and sound-detecting algorithms that recognize objects and respond in kind, or a wireless interconnectivity capability that allows the S1 to communicate with other units. Here’s what the S1 can do out of the box:
- Line Follow: Create a course and map out a path for the S1. Program Line Follow through the RoboMaster app and the S1 will automatically follow the line.
- Vision Marker Recognition: The S1 can recognize up to 44 Vision Markers, including numbers, letters, and special characters.
- Follow Mode: Built into the RoboMaster app, the S1 can identify and follow a person selected in the S1’s field of vision.
- Clap Recognition: A built-in clap recognition module on the S1 can be programmed for unique responses based upon clap quantity.
- Gesture Recognition: The S1 can be programmed to recognize an array of physical hand gestures similar to some DJI drones.
- S1 Recognition: The S1 can recognize other S1 units and perform unique movements based on how it is programmed.
If trial-and-error isn’t a user’s style, DJI’s RoboMaster app offers Road to Mastery, a project-based course series intended to teach programming basics, and RoboAcademy, which comprises video tutorials and step-by-step guides. The company says new courses will be added to both catalogs “continually.” It is currently available on Banggood for $599.99. Just remaining 4 unit remaining, so do well to get one soon.