New Knight Rover Robotics Initiative

When you want to learn about robotics where do you begin?

The Mind Project is launching its new “Knight Rover Robotics Initiative” with the goal to generate a robotics kit with low-cost, readily available hardware, a suite of innovative software, and instructional materials pitched at every level of expertise from novice to experienced programmer. A primary objective is to create a training course that will serve both the individual enthusiast and the educator with a team of students they wish to inspire and enable to do great things.

The project team will initially explore a modular robot kit while using open source software to control and extend the rover’s capabilities. The hardware kit uses basic sensors, motors, and other components along with a Raspberry Pi as its brain. The custom software being developed by The Mind Project is called the “RObotics Orchestration Kit” (ROOK for short) and uses various open source libraries to facilitate communication and hardware control.

After assembling and evaluating the current hardware and software, the team will generate ideas to further clarify and expand the possible uses of and audiences for the basic rover. This could involve the development of specific robot-design tasks as part of the Rover curriculum. The team will also assess the current instructional materials and work to optimize and modularize the materials for different types of learners and different educational settings.

Project Mentor

Dr. David Anderson (Philosophy)
Eric Thill (ISU, B.S. 2010)
John Kuk (ISU, Master’s Candidate)

Recruitment Status:


Final Deliverable

  • Produce a final report evaluating the concept of The Mind Project’s “Knight Rover Robotics Initiative,” including any lessons learned and suggestions for future improvements.
  • Generate or improve all of the project assets, such as revised versions of hardware, software, documentation, videos, new kits, learning modules, or whatever else the team dreams up during the collaboration and innovation process.

Competencies needed by faculty and students involved

  • Students: A majority of the team of innovation consultants should have a grounding in some programming and have experience interacting with open source software and hardware. A wide range of programming talents from front-end, integration, back-end, and micro-controllers is welcomed. Expertise in hardware design and fabrication as well as experience with various sensors is also highly valued. Current programming languages used will be Java 8, JavaScript, HTML5, and a background in Python and C++ would be useful. Those from other backgrounds are welcome to apply if they want to contribute in ways that may suit their strengths to explore other avenues and offerings of the initiative. This could include students with a background in education, business, and marketing.
  • Faculty: We are still seeking one or two faculty with programming and/or engineering experience. We are also interested in speaking with faculty from other disciplines like business and education which will take on a larger role in the project once we have a completed robotics kit “ready for primetime”.