9 year old boy builds robot to stay connected with family

[From WHDH-TV in Boston; the web story includes a 1:35 minute video version]

Boy builds robot to stay connected with family

December 18, 2012
Reported by: Brandon Gunnoe

LEXINGTON, Mass. (WHDH) — A young boy in Lexington built a relationship with his grandparents using LEGO pieces and a little technology.

Nine-year-old Ricky Kundu’s grandparents live in India and can’t visit very often, so block by block he put together a way for them to stay connected.

Ricky named the robot Betabot — beta means “child” in Hindi, and “early prototype” in English.

“We can only see each other in person over the summer,” said Ricky.

It all started with a LEGO robotics team that Ricky and a few of his friends are part of. This year’s project was to come up with an invention to help senior citizens.

“My team had the idea of building a telepresence robot so that way we could take our grandparents with us even when they’re not here — like on the go,” said Ricky.

The robot uses a tablet and Skype for videoconferencing. Ricky’s grandparents can control the robot’s movement.

The robot can also be controlled by computers. It uses colors to decide which direction it’s going to go. Red makes the robot go right. Blue makes it go left. Green makes it go forward. Black makes it stop. White makes the robot go in reverse.

“Even grandparents like mine in India can communicate with their grandchildren that could be like 3,000 miles away,” said Ricky.

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