According to MSNBC and
Magazine articles, Vex Robotics Design and Radio Shack have
partnered on a 500 piece erector-set-like robotics kit, called the Vex Robotics Design
System, that will retail for $299. The intention is to provide a kit
more advanced than previous ones such as the LEGO Mindstorms kits. CMU
is contributing curriculum
for high school teachers. FIRST is organizing a FIRST Vex competition
that will rely on the new kits. The initial kit will only allow radio
controlled robots but Radio Shack will be releasing a programming
later in the year that allows autonomous designs.
Am I the only one that is very surprised at how late Radio Shack is
getting into the robot game?
When I was a lot younger, I remember Radio Shack being a fun place to
get the latest in electronics stuff. If they had kept up the pace, they
would have had an entire line of robots and robot parts 10 years ago.
There's several robotics revolution(s) happening here. There was one
before cheap cpus, then there was another with heathkit hero, then
again with owi kits, then again with solarbotics, battlebots, then
another with lego, aibo, etc (I'm sure I left some important stuff
out). In recent years, ie: right now, we're starting to see more
robotics stuff emerge than ever before. And, I think we're about to
see another (the continuing wave of) robotics revolution. Definately
RS could/should have competed with hero or owikits or lego and other
robotics waves all along. Really, I'm expecting the new RS's kit to be
something for kids not something serious for real robotics enthusiasts
so they'll still be late for the next revolution too. I agree that
they probably did miss the boat, but they missed it over and over and
over again. They're probably trying to hop on the next revolution wave
before they miss all the boats. So at least in that respect it's good
to see that they're trying to catch a wave and surf it even if they are
late to the surf party. Say hi to Frankie and Annette.
If RS/Vex are going to release a programmable module, perhaps LEGO will
finally announce the update to their RCX 2.0?
The Internet killed any value that RS brought to your local
neighborhood, especially if you can wait for a week to get the part.
The Internet will be doing this to many other retail markets in the
near future, not just those with stocking and distribution overheads.