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Dash: The DIY Robot

$75,930 raised of $64,000 goal

0 days left

Campaign Ended

119% FUNDED! We reached our goal on October 3rd, 2013.

All domestic units have shipped! Canadian orders going out soon

October 6, 2014

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for your patience with our shipping process, it's been a wild ride. Driving to the post office to drop off these orders has been one of the most satisfying parts of the whole process - second only to receiving emails from people who love their Dash! 

We have shipped all US orders to our knowledge. If you live in the US, backed our crowdfunding campaign last fall, and haven't received your order or an email saying that it's shipping, please let us know! You can always email us at contact@dashrobotics.com. Dash will soon be venturing to the Great White North, as orders for Canada go out next week.

Over the last weekend, we brought some friends in to help us build all the hand-built orders. It only took about 3 hours! The time flew by, and we remembered (almost) fondly the days when we never had enough parts, and it was a struggle to get a robot together for every demo. Those days of soldering, kludging, and scrambling are thankfully gone, and we're incredibly proud of how far we've come.

So what's next? Ultimately we want to build the world's best toys. If there are things you like about Dash, or don't like, let us know! The biggest reason we did this crowdfunding campaign was not for money (not even close), but to get feedback from you, our backers. When you got Dash, did you build him? Did you like the building process? Did you download the app? Did you try to program Dash? Are you bored of Dash already? Does he have a seat at your dinner table as an honored family member now? Please, tell us! A quick email to contact@dashrobotics.com is very valuable to us. 

Expect to hear some news here about the next, even cooler version of Dash. Better yet, follow our blog, which is updated a few times a month with the latest developments. We have big plans, and we can't wait to share them with you! This is just the beginning of the journey.

Thanks again for all your support.

Yours in Robotics,

Nick Kohut

Paul Birkmeyer

Andrew Gillies

Dwight Springthorpe


Dash moves to Manufacturing: Expected to Ship by July 30th

June 23, 2014

Hi everyone,

We've made a LOT of progress here at Dash Robotics over the last month and a half. We've finished the chassis design, finished the electronics design, completed the powertrain design, and our app is active in the App Store! Even more exciting, we're now manufacturing — building robots seven days a week in multiple locations. Above, you can see Andrew holding the first 100 robots off the line! Check out our latest production and shipping schedule below.

Our electronics are currently being manufactured in San Jose, California. It takes about 10 days to mill the PCB itself, some time to source all the components, and then all the boards go through a large "pick and place" machine that automatically places and solders all 100+ board components automatically. We expect to receive the completed boards in mid-July, about the same time we get the motors in.

We're doing all the chassis manufacturing ourselves, which involves a whole heap of laser cutting. Our goal is to have as many lasers running as often as possible. Currently we're working staggered 6 day weeks, meaning that at least one laser is running every day, and sometimes we have up to three lasers cutting at once.

Each robot is built in two cut steps, first the flexure cut, and then the outline cut. We're proud to say that in our first week, we've managed to get through 57% of the flexure cuts, and 15% of the outline cuts! Check out a bunch of flexure cuts below, with Dash for scale.

Speaking of chassis manufacturing, thanks to the generosity of one of our advisors, we have a new workspace in Sunnyvale, California! This is helping production immensely. The laser cutter here is faster and more powerful than what we have access to in Berkeley. This allows us to build robots almost 20% faster.

In other news, our 3D printer was down for about 6 weeks, but is now working again, and we will start transmission housing manufacturing soon. Batteries, gears, and pins have been sourced, and motors are on their way. Below, you can see Andrew and Paul happily working away, turning raw cardboard into sheer robot awesomeness.

Finally, we're really excited that the demo we did at TED was recently featured on their website! You can check it out here. The talk shows some of the best behaviors of insects, and features our robots at the very end. 

Thanks again for all your support, if you have any questions or comments please let us know!

Yours in Robotics,

Nick Kohut

Paul Birkmeyer

Andrew Gillies

Dwight Springthorpe

Bringing Dash to schools and museums!

May 13, 2014

Hi everyone,

We're still working hard on making Dash the best robot possible. One of the most effective ways to do this is to show him to as many people as possible, get feedback, and iterate. We've been doing that a lot in the past month, having a "build day" once a week where we go to a school, and have kids build the latest version of Dash. This is fun for them, and lets us find out what works and what doesn't. After the build day, we redesign Dash, rework the instructions, build another 20 kits, and do it all over again. It's been an invaluable process, and we want to thank everyone who helped! Dash is much easier and more fun to put together than he's ever been.


We're also making final decisions on what parts to order for Dash. To do this we've been doing all kinds of lifetime, durability and performance testing. Above you can see three robots running their legs at full blast, so we can determine which motors have the best battery life. We've also been checking Dash's speed, and dropping him off buildings. He survived three drops from about 40 ft high! Dash's app is also making a lot of progress.

What you see above is a screenshot from Dash's iOS app. At the top are three modes, Drive, Auto, and Config. The Drive mode allows you to drive Dash with the red joystick (center) and change Dash's eye color at the bottom of the screen. The top of the screen shows readings from Dash's sensors. The Auto mode lets you select autonomous behaviors for Dash (make him dance!) and the Config mode lets you name your robot, among other things. If you have any requests for what you would like to see on the app, let us know!

As always, please contact us with any feedback or questions. And follow us on our blog, where we update weekly if you want to track our progress more closely! Thanks for reading!

Yours in Robotics,

Nick Kohut

Paul Birkmeyer

Andrew Gillies

Dwight Springthorpe


Building a swarm! We've built over 50 robots this month, plus an app!

April 4, 2014

Hi everyone,

A LOT has happened over the past month at Dash Robotics! As we mentioned in our last update, we were planning to build a pilot run of 50 robots to find any manufacturing problems. As you can see above, it went great! We built 56 robots in total, all with our own custom electronics, powertrain, chassis, the whole deal. These aren't exactly the robots we'll be shipping, but they're very close to the final product. We even brought them to TED in Vancouver, where we ran all of them into a very surprised crowd! Check out how we did it here and here. Below, you can see Andrew inspecting the robots carefully the night before the big demo.

We've also been doing a lot of work to make sure Dash is a fun kit to build. We recently ran two workshops at the Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco, giving 8-12 year olds (and their parents) a shot at building Dash. We learned a lot, and got some great feedback. We're almost completely finished with the chassis design, but if you live in the Bay Area and would like to test out the assembly process, let us know! 

Another exciting update is that Dash now has his very own app! The app is still in development, so it can't be found on the App Store yet, but it will be available in the near future. With the app you can change Dash's eye color, and drive him all over the place with the joystick-like control. Features at release will include some built in autonomous modes for Dash, an instruction set for building Dash, and the ability to read Dash's sensors from your phone or tablet. Check out the videos in our blog post.

As always, please contact us with any feedback or questions. And follow us on our blog, where we update weekly if you want to track our progress more closely! Thanks for reading!

Yours in Robotics,
Nick Kohut
Paul Birkmeyer
Andrew Gillies
Dwight Springthorpe

Dash Development and Manufacturing Schedule, plus updates on our progress over the last month

March 4, 2014

Hi everyone,

Shigeru Miyamoto, the legendary creator of Mario once said, "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad." We hope this applies to robotics too!  We've been hard at work making Dash tougher, faster, more agile, and even easier to build, and because we think these things make the Dash experience so much better, we have made the decision to spend the extra time to really get these things right. We think this is a worthwhile investment, and we hope you do, too.

We recently sat down together to create a timeline that we believe accurately captures the rest of our development cycle, and we are sharing that with you below. The bottom line is, we believe Dash will be headed to your mailbox by the end of June.  

We will be updating you on our progress via email every month, and our blog is updated weekly to show what we've been up to. Below, you'll find our schedule looking ahead, and some of the things we've been working on since the last update. 

We're getting close to the end of hardware development, and we've decided it would be incredibly beneficial to build a "pilot run" of 50 robots. We will be using a PCB manufacturer we hope to use for the full production run, and we will also be building the chassis and powertrain using full production techniques. This will be a great test for us, and will hopefully suss out any problems in the manufacturing process before we commit to building 1000 units. This pilot run, plus our remaining tasks, means we expect to ship on June 30. A lot of this time includes sourcing parts, which can take some time in high volumes. For instance, when we order motors from the manufacturer, they generally need at least 30 days to make them, and then some time to ship them as well. To read more about the pilot run, and see a short video, check out the latest blog post here.

So, what have we been doing in the meantime? Well, a lot! When we launched our crowdfunding campaign, Dash had one motor, couldn't steer, and took a skilled practitioner about an hour to assemble, using tweezers, superglue, and a lot of concentration. Now? We're able to assemble Dash from a kit to a robot in 5 to 10 minutes. No superglue (only Elmer's) or tweezers required. This is a big leap forward. Also, Dash now has two motors, can steer, and run forwards or backwards. We decided to test out our assembly on some Stanford students, who had no problem putting the robots together, and had a lot of fun in the process.

Another big challenge for us is actually manufacturing the kits. We do this ourselves in Berkeley, and it means a lot of time spent in front of a laser cutter. Because of that, we're always looking for ways to reduce how long it takes to build the kits themselves. For every minute we save on the building of a kit, we will save 20 hours of work (!) when it comes time to build and ship. We keep making strides in this department, and the time gets shorter every week. Last week we shaved a full 6 minutes off of the manufacturing time, saving us 120 hours of work! 

We've also made great strides with the electronics. Last month, we showed you a picture of our first prototype boards. Now we've designed, built, and verified a second prototype. We're about to manufacture 50 boards for the pilot run, as these are likely to be very close to our final electronics design. These, like the robot kits, will be manufactured in the USA. 

Before Dash couldn't do much more than run forward. Now with his new robot brain, he's able to talk to an iPhone, steer and run backwards, and sense the world around him! 

We've also been working hard on Dash's powertrain and mobile app. If you'd like to learn more about those, keep watching our blog! As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or feedback, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Yours in Robotics,

Nick Kohut

Paul Birkmeyer

Andrew Gillies

Dwight Springthorpe


Dash getting closer to reality!

February 3, 2014

Updates on our progress since November

Hi everyone,

Happy New Year! A lot has been going on at Dash Robotics since our last update in November. Andrew and Nick have decided to take the leap, and are now focusing their efforts on Dash Robotics full time. The whole team has been working hard to move Dash's development forward. As always, if you'd like to stay up to date more frequently, please check out our blog, updated weekly.

One of our biggest updates in that Dash has his own electronics now! We had been scavenging electronics from other robots to make Dash run, but Dwight has been plugging away and we now have our own boards. These are still in the prototype stage, but it's a good first step and we hope to have a very small, compact board, great for Dash and any small robot in the near future. If you'd like to read more, check out this.

Another exciting update is in Dash's powertrain. The motors, gears, and transmission housing that originally drove Dash were very difficult to assemble. We've fixed that now, and the whole module goes together quite nicely. You can read more here.

We're also working to make the chassis easy to assemble, and getting an iOS app up and running. Those, however, are stories for next time. Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, we'd love to hear from you at contact@dashrobotics.com.

Yours in robotics, 

Nick Kohut

Paul Birkmeyer

Andrew Gillies

Dwight Springthorpe

Kevin Peterson

Dash in Development!

November 19, 2013

Updates on our progress, and a fun video

Hi everyone,

Thanks again for your support and interest. Since the campaign closed last month, we've been hard at work turning our prototype Dash into an awesome robot toy. We'd like to give you a quick summary of what we've done, what we plan to do, and show you a short video of Dash as he is now. Let's start with the video (40 seconds).


As you can see, Dash has been equipped with a second motor, runs even faster than before, and is also able to steer! This is our biggest advancement since the campaign. In parallel, we've also been working on the electronics that will allow Dash to use sensors and be programmed in the easy-to-learn Arduino language. 

We've started work on development boards, which allow us to test Dash's sensors, motors, and communications, before committing to a final board design. We recently put up a blog post about this here:

http://dashrobotics.com/blogs/news

If you ever want to see our latest developments, just click the link above, we plan to use this blog to document our development, certification, production, and shipping as we move forward over the next few months. 

That brings up the next point - we've had a lot of questions about "When am I getting my robot?" We're working hard to make that happen as soon as possible. Our general schedule looks like this:

Development - November, December, January

Certification - February

Production and Shipping - March, April

We hope to start shipments in April, and are currently still on track for that. We need to be certified both by the FCC (as does any device with communication), and also to have our iOS app certified by Apple to be offered in the app store. 

Smaller updates will happen on the blog, but if anything big happens, we'll send out another email update!  Feel free to contact us at contact@dashrobotics.com with any questions. Also, if you know any fellow robot enthusiasts who you think might like a Dash of their own, please point them to http://dashrobotics.com/. There they can sign up on the waiting list for a Dash from our second production run. All orders from our crowdfunding campaign (http://www.dragoninnovation.com/projects/16-dash-the-diy-robot) will be fulfilled first.

Thanks again!

Nick Kohut

Paul Birkmeyer

Andrew Gillies

Dwight Springthorpe

Kevin Peterson


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