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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.

Introducing Dash!

Dash is the world's first lightning-fast origami robot that you can build yourself. Our animal-inspired design allows us to offer a fun, high performance robot at a price never before possible. It's a great educational tool for kids that want to get an early start in robotics, engineering, and biology, as well as a great platform for makers that want to dig in and explore the possibilities of a new paradigm in robotics.

dash diy robot

Because he has legs, Dash can run over all sorts of terrain, including rocks and gravel. And he is so tough that you can run him off of tables and he just keeps going!

dash diy robot

When you back us, you'll be getting more than just an awesome robot. You'll be participating in the beta development of our product. We want input from you, our first supporters. By telling us what you like and what you would like to see in the future, we can develop the best possible robot together. With your help, we can bring Dash out of the lab and into everyone's hands.

dash diy robot


"Dash is about radical innovation, the sort of progress that elicits an emotional 'whoa!'. The Dash team has merged Nature, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing into a product that is revolutionizing robotics.”

-Patrick Scaglia, former CTO, HP

“Dash is a fantastic product for the robot enthusiast or budding 'maker'.  It's a fun learning experience at an affordable price.  I am very impressed with the team's research background at UC Berkeley and their commitment to creating great consumer robots."

 -Charles Huang, Inventor of Guitar Hero, CEO of Green Throttle Games

""Seeing Dash scramble across terrain brings a smile to your face. It's as if he has a personality - to me, always in a hurry and very persistent. Dash is great for those who enjoy building and are interested in experimenting with robots that can evolve and interact with the environment. This is an exciting first step toward a new world of robotics."

-Dave Vadasz, former VP of Corporate & Business Development at Palm

Dash at Home

Dash comes as a kit that is super fun to fold and assemble. With tabs and slots to guide the way, kids and hobbyists alike will love the process of turning a flat sheet into a robot that's ready to run in about an hour. 

dash diy robot

dash diy robot prototype

Once finished, our free app can be used to control Dash from your smartphone or tablet. Make an obstacle course over all sorts of terrain, or race your friends to see who can get the fastest time!

dash diy robot

Dash is also equipped with a variety of sensors, so he can perform cool behaviors and interact with his environment. And since he’s Arduino-compatible, you can add sensors and program in behaviors of your own. Here are some cool things we're working on that you can download into your Dash:

  • Forward, reverse and steering from your smartphone or tablet
  • Running away from bright lights
  • Autonomous steering with the on-board gyroscope
  • Sensing walls and obstacles with the IR sensor/emitters

dash diy robot

What Do I Get?

dash diy robot capabilities

The Dash kit comes with everything you need to build and run Dash. This includes the laser-cut body components, as well as the motor, transmission, and plug-and-play electronics. The assembly should take about an hour, and we will have videos online that show you how it all comes together. The only thing you'll need to supply is all-purpose glue (like Elmer's) for gluing some of the components together, so plan on having some on hand.

dash diy robot assembly

For the Beta Dash kit, we are offering Dash in yellow, orange, blue, and black.

dash diy robot colors

We're building mobile apps so you'll be able to control Dash from your smartphone or tablet. We will be supporting all iOS devices that have Bluetooth 4.0, including:

  • iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, and iPhone 4S
  • iPad with Retina display (4th gen), iPad mini, iPad (3rd gen)
  • iPod Touch (5th gen)

Android support for Bluetooth 4 devices is still in the early phases, and we will work hard to support Android devices as well, however, at this point we cannot make any guarantees. Examples of Android devices that have Bluetooth 4 include:

  • HTC One, One X+, Droid DNA
  • Samsung Galaxy SIII, Galaxy S4, Note II
  • Motorola Moto X, Droid Ultra Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini

Dash Custom Electronics

We are developing a custom electronics package that is Arduino-compatible, uses Bluetooth 4 communication, has a dual motor driver, several LEDs and connects with Micro-USB. The battery can be charged through the Micro-USB connector and lasts about 40 minutes. The electronics are plug-and-play, so you can run Dash without any programming knowledge. But we’ve also made him hackable so you can take advantage of the sensors we’ve included, or even add your own. Out of the box, you will have access to:

  • Gyroscope
  • Visible light sensor
  • LEDs (Red, Green, Yellow)
  • IR emitters and sensors
  • I/O pins for expandability
  • Bluetooth Low Energy communications
  • Micro USB connector

Electronics packages suitable for miniature robot projects are almost impossible to find. So we've kept our package flexible and general enough so that it could be used for a variety of projects.You can then use your extra set to try different add-on sensors, swapping the sets on your Dash to try new things.

We've developed many electronics boards in the past, mostly based around the dsPic chip. For this Arduino board, we're working with our friend Dwight Springthorpe of Corvus Scientific. Dwight and Corvus develop Arduino compatible boards for biology research that weigh as little as 0.8 grams. Check it out below.

dash diy robot arduino

What Makes Dash Special?

The real trick is in the way we manufacture Dash - through a process we call smart composite microstructures, or SCM. This technique allows us to make flexible joints directly from the body - which means that we can make tons of moving components made from a single sheet of SCM material.

dash diy robot assembly

dash diy robot assembly

The SCM material is a sandwich of cardboard, plastic, and adhesive. We laser cut windows in the cardboard, leaving only the flexible polymer behind. This allows the windows to flex like a hinge. By cutting these hinges in certain locations and patterns, we can build complex folded mechanisms such as hips, joints, and transmissions. As a result, Dash is very quick to fabricate, and design changes are easy.

dash diy robot

The other key to Dash is his animal-inspired design. We've studied animal locomotion for years with world-renowned biologists trying to determine what it is that allows creatures to run so fast. All animals, whether they're kangaroos, humans, or even cockroaches, have a spring-like quality that allows them to bounce along the ground as they run. This springiness has to be just right in order to run quickly and efficiently. Dash is specifically tuned based on this principle so that he can scamper around at top speed. Because the intelligence is built into the mechanics, Dash doesn't need powerful processors or lots of heavy, expensive servos, like other larger, higher-priced robots. 

What We Have Now

Right now, the Alpha Dash design is nearly done, but there are still a few important changes we want to make before shipping.

We are continually improving the assembly process to make it more fun and intuitive, as well as toughening up some of the flexure joints. Once that is finalized, we'll start shipping out the Alpha Dash kits in the spring.

For the Beta Dash kit, we're building steering into the system so that you'll have more control over Dash. We expect to be ready to ship the Beta Dash shortly after the Alpha Dash. We are aiming to start shipping the Beta versions spring of 2014, so stay tuned for further updates!

Our Story

Paul, Kevin, Nick and Andrew are PhD engineers living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dash started as a research project, funded by the National Science Foundation, in our robotics lab at UC Berkeley, where we all worked together designing robots on principles found in nature. After years of soldering, gluing, programming, and working with biologists, Paul created Dash by bringing together the SCM process with the biology inspired dynamics that makes running possible. Kevin studied how wings could help Dash glide off tables or run up steep inclines. Nick studied how tails could be used to steer by swinging it into different positions and Andrew worked on how gecko-inspired adhesives could be used to help Dash climb. Together, we realized that these robots would make a great educational tool and a fun hobbyist kit, and that our construction process would allow us to make Dash much more affordable than anything that existed. We then went to work figuring out how we could bring these robots to everyone, and Dash Robotics was born.

dash diy robot team

We are all extremely passionate about seeing our years of work come to life. With 20 years of combined experience building robots just like Dash, and a workshop packed with equipment, we can't wait to bring Dash to the world.

Crowdfunding 1000 Robots - We Need Your Help!

Crowdfunding gives us the resources we need to advance our prototype to the next level. Most importantly, we get YOU, our enthusiastic early supporters! You can tell us what you like about Dash, how you play with him, and what you want to see in the future, so we can all have the best possible robot. We'll be manufacturing the robot kits right here in California, and by limiting our sales to 1000, the chance for long delays goes down. With your help, we can bring Dash out of the lab and into everyone's hands. 

dash diy robot

More Details!

Want to learn more? Check out our website for information, videos, pictures, and more! Check us out at http://dashrobotics.com/, on Twitter (@DashRobotics) or like us on Facebook

Special Thanks to:

foundry citris invention lab skydeck berkeley dragon innovation green throttle center for entrepreneurship and technology wilmerhale 845a center of integrated nanomechanical systems


The lightning fast robot you build yourself!

Thanks to you, Dash is a reality! Please visit us at dashrobotics.com if you missed our campaign!

We are Dash Robotics. We are revolutionizing robots by making them fun and accessible to everyone. And we are starting by bringing our first robot, named Dash, to you! Our fun, educational robot kit is perfect for the budding engineer, hobbyist, or kid looking to explore the exciting world of robots. With this campaign, we’re funding the beta development of Dash, and we need your help. We're only producing one thousand robots, so get your Dash before we run out!



Dash Robotics Berkeley, CA

About Us


Nick Kohut - CEO

Nick recently finished his PhD at UC Berkeley on legged robot maneuverability. At Dash Robotics, Nick handles project management, business development, and marketing.


Paul Birkmeyer - Chief Engineer

Paul recently finished his PhD at UC Berkeley on dynamic climbing robots, and is the inventor of Dash. At Dash Robotics, Paul handles chassis and powertrain design.


Andrew Gillies - COO

Andrew is currently finishing up his PhD at UC Berkeley, specializing in gecko adhesives and advanced engineering materials. At Dash Robotics, Andrew is responsible for product development, product-market fit, and sales.


Kevin Peterson - CTO

Kevin recently finished his PhD at UC Berkeley on hybrid crawling/flying robots. At Dash Robotics, Kevin is responsible for electronics, integration, and manufacturing.


What do I need to build Dash?
The Dash kit comes with all the parts you need to build Dash. The only thing you'll need to supply is all-purpose glue (like Elmer's) for gluing some of the components together. No soldering or programming is necessary, and assembly should take about one hour.
I live outside the US and Canada. Can I still get a Dash?
Unfortunately at this time we are only shipping Dash within North America. However we are working hard on having Dash certified worldwide. If you would like to be notified when Dash becomes available internationally, please go to http://dashrobotics.com/ and sign up on our email list, and you'll be the first to know!
How do I control Dash?
We're building mobile apps so you'll be able to control Dash from your smartphone or tablet. You'll be able to download the app for free from the app store, and begin running him around immediately! For a list of supported devices, please see the section above titled "What do I get?".
What is Dash’s battery life?
Our early prototypes have very good battery life, about 45 minutes. That’s about 1.7 miles of running! We expect this may decline some as we add sensors and other features, but we’re shooting for something that would give about a mile of running on one charge.

The batteries are Lithium Polymer, and can be recharged via the included mini-USB cable.

What processor are you using for the electronics? What is the communication protocol?
We’re starting off development using the Atmega 328, but plan to move to a Nordic SoC with a Cortex M0 processor. Our final chip choice will depend on the availability of libraries supporting Arduino. The board will be compatible with Bluetooth 4.
Have you guys developed electronics before?

Yes! We have two Electrical Engineering PhDs as founders, who have lots of board layout and embedded programming experience. We’re also working with our friend Dwight Springthorpe, who runs Corvus Scientific, which develops Arduino-compatible boards for use in biology research. You can check out some of his stuff in the page above, like the Arduino board that weighs less than a gram!

What are the Terms & Conditions for this project?

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