Zümi helps kids learn about AI and self-driving cars

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Zumi AI car is set to change the lives of many
Image: Robolink

From healthcare to education to the auto industry and beyond, artificial intelligence (AI) plays an ever-increasing role in our lives. These game-changing technologies are rapidly becoming the wave of the future. Indeed, many major automakers are pushing to fill our cities with autonomous vehicles. Moreover, the public is expected to just keep up with this revolution in transportation.

Yet, there are few tools in place for young people to learn more about driverless cars.

Fortunately, Robolink recognized this gap in educational resources and has stepped up to fill the void. The science, math, and technology (STEM)-focused robotics company is aiming to teach kids about AI and self-driving cars with a fun new learning tool called Zümi.

What is Zümi?

Simply put, Zümi is a programmable self-driving car kit that teaches users fundamental concepts of AI and self-driving technology. Developed with funding from a successful Kickstarter campaign, Zümi won a Best of Innovations award in the Robotics and Drones category at CES 2019.

Described in promotional material as the “new girl” in town, Zümi is the third product in Robolink’s innovative robotics line. The San Diego-based startup previously produced a drone kit called CoDrone. They also launched an 11-in-1 robot kit called Rokit Smart.

Students are currently learning coding and robotics with those kits at schools around the world. Now, Robolink is eager for them to use their new smart car.

Packed with Programmable Functions

Zümi is cute and friendly, like Sony’s adorable robot dog Aibo. However, Sony’s pricey pup sells for around $2,900 and Zümi is expected to retail for $180.

The robocar kit comes preloaded with a range of fun programmable functions. By following simple step-by-step instructions, users can train Zümi to do a variety of tasks. For instance, she can identify objects, recognize hand gestures, and find the best route along an interactive track.

Users can also direct Zümi’s movements with their art. If shown a drawing of a landmark on her track, she’ll access training data from previously-seen images and drive right to the object.

Equipped with industry standard self-driving programming tools like TensorFlow and OpenCV, Zümi has robust autonomous functionality. For example, the car can detect an intersection, turn right or left, and stop to avoid hitting an object on the road.

Plus, the compact robotic car really likes people. She uses built-in biometric technology to recognize facial expressions. So, when she notices someone is smiling or sad, she’ll respond with a variety of endearing expressions on her LCD “windshield.” She can also react with a bashful shimmy.

Zümi’s Impressive Tech Specs

A group of engineers, educators, designers, and entrepreneurs who are passionate about making cutting-edge technology accessible for everyone developed Zümi. They wanted to make the kit fun and engaging, yet technically powerful.

Therefore, Zümi uses a Raspberry Pi Zero platform with an Arduino-compatible board. She also features a gyrometer, accelerometer, two DC motors, a Pi Cam, an onboard buzzer, 6 IR Sensors, a 128 x 64 OLED screen, and 60-minute battery life.

Anyone can work with the kit, even those without any prior computer engineering experience. Beginners can code using block-based programming and Python in a standard browser. More experienced coders can use TensorFlow and Keras to train the autonomous auto to classify objects, conduct custom self-driving experiments, and more.

Zümi will learn as a user learns, so she’ll make better decisions over time.

A Fun, Hands-On Learning Experience

Robolink may have cornered the market on affordable hands-on AI learning experiences with their latest release.

Zümi introduces users to artificial intelligence, robotics, coding, and autonomous driving decision-making. As such, the mini driverless car doubles as a sweet AI friend and an invaluable STEM-related learning tool.

Additionally, Zümi’s approachable and engaging interface and affordable price easily set her apart from other teaching robots.

According to the Zümi team’s most recent Kickstarter update, the company is getting ready to move into production mode to meet a May 2019 early backer launch. The firm is currently honing learning content, finalizing production partner arrangements, and working on packaging designs.

Visit Zümi’s Kickstarter campaign and Robolink’s website for more information.