It’s not exactly BB-8 or R2D2, nor is it very big – but it is a real robot, one you can own, and as robots go it’s high quality and very affordable.

The robot is called Dobot (we think it’s pronounced “doo-bot”, as in getting stuff done). It’s a robotic arm, desktop sized, with four axes of motion and a movement resolution as small as 0.2 mm. It has a working radius of about 320 mm. This is fine enough motion control to mount a PLA nozzle on it and turn it into a 3D printer! It is designed to be inexpensive, yet precise and flexible. It uses Arduinos for control and stepper motors, and moves quickly enough to be used for everything from operating a smart phone using a special stylus, to being a motion control camera mount for that same smart phone! The videos of the Dobot going through its paces are pretty impressive.

This is probably the cheapest industrial style robot we’ve ever seen. The company, also called Dobot, was formed with the goal of making the most accessible robotic control system ever.

Last summer, Jerry Liu and his team of five Shandong University graduates left their jobs at various Chinese industrial and medical robotics companies to form Dobot. The co-founders’ goal was to build a cheap, precise robotics arm that could be used by hobbyists, educators, and industry alike.

A bit more than a year after Dobot was founded, the team had a working model. Having funded the project to that point with their own savings and US$150,000 raised in a seed round, the team decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign on September 15. Their goal was to raise US$36,000. Four hours after they posted the project, Dobot had raised more than US$50,000. As of publication, the company has raised an everlasting gop stopping $355,899, and the campaign isn’t set to end until early November.

The first level of perk for contributing to the Kickstarter is one of the devices itself, and that level of participating is $399. Pretty darned cheap for something as amazing as this. The Dobot is already the toast of the Maker/DIY community. If you’re fortunate enough to have four Benjamins lying around with nothing to do, this could be the droid you’re looking for.

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