Robotical is an EdTech company and creator of a small but characterful walking robot called Marty.
As a physical product, Marty helps turn the abstract and somewhat intimidating world of coding into something real, and fun; a learning tool that users can actually interact with and see tangible results from. There’s a huge amount of tech built into a tiny package (Marty stands at 24cm and weighs a mere 650g).
Marty can move each joint independently, meaning they can walk, sidestep, balance, kick and turn all with a unique mechanism. Our v2 is fitted as standard with motor position sensors, obstacle sensor, acceleration and tilt sensor and colour sensor. You can program Marty via Bluetooth, WiFi, USB or screen-free with colour cards, and we’re compatible with Raspberry Pi and micro:bit.
Marty can be used by anyone, from beginners learning the basics of Scratch Jr programming to more advanced coding on Python but where Marty really comes to life is in the classroom. It was with young people in mind that Marty was designed to look and move the way it does.
Marty was expressly designed to be human-like in shape, so children could relate easily to them. Moving eyebrows allow Marty to make lots of recognisable expressions and children are able to customise the robot with stickers, which gives them a real sense of ownership and a connection with Marty.
While coding is a part of the National Curriculum and Curriculum for Excellence, we know it is not universally taught at primary level, mainly because teachers lack the confidence to go out and teach it. To remove as many of the barriers as possible and produce an affordable out-of-the-box STEM learning solution, we have developed a comprehensive suite of teaching resources with Marty that follow the CfE and National Curriculum to help teachers plan and deliver engaging lessons at every stage in education.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
I’ve always been interested in robots, and I followed that path through my education – first completing my undergrad at Heriot Watt University and then PhD at Edinburgh University, specialising in walking robots.
During that time I was involved in a lot of outreach work, volunteering at events and science fairs, and dealing with some incredibly advanced robots. The walking, dancing robots we had always drew a crowd, people from all ages would engage far more with them than just with wheeled robots, and kids especially loved them – but they were hugely expensive. I thought to myself that I could create a walking robot that would be both accessible for beginners and sophisticated enough to handle advanced coding and robotics, but not out of reach financially for individuals or schools.
My young niece at the time was learning to code and so I wanted to come up with a design that would be fun and appealing to her.
I developed a prototype for Marty back in 2015 and was fortunate enough to meet our lead investor at a coding club I was demo-ing Marty at. From there, we raised finance through awards/grants and crowdfund campaigns to bring the original Marty the Robot into production and build a team. In the last four years, we’ve sold over 7,000 Marty v1s in around 60 countries worldwide and Marty is used in more than 200 schools in the UK, which I’m particularly proud of.
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How has the company evolved?
As the team has evolved, so has our product and it’s not just the physical product that has changed. In Marty v2, we have not only improved the design and durability we’ve also made Marty a lot more versatile by way of upgrades and new features. In increasing the scope for use, we increase Marty’s worth. This applies in equal measure to the learning materials that we are constantly creating and updating on our online Learning Portal to ensure that what we provide links to the curriculum and meets success criteria, not just in STEM but in other areas of learning too.
The big goal for me is to inspire as many young people as possible to get interested in technology, and how they can use it to change the world for good. I think we’ll see a lot more change in our lifetimes, and it’s down to the young people of today to steer things in the right direction.
What can we hope to see from Robotical in the future?
My hopes for the future are to scale up production and sales of Marty v2, eventually with more production being done locally. I’d like to increase the size of the development team so we can follow through on all the ideas we have but don’t have the resource for. I’d also like to make the company carbon negative and make more tools to support educators in looking after all of their students.