About the Thymio II project

Background

Thymio II is an improvement of the original Thymio robot. Both have been developed in a collaboration between the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the Ecole Cantonale d'Art de Lausanne (écal). The Thymio II robot has been developed in the framework of the NCCR Robotics program.

The philosophy

The main objective of the Thymio II project is to provide a robot to a large public, to make the exploration of technology accessible to everyone and to enable the integration of robotic technology in the teaching process. To achieve this objective, we have chosen a particular model of distribution:

  • We distribute the software's source code as open source, under a LGPL license.
  • We distribute the hardware schematics as open hardware under a CC-BY-SA 3.0 license, and we distribute the hardware itself directly, targeting a minimal cost.

While the first point is known and common, the second is more difficult to achieve, and needs a new form of distribution. Therefore we apply the following principles:

  • The complete hardware design is open.
  • We sell the hardware at minimal cost, including only the price of the components, the management of the production and the sale. This means that :
    • The selling price does not include the cost of distribution. This implies that there are no distributors or that distributors have to charge an extra cost and to provide extra services.
    • The selling price includes a one year1 guarantee with the support of the Thymio community.

These choices allow us to provide the robot for a minimal price, based on margins far below average. This price includes only a basic support:

  • For the hardware, a guarantee of one year1 but a full documentation including schematics, plans, etc.
  • For the software, no direct support. However, as it is common in open-source software, a community provides support, maintenance, documentation, further development on a voluntary basis. We ensure the management of the infrastructure of this community, and we provide help to the users through documentation and mailing lists.
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Interactivity

Interactivity is based on several functionalities:

  • capacitive touch buttons,
  • colour of the body (full RGB spectrum),
  • LED associated with each robot functionality.

Authors

Thymio II is the result of the collaborative work of the following people:

  • Fanny Riedo (mechanical design, production, documentation)
  • Dr Michael Bonani (mechanical and electronic design, production, documentation)
  • Philippe Rétornaz (electronic design, coding)
  • Laurent Soldini (mechanical design, packaging)
  • Florian Vaussard (coding, documentation)
  • Dr Stéphane Magnenat (coding, documentation)
  • Dr Jiwon Shin (VPL)
  • Prof Moti Ben-Ari (VPL tutorial)
  • Luc Bergeron (design supervision écal)
  • Prof Francesco Mondada (scientific supervision EPFL)
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