A new robotics kit is coming for DIYers out there, but this one has an out of this world twist: It’s a miniature robotic replica of the NASA Mars Perseverance rover, complete with actuated arm, WiFi and remote control and much more.
With the blessings of NASA, Geek Club and CircuitMess have unveiled their DIY Perseverance Mars rover kit, designed to spark the imaginations of tinkering kids and adults alike. The project, which launched on Kickstarter on Oct. 31, has already blown well past its initial $20,000 goal (it’s just under $420,000 at the time of this writing).
This educational kit packs all the essentials for building your very own Mars rover, built mainly from the kinds of pre-made circuit boards familiar to anyone who’s played around with open-source electronics like Raspberry Pi or Arduino. Much like those DIY mainstays, the new Perseverance Rover is a crash course in coding, electronics and robotics wrapped up in one.
Related: NASA’s Perseverance rover sets record for longest Mars drive on autopilot
This rover obeys remote control and WiFi commands, flexes its onboard AI for autonomous navigation, and is programmable using several different programming languages like CircuitBlocks, Python or C++. The kit is equipped with a motorized sample collection arm, a camera that uses AI to see the world and a robust dual-core processor with WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.
But the rover isn’t the only reward for backing this project. It’s accompanied by an array of stellar DIY kits including the Artemis Watch — a nod to the upcoming Artemis 3 spacesuit — as well as a solar-powered model of the Juno space probe, a build-it-yourself Voyager space probe, and a scaled model of space shuttle Discovery. The kit also comes complete with all the tools required for assembly, including a soldering iron, wire and protective glasses.
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The early success of the project reflects the popularity of the Perseverance rover, nicknamed “Percy” by fans, and is a testament to the widespread enthusiasm for STEM learning through the lens of space exploration. The countdown for backing this celestial campaign is ticking, with a deadline of Dec. 5.
Prospective backers are encouraged to navigate to the official campaign page and secure their kit.