The Raspberry Pi is a small, cheap device designed to make computers accessible to students, hobbyists and others. The BrickPi is a small, cheap device designed to build on that concept by letting you use a Raspberry Pi as the brains of a programmable robot.
You can pick up a Raspberry Pi for just $35, and the BrickPi team wants to sell its robotics add-on for the same $35 price. So for about $70 you get a programmable device with support for sensors, motors, and just about everything else you need to start building robots.
The BrickPi is basically a board that you can attach to a Raspberry Pi, It includes connectors that let you add LEGO Mindstorms motors and sensors so that you can build a device that can move autonomously, detect the world around it, operate a claw, or perform other actions.
It draws power from a 9V battery, and you can even power the Rasbperry Pi using the same power source, which lets the mini-computer work as the brains of a robot even when it’s not plugged into a wall jack.
The BrickPi team comes from Dexter Industries, which is taking pledges for the project in a Kickstarter campaign which ends on June 16th. The project had a pretty low goal of less than $2000, and has already raised more than $90,000.
In other words, the team probably didn’t need to turn to crowd-funding in order to get the money together to build BrickPi devices. But Dexter Industries says they turned to Kickstarter in order to generate a bit of enthusiasm for the project and help build a community around the BrickPi.
Crowd-funding will also help keep the cost low, and the team’s already raised enough money to meet a few stretch goals including support for development in C/C++ and some hardware improvements.