To get started with off the shelf robotic kits, there seems to be a price threshold of about $50 for a bare bones ugly hack-kit.
There are two potential holes in the market. One is a nice kit in the under $100 price range that builds up to something similar to the pre-assembled $100 to $200 robots. The other is a truly inexpensive starter kit that doesn’t look like it was obviously cobbled together from whatever pieces are available in the markets of Shenzhen.
As an exercise, I decided to see what a $30 robot kit would like, and if the $50 threshold was a fixed point, or if it was simply what the market will bear. $30 is pretty tough, figuring the whole part and production costs need to be well under $15 to even start to be reasonable. Under $10 and things get exciting.
Below are some pictures of my current experiments. Don’t be too critical yet! Each experiment has some features that could be elements of cheap robots, and some that clearly blow the costs out of the water.
We’ll see where it goes… Let me know if you have thoughts on cheap robots.