The MisB Kit is essentially composed by three different kinds of elements:

Structural elements: used to create the objects’ structure.
Actuators: mainly servo motors used to give objects different kinds of movement.
Control elements : allow to control the motors and thus the objects’ movement.


To select the technology or technologies with which to work, we decided upon a few criteria: modularity, sturdiness, hardware and software openness (open source or offering the possibility of interfacing with open source software and hardware components), ease of use, quality of components, and cost. We identified four possibly suitable modular robotics products: Lego Mindstorms®, Cubelets®, Arcbotics®, Bioloid®. Cubelets and Arcbotics soon proved to be inadequate: the first is very closed, and the other very fragile, ineffective, and presents major challenges for supply and support. Lego Mindstorms is very interesting, but is too closed and rooted in the toy sector, lacking the power and sturdiness needed for our projects. Bioloid, from the Korean brand Robotis, is the technology we selected because it meets most of our criteria, with one additional advantage: it allows for a change of scale, moving from playful or service robotics to industrial robotics in the same software environment. Indeed, a wide range of motors is available, all drivable with the same control board and the same software environment. From the Bioloid technology we have primarily maintained the motorization and control system: robust, precise, Dynamixel motors, easily controllable with the CM09 control board, which is powerful, open, and built like an Arduino board, perfectly compatible with auteur-oriented open-source software environments like Processing. In addition, the control board (CM09) is based on an open-source LeafLabs board under an MIT license, a board that Robotis modified to support its Dynamixels motors.

We then combined that system with a set of building blocks we created: solid pieces and structural elements entirely covered in Velcro, making it possible to assemble models and modify the assemblages very quickly, like a kind of “high-definition” Lego. This principle is as simple as it is powerful, since it makes it possible to create prototypes in a few minutes with great freedom of action, and other materials can be associated with the base as long as they also contain Velcro. For instance, structural units taken directly from K’Nex building sets have been added to the toolkit, as has a set of shells and skins for covering our robots, dissociating them from their technical condition (motorized mechanics) and allowing them to be seen simply as objects.

Lately, in a second version of the kit we started using carbon and glass fiber sticks that allow us to create bigger structures that are at the same time lightweight and flexible.