Bringing learning to life and igniting passion with Marty the Robot
The UK economy suffers a loss of £1.5 billion every year due to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) skills shortages, and the future of engineering has never been more important. With a shortage of 173,000 workers, 49% of engineering businesses are struggling to recruit skilled workers.
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As the technological world evolves, it’s vital to prioritise STEM education within primary and secondary schools, and at university level.
That’s where Robotical comes in, addressing this challenge, one robot at a time.
Robotical creates educational robots to inspire and engage the next generation of engineers and scientists. It’s leading product, a humanoid programmable robot called Marty, is paving the way for the future of education. It’s goal? To revolutionise education and inspire a new generation of learners to explore coding, robotics, and STEM concepts.
What began as a lightbulb moment is now a leading STEM resource found in over 1,000 schools around the world, increasing academic attainment.
Inspired by his niece, Dr Alexander Enoch, also known as Sandy, set up Robotical in 2016. He wanted to create a humanlike robot that his niece could use to make learning the basics of coding more like child’s play and less like hard work. Sandy designed and built Marty V1 from scratch, got the all-important seal of approval from his niece, and secured startup funding via a crowdfund to put the first 1,000 Marty’s into production.
This was followed by further seed rounds, raising over $1 million to scale production, grow distribution, build the team, and make Marty V2 a reality.
In classrooms around the globe, Marty quickly became a firm favourite tool for teaching coding and robotics. Students worked together to program Marty to perform tasks and solve challenges, learning valuable skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork along the way.
Marty has been an international phenomenon from the start, with 10,000 robots now sold across 65 countries globally.
What makes Marty different? Marty is a character. “We feel this is very important at an early level to boost your capacity for learning to understand precisely what is happening. That level of engagement is so much higher with Marty than you’d expect from your simple bots.
“There are products like this on the market, but their price points are much higher, or the capacity is lower. So, we feel we really do have a firm grasp of this niche and feel like we’re doing quite well within it,” explains Finlay Page, Director of Product.
Marty is an exceptional walking, dancing, and eyebrow wiggling humanoid learning robot. And Robotical stand by the fact that humanoid robots are THE most exciting tool for making STEM learning engaging for students.
Marty’s unique walking mechanism allows it to walk, turn, dance, and kick a ball. Each limb is controlled by specific motors, so Marty is more stable and robust than other walking robots. His features include a range of expressions, motors with position sensors, acceleration and tilt sensors, a speaker, and rechargeable battery.
Robotical’s innovation didn’t stop there. As more and more schools adopted Marty as a learning tool, Robotical continued to improve the robot. Marty’s capabilities grew more advanced, with new sensors and features added over time. And thanks to Marty being an open-source platform, users can contribute their own ideas and improvements, making it a collaborative and community-driven project.
“Education is so important, particularly education within STEM subjects. We have a very male dominated industry. It’s getting better through products like Marty that enable that to happen. I think it’s very important, and mathematics and technology are everywhere in the world. it channels through every decision you make in your life,” explains Finlay.
Marty comes equipped with extensive technical support from Robotical’s dedicated team. He also comes with an ever-expanding set of curriculumlinked lessons and activities suitable for all ages, including beginners, intermediate, and advanced coders. Marty has truly been designed to make learning about computer science fun, engaging, and impactful. The flexible learning tool grows with students, capable of introducing screenfree programming to pre-school students, right through to university level.
A UNIFIED LOVE FOR STEM
Currently a team of nine, Robotical is comprised of enthusiastic individuals with two things in common. A love for STEM and a passion for learning.
The team is dedicated to helping teachers bring coding to life, which is why its product and educational experience designers ensure Marty is fit and robust for every classroom and is supported by a wide range of dynamic learning resources.
“We don’t have an immediate plan to expand. We’re at a really good level where we’re able to push whilst still being agile. It’s really important for us to be agile for our customers,” says Finlay.
Having not only operated, but grown through unprecedented times, Robotical has become resilient to what is thrown its way, including a global pandemic, supply chain issues, and delivering hardware. Finlay states: “We’re proud to still be here considering we were a company that depended on everything that closed during COVID-19. We were very lucky.”
Finlay gives startup founders some key advice considering what he’s learnt from his last six years at Robotical: “You don’t need to find someone who has done your specific product. Anyone who has done hardware can give you a lot of advice and help you begin the process. Find the right advisors and latch onto them. And if you have someone who wants to latch onto you then even better. It’s invaluable to have someone like that.”
TRANSFORMING THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION
The main aspiration with Marty is to make children of all ages realise that engineering is creative and fun, and that anyone can get involved. Encouraging the next generation of STEM leaders through a fun tool like Marty can help make the world a better place and encourage greater diversity in STEM.
The education climate has changed dramatically since COVID-19, including the adoption of more student-led learning. There’s lots of opportunity for Robotical to move to student-led learning and further enhance the value delivery to educators. Highlighting recent ongoing teacher strikes, Finlay says: “Educators are always strained. We want to further improve our value delivery to increase motivation and decrease the load on educators. There’s lots of room for us to do that.”
Marty continues to push the boundaries of possibilities in education, creating a brighter, more innovative future for all.