Maker Profile: Erin Kennedy, Founder Robobrrds and Robot Missions

I met Erin Kennedy earlier this year at Studio [Y] at the MaRS Discovery District where she is a fellow working on her latest project, Robot Missions.  I first came across Erin’s work, RoboBrrds, when Erin won the Cloud Robotics hackathon in Montreal in the fall of 2011.  Erin was  has grown that project into a successful IndieGogo campaign in December 2012 and now into a commercial kit you can build yourself.

Erin Kennedy, February 2016

Erin Kennedy, February 2016

Erin’s latest project is Robot Missions ( ) where she is designing, building and testing a robot that will help clean shore lines.  The project isn’t simply another rover, Erin’s mission is to get humanitarians and technologists to collaborate on the massive challenge of environment clean-up. To that end she is working to engage a diverse community to work with her on the project. A fervent advocate of Socially Conscious Making, Erin wants to work with people on projects with a strong social mission.

Shoreline Cleaning Rover Robot, February 2016

Shoreline Cleaning Rover Robot, February 2016


Erin is acutely aware of the perceived tension between nature and technology.  She would like to see more work in applying technology to help nature rather than projects in which technology harms nature.

The Robot Missions project started as a CubeSat rover robot for trips to Mars (the planet) as part of Erin’s time at Fab Academy 2015. It included her own origami design for an unfolding solar panel to power the robot. Erin also integrated an headset with motion sensors so that she could control the robot with the movement of her head.

Origami Solar Panel, February 2016

Origami Solar Panel, February 2016

You can often find Erin at Studio [Y] experimenting with new filament for her 3D printer or making plug-ins for her favourite CAD program so she can model her origami mechanical designs. The goal is not to create a prototype robot but to create a Rapidly Deployable Automated System platform that is  flexible enough so that other makers can take and transform it and humanitarians can manufacture the robot quickly with little support.

Robot Missions is still in its very early stages but there are lots of opportunity to collaborate with Erin and create something amazing.  Robot Missions  needs:

  • Roboticists, engineers, technologists, and tinkerers to help with development of the Robot Missions hardware platform and mechanical design.
  • Programmers to help with the software to control the robot and the tools to gather, work with and visualize the data collected.
  • Communicators to help develop the educational materials, communicate through various channels such as social media and keep the community engaged.
  • Strategists and business people to help come up with and execute a strategy to make Robot Missions sustainable and actually achieve the impact it was designed for.
  • Environmentalists to look at the data collected and identify new opportunities for data collection.
  • Volunteers to help organize missions, manage the project, and help with logistics.

On April 6, at the Get Your Bot On! Meetup Erin will be demonstrating the Robot Missions robot and talking more about her work.  We will break into working groups to tackle some of the challenges faced by the project. Come to find out more about her work and see the robot in action. Sign up for the Meetup HERE.


Have a few hours this weekend?  Join Erin for her field test at the Leslie Spit this Saturday, April 2. Volunteers working with Robot Missions will be testing the most recent shoreline cleaning robot prototype. More details at :

Be sure to follow Erin on Twitter to hear about her projects and the Robot Missions field tests.

You can sign up for the Robot Missions mailing list on their website at

Or hang out with Erin at her Robot Party on Google+ Hangouts.  Passionate robot makers show off their robot projects and share ideas and advice. See the previous Robot Party here, with the theme of “Who does your robot help?”.

See you next week!

Torontonians making an impact at Civic Tech Toronto




Its 6pm in the evening and for many it’s the end of a work day but for Civic Tech Toronto it’s just the start of their weekly hack nights. This passionate community of diverse Torontonians come together to tackle some of the city’s biggest challenges. They take the hackathon model and extend it to provide continuity for civic projects to incubate and execute. As you walk around the room you’ll find citizens with all types of expertise huddled in groups as they brainstorm and share ideas.

It’s a unique intersection of technology, design and collaboration which has resulted in multiple successful hack nights since their start in July.

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We’re Looking for Volunteers and Mentors!

The Get Your Bot On! team that puts together a 34-hour hackathon focused on the design and prototyping of innovative ideas and solutions in robotics is looking for Mentors & Volunteers!

These are the skills we’re looking for:

  • Innovation mentors with design skills or robotics knowledge to assist teams in their ideation process on Friday evening and early Saturday morning
  • Technical mentors with skills in 3D modelling and printing, electronics, hardware, robotics, and coding to help teams build Saturday and Sunday.  We have new hardware and wearables provided by XYZ Interactive, Wearhacks, Kiwi Wearables and RedTree Robotics.
  • Design Mentors  to help teams Saturday evening and Sunday morning to tell a compelling story.
  • Volunteers for communications, photography and web.

Contact to volunteer or mentor.  Prizes and more hardware partnerships will be announced soon. Sign up for our mailing list at, follow us on Twitter @GetYourBotOn, or join our meetup group for more information about the hackathon and future events.

Special thanks to our gold sponsor Autodesk,  our host sponsor MaRS, our silver sponsors OCE, Synaptive Medical, Kiwi Wearables, and our bronze sponsor XYZ Interactive. Good luck to teams from our post-secondary partners including Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics, and the Health Innovation Hub at the University of Toronto, Imagination Catalyst at OCAD, and the York Lassonde School of Engineering.

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