As a child I always lusted after the Armatron robotic arm. Oh, the amazing things I would have done! I could have assembled miniature cars! Pinched my sister remotely! Gently squashed bugs to paste! But, alas, the Armatron was too expensive and I never got one.
Now that I’m old and wizened I can finally get one. Or at least something like it.
The Swift by UFactory is a crowdfunded robotic arm that promises fun, frolic and programmable robotic interaction for about $300 for early-bird models. There are two versions — the standard Swift with a louder DC model and the Pro unit with a more accurate stepper motor — and they can be used to perform tricks like laser etching, light painting and simple assembly. It’s programmable using UFactory’s Scratch-like programming language and you can even move the arm manually and it will recreate your motions.
They plan on shipping in May and the UFactory and their UArm team have already shipped more complex arms that have been used to open potato chip bags and, inexplicably, tickle a poop emoji.
The most complete package costs $499 and includes a gripper, laser and 3D printer head. While all of this looks too good to be true — and since it’s a crowdfunding campaign the buyer should beware — darn it if this doesn’t tickle that little nugget in my brain that always wanted a robot friend. Armatron, you’re dead to me.