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Usability of the DU Build-A-Bot Platform

Robotic design has traditionally been reserved for a limited number of individuals with backgrounds in research and development, making it inaccessible to the average person due to the high technical requirements. Additionally, robots are normally designed and built before being tested on how humans perceive them. This can lead to a loss of time and money when a robot is found to be perceived entirely differently than intended. But what if this process was uprooted and reversed? What if instead of evaluating robot designs created by these few individuals, a system was created that allows the average person to design a robot that they believe can feel or complete certain tasks? DU Build-A-Bot hosts a building block-like game environment that makes robotic design accessible to anyone with a computer and internet connection. Built as a web-based platform, users not only can build robots in-game, but also view their previous bots, analyze their overall statistics, access the project’s research papers, and stay up to date with the project.

Despite the technological advancements and guidelines that have become increasingly frequent in web and application development, accessibility still often remains an afterthought for many web and application developers. By inadvertently restricting the number of potential users, developers are not only limiting sales ability but are also isolating users with different technical backgrounds and/or abilities. The interface has been created to make robot design approachable for as many individuals as possible. The goal of this project has been to design and implement features that improve the universal usability and accessibility of the platform. This was achieved via a complete interface redesign which brings the Build-A-Bot project closer to being launched for use within classrooms and by the public.