There’s no new BB-8, BB-9, or R2D2 this year, but Sphero does have something pretty cool releasing this month.
Robots are a fun and tactile way to see engineering skills represented in a real-world way, because the moment you make it happen in code, it can happen in real life, too.
Helping kids learn to code was one of the reason Sphero first came to life, originally as the company Orbotix with the Sphero spherical robot, which then rebranded and became Sphero because most of what it was producing was spherical robots, some of them with Disney for Star Wars.
It still to this day has a few spherical robots, such as the tiny Sphero Mini, which provides the same concept in a ball not much larger than a ping-pong ball. The technology inside can kind of come across much like a hamster running on the inside, but a hamster you can program, however the robotic ball isn’t all Sphero has for release.
If you know someone who wants to code and potentially do more with their creations, Sphero is this month launching a robot that isn’t just programmable, but expandable.
It’s called the Sphero RVR, and it’s a robot made not just for beginner coders, but advanced ones, as well, connecting with the Spherio Edu app to teach code through small blocks or “draw & drive” modes, just like its smaller Sphero siblings, plus being able to push it harder.
Want to expand it beyond basic driving? Sphero RVR supports an expansion port, allowing you to build up and add technology. It means you can add an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi, essentially adding a small computer and building the RVR’s abilities from there. There’s also support for Sphero’s recent acquisition of LittleBits, effectively meaning multiple types of STEM/STEAM concepts can now connect, and more than coding can happen for the RVR robot, but downright invention.
By itself, the Sphero RVR comes with a fair amount of sensors, such as a colour sensor, light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, infrared port, magnetometer, and features a roll cage in case the RVR rolls over, though this last part can be removed. The sensors can even allow the RVR to talk with other Sphero robots, potentially granting the option to make a small town of conversing robots.
All of this is wrapped into a curious little driving vehicle, that is more like the Sphero Ollie vehicles that included tread-lined wheels, except it’s larger and more like a durable little tank. It’s definitely not your standards Sphero, that’s for sure.
“RVR has significantly extended our reach to makers of all ages, and of all coding abilities,” said Adam Wilson, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Sphero.
“We can’t wait to see what everyone creates with RVR,” he said.
Australian availability for the Sphero RVR is right now, with JB HiFi and Officeworks the places to find it, priced at $399.99 locally.