Programmable Robot Kits
What is it that got the public hooked on robots? Perhaps it is America’s fascination with the droids in Star Wars like R2-D2 and C-3PO. Or maybe it is the desire to have more control over our environment. It could be the British television show Robot Wars. Which made robots much cooler, in my opinion. Maybe it is the secretive Dr. Frankenstein side of us that has the innate desire to create. Well, whatever the reason, programmable robot kits are here to stay.
There are programmable robot kits for kids. There are kits for beginners and serious programmers. Before we look at some of the kits that are the most popular. Let’s take a moment and see how programmable robots have affected our lives.
The Impact of Programmable Robots
After the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, iRobot’s PackBot was used to search through the rubble for survivors. The US Military also used these rugged and intuitive robots to search for insurgents in caves and buildings in Afghanistan. Boston Dynamics has also created BigDog, a military pack mule (or should we say dog) that can carry up to 340 pounds at 4 miles an hour over difficult terrains. It is tagged as “The most advanced rough-terrain robot on earth.”
Robots have not always had a technical or military utility. Do you remember the Furby from Hasbro? It was released in 1998 by Tiger Electronics. Over 40 million Furbies were sold within the first three years. The device started speaking Furbish and as they listened to their user they would “learn” more English as they “grew.” This interactive toy put small robots into nearly every home that had children.
Speaking of household robots, do you know anyone of your friends that use a Roomba, the vacuum cleaning robot? Introduced to the modern family in 2002, this disk-sized vacuum is equipped with multiple sensors to navigate through the house cleaning every square inch.
The History of Programmable Robot Kits
There are a lot of different companies that are now producing programmable robot kits. Perhaps the company that truly helped promote the hobby of robot creation was Lego Mindstorms. Lego Mindstorms has integrated Technic Lego parts with a programmable brick created at the MIT Media Lab. The brick was programmed using Brick Logo which was initially created by the University of Colorado in 1994 under the name LEGOsheets. The first kit contained two motors and touch and light sensors.
Since then, dozens of companies are now producing some awesome robot kits. Here is a selection of programmable robot kits that have different features, skill levels and functions. We have scoured the internet looking for the best programmable robot kits and then compared them to consumer reviews on Amazon. Here is what we have found: