Over the past few years, Sphero has released a variety of smartphone-controlled robots geared towards Star Wars fans, those looking to get into coding and more. Today, Sphero is taking emphasizing the latter of those two, with the debut of a fully-programmable robot geared towards makers and the overall STEAM market. Sphero RVR is the company’s most customizable robot to date, featuring a suite of sensors, integrations and more to facilitate learning to program. Head below for a closer look.
After severing its ties with Disney and discontinuing the line of Star Wars-themed robotic companions, Sphero is looking to the STEAM field for its next big hit. Many of the company’s past releases have found a home in schools, learning centers and the like, so today’s news that Sphero will be doubling down on the concept isn’t too much of a surprise. Enter Sphero RVR, a fully programmable robot that has now launched on Kickstarter.
Right out of the box, the company’s latest is ready to drive, much like the rest of its robots. That means that regardless of how much coding experience you have, RVR will provide a suitable jumping off point for learning to program. But where Sphero RVR differs from its predecessors is that it goes beyond just conveying foundational programing knowhow.
Sphero RVR details
Sphero’s newest bot is its most customizable release so far. It’s based around two treads that give the robot agile movement thanks to being paired with high-resolution motor encoders. Sphero also says that it can easily scale a 45-degree incline.
Sphero RVR also pairs with various sensors to augment its functionality. Included are a colorsensor, light sensor, IR, magnetometer, accelerometer and gyroscope, all of which can be leveraged to make custom programs for the bot.
One of the notable inclusions is a universal expansion port, that allows RVR to connect with third-party hardware. It opens the door to integrating Raspberry Pi, Arduino and other micro-controllers into the mix; meaning if Sphero’s first-party coding interface isn’t ideal for your needs, another system can be swapped in.
Sphero is taking an interesting approach to launching its latest product. The company is forgoing a traditional launch in favor of crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. It’s not uncommon for well-established companies to take similar approaches. Though rather than relying on the site to fund the product, Sphero is likely using Kickstarter to gauge interest in its latest endeavor.
The RVR will need to raise $150,000 by March 21st in order to get the go-ahead. Assuming everything is successful, backers will receive their new customizable robot come September. While it will retail for $249, those looking to get in on the action early can bring it home for $199 right now. Other Kickstarter promotions include bundling a free Sphero Mini and more.
It’s exciting to see Sphero launch a product like RVR. While it’s hard not to love the company’s cute Star Wars droids, STEAM-focused products like this are always a big hit. Sphero RVR takes a unique approach to the concept though, and full integration with other hardware like Raspberry Pi is definitely something that we’d love to see from other companies.
BOULDER, Colo., February 19, 2019 ‒ Sphero, the industry leader in robotics fused with STEAM learning, announced today its Kickstarter launch of RVR – a ready-to-drive, fully programmable and customizable robot with endless coding possibilities. The campaign begins today on Kickstarter with pledge levels starting at $199 (MSRP for $249) and initial shipments will be available starting in September 2019. Backers who support the RVR project within the first week of launch will be eligible to be selected for an all-expenses paid trip to Sphero HQ in Boulder, CO to compete in an all-day RVR Hackathon on March 14, 2019.
RVR is drivable right out of the box, making it approachable and accessible to coders of all levels, including beginners. In addition, its advanced features are geared specifically for those looking for a more complex coding experience — the first of Sphero’s products to do so. For advanced coders, RVR can be fully customized through a universal expansion port, full suite of on-board sensors and an advanced control system.
“RVR is the kind of robot I wish I had growing up,” said Adam Wilson, Sphero co-founder and chief creative officer. “For makers, developers and anyone who loves to build things, RVR’s advanced capabilities bring tolife everything that makes coding exciting. That creative experience is at the core of why we first startedSphero.”
RVR is fast, exceptionally nimble and fun to drive for coders of all abilities. It sports a fine-tuned, high- resolution motor encoder, allowing it to be driven with extreme agility, accuracy and torque that can easily scale a 45-degree angle.
Beyond its out-of-the-box base, RVR’s universal expansion port has the ability to connect to third-party hardware like Raspberry Pi, Micro:Bit or Arduino, allowing users to customize the robot however they want.
The robot is outfitted with several onboard sensors that will get any maker’s imagination going: a colorsensor, light sensor, IR, magnetometer, accelerometer and gyroscope, as well as a roll cage and clear protective plate that are removable. RVR’s ambient light, color and 9-axis IMU are able to send and receive signals to interact with other Sphero robots. The large battery inside RVR is removable, making charging easier and faster.
“This is truly a professional-level robot, without the hefty price tag,” said Wilson. “By connecting yourhardware of choice to the expansion port, the customization possibilities are endless and entirely up to you. For example, you can hook up a camera to RVR and program facial recognition to do a dance every timeyour best friend walks by.”
To support customization with the expansion port, Sphero is partnering with SparkFun Electronics to build kits that inspire users to take the RVR to the next level – from adding camera vision and GPS to building a complete autonomous vehicle. SparkFun is also backing the KickStarter through the “Get a Bot, Give a Bot” initiative, where they will match the first 50 RVR’s purchased with a donation of 50 RVRs to schools.
With RVR, like all of Sphero’s products, users have access to the Sphero EDU app, which connects a vibrant, active community of DIYers, makers, programmers, hackers and educators to share tips, questions and commentary. This unique community enhances the product experience, providing users with resources to take on new challenges, solve problems, be creative and share creations. Sphero will roll out an initial wave of RVR content on the app in conjunction with its launch.
To learn more about RVR, visit http://sphero.com/RVR or the Kickstarter project site. Follow Sphero onFacebook, Instagram or Twitter.