Recently we took a look at the Mini Soccer and Mini Activity Kit from Sphero. These fun programmable robots are a lot of fun and open a secure door to get into coding. So when Sphero reached out about taking a look at the larger, more capable and expandable robot, the RVR, we were excited to take it for a spin. Check out the video to see how easy it is to make a block program.
First and foremost – this highly customizable robot comes in at $250 – which is quite a bit more than the Sphero Mini’s that we reviewed earlier. The Mini line starts at $50. But what you get with the RVR is a platform that can build out pretty much whatever you want. Sphero sent over a pre-built attachment with the RVR to get an idea of what is possible when you build on the developer plate.
Out of the box
I was very impressed with the packaging and unboxing experience. Everything felt well designed and intuitive, and once you get the RVR out of the box, you have everything needed to get going.
Sphero RVR Review: Video
The quick start process is just as simple. Charge up the battery, and once it’s full, use the included key to unlock the battery compartment and insert the battery. Lock it back up and push the power button on the other side of the RVR. Then download the Sphero Edu app and connect to the RVR.
Once connected, the RVR is ready to go. The first thing I did was hit the drive tab to control the RVR and proceeded to drive it off of my table… The good news is that it seems to be pretty rugged! I then realized that just like the Sphero Minis, you need to calibrate it to your orientation first, and then its easier to tell which direction the RVR will move.
After that, controlling the RVR was smooth, and it’s impressively quick and responsive. It changed direction rapidly, and the maximum speed can be adjusted to make getting the hang of driving even more comfortable. With its swift, torquey motors and rubber tracks, the RVR appears to be able to handle most terrain.
Built into the RVR is a nice assortment of on-board sensors to help when programming. It features a USB port, UART port, ambient light sensor, color sensor, and infrared sensor.
Within the Sphero Edu app is where the magic starts to show itself. You can create programs through a variety of methods – by drawing, using coding blocks, or writing your text. I’m not a coder, but using the block system is very easy to put together. There are a ton of available blocks in here.
From its core, one of the main goals of Sphero is to make an easy to use programmable robot for educational purposes. Just like the Sphero Mini, there are packages available for educators that make it easier and more affordable to get multiple units for a classroom. With an easy to use a coding system that can be built out to whatever you want, the RVR looks like it would be a fun way to learn coding in a classroom.
Overall, the Sphero RVR is a rugged easy to use but extremely robust programmable platform. It can move quickly, hold a ton of pieces, and with its expandability, via the developer plate, it will make an excellent platform for learning how to code and expanding creativity.
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