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Sphero wants you to hack its new RVR robot

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Sphero, will launch a new programmable robot that breaks from the company’s traditional ball design.

The new RVR will come with four wheels, resemble a more traditional vehicle, and be very hackable, according to the company.

The aim, says Sphero, is to be able to offer something to secondary schools and higher education.

RVR is equipped with all-terrain treads, a powerful motor, and plenty of torque so you can go faster and farther. The RVR features a large battery, as well as, a colour reading sensor underneath allows you to programme the unit using colour cards. Built to withstand falls from a classroom table, it isn’t however waterproof suggesting you won’t be able to take it outside in the winter.  

The biggest difference however compared to the many robots Sphero has made in the past will be the ability to connect other devices to the robot via a 4-pin UART and an onboard power source socket. That means you’ll be able to control it with systems like the Raspberry Pi, BBC Micro-Bit, Arduino, and even Little Bits kits – the company recently bought by Sphero. 

It’s this expandability that Sphero is hoping will make it appeal to a much broader audience than the company’s Bolt ball.

In a demo to Pocket-lint we witness the RVR working with both the Micro:Bit, Raspberry Pi, and Arduino systems ranging from a programme that instructed the RVR to move forward based on colour cards, to a system that controlled direction and speed by blowing into a wind turbine attached to the top of the units detachable top layer.

For those not so brave, you’ll also be able to control the RVR via Sphero’s educational coding app on your phone and have it connect to other Sphero robots to expand and extend the possibilities.

Aimed at schools and the education sector rather than consumers, the new robot will cost £250 in the UK and $250 in the US. Schools will be able to buy RVR units in a multi-pack for £1,000.

The new RVR will be available to buy from Sphero.com and Amazon on 22 October.

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