BOULDER, COLO. – Robotics company Sphero today launched its latest creation via Kickstarter, aimed at providing robotics creation to coders of all levels. The RVR is a ready-to-drive, fully programmable and customizable robot that is drivable right out of the box.
Pledge levels start at $199 (with a MSRP of $249), with initial shipments starting in September 2019, Sphero said. Project backers who support the RVR project within the first week of today’s launch will be eligible to be chosen for an “all-expenses paid trip” to Sphero headquarters in Boulder, to compete in an all-day RVR Hackathon on March 14, 2019, the company added.
In addition to its basic features, the RVR includes advanced features aimed at “those looking for a more complex coding experience – the first of Sphero’s products to do so,” it said in a statement. For advanced coders, the RVR can be customized through a universal expansion port, a full suite of on-board sensors, and an advanced control system.
Customization and expansion opportunities
“RVR is the kind of robot I wish I had growing up,” said Adam Wilson, Sphero‘s co-founder and chief creative officer. “For makers, developers and anyone who loves to build things, RVR’s advanced capabilities bring to life everything that makes coding exciting. That creative experience is at the core of why we first started Sphero.”
RVR includes 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 can connect to third-party hardware like Raspberry Pi, Micro:Bit or Arduino, allowing users to customize the robot.
The robot is outfitted with several onboard sensors that include a color sensor, 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 can 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 your hardware 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 time your best friend walks by.”
Buy a bot, give a bot
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.
RVR users will also have access to the Sphero EDU app, which connects a 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 said. The company added it will roll out an initial wave of RVR content on the app in conjunction with its launch.