Kick-Starting The Latest in Robotics

Breaking from the norm, one robotics company is relying on consumer interest to fund their latest creation.

Putting control in the hands of the users, Sphero’s new robot the RVR is entering the marketplace in a less than common manner.  Sphero, the robotics company who gained worldwide attention when they partnered with Disney, is using Kickstarter to fund their latest invention.  The company is using the crowdfunding platform to ascertain the level of interest from potential customers in their new robot, the RVR. And, as their campaign has surpassed their $150,000-dollar goal by over $20,000 dollar, the market is proving interested.

The RVR boosts a hard drive that can be completely customized or “hacked” using softwares such as Java and Python. Python, in particular, is crucial to the customization of the RVR or “Rover” as it doubles as the backbone of Raspberry Pi; another software system capable of being applied. Java, on the other hand, is an interesting route to take when creating custom robotics as the software works more as an interpretive language. This means should the average user attempts to use Java, they will be unable to view their changes on the robot’s code. Additionally, while Java has maintained popularity due to its versatile uses, those same many uses can be said to be negative as they can cause lags in use and slower reaction times.

Listed as $199 on Kickstarter, the RVR is predicted to climb in price to $249 once hitting retail stores. Boasting “an all-terrain, high torque” build, the small but mighty feat of robotics also allows users to “attach and run third-party hardware like a Raspberry Pi, BBC micro: bit, or Arduino.”  And, unlike other products and companies on the market, Sphero advertises the RVR with unlimited capabilities so long as the user can “hack it” to do so. By marketing the RVR as a “hackable” robot, Sphero is able to attract software developers and coders across the tech sphere to create their own personalized machine.  

Similar robotics start at $1,000 dollars per unit and don’t allow the same customizations. Thus, Sphero has brought the robotics marketplace into a new era of programming, where even novice or entry levels programmers can afford to grow their abilities through trial and error. The company is using their appeal to entry-level coders to attract a different target demographic, school children. By generating interest in robotics at an early age, through programming and coding, Sphero is hoping to encourage more future generations to enter into the tech industry themselves.