The new Bolt robot from Sphero wants to teach kids programming

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Sphero, a robotic toy building company announced their latest Bolt robotic ball aimed at teaching kids basic programming. It has advanced sensors, an LED matrix, and infrared sensors to communicate with other Bolt robots.

The robot itself is 73mm in diameter. There’s an 8×8 LED matrix inside a transparent casing shell. This matrix displays helpful prompts like a lightning bolt when Bolt is charging. Users can fully program the LED matrix to display a wide variety of icons connected to certain actions. This can be a smiley face when a program is completed, sad face on failure or arrow marks for direction changes.

The new Bolt has a longer battery life of around two hours, charges back up in six hours. It connects to the Sphero Edu app to use community created activities, or even to build your own analyze sensor data etc. The casing is now transparent instead of the opaque colored ones from previous Sphero balls.

The sphere weighs 200g in all and houses infrared sensors that allow the Bolt to detect other nearby Bolts to interact with. Users can program specific interactions between multiple Bolts. The Edu app supports coding through drawing on the screen or via Scratch blocks. You can also use JavaScript to program the robot to create custom games and drawing.

There are sensors to track speed, acceleration, and direction, or to drive BOLT. This can be done without having to aim since the Bolt has a compass. There is also an ambient light sensor that allows programming the Bolt based on the room’s brightness. Other than education, you can also simply drive BOLT and play games with the Sphero Play app.

Source: Sphero website

It sounds like a useful little robot and is available now to consumers for $149.99. Educators can also buy BOLT in 15-packs for classroom learning. For more details, visit the Sphero website.

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