Vortex is a robot that aims to familiarize kids with robotics in a very friendly and fun way. It is easily programmable by means of an iOS or Android mobile app, but it can be played with right out of the box thanks to various pre-installed games. The robot has been created by well known Chinese company DFRobot and has been launched on Kickstarter only a couple of days ago, already raising over half its intended goal.
DFRobot is a company specialized in creating educational robotics platforms, as well as hardware modules and components for major open-source platforms such as Arduino or Raspberry Pi. Vortex is intended “re-invent” robotic toys – to paraphrase its tagline – by offering good levels of interactivity, customization and a very affordable US $69 entry price.
Thanks to the company’s tradition the Vortex robot is based on Arduino and can programmed either by means of a mobile app as mentioned earlier, or Scratch and the Arduino IDE, making this a toy that will keep the kids’ interest as they grow up. An SDK will be also available for developers who want to create more applications for it.
Vortex comes with four pre-installed games – bumping fight, virtual golf, soccer and driving – some of these requiring two or more robots to be played. There’s also an augmented reality mode. The robot is equipped with IR proximity and line following grayscale sensors for navigation and sensing hand gestures.
- Size: 12x12x6.4cm (4.72×4.72×2.52in)
- MCU: Arduino ATMega 328
- Communication: Bluetooth 4.0, USB, I2C sensor expansion socket
- Sensors: 2 IR proximity, 2 wheel encoders, 6 grayscale line following
- Lights: Front “eye expression” display, 12 RGB LEDs independent
- Sound: MP3 sound player with 8MB memory
- Programming: WhenDo app, Arduino IDE, Ardublock, Scratch
- Power: 4 AA batteries for up to 90 minutes run time
As mentioned earlier a minimum pledge of US $69 will get you a single Vortex robot kit, while US $119 will get you a twin robot set plus several accessories. You can head to the campaign page to find out more or pre-order a kit.