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Sphero RVRs Quest For A Niche In Initial Robotics

Thanks to internet trading that opens a global marketplace, it is now easier than ever for a budding robotist to get started. There are so many robot packages available, over such a wide range of price and sophistication, to decide which one to buy will be a challenging project in itself. Is there room for another product on the tightly introduced robot market? Sphero believes it, and they have launched RVR to explore not only workshops and classrooms, but also see if they can find a niche in the market.

In the low part of this market we can go online and buy a super simple chassis – two small-wheel motors and a chassis plate with laser-cut acrylic ̵

1; for pizza money. In the high part we have robots that cost as much as a car. Spheros RVR beats somewhere above Wonder Workshop's Dash, but under LEGO's Mindstrom EV3. Products within this range are expected to take care of low-level control control details, so beginners will not be weakened by things like PID setting before the robot can run in a straight line. Sphero engineers can surely hide such annoying details from beginners, with their consumer robotics experience.

But a large sales place here is quite the opposite of closed-cassette electronics: RVR is built to be extendable. Not with proprietary accessories and add-ons like many of its competitors, but with the components we know and love on Hackaday's pages: Raspberry Pi, micro: bit and anything willing to communicate with RVR via its UART port and powered by RVRs on board five volt power supply. Proper care and feeding of a lithium-ion battery is also one of the beginner-unfriendly details taken care of. But RVR is not completed – one of the reasons Sphero stated to start via Kickstarter is to get customer feedback. Sure, the $ 150,000 finance goal (easily met in a matter of hours) is unlikely to be the key part of a Sphero-size business.

We hope that RVR will help introduce a new audience to build their own robots. When they are ready to grow beyond the Spheros kit, Hackaday is happy to help show the way. If you have a 3D printer, it has never been a better time to build your own robot. (Zerobot is on an editor's list.) Those who are fascinated by electronics can look under the cover of low-level motor control, and there is always room to explore the machine's vision and neural networks at a high level.

Whatever is required to get you started, just start!

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