Robots are a fascinating machines that are much more than toys. Our list of the best robots will delight children and adults of all ages.
Based on the Roomba 600 Series vacuum cleaner, iRobot's is a DIY platform for the budding roboticist. Create 2 doesn't bust dust like a Roomba, but it does come with the same kind of sensors and behaviors. Users can program the Create 2 with new behaviors, sounds, and movements. Thanks to drill holes and mount brackets on the robot's shell, they can even introduce new hardware. Want to create a camera bot? Throw on a Raspberry Pi and a camera, and you're ready to spy on the family cat. Or add two speakers and a Bluetooth module to create a roving party machine.
A Seniorhelpline Editors' Choice Awards winner, the Jumping Sumo from Parrot Minidrones is a camera-equipped programmable two-wheeled toy roadster that zips along at 4.5 mph. As the name suggests, it can also jump—more than two-and-half feet, in fact. Turn the Jumping Sumo around and its powerful kicker can be used to clear small objects out of the way.
Users can pilot Jumping Sumo from any smartphone or tablet. The FreeFlight 3 app allows for normal driving, throwing in predefined stunts, or building a road map with scheduled stunts and turns. The camera has a 640 x 480 resolution, and there's a USB port, so you can record all your daredevil driving and then transfer the videos. Jumping Sumo lasts 20 minutes on a charge before it must be plugged in for an hour and a half.
Price: on Amazon Prime
Designed for maximum cuteness, is an eight-inch-tall humanoid robot with LED eyes that balances Segway-like on two wheels and makes sounds that indicate whether it is "happy" or "sad." MiP can be controlled by hand motions thanks to IR sensors in the bot, or by a mobile app, which allows for better control and additional capabilities. Besides its remote control feature, MiP has six programmed modes: Tricks, Roam, Track, Dance, Cage, and Stack. Roam, for example, allows the toy to navigate a room by itself and avoid detected obstacles. MiP is powered by four AAA batteries.
Think of the Modular Robotics MOSS kit as where building blocks meets robotics, and the Exofabulatronixx 5200 as the super-deluxe line. It comes with 52 MOSS blocks with magnetic connection points and 140 carbon steel balls that act as connectors for joints and hinges. This is enough to create multiple robots in varying shapes and sizes. To give your creation life, there are assorted sensors and motors, a rechargeable LiPo battery, and a "Double Brain block," which allows your kid (age 8 and up) to connect his or her robot to a mobile device via Bluetooth and access free apps for ever more robotic fun.
Hitting speeds up to 14 mph, Ollie, made for fun and play, is a remote-controlled tube with removable rubber treads. It is based on Orbotix's round Sphero, which debuted in 2011 and made our gift guide the following year. Ollie, which connects to a controller app via Bluetooth, has a 30 meter range and can run for one hour before it must be recharged with a USB cable (it lacks Sphero's inductive charging capability). In terms of tricks, Ollie can spin, flip, and drive at night, lighting the way with its built in LEDs. However, the company product sheet notes that, unlike Sphero, "Ollie hates water."