This week, Avram Piltch shows off the newest STEAM toy from Sphero, the RVR (pronounced Rover). This new vehicle separates itself from the already crowded programmable vehicle kits in a variety of ways. First, and most obvious, is that the vehicle is designed for all terrains. That means that it isn't limited to being used inside, but can be used outside, and even in the grass.
This isn't the only aspect of the RVR that makes it versatile. As is, the RVR can be controlled through the Sphero app. You can also use the app to program it, using the block-based programming system. This can be a great learning system for kids and adults to get familiar with the included aspects of the RVR. However, this vehicle is almost infinitely expandable because you can add external control boards to the top.
Whether you want to explore the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi, Arduino, or Micro:bit controllers, you can use any of them with the RVR. By adding one of these boards, you can introduce a whole host of sensors, controllers, and external resources. This expansion can allow the RVR to go from a STEAM toy to a sophisticated robot. platform. You can use it as a roving security camera, an environmental scanner, and so much more.
In addition to the additional sensors, you also get expanded connectivity options. Let the RVR stream live video to YouTube, or report sensor readings to Microsoft Azure. You can also combine external resources, like weather data, with local readings, to make decisions. All of these features can be used either as a learning experience for new hardware developers or as a pre-built robotics platform for more complex projects.
The Sphero RVR is available now. As of the time of this video, it is on sale on Amazon for $199 (regularly $249).
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLuGHiTz Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the DDR community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bar Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and judging engineering notebooks at competitions. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.