Updated December 21, 2019 by Brett Dvoretz

The 10 Best Personal Robots

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This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in August of 2016. We're not saying that machines are going to take over the world, but it may be a good idea to hedge your bets by getting your youngsters one of these interactive personal robots, which are available for all skill levels. If the worst happens, at least your kids will know how to program and dismantle the darn things before they come to destroy your home. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best personal robot on Amazon.

10. Meccano Micronoid Code Zapp

9. Makeblock mBot Ranger

8. Lego Boost Creative Toolbox

7. Wonder Workshop Dash and Dot

6. Meccano Meccanoid XL 2.0 Erector

5. Sphero R2-D2

4. Anki Cozmo

3. Ozobot Evo

2. Sphero Sprk + Steam

1. Lego Mindstorms EV3

Special Honors

Lovot If you want the emotional connection of a pet, but aren't allowed to have one in your home or simply don't have the time for one, Lovlot may be the answer. Unlike many other personal robots that can be given tasks, this one simply follows you around your home and wants to be loved, which includes promoting you to pet, hug, and play with it. lovot.life

Nao Power V6 Comprised of a multitude of sensors, cameras, and motors, and running on a custom made operating system, the Nao Power V6 is definitely not a toy. It can be programmed for full autonomy using Drag&Drop, C++, Python, or Java and boasts Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. However, it is extremely expensive and best for educational and commercial facilities. robotlab.com

Editor's Notes

December 17, 2019:

Personal robots strike a perfect balance between being an educational item and a fun toy. They help youngsters learn basic coding skills and, because they are programmable, provide endless hours of entertainment.

During this update, we eliminated the Jibo 2 because it doesn't really offer anything more than Amazon's Alexa, and even it even performs most of those overlapping actions poorly. Additionally, we removed the Ubtech Lynx because it is very overpriced for its limited functionality, especially when compared to some of the other bots on this list.

Making its debut this year is the Meccano Meccanoid XL 2.0 Erector, which stands as tall as the average seven-year-old. While it is challenging to build, comprised of more than 1,000 parts, those who can complete it will get a lot of satisfaction out of a job well done. Also, once it is fully built and ready to go, it can be programmed with a near limitless number of actions.

The Makeblock mBot Ranger is another new addition that we like for its simple assembly and compatibility with Legos and other building block toys. As you might guess by the name, the Lego Mindstorms EV3 is also compatible with many Lego sets. With the ability to support a variety of coding languages, this droid is a great way to introduce children to multiple programming syntax, after which they can pursue the one they like the most. To really get the most out of it though, we recommend buying a few Mindstorms EV3 books.

If you are looking for something slightly more affordable, and perhaps less advanced than the Mindstorms EV3, you may want to check out the Lego Boost Creative Toolbox, which will be easier for younger children, yet still offers a good amount of functionality. Steeping down considerably further in cost and functionality we have the Meccano Micronoid Code Zapp. Though it definitely falls firmly into the toy category, it does teach very basic programming skills.

A Brief History Of Botting

Nowhere are the complexities of human interactions with the technologies we develop more evident than in the field of robotics.

Nowhere are the complexities of human interactions with the technologies we develop more evident than in the field of robotics. In the inexorable march of progress, the notion of a mechanized version of ourselves falling into step alongside us — with the potential to surpass us in ways we can only begin to imagine — generates both ecstatic hope and paroxysmal anxiety. Even in its earliest iterations, the term robot, arising from a Czech word meaning “forced labor”, carried some heavy baggage.

Although the modern concept of robotics traces its roots back a mere hundred years or so, representations of manufactured beings and fabricated automata appear throughout the pages of recorded history. Among the oldest known automatons are the mythological statue of Pygmalion and a clockwork dove designed by Archytas of Tarentum around 350 B.C.E., which is described as having flown as far as 200 meters. And long before the chess-playing hoax known as the Turk created a furore in the Viennese court, the mechanical monk commissioned by 16th-century Spanish monarch Phillip II was demonstrating the proper sequence of religious devotions.

In the modern era, industrial machines have fomented discord on factory floors, giving rise to union calls to prevent the loss of blue-collar workers' livelihoods. And at the dawn of the new millennium, automated systems seem poised to supplant or render obsolete an astonishing repertoire of human accomplishments. No longer confined to the realm of fantasy and science fiction, robotic creations are so intimately woven into the fabric of our lives that we think nothing of giving them cutesy names and entrusting them with aspects of our children's social development.

Celluloid Droids And Crises Of Conscience

Proclamations from the greatest minds in science and technology have raised not only our hopes for the future of robotics (think airborne fleets of self-driving vehicles), but also the disturbing spectre of AI and machine-learning run amok. While soft robotics may offer the promise of benign and infinitely patient inflatables like Baymax (the huggable “personal healthcare assistant” of Disney’s Big Hero 6), we can't ignore the scarier products of our imaginations like those that terrorize — and radically alter the fortunes of — the Aliens and Terminator franchises' protagonists, or the characters' troubling predicaments in such films as Her and Ex Machina.

As fraught as it is storied, the cinematic journey of robots — from the clunky artifice of Robby the Robot and the mindlessly menacing Cybermen of Dr. Who infamy to the touching, aspirational humanity of A.I.'s David and android Andrew Martin in Bicentennial Man — offers intriguing insights into human nature and the ways we engage with technology. Watching these fictional dilemmas and existential crises play out is a profoundly uncomfortable experience because it's impossible not to feel empathy for both the humans and the anthropomorphic machines that (who?) share the screen with them.

Perhaps even more unsettling are the enigmatic Synths of AMC’s Humans and the robotic Hosts of HBO’s Westworld series, which (who?) leave us grappling with the very crux of our existence. What does it mean to be sentient, how do we define consciousness, and is the term artificial intelligence itself nothing more than an egocentric social construct? Should we be talking instead about alternative or applied intelligence? Whether they’re wiping our tears and fighting for justice or waging cybernetic warfare to wipe the human stain from our planet, these on-screen portrayals of humanoid robots touch at the heart of the human condition.

Gyros And Servos And Actuators, Oh My!

In spite of the extraordinary progress we've already made toward bringing something like Isaac Asimov's positronic brain to life, as it were, the road ahead is a treacherous one — littered with innumerable ethical quandaries, ideological issues, and unforeseen consequences. But for the glass-half-full crowd, there's plenty of cause for optimism. Recent developments in neural networks offer the promise of touch-sensitive prosthetics, which could significantly improve quality of life for amputees and paralytics, not to mention making mundane tasks like stirring sauces and stacking boxes a lot less odious.

Young children can now learn the basics of coding through interactions with programmable robot toys, and new applications for home automations and the so-called Internet of Things emerge on a daily basis. Computer-operated devices are now responsible for a dizzying assortment of mundane and repetitive tasks. They're patrolling and tidying our floors, sucking up detritus from our suburban swimming pools, simplifying meal preparation, and teaching communication skills. We're even invited to take the idea of embracing technology quite literally — snuggling up to it to help us sleep. What were once fantastical luxuries for the wealthy and privileged are increasingly accessible to the middle class.

While the apparent suicidal tendencies of a security droid may raise some worrisome questions, and living cogs in the industrial machine get understandably fidgety at the prospect of losing their jobs to actual drones, there’s no denying the appeal of a world in which package delivery doesn’t depend entirely on armies of living carriers braving snow, rain, heat and dark of night in the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

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Brett Dvoretz
Last updated on December 21, 2019 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.

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