The 10 Best Programmable Robots
This wiki has been updated 18 times since it was first published in November of 2017. Programmable robots are fun and educational toys that can help teach kids the basics of coding, problem solving, science, engineering, and design. Many will respond to verbal commands and hand gestures, and some can also be controlled with a mobile device. Always keep a close eye on your little ones to ensure a safe playtime, and comply with the manufacturer’s stated age guidelines. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
January 08, 2021:
The Lego Mindstorms series has long been one of the best toys for teaching young people about coding and robotics, so it's no surprise that we added the new Lego Mindstorms 51515 Set. We've kept the previously released Lego Mindstorms EV3 on our list as well since some users may miss certain features from the newer model, such as the ability to daisy chain programming hubs. We've also broadened the applicable age range of our list with the addition of the Elegoo Smart Robot Car and the iRobot Root. The Elegoo Smart Robot Car is great for older and more advanced learners since it will teach them C++, an authentic programming language with many applications in real-world computing. The iRobot Root is great for beginners on the opposite side of the spectrum, as the simplest of its three programming environments is suitable for beginners with no experience.
October 16, 2019:
A regular robot can be lot of fun, but a programmable one takes the experience to a whole new learning level for kids. Our list is chockful of cool models that kids can learn to put together, as well as those that come pre-assembled – but all of them can be programmed to perform a multitude of tasks, which can include dancing, swiveling, talking, singing, telling jokes, balancing items, following a pre-drawn path, and even breaking wind. The beauty of all of this play time is that it’s highly educational, often helping kids gain knowledge in concepts of science, technology, engineering, art, and math.
Joining our list today is the Lego Boost 17101, a finalist in the Toty 2018 Toy of the Year Awards. This STEM learning toy enables you to build five models (one at a time) using its 847 blocks. Kids will have lots of fun in both the creation stage as well as the programming process. Models include Vernie the Robot, who dances, cracks jokes, and passes gas; Frankie the Cat who plays, purrs, and expresses its mood; Guitar 4000, which plays guitar sound effects; a rover named M.T.R. 4, which offers four tool attachments (including a spring-loaded shooter); and last, but not least, an automated production line that actually builds miniature Lego models. This kit is for kids ages 7 through 12 and comes with simple, step-by-step instructions, as well as a corresponding play-mat and a colorful wall poster.
Departing from the selection in today’s update is the Parallax ActivityBot, which features a rather steep learning curve. Before selecting a model, be sure your child falls within the manufacturer’s stated age range. For safety’s sake, closely supervise little ones to ensure play time is safe.
Picoh This robot head, which received funding on Kickstarter, comes from Ohbot, a manufacturer in the United Kingdom. This highly customizable device can perform simple movements and speech, or you can go all out and have it function as a full-blown personal assistant. It features bright LED eyes, a mouth that opens when it talks, and a head that nods and turns. You can choose one either in all white or with orange trim. It comes fully assembled and is compatible with a Windows block-based programming app or with a Python library on Mac, Windows, or Raspberry Pi. ohbot.co.uk