Build Your Very Own Robot—From a Kit

What do you call a pirate robot? Arrrrr2D2.

Maybe you already know that the first robots came on the scene in the 1950s when George Devol invented the Unimate and Stanford’s Charles Rosen developed Shakey. But, did you know there were proto-robots way, way before that? Like a steam-powered, wooden pigeon that could fly in 400 BC? (That’s before books were even a thing, y’all.) That invention, brought to artificial life by Greek mathematician Archytus of Tarentum—who also thought up the pulley and the screw and was good buddies with Plato—flew 200 meters! That’s amazing, and thanks to robot-building kits, totally something you can do, too.

Teaches Coding

This durable sphere can run for 2 hours on a single charge and connects to Bluetooth for easy coding. Sphero

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When it comes to building robots, you want a fine balance of approachable and impressive. A good kit includes programming instructions and hands-on activities—plus tons of sensors you can modify with code. Look for programmable features like an accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, light sensor and motor encoders.

Versatile Setup

This option offers 17 unique configurations that perform actions like walking, talking and hitting targets. LEGO

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A good kit is also versatile and expandable so you can use it over and over. Some setups include building instructions for multiple robot configurations using the same components. For max flexibility, check out kits that work with other construction sets for open-ended building.

Glowing Horn

This whimsical option requires no tools and programs using your phone. UBTECH

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Coding feels more approachable when you can use tech you’re already familiar with, so kits that run using apps for your phone or other smart device are ideal. And don’t forget the welcoming power of whimsy! Traditional robots are awesome, but kits that combine robotics with beloved characters or creatures help make coding accessible to a wider range of users.