Build Your Very Own Robot—From a Kit

What do you call a pirate robot? Arrrrr2D2.

stormtrooper under a lamp
Some of these robots can even be controlled via an app on your phone.James Pond

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.

Sphero BOLT: App-Enabled Robot Ball with Programmable Sensors + LED Matrix, Infrared & Compass - STEM Educational Toy for Kids - Learn JavaScript, Scratch & Swift

Teaches Coding

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

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.

LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 31313 Robot Kit with Remote Control for Kids, Educational STEM Toy for Programming and Learning How to Code (601 pieces)

Versatile Setup

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

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.

UBTECH Mythical Series: Unicornbot Kit-App-Enabled Building & Coding Stem Learning Kit

Glowing Horn

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

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.