Many years ago when I was in school there was an initiative based around the BBC micro computer. This involved attaching an upside down perspex bowl with wheels to the BBC Micro and using the resulting Logo Turtle to draw or plot on the floor with a pen. It was very basic but my first introduction to real world programming and robotics. As seems to be the case everything old is new and the Logo has been updated and reinvented as the Ozobot.
The Ozobot is a tiny wheeled dome robot with optical and color sensors built into it sensitive enough to read paper or tablet screens. The 1 inch high robot looks for patterns, colors and lights and can follow lines, detect surfaces and move in an almost alive looking manner.
Like the Logo Turtle before it the Ozobot is designed at least partially for educational settings and for building the programming skills and structured thinking. There are four lesson plans available via the Ozobot site at the moment with more promised for the future. The fun side of the equation has also been thought of – there are apps and ideas for everything from making the device dance to racing games and mazes. The devices are programmed either via Android or iOS apps or via a series of barcode and QR cards.
The Ozobot is available now in the US in several packages starting from a single bot for $49.99. UPDATE The Ozobot will be available in the UK at some point but there is no firm date or price as of yet. We’ll update you when Ozo releases their plans.