Is Sphero Really a Robot?

29 Mar 2011

That depends on what you consider a robot. He certainly is a whole lot more than an RC toy.

Does he resemble a human? No -- unless you know some folks that are particularly round.

Does he do work that a human would do? No, he is primarily for fun - no work. But he can be your friend, and for some that may be work.

Does he operate with human-like skill? Hmmm, I say better. Sphero can roll straighter than I can roll a ball and he can turn on a dime. Actually it is kinda eerie how he can just move. He can act in an autonomous manner and sense his environment.

He has a highly programmable brain -- your smartphone -- so his abilities have the potential to constantly change and grow as programmers dream up new ways to play.

He won’t vacuum your floor, or paint a car, or bring you a beer -- but he will roll, twist, turn and cruise at your command. His behavior changes based on what game you’re playing, and left alone he will remind you it is time to have some fun.

An RC toy does one thing -- a car drives, a helicopter flies, a boat cruises -- they have no concept of their environment and have no autonomous behaviors. And they can’t be reprogrammed for other functions.

Sphero has a bit of a personality. He wants to play, and if you don’t like what he is doing, just download another game to make him do something new. Or use your imagination.  Whatever you’re up for, Sphero’s ready to roll.

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