Orbotix Sphero: робот-шарик

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Do More

Sphero will eventually release four free apps for Ollie. Along with the main driving app, there’ll be one where you can draw a path on the app and Ollie will follow. After that, the company is set to release two programming apps.

The company has been encouraging developers and students to hack and code for its robots since it held its first hackathon in 2012. So many non-programmers showed up for the event that Sphero realized it needed to offer easier access to their robot’s programming layer. Now all of Sphero’s programming apps, including the new ones coming for Ollie, make accessing all of the robots’ functions easy.

They’ve even positioned it as a learning tool. Last April, the company launched SPRK, which included a sort of lesson plan for programming robots. The first task was programming the robot to move in a perfect square. So far 350 schools have signed up for the program.


Sphero 1.0 and 2.0

The original Sphero was initially prototyped by its inventors, Ian Bernstein and Adam Wilson, with a 3D-printed shell and electronics taken from a smartphone. It was then demonstrated at CES in 2011.

It was released in 2011 and is a white orb that has a diameter of 74 millimetres (2.9 in) and weighs 168 grams (0.370 lb). The processor on board is a 75 MHz ARM Cortex M4. It has two 350 mAh LiPo batteries, two color LEDs, an accelerometer, and a gyroscope. Bluetooth is used for communication and inductive charging for power. A refreshed version, Sphero 2.0, was released in 2013, featuring a twice-as-fast speed and increased LED brightness.

The toys are controlled with a smartphone or tablet running iOS, Android or Windows Phone via Bluetooth. Since they have an accelerometer and a gyroscope, it can also be used as a controller for games on iOS and Android platforms. As it includes an SDK, several apps and games have been developed for the platform.

Users can program the toys with an app called Sphero Macrolab which includes a set of predefined macros, and orbBasic which uses a BASIC-based language.

Both Sphero 1.0 and 2.0 have been discontinued.


An Ollie Darkside with turbo tires on.

The Sphero Ollie, released in 2014, uses tires instead of being a rolling ball. With its ability to spin, it is more intended for doing tricks. Instead of using inductive charging, the Ollie uses a micro-USB port for charging.


In July 2014, while participating in Disney’s technology accelerator program for startups, Sphero’s staff were invited into a private meeting with Disney CEO Bob Iger, who showed them then-unseen photos from the production of the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens and images of BB-8—a spherical droid character introduced in the film, and were offered a licensing deal to produce an official BB-8 toy based on Sphero’s technology. Disney also made a minority investment in Sphero. The BB-8 toy was released on September 4, 2015; it is accompanied by a special Star Wars-themed control app, which also features augmented reality «holographic» messages.

It has been discontinued after the Disney-Sphero partnership ended.


Following on from the success of the BB-8 robot, Sphero has released a R2-D2 robot that is powered by Sphero technology. This is accompanied by an app which is available for iOS and Android (operating system) powered devices. The R2-D2 droid, unlike the BB-8 and Sphero droids is not inductively charged, instead, a micro-USB connection is used.

It has been discontinued after the Disney-Sphero partnership ended.

Ultimate Lightning McQueen

In 2017, Sphero released a robotic car modeled after Lightning McQueen as part of their partnership with Disney.

It has been discontinued after the Disney-Sphero partnership ended.

Sphero Bolt

Sphero Bolt is a transparent version of the Sphero robot, with a diameter of 73 millimetres (2.9 in) and weighs 200 grams (0.44 lb). It is sealed and has an inductive charger. This model has the most sensors of the various Sphero robots, including motor encoders, gyroscope, accelerometer, 8×8 LED matrix display, compass, infrared, and light sensors.

Sphero SPRK+

Sphero SPRK+ is also a transparent version of the Sphero robot, with a diameter of 73 millimetres (2.9 in) and weighs 181 grams (0.399 lb). It is sealed and has an inductive charger. This model is intended for educational use.

Sphero Mini

Sphero Mini is a smaller version of the Sphero robot, with a diameter of 42 millimetres (1.7 in) and weighs 46 grams (0.101 lb). It is the first Sphero robot to have interchangeable shells. These shells are very colorful, and come in white, blue, pink, green, and orange. The Mini is the cheapest robot made by Sphero at $49. The Mini has a new feature called face drive which lets the user drive the robot through the app with different head movements. The Mini is charged with a micro USB port, which means that unlike the Sphero 2.0, it is not waterproof.

Sphero RVR

Sphero RVR (pronounced «rover») is a programmable robot kit introduced by Sphero on Kickstarter on February 19, 2019. It is advertised as a «go anywhere, do anything programmable robot.»

It can be programmed using the app, either visually or via text JavaScript. The robot is modular, with various sensors and boards able to be attached, including Arduino and Raspberry Pi. It has a swappable battery charged via a USB-C port.

It has an increased focus on education, and is planned to be released in October 2019 at $249.


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Getting ready to be awesome

Sphero’s Ollie Robot

Like Sphero, Ollie is pretty self-contained. Putting it together only requires sliding on a pair of rubber wheels, which slip over Ollie’s hard plastic ones, and then snapping into place two hubcaps. I did have a bit of trouble assembling the latter and finally realized I had to push a lot harder to snap the hubcaps into place. In keeping with the skateboard ethos, Sphero will offer optional wheels, for different terrains, and hubcaps styles later this year.

Ollie’s mostly white, 4.5-inch-by-3.25-inch body includes a Sphero logo that looks like a face and a series of LED-lit bars that get shorter as they get closer to the Ollie’s single micro USB charging port.

You simply touch your phone to Ollie to connect via Bluetooth 4 LE.

Image: Sphero

Don’t go looking for a power button once you’ve charged Sphero up. The robot toy turns on in a pretty smart and quite intuitive way. You install the Ollie App on your iPhone or Android device and it will immediately instruct you to place the phone next to Ollie. As soon as you do so, Ollie and the phone will communicate over Bluetooth 4 LE and Ollie’s face, bars and lights around the USB port will light up. The robot also automatically shuts down when you close the app.


Разработанные компанией роботы также используют возможности смартфонов и технологии «дополненной реальности».

Первый продукт Orbotix – водонепроницаемый робот-шар Sphero, управляемый с любого смартфона или планшета. Помимо двух поколений устройства, компания также разработала 30 игровых приложений для Sphero, в том числе использующих технологии дополненной реальности. Во второй половине 2014 г. Orbotix планирует выпустить новый игровой продукт – Ollie, перепрограммируемый цилиндр с повышенной скоростью, широкими возможностями кастомизации дизайна и поддержкой многопользовательских игр.

На май 2014 года Orbotix уже продал сотни тысяч устройств более чем в 35 странах мира. Помимо собственного сайта и крупнейших онлайн-площадок, таких как Amazon.com, продукты компании также продаются в десятках тысяч оффлайн-магазинов – Apple Store, Brookstone, Staples, Verizon и других. Стоимость Sphero, в зависимости от версии, варьируется от $79,99 до $129,99. Оставить предварительный заказ на новейшую игрушку Ollie можно уже сегодня на www.gosphero.com (планируемая стоимость — $99).

Крупнейшим производителям традиционных игрушек все сложнее удерживать свои позиции, в то время как венчурные фонды активно инвестируют в новое поколение стартапов, стирающих грань между физической и виртуальной игровой реальностью. Игрушки будущего – это синтез потребительской электроники, искусственного интеллекта и робототехники.

В то же время привлекательность продуктов Orbotix далеко не ограничивается детской аудиторией. Например, уже на май 2014 года Sphero активно используется в образовании, а также сторонними разработчиками для создания новых приложений.


To initialize and connect to a BB-8 or an Ollie:

var sphero = require("sphero"),
    bb8 = sphero("F3:F2:6D:55:71:09"); // change BLE address accordingly

bb8.connect(function() {
  // roll BB-8 in a random direction, changing direction every second
  setInterval(function() {
    var direction = Math.floor(Math.random() * 360);
    bb8.roll(150, direction);
  }, 1000);

To initialize and connect to a Sphero 1.0/2.0 or SPRK, just change the port to match your connection:

var sphero = require("sphero"),
    orb = sphero("/dev/rfcomm0"); // change port accordingly

orb.connect(function() {
  // Sphero's connected!
  // do some cool stuff here!

Once connected, you can give your Sphero commands and receive notifications from the built-in sensors:

orb.connect(function() {
  // roll Sphero forward
  orb.roll(150, );

  // turn Sphero green

  // have Sphero tell you when it detect collisions

  // when Sphero detects a collision, turn red for a second, then back to green
  orb.on("collision", function(data) {
    console.log("collision detected");
    console.log("  data:", data);


    setTimeout(function() {
    }, 100);

You can also use a Promises/A+ interface for your code, instead of the callback-based API:

orb.connect().then(function() {
  return orb.roll(155, );
}).then(function() {
  return orb.color("green");

orb.on("collision", function(data) {
  console.log("collision detected");
  console.log("  data:", data);

    .then(function() {
      return orb.color("green");

For more examples, check out the dir, or the JavaScript SDK documentation on the Sphero developer portal. When running these examples, don’t forget to pass the port as an ENV variable like this:

Ollie App

The app, by the way, is quite a departure from the one for Sphero control. On launch, all you’ll see is the word “Ollie,” a large control pad or virtual joystick and two small icons for settings and reorienting Ollie. You place your thumb in the center circle and drag it about the larger circle to move Ollie around. If you turn your phone sideways, the app adds a trick pad. To use it, you place your thumb anywhere and drag it around. Ollie will do tricks such as spinning and hops. The app will reward you with exclamations such as “sick spin,” and “180 double steam roll.”

When held horizontally, the Ollie app offers both a joystick control pad (you use your thumb) and a trick pad (left).

Image: Sphero

It can be a little difficult to control Ollie. The robot moves fast (it can go up to 14 miles per hour) and with nothing more than a circle to control it, it’s often a struggle to get Ollie to go where you want it to. I can’t tell you how many times I ended up against a wall and, while simply sliding my thumb backward should have moved it away from the wall, it flipped around and headed back to the wall again.

What I’d really like to see is the ability to control Ollie using the iPhones’ gyroscope, so if I tilted the phone this way and that, Ollie would follow. This is one of the control options offered by Parrot’s AR.Drone and once you get the hang of it, it can be pretty intuitive.

I’m not saying I didn’t eventually get the hang of Ollie. I did, though I noticed that when I stopped using it, I kind of forgot the nuances of controlling this hyperactive robot. When I got it going right though, I could zip along at top speed and, because it was moving so fast, make Ollie perform some spectacular tumbles and hairpin turns. Sphero provided me with a small TechDeck ramp and I even managed to jump it a few times. The company hopes to eventually offer Bluetooth-enabled smart ramps that can communicate with Ollies as they ride the ramps and keep track of which Ollies did the best stunts.

There are a lot of hidden Ollie controls in the app. If, for instance, Ollie gets disoriented, the app lets you use an «aiming» option to set it right. This adds a triangle on the control circle to show you Ollie’s front. You place your thumb on that and slowly move it until Ollie’s front is facing away from you. This definitely makes it easier to steer the little bot.

Sphero offers plenty of setting and control options for Ollie.

Image: Sphero

Under the «pause» button, you’ll find all of Ollie’s customizable settings. You can name the robot, choose what kind of surface it’s driving on (hard or soft), the size of the driving area (room or open) and even use a trio of sliders to set speed, handling and acceleration. So for open areas, you might maximize all three of the settings.

I drove Ollie a lot and was pleased to see it can speed and spin for roughly an hour on a single charge. And Ollie is tough. I ran it into furniture, popped a wheelie off a ramp, and accidentally sent it flying off a table, yet Ollie just kept on going

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