Kickstarter >> Sphero RVR – The go anywhere, do anything programmable robot by Sphero


Our mission is to inspire the creators of tomorrow, and we’ve been making robots to do exactly that for 8 years. From your favorite movie characters to bots that bolster STEAM skills, we’ve delivered... to critical and commercial success. 

Our latest robot is no exception.

 RVR is our all-terrain, high torque robot – it’s drivable and programmable right out of the box, packed with a diverse suite of sensors and built upon our tried and true Sphero Edu app. 

 Precise and accurate driving – Goes where you want it to go 

RVR is more than just a fun, programmable robot – it’s also highly customizable. We’ve added some incredible features that open up a world of possibilities for hackers, educators, students, technical hobbyists and anyone else ready to take it to the next level. With our universal expansion port and onboard power, you can attach and run third-party hardware like a Raspberry Pi, BBC micro:bit, or Arduino. 

Think of RVR as the ultimate mobile canvas for your creativity. 

A platform for hackers, educators, and mad scientists alike 

A lot. The only limit is your imagination (and physics). RVR combines the Sphero Edu app, an onboard sensor suite, and our highly sophisticated control system with a truly hackable platform. From beginners to elite hackers and everyone in between, you’ll have the ability to do things you never thought possible. 

Want RVR to be your home security sentry? A roving environmental sensor you can control over the internet? How about a souped-up battle bot? An autonomous metal detector or perhaps a personalized mobile voice assistant? Chances are, if you can hack it, RVR can do it.

RVR's control system sets it above and beyond your everyday, off-the-shelf build-a-bot or DIY tank. This is a professional-level control system at an entry-level price, because navigating with accuracy is crucial if you plan to do advanced programming or problem solving in robotics. 

Meet RVR’s Vector-based Control System. Unique to RVR is our highly tuned, vector-based, closed-loop control system. RVR uses high-resolution encoders and an onboard 9-axis IMU with proprietary algorithms to drive, correct, and navigate based on heading and relative position. Driving straight sounds simple enough, but it takes some serious science and complex tech to drive perfectly straight, arc, and stop with scalpel-like accuracy. 

Most other programmable vehicles and build-a-bot platforms have no control system at all. That means the wheels rotate based on how much raw power you send the motors, so driving to a predetermined, specific location is out of the question. 

RVR’s control system, on the other hand, is expertly engineered so that obstacles, disruptions, and uneven surfaces won’t affect your driving experience. 

Simply put, we made the RVR control system the best on the market so you can focus on the fun stuff.

Because you have lots of great ideas and we're good listeners. Here are just a few of the feature requests we've received over the years:

Among other things, you wanted a robot that conquers all kinds of surfaces, recognizes faces, has an onboard camera, responds to voice commands, maps the environment, streams music, plays laser tag, carries groceries, and flings potatoes into the stratosphere, so we delivered ... in a way.

We built a robot that YOU could program, hack, and customize, as opposed to one that’s already tricked out for you. 

Plus, RVR furthers our mission to engage more students and teachers through hands-on, fun technology that leverages the power of play.

Every millimeter of RVR has been carefully considered and perfectly tuned – every spec of every component, the control system, the weight, the center of gravity, the clearance, wheel size, gear ratio, power delivery, industrial design, the color, the lights, the treads. Why? Because we're perfectionists and we thought everyone else was doing it wrong.

If you were to buy each component separately, it would cost significantly more to build a robot like RVR – not to mention the time it would take to assemble everything and write all the software, firmware and algorithms. With RVR, we’ve done all the hard work so you can hit the ground running and build something great. 

Although RVR comes fully assembled, we thought you might want to see all the parts that make up RVR.
Although RVR comes fully assembled, we thought you might want to see all the parts that make up RVR.

One of our primary goals with RVR was to make it accessible to kids and adults of all ages and skill levels. So if you’re an RC enthusiast, an amateur hacker, or just coding-curious, RVR is designed for you, too.

Use the in-app joystick to drive RVR around just like any other Sphero robot. You can also adjust the speed or customize RVR’s 10 LEDs with a couple taps. 

When you’re ready to start coding, the Sphero Edu app makes it easy and fun: start out with Draw and Drive, move up to block programming, and when you’re ready for the next level start coding in Javascript. We like to call the progression Draw > Blocks > Text.

Customize and program with our Sphero Edu app
Customize and program with our Sphero Edu app

The Sphero Edu app is simple and intuitive. Our block canvas, based on Scratch, is a great introduction to coding for both kids and adults. For more advanced users, the JavaScript that powers the blocks can be coded directly. 

Still want to go deeper? Sphero will provide SDKs, code samples and other resources for popular platforms like Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and BBC micro:bit at launch with more to follow! 

Sphero Edu is available now on Amazon Appstore, Google Play, Chrome Web Store, Mac App Store and Microsoft Store. Take a look for yourself and see all the cool things the community is already sharing.

Sphero Edu is a community of educators, programmers, hackers, students, technical hobbyists, engineers and DIYers. With RVR, you'll have the opportunity to join this thriving community and take on new challenges, solve problems, show off your creativity, and connect with like-minded people. 

The Sphero Edu app and Sphero robots are already being used all over the world, in and out of classrooms, in ways we never imagined. Robots and programming combine to teach skills like teamwork, communication and problem solving, as well as disciplines like art, math, physics, history, and storytelling. We believe RVR will continue this trend and open up even more possibilities for people to learn, create, and explore.

We’re so excited to get RVR in the hands of our backers that we’re going to be hosting a RVR Hackathon at Sphero HQ in Boulder, CO on March 14, 2019. That’s right. A Hackathon. On Pi day. Before the campaign is even over. 

We will select 4 lucky backers, fly them to sunny Boulder, pay for a 2-night stay, and most importantly, give them first-hand experience with RVR. 

Interested in applying? Fill out the application here.

Applications will be accepted until 10:00 am PDT on February 26, 2019. Selected applicants will be notified on February 28. Applicants must be residents of the United States and be 18 years or older unless a parent applies on their behalf.

Didn’t get selected to come to the Hackathon? Don’t worry. You can catch it on YouTube Live, as we’ll be streaming the action in real time. Watch the challenges, ask founder Adam Wilson and the Sphero team your burning questions, and connect with other backers.

RVR is packed with sensors and technology that make it easy to use out of the box, but it's also highly expandable and sophisticated for the most advanced users. The sensors send data to our Sphero Edu app and allow for things like color recognition, robot-to-robot communication, light intensity detection, and relative location.

The RVR expansion port allows you to connect additional hardware like Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and BBC micro:bit, and send and receive data over UART and USB. And everything is built on our top of the line control system. 

What does all this mean? It means you’re the artist and RVR is your big, beautiful, blank, programmable canvas.

Design

  • Sleek, compact design
  • Interchangeable tops
  • Transparent chassis
  • Approachable form factor
  • Neutral design adaptable to a multitude of use cases

Sensors

  • Ambient light sensor
  • RGB sensor w/ normalizing LED and focus lens
  • Full 9-axis IMU - accelerometer, gyro, magnetometer
  • 10 individually addressable RGB LEDs
  • IR sensors
  • High-resolution 20-pole magnetic encoders

Durability

  • Hypergrip all-terrain treads
  • High 20mm clearance
  • Wide stance for stability on steep angles and rough surfaces
  • Balanced center of gravity for razor sharp agility
  • 22.5:1 gear ratio w/ incredible speed to accuracy ratio
  • High-precision involute gears with vibration and noise dampening
  • Rugged, steel-reinforced axles
  • High-power, compact motors with enough torque to climb a wall
  • Capable of carrying .001 tons and potentially a lot more! (will update with testing)

Features

  • Removable, rechargeable high-capacity battery
  • USB-C charging
  • Included battery key
  • 4-Pin UART port (RX, TX, GND, 5V, with 3.3V signals)
  • 5V 2.1A USB-A onboard power + data
  • Removable cover plate with quick-release button
  • Removable protective roll cage
  • Mounting plate w/ room for things like Raspberry Pi, Arduino, BBC micro:bit, servos, sensors, external batteries, plastic building bricks, bubble machine, bluetooth speaker, drink holder, foam dart launcher, etc.

Sphero will publish SDKs for popular development platforms that allow you to control the robot or read sensor data.  

Did you develop a cat detection algorithm on the Raspberry Pi using OpenCV and now you want RVR to monitor your furball? Just connect the Universal Expansion Port to the UART pins on the Raspberry Pi, pull down the SDK from Github, add a few lines of code to your project and you’ll be keeping tabs on your tabby in no time.

Are SDKs, Linux and maker hardware too mainstream for you? Do you want to get your souped-up potato communicating with the RVR hardware? A published low-level communication API will also be provided, allowing anyone to implement communication to the robot over UART or Bluetooth LE on any platform.

So, what exactly is a 'universal expansion port'? RVR includes a 4-pin UART connection that you can use to attach third-party hardware and customize RVR in whatever way you see fit. We also threw in an onboard 5V 2.1A USB (data and power) so you can power all your projects. With our SDK, you’ll be talking all kinds of API talk to our internal processors.

Just imagine the kinds of projects you could build on top of RVR: 

  • Drive a WiFi camera over the web
  • Build a mobile bubble-blower bot
  • Interact with the environment using a Swift robotic arm
  • Control RVR from anywhere in the world over Iridium satComm satellites using websockets
  • Launch and retrieve Nerf darts
  • Collect volcanic rock samples
  • Gather wind measurements and stream the data to your mobile device
  • Use openCV to autonomously identify and spray invasive plant species
  • Attach a bluetooth speaker and have RVR follow you while playing the soothing sounds of polka 
  • Deliver a cake to your favorite cat

Or just about anything else you can dream up!  

We’ve learned a LOT about color sensing since acquiring Specdrums last year, and we’re transferring this knowledge and refinement to RVR. Thanks to a downward-facing color sensor, RVR can recognize and react to color values. This means you can write code that reacts to the color the robot is driving over. For example, you could create a wide color border and program your own edge-detection; you could program custom movements or change LED colors based on detected color values; or plaster the floor with colored construction paper and then program RVR to trigger different sounds in the app as it drives over them… do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do!! 

In short, there are a ton of fun, creative possibilities with color sensing and robotics. We can’t wait to see what you’ll do with it! 

Adding an IR sensor to RVR opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Onboard infrared sensors provide 360-degree sensing and allow for bot-to-bot communication, robot follow and robot evade. Imagine a troop of BOLTs chasing a RVR through an obstacle course, a covert ops capture the flag game, robot laser tag, or swarm programming with choreography and lights. 

RVR's IR configuration
RVR's IR configuration

RVR can reach speeds of over 2 meters (6.5 feet) per second. (That’s fast, BTW.) And with enough torque to climb the steepest hills, you'll swear RVR is more mountain goat than robot. 

Like a house cat, we can't resist shiny lights. That’s why we added LEDs to all four sides of RVR. LEDs are a great way to communicate and add personality to your robot. Shine the front and rear LEDs while exploring a haunted house or program your RVR to flash red when an intruder enters your fort. Those are just two ideas, we’re sure you’ll come up with more.

The LEDs also serve as battery level indicators, so they’re not just fun and shiny – they’re useful, too. Brilliant!

RVR’s ambient light sensor provides awareness of light intensity, measured in lux. You can use this to write conditions in the Sphero Edu app where RVR behaves differently based on light. For example, you could program RVR to rock out when the lights turn off; or program RVR to scatter like a cockroach when the lights turn on.

RVR includes a rechargeable, removable, high-capacity battery with dual functionality: it powers the motors with a 7.4V output while providing the universal expansion port with a 5V 2.1A USB-A output to help power cameras, robotic arms, air horns or anything else that needs juice.  

Playtime will obviously vary depending on how power thirsty your third-party project is. But on its own, RVR should last up to 2 hours per charge. 

Hate suffering through an excruciatingly long setup process? Not everyone wants a project to build. That’s why we designed RVR so you can drive it, customize it, and program it right out of the box. This way, you can get to the fun stuff right away!

  • 1 RVR
  • 1 Cover plate
  • 1 Roll Cage Shell
  • 1 Mounting plate for third-party development
  • 1 USB-A to USB-C Cable
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Color Cards 

As an extra thank you to all our backers, we wanted to throw in some bonus items along with your RVR as we hit certain milestones. These are included in addition to the standard parts that come with the RVR.

To keep things simple, we are offering RVR at $199 during the KickStarter campaign, a discount of $50 off the MSRP (Limit 5000). We have created some early bird offers and bundles that include free or discounted Sphero products that will ship as soon as the campaign is over (April 2019). All RVR units will ship in October 2019 before the product arrives on retail shelves.

To support customization with the expansion port, Sphero is partnering with SparkFun Electronics to build kits that inspire users to take RVR to the next level - from adding camera vision and GPS to building a complete autonomous vehicle. SparkFun is also backing the KickStarter through the "Get a Bot, Give a Bot" initiative, where they will match the first 50 RVRs purchased with a donation of 50 RVRs to schools.  

  • 4/25/19 - EP1 Assembly complete
  • 5/24/19 - EP2 Build complete
  • 7/01/19 - FEP Build complete 
  • 7/30/19 - Production start
  • Fall 2019 - RVR Launch!

A few things have happened since our founding in 2010 to get us where we are today… just a few. More recently, we’ve been focusing on the lasting impact that Sphero products have on our users. After releasing SPRK+ in 2016, it gave way to Sphero Edu, where our efforts in education have continued to grow. We firmly believe that play is a powerful teacher, and as long as we're sparking imaginations around the world, we’ll keep fueling that fire. 

RVR units should ship to customers in October 2019. As the date gets closer, we will keep backers updated with more exact ship dates. If your tier includes additional Sphero product(s), those products will ship in April (US customers only). If you are an international customer, all items in your tier will ship together in October.

Shipping Costs:

United States - FREE (all tiers)

International - Flat fee (varies based on tier)

Taxes and Duties

The shipping fee paid in the checkout process is for the transportation of your purchase from our warehouse to your destination address. If your country charges import duties, taxes, or VAT, you will be responsible for these upon delivery. Backer is responsible for all duties and taxes associated with the import of the products into your destination country. 

Uncut Prototype Videos

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