Bolt is Sphero's Most Advanced Robot Yet, and it's All About Education

By Tom Pritchard on at

Back in January Sphero announced that it was renewing its focus in educational robots, rather than cute toys that weren't selling as well. The Bolt is the first Sphero bot to be released since that news, and there's plenty of educational focus packed into that tiny motorised ball.

The Sphero Bolt is the successor to the SPRK+, and it's designed to be used as an educational tool rather than played with as a toy. The point is to be fun, but Sphero says it wants there to be depth in its products, and the robots themselves are to meet demand for STEM toys that teach kids useful skills like coding and programming. So Sphero has been listening to feedback from teachers so ensure that the Bolt is better suited to a classroom environment, and has the features needed to help them throughout the day.

For this reason the Bolt has been equipped with a bigger battery, offering between two and five hours of power dependant on use. The company says this means it now has enough power to last throughout the day, without having to be recharged for long periods of time. Unfortunately this comes with the trade-off that it takes six hours to fully recharge once the battery is depleted. Other features include an 8x8 LED matrix, ambient light sensors, infra red sensors that let multiple Sphero Bolts communicate with each other, and an auto-aim powered by the internal compass. It's also waterproof and airtight, designed to take a beating, and can be programmed to 'talk'. Sadly since the Bolt doesn't have speakers, all the sound comes from the app.

All of that extra hardware can be programmed using the Sphero Edu app, which has been designed to help kids learn block and line-based programming, though they can eventually move onto the underlying Javascript. That means they will be able to go in and alter the code behind the blocks if they want to, though the purpose was to offer simple scripting. Previously Sphero Edu was only available on mobile devices (Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire OS) and Google Chrome, but Sphero has confirmed it will be coming to Mac and Windows by the end of the month. The point being that the bot is accessible, regardless of the devices that are around.

The Sphero Bolt will be available later today for £149.99 from the Sphero website, and is coming to the Apple Store, Selfridges, Harrods, John Lewis, and Amazon in the near future. Also available will be the Bolt Power Pack, made specifically for classrooms. The Power Pack includes 16 Bolt robots inside a protective case that also functions as a charging cradle, and will cost £2499.99. There will also be anon-charging version called the Bolt 15 Pack for £1949.99