Meet Vortex, a robot that wants to teach kids to code

10 Jul 2015

DFRobot has just put its latest gadget Vortex onto Kickstarter, seeking funds to bring its code-teaching robot to market.

Targeting the growing desire of parents to teach their kids coding from a young age, DFRobot‘s Vortex looks a cool little device and has raised about a third of its target of £35,000 already.

It’s responsive to a paired app so kids can dictate what the robot does, made all the more fun by creating games to complete.

It works on both iOS and Android (via Bluetooth) and is ready to go, straight from the box. But such is the audience target, there are also stickers and colourful parts to keep kids entertained.

Coding for kids

“Every Vortex is a dev kit. The app lets kids programme robots in a fun simple and educational environment,” says Seifer Su, a designer on the project.

The pre-loaded games are ‘Bumping Fight’ (sumo wrestling), ‘Virtual Golf’, ‘Driving’ and ‘Robot Soccer’. You can create more yourself but they sum up pretty much all the basics by the looks of it.

Fugitive, an augmented reality game which sees kids chasing after the bot with their smart device, will be available later in the year.

Vortex Robot football | Coding for kids

“We believe kids can benefit a lot from robotics, in identifying their own challenges, learning how stuff works, solving new problems, motivating themselves to complete a project, working together, inspiring others, and sharing with others,” says the company on its Kickstarter page.

“That’s why we created Vortex to be more than just a toy.”

The robot itself can navigate obstacles and detect lines by using infrared, grey scale, and sound speakers. While the coding can be done from PC or Mac, loaded onto the robot from there.

All in all, it looks a really cool piece of kit, with the basic robot and a small bit of paraphernalia costing US$69.

Vortex specs | coding for kids

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic