2013-05-08

Gearing Kids Up For A Robotic Future With An Adorable, Programmable Bot On Wheels

Meet Romo, a simple toy with a hidden agenda: Get people used to robots in their house, and get kids excited about programming.

Robots are all around: they’re serving coffee, cleaning floors, even fighting crime. In fact, The International Federation of Robotics reports that worldwide sales of robots topped $8.5 billion in 2011, totaling an estimated 166,028 robots sold.

There’s a new bot and you likely have his brain in your pocket. His name is Romo and he was created by a Las Vegas-based startup called Romotive. Romo uses the computing power of iOS devices as his brain.

"We’re bringing robotics out of the research lab and into people’s homes," explains Adam Setapen, Roboticist for Romotive.

Romo has been outfitted with an easy to program interface that uses if-then dependencies (i.e. "if I clap my hands then Romo will smile"). Its creators hope that this simple programing model will inspire a new, younger generation of engineers and programmers who can help solve some of the world’s technical problems in areas like health care and disaster relief.

"Robotics is the natural intersection of code and the real world," says Keller Rinaudo, founder and CEO of the company.

At $149 a pop (smartphone not included), its creators hope Romo will become the first personal robot. So while he may not cook your dinner like Rosie from The Jetsons, Romo can still be an entertaining companion and may just unlock the potential of personal robotics for the masses.

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