Although most “coding robots” I’ve ever seen end up in a toy box never to be used again, this one seems a little more useful.

 

iRobot Corporation, one of the top companies in consumer robots, has unveiled the Root coding robot and announced plans to add it to their product line through Robot Robotics. The technology at first was coded by a funding group at the Wyss Institute found at Harvard University and is mainly used for ease-of-use educational purposes in a fun and engaging approach. Its purpose is to teach coding and introduce 21st-century problem-solving skills to children aged 4 and up. The new acquisition allows iRobot to expand and support its diverse and educational offerings through promotion of their robot products, allowing their robotics technology to become more accessible to teachers, students and parents. Root is available on iRobot for $199 USD.

 

The acquisition of Root Robotics allows iRobot to expand on coding and offers usability in the teaching world. (Image Credit: iRobot)

The two-wheeled, mobile robot functions on smooth surfaces in a household setting, such as floors, tables, and on top of counters. It can even traverse on vertical surfaces in a classroom, similar to a whiteboard that includes magnets. As the Root robot syncs with the smartphone application, users will be able to command the robot to draw artwork, play music, scan colors, respond to touch and sound, roll around on whiteboard walls, and can even explore basic topics covering robotics. Root also offers three different levels of coding language, ranging from easy-to-use graphical blocks for young students to full-text coding for advanced users. “The tangible nature of a robot really brings the code to life, because the robot is ‘real’ in a way that code isn’t — you can watch it physically carrying out the instructions that you’ve programmed into it,” said Cherney, who co-founded Root Robotics, now a principal systems engineer at iRobot. “It helps turn coding into a social activity, especially for kids, as they learn to work in teams and see coding as a fun and natural thing to do.”

 

With the newly acquired Root Robotics, iRobot will be allowed to expand on its STEM contributions with its robot already being used in classrooms by teachers, students and parents. "Root also helps increase the reach of iRobot's educational robot line by offering a proven system for people of all ages, including students in elementary school," said Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot.

 

"The Root coding robot is an incredibly powerful tool for learning to code because it intuitively scales to users' abilities," said Zee Dubrovsky, co-founder of Root Robotics, soon to be general manager of iRobot. By using simple images and symbols, a four-year-old child can easily learn coding. They can also progress through the next couple of levels that teach hybrid coding and full-text coding. This is something that’s new and unique to iRobot and has not been done in other educational coding robots.

iRobot does not expect the new acquisition to contribute to its financial gain in 2019.

I have an idea... iRobot, let kids program and mess with their parent's home robot vacuum. Then, I bet, kids would get all over the idea.

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