Hands On with Cubelets, The Building Blocks of Robotics

If you're looking for a toy whose power is truly the sum of its parts, you may find yourself face to face with Cubelets by Modular Robotics. Each cubelet has a unique function, such as lights, wheels, or a battery, which are nonfunctional alone but can join together to create powerful projects in seconds. There's even an Android app that lets you control and program your Cubelet creation on the fly.

Cubes are linked to one another with magnets, allowing users to create a plethora of different shapes and designs with different functionalities. The light sensor block can activate the wheels, creating a robot that backs away when you put your hand gets close enough to dim the light input. Another block will constantly twist in circles and, when attached to the flashlight block, resembles a lighthouse.

Each 2-inch cube was quite durable, allowing us to quickly add and remove blocks without worrying about the plastic breaking or chipping. We made a little robot that spun in a circle with a light on the top and another that followed our hand but always stopped right before hitting us.

The starter kit costs $160 and includes six cubes: the wheels and flashlight action cubes, the brightness and distance sense blocks, and a battery and passive cubes for building and utility. Additional cubes can be purchased for between $25 to $35, depending on their function, and there's a pricier Bluetooth cube for $49, which allows control through an Android app as well as direct programming in a modified C language for more advanced users. There no support for iOS yet, but Modular Robotics say that Apple support is in the works although there's no estimated release date yet.

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