The ozobots are here

ozobots are small battery-powered robots that can drive around. They are about 3cm tall with a diameter of also 3cm. The housing is transparent, so one can see the logic board and wheels. In the middle of the board there are two small LEDs used for status displaying. Furthermore, each bot has an USB port which, however, can not transport data - it only serves to recharge the built-in battery.

ozobots

Officially the ozobots are not being sold in Germany at the moment. Anyways I had no problems to order a pair of Crystal White and Titanium Black on amazon.com. They got delivered really fast, after about one and a half weeks. The black one unfortunately died during transportation (or maybe it was already damaged before). It could not be charged, didn't move and also its LEDs remained dark. The manufacturer Evollve Inc. kindly refunded me the price of the broken robot. They didn't even want me to send it back to them.

  1. Scope of delivery
  2. Sensors
  3. Functionality
  4. Conclusion

Scope of delivery

Included are the two bots, a "calibration" card, two very short and rigid USB cables, four interchangeable skins, two small ozobot plastic transport boxes, ozobot stickers and a quick start guide. In addition, you get four cards on which there are two predefined courses for the bots. That's all in a pretty transparent plastic box, which can also be used as a storage for the bots. They can be locked in the box so to not get damaged during transportation. I think it would have been better if the manufacturer added color pencils instead of the predefined course-cards.

ozobot with interchangeable skin
ozobot with interchangeable skin

The skins can be put onto the ozobots, and then they look like small colorful motorcycle helmets. There are skins available (not included) which you can paint yourself.

Sensors

The ozobots have five sensors to detect colors on their bottom side. Before each use, you should calibrate it so that the color codes are correctly recognized. There are no other sensors besides of that.

Functionality

Unfortunately, the functionality of the bots is rather disappointing. The marketing texts on the ozobot website sound like more: "smart robot", "program ozobot", "fun, creative and social games", ...

In reality, the robots can follow colored lines on bright surfaces, and they can start some predefined actions based on color codes (called "ozocodes"). They can speed up or down, do zic zag lines, u-turns and some other stuff. Furthermore there are built-in counters (turn-counter, crossing-counter, path-color-counter, ozopill-counter). I thought it would be probably possible to do conditional progamming with these counters, but it isn't. Instead they all count towards five, and then the robot just stops.

So there's no real programming possible here. The manufacturer announced that there will be a successor to the ozobot sometime 2015, which would then be able to execute processes created with Google Blockly. This sounds a lot more interesting then. I think it would also be desirable if the bots could do more than just move around or light in different colors. A small built-in speaker would be nice, for example.

On the ozobot website there are several mini-games available for free, which however usually require more than one player plus multiple bots. And the selection of games is kind of small yet.

The possibility to let the bots drive around on the screen of a tablet computer, while a software creates their paths dynamically, is nice. Two free apps are currently available for iOS and Android: OzoGroove and Ozobot Suite.

OzoGroove allows the creation of dance tracks. Up to five bots can then move to the beat (on the tablet screen of course) while flashing their lights. That's kinda funny, at least for a short time. There are also some sample tracks included.

Ozo Suite consists of three sub-programs: Ozoluck, Ozopath and Ozodraw. In Ozoluck the robot has to find its way through a moving maze which has a number at every exit point. Since the robot follows no real logic, it will end up after some time at one random exit. Ozodraw allows to either just paint a custom track onto the screen, or to play a small game where the robot has to find the way from the starting point to the goal. There is one black path onto which the player has to put the right color codes so the bot can find its way. There is only a limited selection of codes available per level. Ozopath is also a game where you must guide an ozobot to the goal. Here, however, you have to build the path itself before time runs out, using only random pieces of paths. It's also possible to play against a human opponent.

ozobot

Conclusion

The ozobots look nice and sound promising, but become boring relatively quick in real life. Contrary to the marketing promises, there is practically nothing "smart" about them. Since the bots are also quite expensive ($50 per bot) I'd rather disadvise to buy one.

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