We don’t normally delve into toy cars, but this is more than a motorized toy and too cool not to pass along. Yes, this is motorized, but it also is like an artificial intelligence robot, and it’s programmable. It is billed as “the world’s most powerful robotic car.” And, it is compatible with the hugely popular LEGO blocks. Plus, just as with modern cars, it has sensors to keep it on its path, including a host of other applications.
What is the M1 STEM robot toy car and why would my kids want it?
The M1 STEM Car is what it is called. It was created by STEMHUB, a company developing tools for kids based on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM, get it? The car comes as a kit. It is intended to introduce children to simple programming, electronics, engineering, mathematics, and robotics.
So there are several directions and interests to pique a child’s natural curiosity. STEMHUB says the toy car can help learners “develop creative thinking, data analysis, logical deduction, problem-solving skills, and mechanical knowledge, etc. While learning to program, the learner will explore and open the new world of computer science.”
What does the toy robot car do?
The child can add all kinds of goodies. An optional micro: bit computer the size of a smartphone can be purchased. This allows for the child to begin learning code by programing various functions, as well as to begin teaching them about how to program. Another cool feature is the infrared track sensor allowing the car to follow a track setup.
Because the car is modular, the child can mix and match different sensors and hardware. Plus, they can integrate LEGO building blocks to expand their creative juices. As the child masters one goal, they can add other extensions.
There are also ultrasonic obstacle avoidance sensors. With its 360-degree movement, it can move anywhere without having to change its orientation. Programming it to drift is just one function. The car can be made to move horizontally without the wheels turning. Or programming the ability to crab-walk is another direction.
How does a child operate the M1 STEM robot car?
Programming a wireless controller or mobile app are options. Tying into the app also adds more features like turning the car into a speaker for music, lighting effects from its LED headlights, and still more effects.
An onboard camera can see guidelines and signs, including traffic signals, so it can become autonomous. Now the child can build a mini-city that the car can navigate. And with AI, it can learn and adapt to objects in its way, while following typical traffic laws. Programming can unlock the ability to recognize colors all of the way up to recognizing facial features. This is just part of the car’s ability to learn and see.
Are there adjunct resources available?
Included are lessons, and a library of resources to guide the child in specific areas of interest related to the robot car. Purchasing learning packs allow the child to graduate to more complex stages of those areas of interest.
Production has already begun on the first batch of cars. Deliveries will begin in July. The starting price is $83, without the micro: bit. Checking out the Kickstarter website breaks down all of the car’s functions, packages, accessories, and more.