Sphero Darkside Ollie
Robots tend to fall into two categories — boring and extra dull. Darkside Ollie is neither, because he’s not designed to educate but to run fast and furious. Okay let me explain. You take what looks like a cylinder that’s on its side and equip it with wheels, you get a movable robot. You take that and “Darth Vader” the look and add LED highlights and you’ve gone to the darkside. Which is really good here.
Darkside Ollie (or DO for short) gets its drive from built in rechargeable motors (courtesy of USB input) but it gets its smarts from the person at the end of a smartphone app soaking in the data stream via Bluetooth. Consider how fast 14 mph actually is when you’re low and lean to the ground and you’re just starting to get the idea. Aid that by noting that the wheels on DO aren’t conventional — pop on the Nubby tires and you’ve got Speed Racer control, but pull them off and drift like one of the secondary cars from Fast and Furious (prior to the inevitable crash).
And did we already say he glows thanks to the LED lighting? Well, it’s worth a second remark because that’s how you can see what the heck it’s up to when the lighting is low. Good thing DO is tough too — there ain’t no reason to be slugging it along sedately when you can push it ahead crazy. And again, yes there is no educational value in Darkside Ollie that you have to take notice of — it’s a speed racing robot that will move fast and take fast reflexes to make it do those moves with any kind of precision so that it (and you) don’t look like a dork.
Sphero’s Darkside Ollie cost $149.00 retail, is iOS/Android compatible and includes tires and hubs to use for customizing its look/how it reacts. But mainly you’re paying for the opportunity to drive like a demon and not having to take out more insurance. There’s different apps to keep you from getting bored and even the option to get into DO’s “guts” and do some programming. Like it’s worth any time doing ANYTHING other than having it charging ahead as fast as you can go?!