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Robot Construction Kits can be distinguished from normal robot kits since they use modular parts and allow you to assemble different robots using the same parts. A robot kit on the other hand only allows you to build one robot. Robot construction kits are a great investment because they tend to include everything you need (electronics, hardware, software) to build a robot, and experiment with different configurations and types of robots.

BEGINNER KITS

Beginner robot construction kits are ideally suited for younger ages, but still allow for complex motion. If programming is needed, the software is usually straightforward and easy to use.


Cubelets

The Cubelets system is based on the principle that robots should not necessarily need complex programming or assembly. The system  uses modular cubes called “cubelets” which easily connect to one another to make complex systems. For example, connect a battery cubelet with a flashlight cubelet and have a working flashlight. Connect a drive cubelet to a battery cubelet and a distance cubelet and you have a robot which moves according to its distance to an object. Several Cubelets kits are available, and each individual Cubelet is also available separately.

Cubelets Construction Kit

Robotis OLLO

Robotis OLLO kits are inexpensive motorized kits which you build using simple modular plastic parts. Basic kits include only a motor while more complex kits include a small programmable microcontroller, motors, sensors and more. Additional parts such as sensors, motors and even a remote control are available separately if you want to expand your robot’s capabilities.

Ollo Construction Kit

 

INTERMEDIATE KITS

Intermediate robot construction kits involve a programmable microcontroller, actuators and sensors, as well as modular parts to make the frame. The software is usually graphical rather than text based making it much easier to get started.


LEGO Mindstorms

LEGO Mindstorms kits use a powerful main (programmable) microcontroller which connects to a variety of sensors and motors. The hardware is based on LEGO Technic plastic parts (which are still compatible with normal LEGO parts but are focused more on complex structures and transfer of motion (gears, shafts etc)). Because of LEGO’s popularity, there are a variety of other manufacturers which have created LEGO Mindstorms compatible parts, some of which are simple while others much more complex. Although LEGO Mindstorms can easily be used at the elementary level, because of its versatility and capability it is even used at the university level. The programming software included is “drag and drop” rather than text-based.

LEGO Mindstorms Construction Kit

VEX IQ Kits

VEX IQ kits use a main programmable microcontroller which connects directly to a variety of sensors and motors. The VEX IQ structural elements are purpose built and made out of durable injection-molded plastic. VEX IQ emphasizes building robots for competitions and several kits include a hand-held remote control. The free graphical programming software allows you complete control over all electromechanical parts. Various VEX IQ parts such as sensors, wheels, gears and more are also available separately.

VEX IQ Construction Kit

Abilix

The Abilix construction system is intended for STEM education and students over 12 years old. The basic kit includes a variety of actuators, sensors and output devices which are easily plugged into the main microcontroller. Programming is done via a graphical interface. There are detailed instructions to help you build a variety of increasingly complex robotic systems.

Abilix Construction Kit

Fischertechnik Kits

Most Fischertechnik Robotic Kits  are based on the powerful Fischertechnik Robo TX Controller. A variety of hardware kits (Robo TX Controller sold separately) are available which use modular plastic parts to help you build a variety of different automated systems. Although there are several mobile robot kits, Fischertechnik focuses mostly on industrial automation (conveyor systems, robotic arms and related). The modular approach means parts from one kit are directly compatible with other kits as well as other non-robotic Fischertechnik products. Various additional Fischertechnik parts are available separately as well.

Fischertechnik Construction Kit

ADVANCED KITS

Advanced robot construction kits tend to involve more complex programming and/or mechanical assembly. They are best suited for high school or college levels, or adults looking to get started in robotics and gain experience, but not looking to make a custom robot from scratch.


DFRobotShop Rover Kits

DFRobotShop Rover Kits are based on the popular Arduino microcontroller platform and fit all the electronics needed to make a mobile robot onto one printed circuit board. Arduino microcontrollers are incredibly popular because of their low price, versatility and ease of use, however creating a mobile robot requires not only the Arduino microcontroller, but also motors, matching motor controllers, custom wiring and more. The DFRobotShop Rover kits help you avoid the issues which arise when selecting various parts from different manufacturers when trying to create a mobile Arduino-based rover. Several DFRobotShop Rover kits are available as well as a variety of suggested DFRobotShop Rover related parts.

DFRobotShop Rover Construction Kit

VEX Robotics Kits

Unlike most other modular construction kits, VEX Robotic kits include a wide selection of modular Aluminum components and high strength plastic parts. This combination allows you to build larger robots. VEX robots are widely used in high schools and colleges because of their reuse-ability, robustness and educational content. Each VEX product has a page describing its function and how to use it as part of the VEX system. The current VEX system uses the powerful “Cortex” microcontroller which allows for remote control, autonomous control or a mix of the two. There are three different levels of software: easyC provides a graphical interface, RobotC is text-based but includes many easy to use functions, and MPLab is higher-level (software is often sold separately from the kits). The VEX product line is best suited for high school and college level students, and many additional VEX parts are available separately.

VEX Construction Kit

Inex

Inex robots use a combination of modular and purpose-built products and provide you with a complete kit which can be further expanded using additional Inex parts. Although not as modular as some of the other construction kits, Inex robotic kits offer great value.

Inex Construction Kit

MULTIPLO

Multiplo is advertised as an open-source “high tech building system”. Their electronics are compatible with Arduino and their part files are freely available to download so you can not only virtually create your robot before you build it, but also 3D print or machine your own compatible custom plastic parts. The Multiplo controller “DuinoBot” can interface directly with the Arduino software and a new graphical programming interface is also available.

Multiplo Construction Kit

Makeblock

Makeblock kits use only aluminum parts and as such are very robust for their size. Several kits include Arduino-based electronics while others are meant for users who want to incorporate their own electronics. MakeBlock kits use commonly available DC gear motors, stepper motors and servos and as such the platforms can be larger than most other construction kits. Designers are not restricted to mobile robots and can create CNC machines, robot arms and other electromechanical projects. A wide variety of additional Makeblock products are also available.

Makeblock Construction Kit

ADVANCED LEGGED KITS

Advanced legged construction kits include parts which allow for more complex legged robots. These can include humanoid robots (and bipeds), quadrupeds and hexapods. These construction kits can still be used to create other types of robots including arms, wheeled robots and more. In order to allow for this versatility, the complexity of the code tends to be more involved, as are the mechanical assemblies and configuration needed.


Lynxmotion SES Kits

Lynxmotion SES (Servo Erector Set) kits use an aluminum modular bracket system to create complex robots ranging from robotic arms to bipeds to complex multi-legged robots. The robots released by Lynxmotion offer some of the most complex motion possible with a robot kit including 18 and 24 degree of freedom hexapod walking robots. The electronics are based on a custom Arduino microcontroller called the “BotBoarduino” and a dedicated servo controller “SSC-32“. There is sample Arduino-based code to get you started. The SES V1.1 construction kit allows you to build several different types of robots (arm, 2WD rover, biped, quadruped and hexapod) and then use the system to design and create your own. Software for the SES V1.1. kit includes Arduino programs as well as FlowBotics Studio projects. A large selection of additional SES compatible parts means you can mix and match to create your own custom robot, or simply add to an existing kit.

Lynxmotion Construction Kit

Hovis / HerculeX Kits

Hovis kits incorporate modular plastic parts as well as more “finished” aesthetic plastic parts. For example, this means that you can choose to purchase a robot which visually appears to be based on modular brackets, or one which, although based on the same modular brackets, also includes plastic covers so that the robot looks like a finished “non-modular” product. Most Hovis construction kits are “humanoid” and include HerculeX smart servo motors (servo motors which include a variety of onboard sensors and use serial communication rather than R/C), several sensors and a main “controller”. A variety of additional Hovis & HerculeX parts are available should you choose to add to an existing robot or create your own.

Hovis Construction Kit

Robotis Bioloid Kits

Robotis Bioloid and STEM kits are based on Dynamixel smart servo motors which offer many features not found in RC hobby servos (feedback, serial communication, large rotation angle, continuous rotation). Not only can you make simple wheeled rovers, but also complex multi-legged robots and humanoids. The modular bracket system is made out of high quality injection-molded plastic, and the hardware is metal. Additional parts are available separately.Robotis also has a line of larger smart servo motors (MX, RX ,EX series) and although at the time of this post there are not kits available with these motors, there is a complete bracket system for them, allowing you to make a variety of different robots. There is also the Dynamixel Pro line which can even be used to create large humanoid robots.

Bioloid Construction Kit

Robobuilder

The RoboBuilder Kits allow you to build a variety of unique robots from a single set of modular parts. RoboBuilder offers a complete kit of interchangeable modules which come together to form computer programmable robots. These robots are built by simply plugging and screwing block-type robotic operator modules. These robots are remote controlled and motion files are downloadable from the Internet.

Robobuilder Construction Kit

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