Vortex is a brand new robot from China that was funded on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform. I thought that it looked really good, and since my order of six robots arrived a few weeks ago, I’ve not been disappointed. It is about 14cm in diameter, and about 6 cm high. Inside, it packs a whole bunch of lights (top and bottom) and sensors (mainly on the bottom). Its face displays several different expressions, and you can control the colour of the display. It is programmable using the WhenDo programming language, which is similar to Scratch. WhenDo emphasises that these robots work use event driven programming. The main VortexBot app includes several games – robot soccer, sumo wrestling and dancing to name but three, all of which are quite fun to play with. Vortex is part of the Explorer party package and above, and is available for school workshops and presentations.

I’ve also recently discovered that Vortex, like Wink, uses an Arduino processor. As such, it should be possible to program it using the standard Arduino development environment and hence with Scratch. I’m working on getting this working at the moment. It isn’t quite ready to go because the robot has a few Bluetooth idiosyncrasies when I try to connect it to either my PC or Mac. I’ll update this post when they’re fixed.