5 Awesome Robot Kits to Get You Started with Robotics

Every geeks dream is to have a personal robot that can be programmed to perform various tasks. If you have seen Tony Stark's robotic assistants in the movie Iron Man then you probably know what I mean. But unlike in movies, today's robots are not as advanced or still have limited capabilities. However, time will come that they will become more sophisticated and more useful than they are now.

At the moment, anyone with enough time and money can start creating the robots of the future with the aid of commercially available robot kits. The kits can consist of: structural and mechanical elements, motors, sensors, and a controller board. Some kits can be available without electronics to provide the users the opportunity to use their own.

For those of you who are interested in Robotics, here are some awesome robot kits to get you started:

LEGO Mindstorms
LEGO Mindstorms is a line of Lego sets combining programmable bricks with electric motors, sensors, Lego bricks, and Lego Technic pieces (such as gears, axles, and beams). Mindstorms originated from the programmable sensor blocks used in the line of educational toys. The first retail version of Lego Mindstorms was released in 1998 and marketed commercially as the Robotics Invention System (RIS). The current version was released in 2006 as Lego Mindstorms NXT. The NXT version has three servo motors and four sensors for touch, light, sound, and distance. Lego Mindstorms may be used to build a model of an embedded system with computer-controlled electromechanical parts.

Lego Mindstorms NXT

Vex Starter Kit
Vex is intended to introduce students as well as adults to the world of robotics. The Vex Starter Kit retails for about USD $200. This kit comes with the Vex "brain" (a microcontroller), a hobby-grade remote control, various sensors (2 bumper sensor and 2 limiter switches), three electric motors and a servo, wheels (4 small, 2 medium all purpose, and 2 large high traction tires), gears, and structural parts. Additional sensors (ultrasonic, line tracking, optical shaft encoder, bumper switches, limit switches, and light sensors), wheels ( small and large omni-directional wheels, small, medium, and large regulars), tank treads, motors, servos, gears (regular and advanced), chain and sprocket sets, extra transmitter and receivers, programming kit (easy C) extra metal and rechargeable battery power packs, can all be purchased separately.

Vex Protobot Robot Kit

qfix robot kits are an education tool for teaching robotics. They are used in schools, high schools and mechatronics training in companies. However, the robot kits are also used by hobby robot builders. The qfix kits can be programmed from the PC, either in C++ by using the WinAVR environment or with a graphical programming environment called "GRAPE". Programs can be downloaded to the qfix controller board via parallel or USB link.

qfix MiniBot

BOE Bot is short for Board of Education robot. It consists of a main circuit board, a plug in microcontroller, two small servo motors to drive the wheels, a bread board and a small aluminum chassis that all the parts bolt into. The microcontroller which plugs into a socket on the green circuit board is called the BASIC Stamp. The BASIC Stamp is programmed in PBASIC.

BOE Bot Robot Kit

Arduino is based on a simple I/O board and a development environment that implements the Processing/Wiring language. Arduino can be used to develop stand-alone interactive objects or can be connected to software running on a computer (e.g., Adobe Flash, Processing, Max/MSP, Pure Data, SuperCollider). The boards can be built by hand or purchased preassembled; the software can be downloaded for free.

Arduino Starter Pack


  1. just a note to lego mindstorms:

    Previous version was called "RCX" and was better. It looked like other lego parts and was much more mechanically compatible with them (no problem to embed motor / sensor in a brick wall)

    my opinion: NXT is bad, produces terrible noise when running and that robot on NXT picture is useless (robots created from NXT are wheeled too)

    note: I've left my FLL( team when they (FLL rules) tried to force us to replace our RCX with NXT.