Sphero RVR Bot Compatible With Raspberry Pi, Arduino Crowdfunded in Hours

(Image credit: Sphero/Kickstarter)

Sphero taught us a new way to make well over $100,000 in just a few hours: announce a remote-controlled car that's compatible with Raspberry Pi on Kickstarter. That's exactly what it did with RVR, and the project has already passed its $150,000 funding goal.

RVR is pitched as "the go-anywhere-do-anything programmable robot." Sphero claimed RVR can be driven "just about anywhere" out of the box, thanks to its array of sensors and compatibility with the existing Sphero Edu mobile app.

That seems fun enough on its own. But then Sphero added customization features in the form of onboard support for Raspberry Pi, Arduino and BBC micro:bit devices via the Universal Expansion Port together with the Sphero SDK and APIs. It paired those customization options with the RVR's onboard systems, which range from infrared sensors to what Sphero characterized as "a professional-level control system at an entry-level price," to make it easier to hack together fun utilities.

RVR is supposed to appeal to everyone from entry-level coders to professional engineers, much like the Raspberry Pi, Arduino and BBC micro:bit offerings it supports. The company wanted to build a platform for people to explore their creativity.

RVR is expected to have an MSRP of $250, but Sphero's offering early-bird pricing on the first 5,000 models at $199. It's also offering various reward options for that bundle some of its other products, like the Sphero Bolt and the Specdrums color-sensor ring we got a hands-on with at CES this year.

Sphero has three stretch goals in case it exceeds its funding goal, which it already has. At $500,000 it will add blue tank treads. At $750,000 it will add a bonus mounting plat. And if it raises $1,000,000 it will outfit the RVR with a blue roll cage.

At time of writing, Sphero has 30 days left on the RVR project but has already raised more than $164,304 from 663 backers, many of whom somewhat surprisingly opted for the more-expensive reward tiers.

Here's the RVR's initial launch timeline, according to Sphero:

  • April 25: EP1 Assembly complete
  • May 24: EP2 Build complete
  • July 1: FEP Build complete
  • July 30: Production start
  • Fall 2019: RVR launch

You can learn more about RVR and Sphero via its website.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.