There are a lot of robot kits and other STEM toys on the market, but how many of them let you build a working R2-D2? Available today for $99, the littleBits Droid Inventor Kit allows kids to construct the iconic droid and control it using a smartphone app.
The Droid Inventor Kit comes with 20 different parts for building your robot and six "bits," which are electronic pieces that snap together magnetically to make our creation run. The collection of bits includes motors, sensors and battery power.
Kids use the free Android or iOS app to see instructional videos on how to building their droid. Then, they can use the app to put the droid into one of three different modes: Drive, Self-Nav or Force. After the initial build, the app offers additional challenges that help them to create different droids and customize them, using a combination of the bundled stickers and household objects.
LittleBits makes a number of kits that teach kids about electronics and invention. All of the kits come with magnetic "bits" that introduce kids to electricity and electronics, without requiring them to solder or connect wires. The bits attach to each other magnetically and offer all kinds of functions, including on/off switches, motors, sensors, lights and buzzers.
We got to see the Droid Inventor Kit in action at a littleBits press event, and we came away impressed with how the app encourages kids to keep making new robots and learning new skills. The company showed how one child had turned the kit into a "Drill Droid" with a cone-shaped drill in its chest, repurposing the droid's wheels as motors to turn the drill. The company also demonstrated how you can attach a pen to your droid so it can draw as it rolls around.
The littleBits Droid Inventor Kit will be sold at major retailers — including Amazon, Walmart and the Apple Store — starting today.
Originally published on Tom's Guide.