Sphero BOLT has all of the features that previous Sphero models (Sphero 2.0, SPRK, SPRK+) have and more. It's super durable, programmable, drive-able, and extensible. It has 2 drive motors, lights, and several sensors including a gyroscope, accelerometer, and motor encoders. BOLT also has a ton of new features that go beyond previous models, including:
Battery: BOLT has a much larger battery than previous Sphero models to accommodate all day use in schools, and your most ambitious projects at home. BOLTs battery will last at-least 2 hours (and sometimes up to 5 hours if not driving the entire time), compared to about 1 hour of play time on previous models. Due to the larger size, it takes 6 hours to charge a fully depleted BOLT, whereas it takes 3 hours to charge most other Sphero robots.
Lights: Sphero BOLT has an 8x8 LED matrix that can display any color, animation, scrolling text, or real-time data you tell it to! These capabilities are exposed in the Sphero Edu app, and you have full control over customizing them. The matrix is handy for creating characters and stories, displaying exciting data like dynamic variable values or abstracted sensor data, or merely scrolling some stilly text like a scrolling marquee. You learn more about how to use the matrix in the Activities section of Sphero Edu. BOLT also add an front RGB LED, and a back RGB LED (all previous models had a blue-only back LED).
Sensors: many sensors that you can program interesting logic around in the Sphero Edu app. BOLT and all previous versions of Sphero have aBOLT is unique with its light sensor, compass, and infrared sensors, which all add completely new ways to interact with Sphero! You learn more about how to use the new sensors in the Activities section of Sphero Edu
- Light Sensor: The light sensor reads the light intensity (luminosity) in your environment from 0 - 100,000 lux, where 0 lux is full darkness and 30,000-100,000 lux is direct sunlight. Keep in mind that if you are running a program with a luminosity condition, you may need to adjust it for different environments, as light intensity can vary significantly between rooms.
- Infrared (IR) Sensors: Infrared (IR) is invisible light with longer wavelengths than visible light, and it is commonly used in TV remote controls to transmit small amounts of data. IR is used in Sphero BOLT to send data such as relative distance and heading between robots, and custom messages. There are four IR emitters and receivers (pairs) for 360° awareness assuming there is a clear line of sight between two or more BOLT robots. The valid range is up to about 4 meters.
- Compass: The compass sensor (it's really a "magnetometer") allows BOLT to know it's orientation on earth, just like a normal compass. This sensor can be used to write a program that moves in real-world directions around a room, or even in relative directions if placed on a map oriented correctly. The compass also enables "Auto-Aiming" on BOLT, where the robot syncs it's offset from North with the compass inside your phone or tablet, so you don't need to aim manually. You can find the Auto-Aim feature on the drive screen of the Sphero Edu app.
Auto-Aiming: All Sphero robotic balls need to be "aimed" and oriented relative to your position, so that forward for the robot and user are the same direction. On previous Sphero models, the user needed to aim Sphero using the blue tail light manually. We know that can be confusing, so we added a compass (magnetometer) sensor inside Sphero BOLT to power this new Auto-Aim feature, and we think it's really magical. On the Drive screen in the Sphero Edu app, notice the new compass-like icon in the bottom right. Tap the button, then tap Auto-Aim, and your robot will quickly sync to the same direction that you are facing!
- How does it work? The new compass sensor in BOLT enables to know it's orientation on earth using magnetism, just like a standard compass. When you connect BOLT to a smartphone or tablet that also has a compass sensor, we can match BOLT's offset from North with your devices offset from North, and therefore, we "automatically" aim you without the need for the manual aiming process. Don't worry, if you like the old way, you can still manually aiming with BOLT.
- Tell me more! Ok, since you asked. The compass sensor can also be used to write a program that moves in real-world directions! Imagine all the possibilities now that your robot can reenact famous expeditions from world travelers on a large world map, or use BOLT as a real compass for orienteering, or for fun storytelling using actual directions on a small scale version of your hometown. The possibilities are endless and incredible.
- Does it work perfectly? No. BOLTs compass has the same limitations as a standard compass. All compass readings degrade when near metallic and magnetic objects that interfere with earth's natural magnetic field. Here are some tips to get Auto-Aiming working great:
- Move away from large metal, magnetic, and electronic objects. Even steel beams below you in the floor or the metal pipes on a desk can significantly affect the reading
- If you have accuracy issues with Auto-Aiming, instead of placing it on the ground try holding BOLT in your hand, then hit the Auto-Aim button
- Auto-Aiming is compatible with most iOS and Android mobile devices, but not with computer/laptop devices, as it requires a magnetometer in your connected device, and most laptops do not have a magnetometer.