What is Auto-Aiming?

Updated 1 week ago by Kevin Sicner

What is it? 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

*You learn more about how to use the compass in the Activities section of Sphero Edu

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