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New Toy Makes Building Clever Robots a Snap

Brian Heater
Tech Columnist
February 19, 2014

What if I told you there was a product out there that could have you building robots in seconds? MOSS takes all the guesswork out of building functional robots, making the whole process as easy as stacking building blocks.

It’s a really impressive little toy that makes electronic building systems like Erector set look downright ancient by comparison. The modular robotics kit is simple, versatile and, from the looks of it, a whole lot of fun.

The system is based around a series of modules — little white plastic blocks. Each of their corners is magnetic. Drop one of the included steel spheres in, and you can snap it together with a different module.

The system ships with a number of different sensors and functions, letting you control things like spinning wheels and flashing lights through things like sound, motion and brightness.

The cubes have a different color sides, denoting different functionality. Yellow, for example, conducts power (which is why the battery module is yellow on every side), and blue and green output and input data, respectively. “If you want a distance sensor to control the speed of a spin, for instance,” the company explains, “you’ll need to connect the distance’s blue data out to the spin’s green data input.”

During a short demo, I watched as Modular Robotics employees snapped together different basic robots in quick succession. Creations range from robots that flop around like dead fish to a full-on flashlight-equipped remote control car that you can control with a tablet via a Bluetooth module.

The company is featuring some of the more original creations over on its site, including a string crawler and a card shuffler — a list that’s sure to grow once the sets are actually available to the public. That should happen in April, but you can get started by preordering a set now.

The $150 basic set can be used to create a distance-sensing motorcycle, and the $400 advanced set lets you build the aforementioned smartphone-controlled car, among other things.

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