Kamigami Robotics Spot the Ladybug and Goki Review
Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner
- Totally cool
- Easy to build
- American designed and made
- Programmable and customizable
- Enjoyable for Kids and Adults
- Extremely durable
- Battery not replaceable
- Do not move well on some surfaces
As my readers should know by now, I am a jack of all trades (in RC), and master of none. When it comes to RC, I am a sucker for pretty much anything controlled remotely. That's why I don't tie myself down to just cars, or planes, or quads, or boats or whatever. When I saw Kamigami Robotic's sponsored ad on Facebook, I went bananas. More so, when I watched their videos and read up on the company, it's founders and it's employees. These app controlled bugs where actually designed by PhDs in engineering and biology out of Berkeley. Having a huge interest in science, working at a science agency, and having a 10 year old little genius son at home compelled me to reach out to Kamigami Robotics. We talked a bit and they were generous enough to send me a couple robot bugs to mess with, Spot, the Ladybug, already assembled, and Goki, in kit form.
Unboxing and Setup:
My robots only took a few days to arrive and I excitedly opened the main box. In it were both my intact ladybug and my Goki kit. They were both way lighter than I expected them to be. Each came with a little charger for the 1s lipo battery and instructions. The kit came with a card with a link to the build with diagrams. I must tell you, I was a little intimidated seeing the way the kit comes. It is literally a few sheets of what I think is a plastic/nylon material. The electronics are all on one integrated board with the battery and motors attached. Just looking at it, it doesn't seem like you'll end up with a fully functionally little robot, but in this case looks are definitely deceiving. Perhaps I had the advantage of being an RC hobbyist with experience in building cars, trucks and planes, but I was able to finish building Goki in a little less than 45 minutes. I was interrupted several times by my children so perhaps I could have done it even quicker. The build does require some patience, but the material is durable so don't feel you have to baby it when you manipulate the folds to get the pins in.
Once you finish with the build, move the legs around and make sure everything works smoothly and that nothing is catching. At this point, charge your battery with the included charger and download the app to your mobile device.
Once you are charged and downloaded, follow the prompts to connect the robot to your device. There are tons of options to mess with later, but for your first battery, just enjoy your new robot. With two robots in the house, my son and I spent 20 or so minutes chasing each other, trying to knock each other over and racing. If any of you own a Sphero ball or BB-8 droid, you will find the Kamigami robots 10 times easier to drive. Unlike many other app driven toys, these robots actually go where you tell them to go. Steering is intuitive and with a little practice, it gets easier to drive more accurately. I had the most fun racing and setting up courses to try to traverse as fast as I could.
The Kamigami robots drive differently depending on the surface you are on. This brings me to one of the first adjustable options on the app. You can actually adjust the top speed through the app. This is really helpful when you go from a hard surface to a soft surface like carpet. I found the robots drove better on carpet with the speed lowered and conversely drove better on hard surfaces with the speed all the way up. My video below just shows some random driving around the house. I don't know what makes these things so much fun for me, but I love driving them. I have RC cars that top 50mph and planes that run on gasoline and fly over 100mph, yet I find these fun as heck. I think a lot of it has to do with the technology and design that went into designing these, but just seeing a six-legged bug or monster run around is just a hoot. They are also ultra durable, so don't be afraid to run them off the kitchen table or anything like that. Dash Robotics actually dropped a few of them out of an airplane and they landed without any damage and fully functional.
Aside from changing the speed on the fly, you can also change the color of the eyes with a tap on the screen. This is just the tip of the iceberg though. As you dig deeper into the app, you'll find you have the ability to teach your Kamigami new tricks, add new behaviors and play some additional games. The unique app interface blends programming with gaming for an entertaining introduction to robotics. Honestly, and child around 8 years old and up, will probably be able to navigate the programming features better than most adults. My son and I just sat next to each other quietly exploring the programming options and pretty much played show and tell when we'd come up with something. Our favorite behavior we came up with was programming the "behavior button" to make the robots run backward as fast as they could for a few feet, then rapidly change direction forward, which on carpet would make the robot tip on it's back. After that command, we programmed the eyes to turn red and a kind of gameshow losing jingle to play. It was a crack up. Even with the exploration we have done with the robots, I know we still haven't fully unlocked everything these little guys have in store.
I feel like this review is almost too brief, but there is just too much to write on these. What I mostly wanted to do is help get these robots get some attention. All hobby grade RC toys can be used for STEM learning in that they include engineering, programming and physics, but a lot these Kamigami robots actually have a direct science pedigree in that they were developed by engineers and biologists. That said, these little robots are tons of fun. They are also way cheaper than pretty much all quality RC toys on the market. I would definitely suggest getting two, and make sure that at least one of them is a kit. Building the kit is very gratifying, especially for a youngster. As I mentioned before, they are very durable, so they'll take a pretty fair amount of abuse, just don't smash them or step on them. I would recommend the Kamigami robots to anyone looking to buy a STEM learning opportunity that doubles as a toy :) I would also recommend them to any avid RC fanatic like myself who loves to drive or fly anything I can with via radio control or app. I work at a science agency, and my Goki lives in my office. He is a great conversation piece and I love driving it around the office during my lunch breaks. My son drives his around the house still and loves showing it off to people when they come over. I can't wait to see what else Dash Robotics / Kamigami Robots has up their sleeves for the future. I am now a huge fan of theirs. Now go to their site and order yourself one... or two!