Robots have uses beyond packaging, production lines and the imminent overthrowing of humanity - or at least South African/U.S. start up Robonica thinks so. It’s aiming to ‘redefine the entertainment robotics market’ with a line of robotic gaming products that fuse elements of robotics, remote controlled vehicles and electronic gaming. The core of the Robonica’s introductory product, Roboni-i Action Games, is a fully programmable remote controlled robot with sensors that make it aware of its environment and that enable it to interact with other robots.

The agile two-wheeled robot, called the Roboni-i, is controlled via a radio-frequency (RF) remote control that uses the Zigbee peer-to-peer RF protocol, which is specifically targeted at RF applications that require a low data rate and long battery life. The robot features four processors and a total of 16 sensors – 11 infrared sensors to interact with the BaseStation and other Roboni-i, further infrared and touch sensors to detect and avoid obstacles, and radio sensors to interact with the game accessories, which use RFID to allow the robot to react differently to each piece.

These capabilities allow for various gameplay options including managing the Roboni-i‘s power system, protecting assets, collecting tokens, neutralizing an opponent’s robot by bumping or shooting it, or invoking in-game bonuses to cast spells on opponents. In addition to the games that come bundled with Roboni-i, users can also create their own games using the PC-based Command Center Software and download them via USB to the robot. The PC-based Command Center Software also allows users to upload performance data from the Roboni-i, program its’ behavior and tune its’ technical profile.

Connecting the Roboni-i to a PC turns it into a wireless receiver, so the handheld controller can then be used to control a virtual Roboni-i in the Roboni-i Online World and ‘help save the world from certain destruction.’ The Online World also allows users to create profiles, download games, schedule matches with friends, or register for events and tournaments.

The Roboni-i remote controlled robot might have a greater emphasis on the ‘remote controlled’ rather than the ‘robot’, but is sure to appear on many a young lad's Christmas list this holiday season. A word of warning to parents, though. If you’re planning on spoiling junior you might want to consider picking up a battery recharger as well because the Roboni-i runs on 12 AA batteries.

The Roboni-i Action Games Starter pack from Robonica is aimed at ages 10 and up and is due to hit U.S. stores from September 28 priced at USD$249.

Check out the video below to see the Roboni-i in action.