The Sphero 2B will be the next robot toy from Orbotix, maker of the Sphero smartphone-controlled balls. A departure from the ball-like form of its stablemates, the 10 mph (16 km/h) tubular robot will also use interchangeable parts – with different wheels, tires and hubcaps designed for different terrain.
We've kept a close eye on the Sphero robot toys, watching them develop from an interesting prototype into a fully-fledged product, followed by an upgraded second generation model which featured in our list of the best tech toys of 2013. And, until now, they've all had one thing in common – their distinctive ball-like form factor.
But with the Sphero 2B, Orbotix has opted to use a tubular design with wheels at each end. This will allow the upcoming bot to speed along at 14 ft/s (4.3 m/s) … that's 10 mph if you're trying to work out whether or not you could keep up with it. This is double the speed of the Sphero 2.0 which was, in turn, twice as fast as the original.
The new shape is also said to make the 2B more maneuverable and capable of pulling better high-speed tricks and jumps. A durable polycarbonate body means it should survive all but the most severe of tumbles, and interchangeable wheels, tires and hubcaps will be available to ensure it performs well on various terrains.
The 2B will connect to iOS or Android devices via Bluetooth, and will be able to be driven around in open play, or programmed just like previous models. Orbotix is also working on adding built-in infrared technology which would offer interactive and multiplayer gameplay. The device will charge via USB.
Available in black or white, the Sphero 2B will go on sale alongside the more ball-like Spheros later this year. It's expected to retail for around US$100.
Check out the Sphero 2B promo video below.