This Robot-Building Kit Lets You Construct and Command a Dinosaur, Robot, or Plane

The Mi Robot Builder is a brick-building set with serious brains.

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Building with bricks is a blast. But, sometimes, the end result often leaves a little something to be desired. Sure, you have a cool building or creature to stare at or play with but what can it do? The Mi Robot Builder, which just made its way stateside from Chinese tech-giant Xiaomi, is a brick-building set with a big pay-off: Once you and the kids assemble your creature of choice (options are robot, dinosaur, or plane), the creature controlled via your phone and programmed to perform a number of fancy tricks.

You and your building companion (little kids will definitely need help piecing the set together) start with 978 toy blocks, including wheels, gears, and chains — all of which are made from high-quality, eco-friendly material. Each creation takes at least few hours to build and, per users, requires some fiddling to get it right. Once together, however, the fun continues. Your creation can roll over the playroom, thanks to an internal, self-balancing system that keeps it upright even difficult terrain.

Twin high-speed brushless motors with rotating speeds up to 170rpm churn out a rotating torque capacity of up to 25 Newton centimeters (almost .20 lbs per foot). What does that mean? Your robot, plane, or dino can hold up nearly seven pounds on its bionic back when fully upright, and in motion. A high-capacity rechargeable battery powers it for up to 12 hours. And there’s even a built-in photoelectric encoder that detects when the creation isn’t moving and puts the motor in idle to prevent overstraining.

And then there’s the programming aspect. With the push of a few buttons, Mi Robot Builder can perform perfectly coordinated actions, powered by a 32-bit CPU processor, and a proprietary operating system. Whether you’re a coding beginner or an expert (or a beginner being schooled by your own, personal 3-foot expert), you’ll be able to easily control, program, and plan routes for your creation on your Android or iOS device. For example, you can connect the Mi Robot Builder to the system app via Bluetooth, and drive by simply sliding your finger across the screen. You can also drag and drop pre-loaded command codes into the robot’s “brain”, or learn how to program your own through a series of handy tutorials.

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