A South African/US start-up called Robonica is promising to "redefine the entertainment robotics market" this autumn with the launch of the Roboni-i robotic gaming system.
Fusing elements of robotics, remote control vehicles and electronic gaming, Roboni-i offers gameplay, for solo players, teams or online.
The system is based around a programmable, two-wheeled robot that features 16 sensors and 4 processors, a radio frequency remote control and six pre-packaged games.
Roboni-i is also the first gaming gadget we've heard about to use the ZigBee peer-to-peer radio system, here to enable competitive gameplay between real-world robots. By plugging Roboni-i into a PC, players enter a virtual world where they can create profiles, participate in virtual missions, play online games and interact with online friends. The same wireless remote used to control the robot also lets gamers play online.
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On the robotics side, PC-based Command Centre Software allows users to program every facet of the robot's behavior, edit games and upload performance data. The starter pack includes base stations and hubs that form part of the real world games, interacting with the robot's infrared gun. The robot also has touch and IR sensors, a built-in speaker and a USB port to download games and programs.
Roboni-i is aimed at kids over 10 and should start trickling into stores, in the US at least, this autumn. There's no price quoted yet. More info at www.robonica.com.