Meet the DJI RoboMaster S1, a mini tank drone and Trojan horse for teaching code

DJI RoboMaster S1
Image Credit: DJI (Image credit: DJI)

The DJI RoboMaster S1 rover looks like a miniature tank, but acts like a clever Trojan horse for kids – it's a way to make education a little more fun.

It's the first ground-based DJI drone built by the company behind the DJI Mavic Air, a popular flying drone that got our recommended award in 2018. The new tank-like robot has rugged all-terrain style wheels, armor for competitions, and a gimbal-mounted turret.

The RoboMaster S1 features brushless motors with Mecanum wheels, allowing the rover to move in all directions. Users are able to assemble the RoboMaster S1 per instructions or with custom hardware using Pulse Width Modulation control ports.

While piloting the DJI RoboMaster S1, you can get a live video feed directly from the FPV camera that's mounted to the stabilizing gimbal. The gimbal also has an infrared beam and non-toxic gel bead blaster built onto it. 

There are a total of 21 sensors onboard, allowing the S1 to map its surroundings, identify objects, follow people, recognize hand gestures, recognize and respond to sounds, and acknowledge when it's been hit by another drone in competition.

As the RoboMaster S1 is about education, there's a dedicated RoboMaster app to help new users get acquainted with the robot and what it's capable of. And with support for Python and Scratch, coders can experiment with new ways to control the robot. 

Within the app, there are Road to Mastery and RoboAcademy programs to guide users through customizing the rover through coding. Coding allows tuning of the hardware as well as custom responses to things like gestures, sounds, preset Vision Markers (numbers, letters, and characters the camera can recognize), or other interactions, such as collisions. 

The RoboMaster S1 launches June 12 for $499 in the US, with educational pricing available for both students and teachers. International pricing and release date information isn't available just yet. In July, a PlayMore Kit will also launch with a dedicated controller, extra gel beads with a container, and a battery.

Mark Knapp

Over the last several years, Mark has been tasked as a writer, an editor, and a manager, interacting with published content from all angles. He is intimately familiar with the editorial process from the inception of an article idea, through the iterative process, past publishing, and down the road into performance analysis.