Cannybots Smart Car Toy Offers Programming, Play


Educational tech toy Cannybots offers programming, A.I, 3D modeling and design learning through a single smart racing car kit.

The toy surpassed its $40,000 crowdfunding goal on Kickstarter in just two hours and now numbers over 400 backers and $133,000 in funding. The smart toy car was designed with the goal of appealing to young children who spend too much time on tablets and smartphones instead of engaging with actual social play.

On its official Kickstarter page, Cannybots’ goal reads:

“Created by a dad to rescue play time from tablets. Build like Lego, drive like a slot car, hackable, programmable & even 3D printable.”

The smart toy robots are built by kids for kids. Cannybots combine the classic racing car toy with smart technology, programming and 3D modeling in what becomes both entertaining and educational play.

The user receives a construction kit with all essential parts and instructions on how to assemble one’s robot toys. Cannybots can be programmed through a smartphone, tablet, PC or Raspberry Pi.

Engineer Anish Mampetta, who initially conceptualized Cannybots, wanted to build a kind of smart toy for his son to make him interested in traditional play. Mampetta couldn’t have possibly imagine that his project could smash its $40,000 funding goal in just two hours after launch.

His idea emerged out of a concern that children today spend many hours using smartphones and tablets instead of creatively engaging in social, interactive play. With Cannybots, the British team behind Cannybots wants to challenge today’s digital, device-based play:

‘Cannybots are smart toy robots that encourage children to play and spend time together, rather than spending their days in front of screens playing virtual games online’.

The robot toy cars can be programmed to run around a track and be involved in several play modes such as high speed and freestyle racing, time trials, sumo-wrestling, jousting and puzzle-solving which is possible through third eye color detection.

Programming takes place through the app CannyTalk, a syntax-free programming app developed in partnership with the Computer Science Department of the Cambridge University. The app lets children program their toy robots using plain English in what resembles a friendly chat app. Through CannyTalk, the player can solve puzzles, create new play scenarios and control their Cannybots. Mampetta says:

“Going through the building process gives kids the hands-on experience of building a functional robot that they can also program. He added:

“Programming is an essential skill today but it is not easy to get kids started. We are allowing kids to do this in a fun, interactive and rewarding way.”

A single Cannybot robot car kit is priced at $79 and is scheduled for release in December 2015.