Best robot building kit

Building Sets & Blocks

Kits that teach young scientists how to build their own robots are involving them in the real world of STEM subjects in a fun and fascinating way.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which robotic building kit is best?

Robotics is a booming business. Learning how to design and build robots engages your child in all four areas of STEM education at once. Hands-on learning is the best way to get involved, such as buying a kit where you can build a robot yourself. When you build a robot, you learn how to read technical diagrams and follow detailed instructions.

If you are looking for a robot that requires no tools to assemble, take a close look at the UBTECH JIMU Astrobot Series Cosmos Kit. You can program this 387 piece robot with sound and light effects to pick up objects and navigate obstacles. 

What to know before you buy a robot building kit

Robots use computer brains to send electrical signals to tell mechanical figures what to do.

Robot building kits teach kids a bit about computers and coding, a bit about battery-operated motors, servos, and sensors, and a bit about structural engineering.

Age

If you are buying a robot building kit for a child, take into account the two types of ages. Children have chronological ages determined by their date of birth, and they also have intellectual ages that are determined by their interests in school and STEM sciences in particular. More important than age is matching your choice of robot building kits with your child’s levels of experience, curiosity, and desire to learn new things. 

Instructions

When you are looking at products that involve science, technology, engineering, and math, you are looking at complicated things that need to be explained simply. Take a look at the instructions and make sure they are clearly written and easy to understand. Keep an eye out for products that have instructional videos and videos that walk the builder through the assembly steps one by one.

Design

For a beginner, choose a robot building kit that does a simple thing or two. For a more experienced child, choose a robot building kit that performs many different functions. There are a lot of cool designs out there, so choose one that appeals to you.

What to look for in a quality robot building kit

Multiple functions

Robots that do one simple thing are easy to build but once you’ve built your robot, the project is done. Playing with your robot can be fun, but those who really want to learn robotics need greater challenges. Some robot building kits can be built in several different configurations to do many different things simply by following the instructions. At some point, young scientists are interested in robot building kits that are not prefabricated. To really understand how to design and program a robot, young scientists want a boxful of gears, motors, battery packs, arms, and wheels that they can put together following their own design.

Motors

The more motors included in your robot building kit, the more things you can command your robot to do. 

Block-based coding 

This is how people with limited training and skills in writing code can write programs in chunks. Instead of typing in thousands of characters of source code, kids can drag and drop blocks around the screen and put them in the desired order. 

Smart navigation

With this feature, you can put your robot into motion with a set-it-and-forget-it touch. You write the program that tells your robot what to do, and you can watch while it does it.

How much you can expect to spend on a robot building kit

You can find simple robot building kits from $20-$50. From $50-$100, you will find robot building kits that are crossing over from toys for play to tools for work. Above $100, you will find specialty items and well-outfitted workshops. 

Robot building kit FAQ

Can you make robots do whatever you want them to?

A. No matter how many things a robot from a kit can do, it will never be able to do much more than roll, crawl, reach, grasp, pick up and put down things small enough for it to handle. 

Is building a robot kit a good way to learn to code?

A. Many robot building kits use modules that builders drag and drop from simple menus. Young scientists will see the logic in how commands are structured the same way they learned the structure of a sentence is subject-verb-object.  

What are the best robot building kits to buy?

Top robot building kit

UBTECH JIMU Astrobot Series Cosmos Kit

UBTECH JIMU Astrobot Series Cosmos Kit

What you need to know: You can program this robot to pick up objects, navigate obstacles and use sound and light effects. 

What you’ll love: This robot building kit has five smooth motion robotic servo motors, two LEDs, an infrared sensor, speaker,s and a power adapter. Create entirely new, custom actions with the PRP (pose, record, play) function. The free app works with Apple and Android devices.

What you should consider: The 3D animated building instructions walk you through the 387 piece assembly process, which requires no tools.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top robot building kit for the money

LEGO Creator Robo Explorer 31062

LEGO Creator Robo Explorer 31062

What you need to know: This 3-in-1 robot building kit rebuilds into a robot dog or a robot bird.

What you’ll love: The Robo Explorer features working tracks, a rotating head, and body, posable arms with a working claw, and a searchlight. The robot dog has a light-up jetpack and the robot bird has bright green light-up eyes.

What you should consider: This budget robot building kit is only 4 inches tall.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Makeblock mBot Ultimate Robot Kit

Makeblock mBot Ultimate Robot Kit 

What you need to know: Learn coding, robotics, and electronics as you use 160 mechanical parts and modules.

What you’ll love: Use this robot building kit with three powerful encoder motors to make a robotic ant, a tank with treads, a film crew camera dolly, a catapult ram, and a mobile grasping crane. Learn the basics of graphical programming with the block-based tool and Arduino and Raspberry Pi with text-based programming. You can wirelessly control all 10 robot forms through a Bluetooth connection.

What you should consider: This is a very pricey robot.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.