The 11 Best Raspberry Pi Robot Kits for Beginners in 2024

Robotics is a trending topic right now in the Raspberry Pi world, and it’s not always easy to find the product we need. In the few last years, many robot kits have been released to allow anyone to try them, either to play, to learn programming or for more complex challenges. So, which is the best robot kit for Raspberry Pi in 2023?

Each robot kit has its different features and depending on your need, your budget and your skills, it can be overwhelming to find the good one for you.
I will try to give you a clear overview here about each kit, so you can make your choice, or just dream of buying one someday. And at the end of this list, I will give you the one I prefer.

I’m very interested in robotics right now, and I have tried several kits for you. In this list, I share my discoveries and give you my advice on each of them. There is no rational order in this list, as it’s almost impossible to give them a fair score, but the ones I prefer are at the beginning.

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1. SunFounder PiCar-X

The PiCar-X from SunFounder is a robot kit, a car powered by a Raspberry Pi and loaded with various sensors. It can be controlled from your phone or your computer and programmed via Python or EZBlock (a visual language like Scratch).

The PiCar-X is compatible with a Raspberry Pi 2B, 3B or 3B+ and 4B. It comes with a few interesting sensors:

  • A camera module: you can use it for face or sign detection, for example.
  • An ultrasonic module: that measure the distance between the front of the car and the next obstacle, so you can program obstacle avoidance.
  • A grayscale module: to use for line tracking or cliff detection.

The assembly is pretty easy (I have a complete review here). Aside from the servos (that you’ll get with any kit) there is nothing complicated, so it’s great for a first kit. There is a big assembly guide in color, explaining all the steps and all the screws and various pieces are labelled, so it’s easy to follow.

Then, you can control it from your phone, your computer, or directly from the Raspberry Pi. It comes with specific software (EzBlock Studio), allowing you to use a visual language (EzBlock) to play with it or jump to Python for more advanced scripts. I explain everything in my full review, so make sure to read it if you are interested.

The price is slightly higher than the average of the kits you’ll see in this list, but the material they used is way better, so it should last longer. Don’t worry if your obstacle avoidance script doesn’t work the first time.

Check the price on the SunFounder website, and get yours now if you are looking for a fun project with your Raspberry Pi. You can also find it on Amazon if you prefer.

2. Freenove 4WD Smart Car

The FreeNove 4WD Smart Car is an interesting one, I saw a video and was impressed by the possibilities (I’ll show you the video just after).

It’s probably one of the best choices for beginners.
The assembly is pretty fast compared to some other alternatives. The learning curve is very progressive as you can start to play with the app, then the computer app, and finally try to code it yourself with Python (many tutorials and examples are included)

The features built-in include:

  • An 8MP camera with face tracking.
  • Two photo resistors for light tracking.
  • Infrared sensors for line tracking.
  • Automatic obstacle avoidance with an ultrasonic module.
  • Color LEDs on the chassis that you can control.
  • Uses two Lithium Batteries, which are not included (I recommend taking a charger with it, they last less, like this pack on Amazon).

The price point is excellent, almost the cheapest model in this list for the “high-end” robot kits.

You can find all the details here on this very detailed Amazon page.

3. SunFounder PiDog

The PiDog from SunFounder is one of the best robots I have had the chance to test so far. I don’t put it at the top of the list because it might be a bit too advanced if it’s your first robot. But if you have some experience or are a pretty good DIYer, go for it!

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Playing with the PiDog is a fun project. It comes with all the usual sensors (ultrasonic, gyroscope, camera, etc.) but also some nice add-ons compared to the other models in this list (touch module, sound direction, audio speaker, LEDs, etc.).

As with all SunFounder products, the assembly process is very well documented. You get a color printed manual with all the steps, and you can check the online documentation for additional information and even videos.

Once the assembly process is complete, you can program it with Python or use the mobile app to control it without a line of code. There are plenty of examples included and documented, so you can quickly create your own routines if you have some basic programming skills (or just have fun with the app if not!).

I did a full review of the PiDog on the website, check it out for all the details. I enjoyed the process, the result, and the kids in my family loved it.

Want to give it a try? Get your kit directly from the SunFounder website. It’s a little more expensive than the previous options, but it’s in aluminum and comes with everything, including the battery and tools.

You can also find it on Amazon if you prefer.

4. Yahboom G1 Smart Tank

And the last one on my podium is a tank!
The Yahboom G1 Smart Tank is an excellent choice, even for a first robot kit.

It seems more professional and less like a toy, but what I really like is the expansion possibilities. As you can probably see in the pictures, there is much free space on the aluminum chassis where you can add other components later. The main board is also compatible with several other controllers (Arduino, 51 MCU, STM32).

The motor is powerful, and can easily move everywhere even with many components on the back.

But for now, the current features include:

  • Line tracking.
  • Obstacle avoidance.
  • A camera module that can be rotated 180° in all directions.

Here is a video for a better overview of these features:

An app is provided with the G1 Smart Tank (Yahboom app) to control the robot from your Smartphone, but you can also use Python or C to control it.
There is a battery pack included (rare!), that you can plug into the wall to charge.

If I need to add a few downsides here (not easy), I would say: only compatible with Raspberry Pi 4B/3B+, maybe a bit too hard to get started for some beginners (the assembly part mainly).

This robot tank is more expensive than the first ones but it’s understandable as there is a big chassis in aluminum and more components (battery packs included). Maybe another disadvantage if your goal is to try on a low budget, but it could be better to directly have the professional tool, even if it’s a bit more expensive. That’s your choice!
Check the price on Amazon here.

5. mBot Ultimate

The mBot Ultimate by Makeblock is like a big box of fun for anyone who wants to build robots. It costs more than the other options listed here, but it’s more than just a toy. It’s a way to learn about robots, how to build them, and how to make them do cool stuff.

If you are serious about learning how robots work, how to program them, and everything you can do (or make them do), that might be the right choice for you.

You can put together the mBot Ultimate in 10 fun ways. You can make it drive like a car, pick up things, and even play games! ou can use it with Raspberry Pi and Arduino sensors, or even LEGO bricks. It means you can add more parts and make it even cooler.

What do you get?

  • There are over 160 parts to play with and make your robot.
  • You can use an app on your phone or computer to tell the robot what to do.
  • And there’s a free computer program called mBlock that helps you code and make the robot do what you want.

The battery lets you play from 1 to 2 hours, but you’ll need to buy the batteries separately (6x AA batteries) or get a pack that includes them on their website.

If you want to learn about robots, work on cool projects, and have loads of fun, it’s a great choice. It might seem a bit expensive (check the current price here), but for all the cool things it can do, it might be worth it.

If you prefer, the mBot Ultimate is also available on Amazon.

6. CamJam Edukit 3

The CamJam Edukit 3 has nothing to compete with the other models I show you, aside from one thing: the price! It’s the cheapest robot on this list, so it’s the perfect kit for a first try.

For the price, you get a few sensors (ultrasonic and line follower), two wheels, two motors and a ball castor as a third wheel. There is no chassis (you can use the box as in the video below), but a small breadboard and a controller are provided to plug and control everything.

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So, if you are on a budget, you can definitely try it to get a first experiment.

It’s enough to learn everything correctly, without spending too much money on it. You’ll buy a more competitive car with confidence once you know the basics.

All the details are available here on Pi-Supply.

7. SunFounder PiCar-V v2

The two next ones are alternatives for the two first kits I showed you in this list.
The SunFounder PiCar-V v2 is a solid competitor, and at first sight, you might not see the difference with the S model. The USB camera maybe?

The USB camera offers a real-time image or video transmission.
So you can drive the car directly from the video view on your screen.
Also, the camera can be oriented at 120°.

Other than that, it’s almost the same price. The problem is that all the other sensors are not included in this pack. You can add them later if you want, as the controller is the same.
So, if you are not sure between the Picar-V and the PiCar-S:

  • Pick the PiCar-S if you want all the sensors (obstacle avoidance, line & light tracker, …), but the video is not essential.
  • Pick the PiCar-V if you really want a live stream from the camera (and orientation), more to play with it on a tablet for example, than to use complex sensors.

Either way, I think it’s not impossible to customize your kit later to add this or that feature that you’re missing.

8. FreeNove Three-Wheeled Smart Car

The FreeNove Three-Wheeeled Smart Car is very close to the first one on this list. It works with almost any Raspberry Pi model, and even an Arduino.

I see fewer features with it, but the price is the same as the 4WD model, so I don’t really understand the benefit of this model. It stays a good robot kit, with a camera, ultrasonic module for obstacle avoidance, buzzer and RGB LED.

The assembly process is pretty fast, and you’ll also need two extra batteries to make it work after your order.

You can control it from any computer on the same network, thanks to your Python code. The included tutorial is clear for each step, with several examples of Python code.

As explained, I would expect a lower price, but it’s still one of the cheapest on this list, so why not?
All the details are available on Amazon.

9. Freenove Robot Dog

The last one from Freenove that is on this list, but it is very original because it’s a dog!
The FreeNove Robot Dog seems excellent but is pretty new (at the time of writing this), so I didn’t find so much information about it.

You can do everything from your smartphone, but also program it in Python from your Raspberry Pi or any other computer. The kit includes an Ultrasonic module (obstacle avoidance), and a LED module. As usual, it doesn’t include the batteries that you need to buy elsewhere (for example on Amazon with the charger).

The main features are movements, ball tracking, face recognition and RGB LEDs. There is also a Buzzer on it.

The video is so funny and explains everything, don’t miss it:

After 3s I was ready to buy one.
If you are in the same case, here is the link to Amazon!

Want to read my review first? I got it and tested it, I share my Freenove Robot Dog honest review here. Make sure to check it if you have any doubts, and you are welcome to ask if you have any questions about it.

Update: I recently had the chance to test another dog robot, the PiDog from SunFounder. You can click on the link to read my review, you might be interested in the features.

10. Monsterborg

The two last ones are more intended for professional users, they are more expensive but more powerful.
The first one is MonsterBorg. Born from a Kickstarter project, everything is concentrated on a solid chassis that you can use on all sorts of terrain with big wheels (4 inches (10 cm)) and powerful motors.

The first time I saw this robot in the Pi-Supply store, I didn’t understand why it was so expensive (over $200), for something that seems very basic and a tiny size. But I was far to understand what is the MonsterBorg:

The part with the Coca pack is pretty impressive.
Aside from that, this robot kit has no included features, so it’s probably not the best choice for beginners.

For more advanced users, you can find all details on the Pi-Supply website.

11. Adeept RaspTank

I’ll end this list with something more original. We have mainly seen products that can move everywhere, with advanced features like obstacle avoidance and line tracking, but nothing like this.
The Adeept RaspTank is a tank with a 4-DOF robotic arm that you can program to do what you want.

It’s equipped with object recognition and tracking, so you can use OpenCV with it.
Other cool features like a real-time video camera, line tracking and motion detection are also included.
Don’t know what OpenCV is? Read my OpenCV beginner’s guide here.

So basically, the Adeept Rasptank includes almost everything we have already seen on other robots, and the robotic arm adds new project possibilities.

The price is excellent, above $100, so close to most of the products we saw in this list.

Feel free to check all details on Amazon.

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Conclusion

That’s it, you now have a complete overview of the 11 best Raspberry Pi robot kits available currently.
That’s a big list, so what is the best robot kit for Raspberry Pi?
Here are my two winners:

Robot kitMain strengthPrice
Freenove 4WDBest overall, most features, best price point$69
Freenove Robot DogFun, original features$129
The best robot kits for Raspberry Pi in 2021

I’m a bit disappointed to see that almost no one is compatible with Scratch, so it’s maybe a bit more difficult than I thought for beginners (you have to use Python or something similar).

But in general, I find that all models in this list are good, so it’s really possible to work a bit more on this topic and see how it goes.

If you have some advice about a specific robot you like or don’t recommend, feel free to leave a comment in the community.

As explained in the introduction, I’m just an absolute beginner in this topic, so it’s possible I miss something, let me know!

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FAQ

What is the best robotics kit for a beginner?

For a beginner in robotics, I would recommend starting with a car, featuring a simple programming language (or even an app) to get started quickly. The FreeNove 4WD Smart Car is a good example, as it’s easy to assemble and can be used with the smartphone app, without any line of code.

What is the best robot kit for an adult?

Some robot kits are not really suited for kids, and adults can become bored quickly with some other ones. In my opinion, a good robot kit for adults is the Monsterborg. It comes only with basic features, and you can put your creativity to work after that to build anything you want.

What is the best advanced robot kit?

If you already have some experience with robotics on Raspberry Pi, I would recommend a more technical build with more sensors and servos. The SunFounder Robot Dog and the Adeept RaspTank are two good choices for advanced users.

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3 Comments

  1. I’ve been looking at the two Freenove cars since I got one of their starter kits to just experiment with components on a board. The main difference between the four and three wheeled cars that makes them the same price is that the three wheeler has a steering motor and mechanism. The four wheeler just grinds away on opposite wheels to brute force change orientation. Depending on your flooring this may work really well or not at all.
    At this point I’m trying to decide between the Freenove three wheeler or the Sunfounder v2, both of which can steer (as opposed to grind).
    Good writeup of the other options.

  2. I think one of main critism of the “Robots” is that are often not really expandable, and after was while, line finding and simple obsticle aviodance – in my experience – gets boring after a while.

    Perhaps a more advanced kit for intermediate + Advanced hobbyist would be most welcome.
    The kits must be expandandable for more sensors and HW as experience and knowledge increase.

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