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.
Which is the best robot kit for Raspberry Pi in 2021?
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 the robotics right now, and will buy very soon my first robot kit (probably at the end of my article ^^). In this list, I share with you 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 one I prefer are at the beginning.
The first one is this list is the FreeNove 4WD Smart Car, I saw a video and was really impressed by the possibilities (I’ll show you the video just after).
It’s probably one of the best choice 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 includes:
- A 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
- Work with two Lithium Batteries, 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.
The SunFounder PiCar S is the first robot I discovered while working on my other Raspberry Pi tutorials. And it’s more for the design than for the features 🙂
Except this cool design, the PiCar-S is also a good competitor if you need a robot kit. It’s compatible with almost any Raspberry Pi model (except the version 1).
You can code it with Python and DragIt (that I don’t know, but that seems close to Scratch). You’ll get several examples in the documentation.
The included features are very cool:
- Follow a line on the ground
- Use its ultrasonic sensor to avoid obstacles
- Track a light source to follow
- Also requires 2 battery 3.7V (as for the previous robot, I recommend a pack with a charger, like this one on Amazon)
The main problem with this robot is probably the assembly part, it’s one of the robots with the most components in the pack, this picture scares me a little:
The MagPi made a review recently, they count over 128 components to assemble! It seems a bit too much for me, as I’m looking more for the coding part than the Lego part, but it could be fun to do if you have time.
By the way, this process is very well documented with video and pictures, so it shouldn’t be an issue for most of you.
The price is correct (around $100), and I keep thinking this one of the best alternative for a first robot kit to go further with your Raspberry Pi.
You can find all the details on the manufacturer product page.
And the last one of 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 a toy, but what I really like is the expansion possibilities. As you can probably see on 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, can move easily everywhere even with many components on the back ^^.
But for now, the current features includes:
- Line tracking
- Obstacles 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 on 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 it’s a bit more expensive. That’s your choice!
Check the price on Amazon here.
The Sphere RVR Robot is pretty original. At the beginning, I wasn’t even sure if it was a Robot for Raspberry Pi or not, but the features are very cool!
It’s probably the best choice for beginners, and especially for kids (8+).
You can start to play with it like a toy with the mobile app only (no Raspberry Pi required).
Then you can move to the Scratch language, still without any Raspberry Pi (or at least one to code in Scratch seems a good idea).
The video below will be perfect to explain this:
- Ambient light sensor
- Color detector on the ground
- Obstacles avoidance
- Ready for all terrains with a powerful motor and a robust chassis
- Can also work with Arduino and micro:bit
In the pack, you will not find many components, as it’s delivered ready to use, but you’ll get: the RVR Robot, a rechargeable battery, a USB charger and a few color cards. So if your goal it’s to play Lego for hours before coding, it’s probably not the best choice, but if you don’t like that, it’s the perfect choice!
The price point is probably a bit high (over $100), and there is no camera included. But the product is cool, the battery pack is included, so why not.
Definitively better for absolute beginners that want to learn code, than for those who want to assemble everything from scratch. But it’s a good alternative to the other products I show you in this list.
If you need more details, there is everything on Amazon, including 4 other videos to see the robot in action.
The CamJam Edukit 3 has nothing to compete with the other models I show you, except one thing: the price!
It’s the cheapest robot in 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.
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.
The two next ones are an alternative of 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 offer 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 (obstacles 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.
The FreeNove Three-Wheeeled Smart Car is very close to the first one in this list, so I’ll be quicker.
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 in this list, so why not?
All the details are available on Amazon.
The UCTRONICS Robot Car Kit is really close to the Sunfounder models, I think.
The look is more simple, but the organization of the components is similar.
The camera is a classic 5MP camera module, and we also find an ultrasonic module and line tracking module.
The price is a bit more expensive that the ones from Sunfounder, but it includes a 16GB SD Card, 2 batteries and a battery charger. So it’s a pretty good deal currently.
You can find all the details on Amazon
A last one from Freenove in this list, but which is very original because it’s a dog!
The FreeNove Robot Dog seems excellent but is pretty new during writing, 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 (obstacles avoidance), and a LED module.
As often, 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!
The two last one are more intended for professional users, they are more expensive but more powerful.
The first one is the MonsterBorg. Born from a Kickstarter project, everything is concentrated on a solid chassis that you can use on all sort of terrain with big wheels (4 inches (10 cm)) and powerful motors.
The first time I saw this robot on the Pi-Supply store, I didn’t understand why it was so expensive (over $200), from 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 🙂
Except 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.
I’ll end this list with something more original. We have main 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
So basically, the Adeept Rasptank includes almost everything we have already seen on other robots, and the robotic arm add new projects 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.
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 is my two winners:
|Robot kit||Main strength||Price|
|Freenove 4WD||Best overall, most features, best price point||$69|
|Freenove Robot Dog||Fun, original features||$129|
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 below.
As explained in the introduction, I’m just an absolute beginner in this topic, so it’s possible I miss something, let me know!