2B or not 2B: Orbotix’s new Sphero robot ball

Last year’s smartphone controlled robotic sphere is changing this year, with a new model that aims to make playing in the dark brighter and more able to take on different terrain.

It’s not quite the fully circular robot sphere we saw in 2013, but robot toy maker Orbotix has a different plan with a new Sphero that can handle more surfaces and light up for some neon playtime.

“Sphero has been ‘round for a couple years now and we wanted to take the fun experience of driving Sphero, redesign it, flip it around, speed it up, and give fans something completely new,” said Adam Wilson, one of the people responsible for Orbotix’s robotic sphere.

For that new idea, the Sphero 2B takes the idea of the first Sphero and gives it wheels, making it essentially a small off road robot that can take inclines more easily, and even features a faster system that Orbotix calls the “AI Superdrive” which the company says makes it “unreasonably fast and manoeuvrable.”

“2B looks and drives like it’s something from the future,” said Ian Bernstein, the co-founder of Orbotix who we spoke to last year upon the launch of the Sphero in Australia.

While the first Sphero could have skins added to it, the new 2B model has interchangeable hubcaps, wheels, and tires, and is built from either a black or white polycarbonate chassis that is capable of travelling up to 4 metres per second.

Like the last Sphero, lighting looks like it still plays a part of the Sphero design, which makes it suitable for playing with in the darkness too, as the glow from the iOS and Android controlled robot escapes into the light under the wheels.

Launch of the Sphero 2B in Australia isn’t yet a known thing, though the official worldwide launch will happen at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas shortly, with pricing set to $100 USD and worldwide availability expected from August or September later this year.