The Best Programmable Robot for a Teenager | 11 Amazing Ideas

Last Updated on April 24, 2022

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a robot mad teenager, you’ve come to the right place. These robotics kits are a way to encourage kids and teenagers to learn while playing with something they love. When searching for a programmable robot for a teenager, it is essential to get something that is fun, but challenging, to keep their interest.

We’ve created a list with some of the best robot gadgets kids, and teens will love. It includes fun toys, gadgets, and building sets from robotic arms to controllable cars with cameras, programmable Star Wars droids to humanoid companions.

The recommendations are grouped into different skill levels from the ones that are just for fun with no assembly required to others that require basic coding knowledge.

We have also included a few FAQs at the end of this post to cover some of the terms you may run into that you may be unfamiliar with.

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Easily programmable robot for teenager

This first section is best for those that have an interest in the fun side of best robotics kits. It’s for those who like to have cool, engaging gadgets but don’t want to get bogged down in the building of them or coding principles. Most of them include an element of scratch coding but are not essential to the operation and are fun to be had.

1. Sphero SPRK+: App-Enabled Robot Ball with Programmable Sensors + LED Lights

Sphero SPRK+: App-Enabled Robot Ball with Programmable Sensors + LED Lights - STEM Educational Toy...

Sphero SPRK+ is a programmable robot ball designed to inspire creativity and curiosity through coding and play. With SPRK+ you can learn programming, complete hands-on activities, and share your creations with the community. 

This programmable robot for teenagers includes a gyroscope, accelerometer, motor encoders, and colorful LED lights to create countless play experiences and coding conditions for all levels. You can program SPRK+ across several platforms using JavaScript. If you are looking for more fun use the Sphero Play app to drive and play games with your coding robot toys. 

With an hour of play, this educational robot is scratch-resistant, waterproof, charges inductively, and connects via Bluetooth SMART so you can see your commands and creations come to life

Sphero BOLT: App-Enabled Robot Ball with Programmable Sensors + LED Matrix, Infrared & Compass -...
  • MORE THAN JUST A ROBOT: Sphero BOLT is a programmable robot ball that you can drive and code, providing endless opportunities to be creative and have fun while learning. Advanced yet approachable, you...

Last update on 2022-05-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Anki Cozmo

Another great option is you are looking for a robot that offers a lot of fun interaction while also having the ability to educate.

Cozmo, from Anki, is a great little companion with a beginner-friendly interface, and an ideal educational robot for teenagers to learn to code creatively.

There are different skill levels, so if you are a beginner coder, you can enjoy Cozmo’s Sandbox Mode. All you need to do to start coding is snap together blocks to make Cozmo sneeze or sing a song. As your skills develop, you can move into the intermediate mode, constructor.

In this mode, you can take your coding skills to the next level. Intermediate coders can create more complex projects with endless possibilities, like designing games on Cozmo’s display or coding an interactive dance party.

Another option could be the Anki Vector. The Vector is a similar robot to Cozmo, but the level of programming is more advanced, so great if your teenager is already a proficient coder. Compare them both in our post Anki Vector vs Cozmo.

3. UBTECH JIMU Robot Astrobot Series: Cosmos Kit / App-Enabled Building and Coding STEM Learning Kit (387 Parts and Connectors)

UBTECH JIMU Robot Astrobot Series: Cosmos Kit / App-Enabled Building and Coding STEM Learning Kit...

Blockly programming makes programming simple. Drag-and-drop interlocking blocks of customizable sequences to make your JIMU robots navigate obstacles, pick up objects, control light, and sound effects, show emotions, and more.

You can test your skills with new challenges. This kit has all the parts to build three different robots: AstroBot, Rover, or Astron or invent your own galactic JIMU robot creation. 

To start download the free JIMU app that has step-by-step, 3D, 360° animated building instructions. It is extended with The platform, allowing kids to build and code these robots to perform countless programs and tricks!

Sale
UBTECH JIMU Robot Astrobot Series: Cosmos Kit / App-Enabled Building and Coding STEM Learning Kit...
  • Introducing Buildable, Codable Robots From Ubtech Robotics. Construct Astrobot, Astron, Rover Or Design Your Own Jimu Robot Creation

Last update on 2022-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Hasbro Star Wars Smart App Enabled R2-D2 Remote Control Robot Rc

Hasbro Star Wars Smart App Enabled R2-D2 Remote Control Robot Rc

A loyal and dependable droid well-equipped for starship repair and computer interface, R2-D2 continues to be full of surprises. When the battle to take back the galaxy demands the precision and advanced technological capacities of a droid, there’s no better astromech co-pilot than R2-D2. 

With the smart R2-D2 from Hasbro, Kids can imagine sending R2-D2 into the fray of epic intergalactic battles. With app-controlled movement in all directions, smart R2-D2 is a mobile devices droid, able to communicate and explore. 

Use the Hasbro Star Wars smart R2-D2 app to send smart R2-D2 on exciting missions and even program him to follow routes, just don’t steer him into an asteroid field. Hasbro and all related terms are trademarks of Hasbro. Smart R2-D2 plays and dances to music and makes authentic droid sounds, so it’s never a dull moment when this droid rolls into the space station.

Last update on 2022-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Moderate level programmable robots

While the previous robots in this list are suitable for anyone of any level, these next ones require a small amount of understanding to make the most out of them. Anyone with a little interest in code should get on well with these programmable robots.

5. Makeblock mBot Ranger 3-in-1 Robot Kit

Makeblock mBot Ranger 3-in-1 Robot Kit, Metal Materials with Powerful Mega2560, Scratch and Arduino...

MakeBlock mBot Ranger is STEM Educational Robot Kit with 3-in-1 transformable scenarios: robot tank, self-balance car, and 3-wheeled car. It Offers ready-to-use projects built-in Makeblock HD app and provides graphical programming.

It is based on Scratch for kids to learn entry-level programming which is as simple as dragging and dropping bricks into place, and progress onto Python, which is a little more complicated.

While the MakeBlock is not one of the cheapest options on this list, it will certainly be an option with a long lifespan.

Makeblock mBot Ranger 3-in-1 Robot Kit, Metal Materials with Powerful Mega2560, Scratch and Arduino...
  • 【𝐀𝐝𝐯𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐊𝐢𝐭 𝐅𝐨𝐫 𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐑𝐨𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐬 𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐂𝐨𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠...

Last update on 2022-05-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6. ELEGOO Mega R3 Project The Most Complete Ultimate Starter Kit w/ TUTORIAL Compatible with Arduino IDE

ELEGOO Mega R3 Project The Most Complete Ultimate Starter Kit w/ TUTORIAL Compatible with Arduino...

The mega complete starter kit with more than 200pcs components, premium quality, and 100% Compatible with Arduino IDE.

With free pdf tutorial in the cd (more than 35 lessons) and lcd1602 module and gy-521 sensor module with pin header ( no need to solder by yourself).

It is a nice package with a clear listing and surprise including a nice small box to keep the widget such as LED, IC, buttons, diodes, etc. We have always cared about the customer experience and improve the product function details.

ELEGOO Mega R3 Project The Most Complete Ultimate Starter Kit w/ TUTORIAL Compatible with Arduino...
  • The MEGA complete starter kit with more than 200pcs components, premium quality and 100% Compatible with Arduino IDE

Last update on 2022-05-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

7. UBTECH JIMU Robot Builderbots Series: Overdrive Kit / App-Enabled Building and Coding STEM Learning Kit

UBTECH JIMU Robot Builderbots Kit - App Enabled Stem Learning Robotic Building Block Kit (2017)

With this kit, you can create buildable, codable robots like DozerBot and DirtBot or design your own JIMU Robot creation by using the free JIMU app that has step-by-step, 3D, 360° building instructions. 

It is extended with the blocks coding platform, allowing kids to build and code these robots to perform countless programs and tricks.

Create entirely new, custom actions with the PRP (Pose, record, play) function. Free application! Works with both Android and Apple smart devices. A compatible iOS or Android device is required.

Last update on 2022-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

8. ELEGOO UNO R3 Project Smart Robot Car Kit V4 with UNO R3, Line Tracking Module, Ultrasonic Sensor, IR Remote Control, etc. Intelligent and Educational Toy Car Robotics Kits for Arduino Learner

ELEGOO UNO R3 Project Smart Robot Car Kit V4 with UNO R3, Line Tracking Module, Ultrasonic Sensor,...

ELEGOO Smart Robot Car is an educational STEM kit for beginners (kids) to get hands-on experience in programming, electronics assembling, and basic robotics knowledge. It is an integration solution for robotics learning and is made for education.

This robotic kit contains 24 kinds of modules parts including obstacle avoidance, line tracking module, infrared remote control, and also you can control it via phone and tablets of Android and iOS systems, etc. All the module interface has been modified with XH2. 54 ports to make it much easier and more convenient to assemble the car and reduce the chances for errors.

Its minimalist design makes it a best gift for your kids and friends. If the user has no experience, it would be better to have someone lead and teach them while studying.

Sale
ELEGOO UNO R3 Project Smart Robot Car Kit V4 with UNO R3, Line Tracking Module, Ultrasonic Sensor,...
  • ELEGOO Smart Robot Car: An educational STEM kit beginners (kids) to get hands-on experience about programming, electronics assembling and robotics knowledge. It is an integration solution for robotics...

Last update on 2022-05-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

9. Freenove Hexapod Robot Kits

Freenove Hexapod Robot Kit with Remote (Compatible with Arduino IDE), App Remote Control, Walking...

Why would you not want a control a robotic spider? OK, well it only has six legs, not eight, but still, it’s a pretty awesome-looking machine.

Once build, this hexapod can be controlled via the included remote, phone application, or computer. The kit doesn’t have instructions with it, you will need to download them from a website where you will find plenty of tutorials.

The processor is based on Arduino Mega 2560 but improved slightly to control all the servos required and also add-ons if you want to develop the hexapod further than what is included in the kit. This robot is a great challenge for younger teens.

Freenove Hexapod Robot Kit with Remote (Compatible with Arduino IDE), App Remote Control, Walking...
  • This robot can crawl and twist like a living creature. (Assembly required. Battery NOT contained.)

Last update on 2022-02-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

More advanced robots

If your teenager wants a bit more of a challenge, you could look to some of these more advanced robots. While the construction isn’t necessarily any more complicated, the ongoing learning and possibilities for expansion mean that these robots, and their skill, will be developed over a long period.

10. Yahboom Raspberry Pi Robotic with Camera Programmable AI Electronic DIY Tank Robot Kit for Teens Adults Compatible Pi 4 B Model 3B+ (G1 Tank Without Pi)

Yahboom Raspberry Pi Robotic with Camera Programmable AI Electronic DIY Tank Robot Kit for Teens...

Yahboom Raspberry Pi Robotic hand kit is specially desihned for educators and students. if you’re not sure what it is we have a little more about that at the end of the article.

Although the physical construction of this 4WD robot car should be quite straightforward for most teenagers, the integration of Raspberry Pi means that owners can utilize C language programming and Python programming to control their vehicle.

The robot tank is a professional DIY toy, best for electronic amateurs and teens over 16 years old. The tank is equipped with a 2DOF camera PTZ, which can realize real-time transmission of HD video through the 5G wifi hotspot. It supports 480P resolution with manually adjusted focal length and two camera formats: MJPEG, and YUYV(default). With 4B, video transmission is smoother and more stable. An assembled tank is like a moving camera.

Please note: The Raspberry Pi needs to be purchased separately but it is not much. More information coming towards the end of this post.

Yahboom Raspberry Pi Robotic with Camera Programmable AI Electronic DIY Tank Robot Kit for Teens...
  • 【Upgrade AI Function】The upgraded V3.0 tank kit is compatible with the latest version of Raspberry Pi 4B (2G/4G/8G). It not only retains the basic functions of difficult line tracking, ultrasonic...

Last update on 2022-05-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

11. LewanSoul 6DOF Full Metal Robotic Arm Kit for Arduino

Robotic Arm Kit 6DOF Programming Robot Arm with Handle PC Software and APP Control with Tutorial

Robotic arms are hugely popular at the moment, initially, just for manufacturing lines, the technology has been shrunk.

This LewanSoul robotic arm introduces physical learning, logic, building skills, problem-solving, and includes everything needed to build it within the package. Once made the arm can be controlled via a free Android/iOS apps or programming via graphical PC software.

The 6 high-quality servos ensure smooth movement of the robotic arm and the ability to grab in any direction.

This robotic arm will be fun and make a great addition to any bedroom desk.

Robotic Arm Kit 6DOF Programming Robot Arm with Handle PC Software and APP Control with Tutorial
  • Support wireless handle and free Android/iOS APP; Provide graphical PC software

Last update on 2022-02-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

More about the coding languages mentioned

So there we have it, some of the top programmable robots for teenagers with something to suit all budgets and skill levels. While there are lots of different types of code, the ones we see most are – scratch/block, Python, and C++.

Scratch or Block Coding

Scratch coding is probably the simplest of all coding systems as it is a drag and drop builder. While some people consider that it isn’t really that helpful to learning code, real coding is a lot of typing, not drag and drop, others argue that it is a complete programming language in its own right.

Either way, there is no escaping that it is a fantastic way to introduce the concept of code, which is basically running a series of commands.

There is a whole online community dedicated to scratch coding where you can gain insight, see what others are creating, share your creations, and learn more. What’s best, it’s all free.

Find out more about scratch coding here: https://scratch.mit.edu

Python coding

Python is a general-purpose, powerful scripting language like PHP, Perl, Ruby, and so much more. It can be used for web developing and is widely used by some of the largest companies, including Google and Wikipedia.

With a little basic knowledge, it becomes an easy-to-use language, making it simple to get programs working. Python is great for backend web development, data analysis, artificial intelligence, and scientific computing.

Learn more about Python coding: http://www.bestprogramminglanguagefor.me/why-learn-python

C++ programming

C++, like many other code languages, arose from C code, which is kind of the Godfather of all coding. It is one of the most popular coding languages which is primarily utilized with system/application software, drivers, and embedded firmware, one significant example of this in action is Windows.

Having a fundamental understanding of C and C++ is hugely beneficial due to how many more modern languages use a C compiler.

Learn more about C++: http://www.bestprogramminglanguagefor.me/why-learn-c-plus-plus

Hardware

As well as coding types there are a couple of bits of hardware to know about, Raspberry Pi and Arduino.

What is Raspberry Pi?

Basically, it is a cheap, small computer than can be easily programmed using the coding languages mentioned above, and more. The little devices are being used in many different ways such as web access and playing games, to controlling machines and (of course) robots.

To get started with Raspberry Pi there you only need a few things:

  • Raspberry Pi Motherboard
  • An SD card of 4GB or more
  • A power lead
  • Keyboard and mouse

All of these can be picked up cheaply on their own, or you can order a starter set with everything you need in one go to get started.

One of the best things that you get when investing is a Raspberry Pi smart device is the community that comes with it. There are thousands of forums and online resources with people sharing the amazing and creative things that can be done with this little device.

Due to the large fanbase and their willingness to share, there is almost always someone online ready to share some advice if you are stuck with something.

You can discover more about the possibilities of Raspberry Pi here: https://www.raspberrypi.org

What is Arduino?

It is another open-source microcontroller that can be programmed to perform tasks. It uses its own coding language (very similar to C++) and is very affordable.

Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi – how do I decide?

So, while both of the above appear very similar, they are in fact quite different. As a microcontroller motherboard, the Arduino system can be used to run something but only one task at a time, what it is programmed to do. So examples of this would be to control a motor or turn a light on or off.

Raspberry Pi, on the other hand, is more like a computer that can perform multiple tasks. It requires a dedicated operating system and can be hooked up to visual displays, keyboard, and other hardware.

So what does this mean?

As Arduino is capable of performing simple tasks, it is an excellent choice for limited function multiple robots such as robotic arms or home automation. As such, it is much simpler to use. If you are looking to get something for someone still very new to coding and looking for simple robotic projects as an introduction, It is perfect for it.

On the other hand, we have Raspberry Pi. Due to the scope of projects that this little wonder can pull off, there is a bit more of a learning curve, but the opportunities are endless.

As in the example of the Yahboom Ultimate Robotics Kit mentioned above, this car can be driven via code, wifi, also live stream from the camera and much more. With so much going on, it requires something more capable than a simple microcontroller, and that is what Raspberry Pi offers.

So, I would make a choice based on experience. If it is a first robotics project, or building something to perform a single task, maybe look for a project with Arduino. If I already have experience or am studying coding, then Raspberry Pi offers more in terms of capability and progression.

What Skills Can Get Enhanced By Using These Robot Building Kits?

These robot building kits are a type of STEM toy that helps in the child’s cognitive development. 

Does Using Robotic Kits Require Expertise In Programming?

No. The robot building kits designed for young kids and teenagers contain a detailed instruction booklet that provides coded programs for running the robots. In many cases, your child can make use of drag and drop coding functions too. 

How Are These Robot Building Kits Beneficial For The Future? 

It forces them to work through complex problems and will improve problem solving skills, crucial puzzle-solving skills.

About the author

Matt is the founder of the Little Robot Shop who has spent much of the last decade hacking home cleaning with various robots and devices to make keeping his home clean as easy as possible. Not an easy task with two young children.

When not working on the Little Robot Shop he works as a technology support and product specialist for a fast-growing digital company as well as doing his best to get his younglings to code, something that will be an essential skill in the future.