Prepare to be jealous: The 6.5 best smart robot toys for girls this summer

Prepare to be jealous: The 6.5 best smart robot toys for girls this summer

These ARE the droids you've been looking for.

We've hunted through more robot products than we'd care to think about. Why? We're on a mission to find the very best, smart bots for girls (and boys). To make this list they have to be: Cool to look at, Seriously Smart, Gender Neutral, Quality products, hook kid interest for longer (no one-trick-ponys), and have a STEM-tastic focus on learning.

Who made the cut? Here are the 6 robots we recommend -- in no particular order. 

  Our Favorite Smart Robots for Girls:  

  • COZMO  |  by Anki
  • SPRK  |  by Sphero
  • DOT Creative  |  by Wonder Workshop
  • BOOST Creative Toolbox | by Lego
  • CUE  |  by Wonder Workshop
  • MARTY  |  by Robotical

Worth noting: 
We use female terms most of the time, but these products are great for ALL kids.  :D

A few robots we liked, but decided to cut... 

2 Meccano products were dropped (because of concern with quality & customer service).  DASH was also excluded because we're already featuring 2 Wonder Workshop products.  

And...Smart Mobile Devices Required 
All of these robots require a mobile device (make sure your device will work with the bot you buy). Some require Bluetooth 4 or better. Most of these have apps that will work on phones, but we definitely suggest using tablets because phones tend to be too small to see all of the code and can feel really crowded visually.  


  Cozmo by Anki  

best smart robot for girls Cozmo code robotics STEM toy

THE NUTS & BOTS

  • AGE: 6+ Years   
  • PRICE: $179
  • BEST AT: Personality & Autonomy 
  • WE LOVE: It's realistic personality + smart blocks for added engagement
  • THE BAD: No intermediate level for code learning with Cozmo...Yet.
  • NOT INCLUDED: iOS or Android device for App interface
  • BUY IT:  CLICK HERE TO BUY COZMO ON AMAZON


This little robot is feisty! Cozmo is a LOT like having your very own WALL-E robot - it has an endearing & quirky personality that they say actually evolves the longer you interact with it. Honestly, Cozmo shows a believable range of emotions, can recognize faces and call you by name, and is a true learning robot that helps little kids and youth learn to code.

Cozmo also comes with 3 interactive blocks that are used for games and learning. Along with it's learning and programmed comments, you can also type in things to get it to say whatever you like.  


WE LOVE

PERSONALITY & ENGAGEMENT

All of that personality and the cute sounds it makes are clear winners. It feels a lot more like a real creature & companion - going beyond "programed responses" with AI to learn & engage in new ways. We also like that it recognizes people via camera face recognition tech, plays games one-on-one, and is mischievous, adorable, competitive and pretty darn hilarious.

Here’s a great video of Cozmo the robot in action

cozmo learning coding robot girls scratch language system MIT

LEARNING WITH SCRATCH / CODELAB 

Girls (and boys) can easily start programing Cozmo with Scratch, a simple programming language that was developed specifically for kids by MIT. That makes it easy to play and program Cozmo’s actions using simple graphical blocks of code that users drag and drop onto place on the app’s interface.  

Kids (and adults) who are already code savvy can program Cozmo to do a lot more using Python, a full-fledged development language. Here's a quick video with info on how to use CodeLab with Cozmo.


THE BAD... sort of

LEARNING GAP

There is a pretty big gap between Python and Scratch. We can only hope that future releases of this robot’s OS will include options to engage and teach more intermediate coding.

 

vector-smart-ai-robot-toy-kickstarter-by-anki

  * AND COMING SOON:  VECTOR * 

Anki is growing their robot family to include VECTOR, a robot sidekick. Vector builds upon tech & cuteness of Cozmo but is made with adults in mind. (Yes, I see you drooling. It's ok.)

This bot is IOT + AI. It answers questions and interact directly with voice and can control smart home systems (a bit like Alexa). It does all of this, of course, with a ton of attitude and adorableness. First and foremost Anki robots are companion creatures. It will show you the weather, become a timer, say "cheese" and it will take your picture. One new feature that's bound to hook adults and kids? When Vector get's annoyed or upset, you can sooth it and make it purr by petting it's back. (I can't even. It's like they know me.)

 

Vector is designed to be autonomous and "always connected" via bluetooth upgrade. Vector charges itself, explores it's home, and engages with it's family on it's own. Pretty sweet.  Right now, it doesn't look like teaching code is part of it's focus...but there's a lot to love in a robot everyone likes engaging with.

Curious? Of course you are.

Here's the Kickstarter for Vector.
BTW: They've already doubled their goal and raised $1.1M with 20 days left to go. Who else can not wait for October?!

 

 

  SPRK by Sphero   

SPRK sphero top learning robot girls robotics with coding app product shot

THE NUTS & BOTS

  • AGE: 2+ Years   
  • PRICE: $129
  • WE LOVE: Very durable & STEM learning for all ages
  • THE BAD: No Personality (But personality isn't it's focus)
  • NOT INCLUDED: Mobile device for App interface
  • BUY IT:  CLICK HERE TO BUY SPRK ON AMAZON

    We’re huge fans of Sphero (another Boulder, Colorado startup)! Sphero started making smart ball robots in 2014 and most recently partnered with Disney to create the adorable Star Wars BB8 robot that blew EVERYONE away. They have managed to turn bluetooth enabled balls into fun, engaging and multifaceted robotic toys that hook adults & kids alike. They’ve paired their bots with a seamless App (IOS & Android) that makes driving these robots a ton of fun.

    Now, the folks at Sphero have clearly given a lot of thought to how they can introduce kids to robotics and get them hooked. The result is SPRK. It’s deceptively simple: It’s a ball. However, like all their products, there is so much going on under the hood and Sphero invites kids in to learn all about it.

    This robot is a lot of things...
    It’s durable (it can take a serious thrashing). It’s waterproof (for real). It’s transparent shell invites girls to watch it’s inner mechanisms. It’s specifically designed with the free Sphero Education App that teaches code, robotics & STEM principles (using programmable motor encoders, gyroscope, accelerometer, and LED lights). Even better, it’s made to grow with your girl’s skill in code & robotics.

    A Robot that grows with girls’ skill

    From simply driving SPRK using the app interface on a device (seriously fun), girls can dive into 3 levels of code: Beginners simply draw a path and the robot will follow it. Next, they begin using logic and code principles by dragging and dropping visual block with commands. Advanced girls can use Java script to control the bot and test their coding prowess. 

    Things you could do: Build a maze and have the robot find it’s way out, or code it to make sounds while it dances to music, use it to drive other creations around, and countless other things. The app has all kinds of activities to help girls learn more about robotics and science (as well as code).

    SPRK girls in school learning to code with robot and app 

    WHAT WE LOVE

    SO MANY WAYS TO PLAY...AND LEARN

    Sphero gets that girls (and all kids) will create amazing things if given half a chance. They proactively give kids the wheel (pun intended) to explore and innovate.  Sphero Edu is full of ideas and creations from kids and school programs…it even enables real-time collaboration between brilliant, young minds.

    SOMETHING FOR ALL AGES

    It’s the rare robotic toy that actually can grow with girls and match their skill. Whether they are 5 years old or 15, this bot has a lot to give.

    SO FREAKING DURABLE

    Lastly, SPRK is the most rugged little thing we’ve seen in kid robots. It’s designed to be really, really durable - so kids are free to play without anyone worrying if they’ll break the robot or fry a circuit. It’s waterproof, scratch resistant, and pretty darn resilient.

    THE BAD...sort of

    BLANK STATE

    This robot doesn’t have a personality; it’s a blank slate. Honestly, that kind of interaction isn't SPRK's goal. If you’re looking for something that is emotive, quirky and engages directly with kids - consider DOT, COZMO, or CUE. 

     

      

      DOT CREATIVITY KIT by Wonder Workshop  

    DOT creativity kit smart toy robot STEM education pirate costume robot

    THE NUTS & BOTS

    • AGE: 6+ 
    • PRICE: $79
    • WE LOVE: Seriously creative companion. Most affordable.
    • THE BAD: Does not move. No advanced code options.
    • NOT INCLUDED: iOS, Kindle or Android device (ideally tablet) for App 
    • AWARD: 2017 Parents Choice Gold Award Winner
    • BUY IT:  CLICK HERE TO BUY DOT ON AMAZON

     

    This is a coding STEM toy that is heavy on unleashing your little girl’s imagination. DOT sounds like a little kid, too. There’s no snark — it’s a sweet, curious, engaging little bot. It comes with a bunch of crafty accessories to blend creativity with technology: costumes, stickers, 2 building brick connectors -for legos, and 2 plastic to cardboard connectors. Plus, clever ways to use DOT that we think girls will really dig like creating a mood lamp or code DOT to guard against intruders into their room.   :D 

    Key point - this robot does not move on it’s own. It is stationary unless you are holding it. Instead, DOT focuses on creativity & imagination that makes it a fun companion who wants to do activities, tell stories, and make things.

    DOT creativity kit smart toy robot girls all accessories 

    • SMART TOY: HARDWARE
      In case you're wondering about what you CAN program on a robot that doesn’t move, there are lots of input and output sensors that create engagement while giving girls plenty of things to control in drag-and-drop code via 3 free apps.

      There are 4 programmable buttons, programmable LED’s, motion sensors, Microphone, sound detector and distance sensor. Girls can also record their voice & use it in the programming. DOT comes with internal microphone so it SOUNDS like the bot is speaking and the sound sensor allows DOT to hear and respond to sounds.

    • DRESS UP
      There are 10 costumes (Pirate, Octopus, Fox, Penguin) and 100 reusable stickers to personalize this droid and open up even more creative play. These are integrated with stories and games that DOT suggests. 

    • CHALLENGE CARDS
      DOT comes with 20 Project cards (think recipe cards for code) — things like Hot “Dotato,” Robot Duck Duck Goose, Glow Bot, and a Bot Light Show.

      These challenge cards are a smart blend of pretend, games, coding and crafting. Sidebar—> you can download the completed code for the challenges if your child doesn’t want to do that part every time. 

     Dot top robot 2018 girls stem product shot

    • CODING
      3 apps to interact with DOT.
      • Go - Remote control app
        This is the most basic version is a great start to control DOT and see all the basic features DOT can do.

      • The Original Wonder App
        Lots of different entry point for play and basics of programing (it’s all guided). Kids must complete 7 challenges after launching the app (which help train them on how the app & DOT work). It takes about 15 minutes to do these and then the app unlocks a “free play” area of the app.

        If your child is pre-literate, you can do these project together to help read instructions & stories.

      • Blockly for coding
        Blockly offers simple drag & drop "block" coding options that don’t require any reading. So, very young kids can play and program their DOT bot without any supervision.

    Watch this quick video about DOT.    :)

     

    WE LOVE

    SO CREATIVE

    DOT is such a creative way to merge imagination, crafting and code into one robot. It’s downright sneaky how it turns coding into playful exploration. It’s a great way to introduce little girls to robotics and code logic.

    DOWNRIGHT FUN COMPANION

    This droid has a great energy and feels like a multidimensional little creature who is bursting with curiosity and ideas for games and exploration. We love, love, love how engaging it is. Girls get hooked on the activities and this bot’s winning personality- so they keep on playing and building with code.
     

    PRICE

    This bot is by far the most affordable of our top robots. For those on a budget, it's a truly amazing robot for the money
     

    THE BAD

    NO MOVEMENT

    We still think this is a great creature, but totally get how kids may want more “action” from their bot. If you want a robot that moves around, check out DASH (Note: DASH doesn’t come with a creativity kit). We are huge fans of this robot, too. 
     

    NO ADVANCED CODE

    We wish there was a way to program DOT beyond block-coding so more advanced girls could learn code that can actually be used in the real world.  If you’re more interested in programming than creativity and costumes, CUE is for older kids and might be the robot for you!

     

     

      BOOST Creative Toolbox by LEGO   

    Girl and boy building Vernie Boost lego toolkit top smart toy robot for girls code and robotics STEM

    THE NUTS & BOTS

    • AGE: 7-12   
    • PRICE: $159
    • BEST AT: Engineering & Versitality
    • WE LOVE: 
    • THE BAD: SO many pieces and parts to manage. Oye.
    • NOT INCLUDED: iOS, Kindle or Android device (ideally tablet) for App 
    • BUY IT:  CLICK HERE TO BUY BOOST TOOLBOX ON AMAZON 

    The BOOST Creativity Toolkit is basically LEGO on kid-friendly steroids and will have young makers and engineers enthralled & drooling. Girls get hands-on building robots that can talk, react, build, shoot, drive…and fart (Seriously. Flatulence never gets old.)… just to name a few things BOOST does. 

    Let’s cut to the chase here: This kit is actually 5 robots in 1 box and comes with the instructions, actions, interactive blocks, and app interface to control them. LEGO clearly thought out what they could offer so that at least 1 would really appeal to every child and teach girls (and boys) basics of engineering, sensors, patience and code logic. #FTW

    The Robots (woohoo!) 

    • Bernie - The humanoid Robot Vernie (who reminds us a bit of WALL-E and a lot of Johny 5 from the 80’s). Of the 5 Vernie is the most endearing. It moves, shoots, says fun phrases (and farts), can beatbox, dance, and shoot things. It is stable and can zip around really well.
    • Rover - Basically this bot is a vehicle with a big hammer on the front. It attacks things with smack-down efficiency. And, with an attachment, it can also shoot at things. Most kids love blowing things up and this bot is all about destruction fun-tactics.
    • Guitar 4000 - This creation plays like a slide guitar. It's a really clever coupling of a distance sensor block and motor block so it knows where you are on the guitar and plays the sound of different chords. You can play with different noises and sounds - heavy metal to . There are also accessories to play it like a violin.
    • Frankie the Cat - This cat is pretty wacky. Of course it makes cute sounds: It will meow Happy Birthday to you, “asks” for things (via visual on tablet), and can recognize when items are given to it through the color sensor and then responds. Frankie acts unhappy if picked up (motion sensor at work). So, some attitude is built in to the creature. It can play a lego harmonica if kids wave in front of the cat's mouth. (Yes. You read that right. This cat has a harmonica and wears funky shades.) Cool cat. Cool.
    • Autobuilder - Basically this is like a tiny LEGO building factory with a little assembly line. Kids tell it what to build, add the blocks and it puts the blocks together on a small assembly line. Honestly, it’s a really cool concept but often fails to complete the builds. We worry most kids will end up frustrated…we did.

    Our favorites? We’re glad you asked: Bernie & the Guitar 4000. Though, to be honest, that wacky cat is a close 3rd.

     WATCH THIS VIDEO OF BOOST & IT'S 5 BUILDS

     Boost Creative Toolkit all creations robots and builds for kids

    WE LOVE

    SEAMLESS BUILDING TO CODING APP

    The app & build process is pretty amazing. The app guides kids step-by-step visually. There are no words (which is a mixed bag —no words also leads to some confusing moments in the code portions of the app…and will nudge kids to experiment more to figure out what does what. Again, it’s a mixed bag.). Each robot’s build is broken down into 3 groups. With each of these sections girls make a part of the robot and learn to code that part. So, the flow is a great mix of building / engineering, then code logic, followed with interaction with their creations.

    ALL THE POSSIBILITIES

    There are 5 bots in one box (actually endless bots since kids can keep creating). That has to count for something. Each robot dives into new engineering and code insights. (BTW: Once you make ALL of the robots, girls get access to a new segment of the app with ideas for how they can build unique creatures and vehicles. 

    THE BAD

    SO. MANY. PIECES

    847 blocks to be precise. Many of them are completely unique to this set and lots are very small. Building 1 bot means being precise, but building 2 successfully means you have to be ORGANIZED and have a way for sorting and storing pieces between builds. No small feat. 
    SOUND
    All sounds come from the app device...not the creations. 

     


      CUE by Wonder Workshop  

    CUE top robot toy for girls 2018 learn to code both product colors

     

    THE NUTS & BOTS

    • AGE: 11+ Years   
    • PRICE: $199
    • WE LOVE: The whole package
    • THE BAD: The 4 Avatars feel a bit over-the-top
    • NOT INCLUDED: Mobile device for App interface 
    • TIP: Have younger kids? Check out DASH & DOT (6-11 years)
    • BUY IT:  CLICK HERE TO BUY CUE ON AMAZON 

    There’s so much we want to say about CUE. We fell in love with the work of Wonder Workshop and their previous robots for younger girls and boys. CUE keeps most of the great elements that made DASH a screaming success: The cute behaviors and sounds (seriously adorable stuff), the nimble & sturdy body, the block-based code games for programming, and a truly gorgeous, intuitive app interface. 

    Then CUE takes everything up a notch with a sleek, more grown-up look (black or white exterior), better hardware (bluetooth, sensors, memory, processors) and adds 4 brand new elements that we’ll dive into below.  All of that equals a truly clever and addictive little robot that has a lot to offer tween and teen girls interested in robotics. 

    We’ve already admitted to loving DASH, here’s what we think of what’s new in CUE. We think older girls will be more discerning and keeping them engaged is the challenge for Wonder Workshop. Here’s how they made CUE a better bot for older kids.

    cue smart top toy robot girls code robotics STEM both colors with girl

    • CHAT-BASED COMMUNICATION VIA THE APP
      With over 170k word vocabulary and 30,000 programmed responses that integrates emotive AI (doesn’t that sound smart?!), this bot has a lot to say.  Just like people, CUE makes sounds and expressions while “texting” which adds dimension to the experience. It will also respond to commands sent in text (Like: “Drive forward”, “Say hello”, etc).

      It’s pretty fun to play with this feature and we think chat will increase engagement. At the same time, the chat isn’t quite there. It can frustrate when CUE fails to grasp nuance and context or gets repetitive. So, for us, text is a bit of a toss-up but in the end the unexpected dialogue with a droid is pretty cool and a solid upgrade.
    • 4 AVATARS
      Think of these as fully formed personalities that you get to choose from. They are all a bit over the top — a bit like characters in a kids TV show.
      .
      • Pep: Lots of enthusiasm, loves learning and is a geeky adventurer
      • Zest: Tries to be a sophisticated, smooth-taker but tends to overdo it.
      • Charge: Brave, compassionate, “hero” type who loves strategy and haikus
      • Smirk: Wise-cracking instigator who tries to be a charmer. 
    Pep & Zest are female sounding. Charge & Smirk sound male. We wanted to like Zest but honesty couldn’t get past the initial “trial” of the Avatar. (It smacks of a bubble gum princess for little girls: rainbows, kittens and unicorns…and she sings a lot. Oh my.)

    The good news, if you get bored with one personality, you can switch to another and have a droid that feels new and unpredictable. (You get 1 Avatar for free, additional ones run $4.95 a pop.)
    cue coding interface on app beautiful and intuitive design
    • CODE LEARNING
      This is where you really get your money’s worth with Cue — as a learning robot it gives girls 3 ways to interact and 2 ways to program. It’s also one of the few that actually gives code learning options from toddler to teen.
      • Control - turns the app into a Control screen to drive CUE and it’s actions
      • Create - is a “freestyle mode” by grouping commands and sensor input to create lifelike behaviors.
      • Code - has 2 ways to work with coding and logic. Using Microsoft’s MakeCode language girls can easily use toggle from block code to more advanced JavaScript programming.


    WE LOVE

    BEGINNER TO ADVANCED CODE

    CUE is one of very few tech toys that seamlessly guides girls into deeper, advanced coding. With MakeCode, girls can easily toggle between block code to Javascript. So, they are able to see what real code looks like, test how commands look and how variables work (to name a few things). More importantly, it’s a real-world programming language they can actually use. CUE creates an organic and fun way for kids to learn and engage with code AND see it come to life in-the-moment.

    It’s pretty smart in it’s structure and guides girls through increasingly difficult tasks and then rewards them for completing them with a “demo.” Kids can save their work, work remotely on code, and create endless combinations of actions.

    OVERALL ROCK-SOLID

    From top to bottom this is a favorite for us because it checks the boxes on SO many things we want to see in a learning robot: good physical design, intuitive app, thoughtful learning process, age range, and cute personality elements that make it feel more like a multi-dimensional pal. It’s just plain savvy and we think girls will love exploring robotics and playing with it.

    *Coming in November: CUE will also support Apple’s Swift programming language.  :D

    THE BAD

    CHILL OUT, LITTLE AVATAR

    These personalities delight & surprise at first but we worry they will grow old more quickly. This may be wishful thinking, but we’d love a less extreme personality as an Avatar option --something endearing without being over-the-top. We see that adding to the robot’s longevity as a pal and companion. 

    Here's a video of CUE in action.  

     

     

      MARTY by Robotical (Europe)  

    marty girls learn code smart robot toy 2 robots next to each other

    THE NUTS & BOTS

    • AGE: 9+   
    • PRICE: (In Pounds) £198 + shipping (roughly $22)
    • BEST AT: Walking Robot + Code
    • WE LOVE: The dexterity of walk + DIY robotics
    • THE BAD: Slow moving & more expensive than robust options in USA 
    • NOT INCLUDED:  
    • BUY IT:  CLICK HERE TO BUY MARTY ON ROBOTICAL 
        

    MARTY is a DIY project and dream of a robot for a young maker who's interested in robots and building things. It’s 38 parts come together in a pretty darn cute creature. What’s really unique about MARTY is it’s legs - they moves in ways we haven't seen in any other smart robotics toy and we think girls (and all kids) will see it as a cool, pleasantly "clunky" little bot. It even comes with a pack of stickers (everyone seems to love the mustache) to encourage personalization and play.

    It's a great opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of robotics, basic mechanics, code skills, balance, sensors and more. Fare warning, compared to the other robots on this list…MARTY is pretty slow moving (really, it takes it’s time getting places), but we love it…and it’s tilting, rocking dance moves.

    We didn't build a Marty, but we've seen several folks say that the process required adult help (small spaces, little screws, similar parts that can be mistakenly arranged) and that the directions could have been more clear...so, keep that in mind.

     

    WE LOVE

    marty robot toy learn develop expand sidebar graphic

    CODE BOT

    It’s totally programmable (and that's sort of it's entire purpose). Beginners start with Scratch (using code blocks and created by Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT) and then Python / Javascript, and even ROS for truly advanced users.


    Keep in mind that this bot doesn’t have a “controller” interface. It is truly code-based. It does what you tell it to using programing language only.

    THOSE LEGS 

    Talk about nice legs! The way this robot moves is pretty amazing. There is truly smart engineering with these multi-directional, 3 motor legs. It can dance, walk, kick a ball, balance on one leg...

    WATCH THIS VIDEO OF MARTY IN ACTION


    THE BAD

    SLOW MOVER

    As mentioned before, this robot is’t a Speedy Gonzalez, it a while to get anywhere. That may bore girls who are less interested in robotics and code.

    NO PERSONALITY

    For as cute as MARTY is physically, it doesn’t have a personality or sounds built-in. That feels like a missed opportunity as this droid practically screams adorable companion. We’d love to see some personality functionality as part of a future upgrade.

    PRICY

    Compared to other droids on this list, MARTY has a higher price-tag and will cost you even more to get it shipped to the USA. (Roughly $250 total.)

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