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Educational Insights was showing off the Pyxel robot, a cute mechanized puppy with smart sensors and a programming environment for kids and budding engineers (Fig. 1). The robot has numerous sensors around its body, including touch sensors, so that it knows when it's being petted. It's also able to wag its tail.
The Pyxel can be programmed using Python or a graphical programming language called Blockly (Fig. 2). Both provide full access to the movement, controls, and sensors, but Python provides a more conventional means of programming the robot. Blockly is easier for those new to programming, as it forces the proper syntax since each block can only be used in the proper fashion. Of course, you can still write bad programs, but the construction of the programs is easier.
The robot is linked wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet running the integrated development environment (IDE). The IDE also has a built-in remote-control capability. The programmable LEDs provide visual feedback. The nose has a proximity sensor and the robot can react to sounds as well.
The system runs without the need for an internet connection, although such a link can be used for collaboration.
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