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DJI just released a tank drone for kids

DJI has launched a new RoboMaster S1 tank drone that’s designed to teach kids to code through play. 

DJI released its first ground-based robot today. The RoboMaster S1  or Step 1  comes equipped with powerful brushless motors, a chassis capable of moving in all directions, a high precision gimbal and four Mecanum wheels (commonly found on competitive robots).

The S1 has 31 sensors to map its surroundings, including six on its body armour to detect when the robot has been hit. There is a first-person view camera atop of the frame to send live footage from the device directly to the RoboMaster app. The FPV camera also works with machine vision technology to identify different objects as it encounters them, respond to sounds and send and receive signals from other s1 units.

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Machine vision technology lets the S1 to perform a whole bunch of smart recognition functions including Line Follow to create an interactive course for your S1 and map out its path, Follow Mode which tells your S1 to chase after a specific person and both Gesture and Clap Recognitions to teach your S1 to recognise specific physical hand gestures and respond to claps.

The robot is armed with a combined infrared and nontoxic gel bead Blaster – although the launching rate and angle are limited to ensure the robot is safe for kids to play with.

Tech lovers of all ages can take advantage of interactive modes designed to encourage programming, play and competition. Users can find ‘Road to Mastery’  a project-based course series designed to educate them on programming languages  easily on the RoboMaster app. ‘RoboAcademy’ also offers additional video tutorials and programming guides on robotics and coding for newbies.

Related: You’ll soon have to pay an annual fee to fly your drone

The S1 isn’t just for beginners though. The robot features six Pulse Width Modulation control ports so advanced users can get the most out of their S1 with third-party hardware too. Advanced users can also use Scratch 3.0 or Python to program their own unique functions and personalise their S1.

The S1 also comes with interactive competition modes inspired by DJI’s international RoboMaster Robotics Competition. Target Practice and Target Race are single player games while Race and Free-for-All introduce exciting multiplayer options. Free-for-All invites players to engage in battle using gel beads and infrared beams as weapons. There are even Mystery Bonuses that can be used against your opponent  Dizziness, Electromagnetic Interference, Extreme Speed and Invincibility.

Read our review of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro

DJI has been investing in robotics education since 2013 and plans to host the first RoboMaster S1 Challenge during the RoboMaster finals in China in August. “Passion is vital but so is the opportunity to learn and engage with technology at an early age”, said DJI Founder and CEO Frank Wang. “We developed the RoboMaster S1 with the next generation of innovators in mind, making robotics and programming not just more accessible but also an entertaining and academic experience”.

The RoboMaster S1 is available now in the US on DJI’s website and at flagship stores for $499. The company has plans to release a PlayMore Kit in the future. The kit will include a dedicated gamepad, extra gel beads, a battery and a gel bead container.

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