You can now program and build your own insect robot

A robotic pet, like Sony’s dog or Hasbro’s cat, can be the perfect companion for people who don’t want to deal with the messier aspects of owning an animal.

Now there’s another pet bot that can not only keep you company but also teach you how to code: the Antbo by DFRobots.

The insect robot takes less than an hour to build and train to do basic tasks, like walk and turn. As time goes on, it becomes smarter, faster, and more capable.

Antbo has six legs and crawls just like an insect. It also experiences emotions, similar to a dog or cat, founder and DFRobots CEO Ricky Ye tells Tech Insider. You can control Antbo using a companion app or program it to recognise voice commands. If you have a 3D printer, you can personalise its shell.

As the relationship between its creator strengthens (by playing with the code), so do the bot’s “feelings” of happiness, Ye says. It features 30 sensors, which help it analyse its surroundings. A light on the robot’s belly changes colours depending on its current emotion, like happiness, shyness, anger, fear, and disapproval.

Mimicking the behaviour of a real pet, Antbo will tremble when threatened, turn its head when curious, and snuggle when loved. When two Antbos approach each other, they may even “square off in robot-based battle,” Ye says.

It constantly collects data about its emotions and navigational ability and then uploads the information to a cloud. Owners can change or add to that code using programming software, including WhenDo, Arduino IDE, and Scratch. 

The company hopes to inspire kids to learn how to code from a young age (Antbo is for those 6 and up).

“Seeing an ant-shaped robot come to life is definitely more interesting than reading code on a computer screen,” Ye says. “We aim to bridge the gap between robots and education.”

The Antbo Indiegogo campaign launched April 20 and has already raised over $10,000 of its $50,000 goal. Backers can pre-order the Antbo for its retail price of $69.

If you want to learn how to code and don’t want to fuss with the responsibility of owning a living pet, Antbo sounds like the perfect companion.

Watch the campaign video below:

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