Creepy 6-Legged Hexapod Teaches Kids to Build Robots

There are scores of robot kits designed to help children and teens learn about science and engineering. However, many of these sets use proprietary technology like Lego pieces or littleBits modules that students will never encounter once they graduate to the world of adult electronics. Enter STEMI Hexapod, a very powerful $349 build-it-yourself robot that employs the same standard motors, circuits and boards that makers use in the real world while also teaching you how to use each part.

STEMI Hexapod (Credit: Jeremy Lips)

(Image credit: STEMI Hexapod (Credit: Jeremy Lips))

The Hexapod — the first product from Croatian startup STEMI — looks like an electric crab as it walks along the floor on six highly-articulated legs. Each leg has three different servo motors, for a total of 18. The robot's brain is an Arduino-compatible microcontroller, the same kind that many serious developers use. A rechargeable battery promises one hour of walk time.

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Designed for users aged 14 and up, the Hexapod comes with a series of detailed instructional videos that teach you how to put the robot together, control it and even program it. Though you may have to screw some parts together, the robot does not require any soldering. STEMI Co-Founder Josip Vukičević told us that some students have completed the initial build in as little as 5 to 6 hours.

After you've put the Hexapod together, you can move it around or make it dance, using an Android or iOS app on your phone. The device itself connects via Wi-Fi.

STEMI Hexapod (Credit: Jeremy Lips)

(Image credit: STEMI Hexapod (Credit: Jeremy Lips))

More ambitious users can expand the robot by adding additional sensors or appendages. In a brief demo at the company's CES booth, Vukičević showed us a Hexapod with a gripper arm he had added to it. You can also create your own applications for the robot and write them in C or Java.

So far, STEMI has only shipped 150 Hexapods and most of them have gone to schools in Croatia, Vukičević said. However, the company plans to send out a few hundred more units to early backers  this spring, with mass production coming by the end of 2017. You can pre-order a device from the next batch by signing up for the wait list on STEMI's website.

STEMI Hexapod with extra sensors (Credit: Jeremy Lips)

(Image credit: STEMI Hexapod with extra sensors (Credit: Jeremy Lips))

Though the Hexapod is simple enough for a teenager to build, the kit is definitely flexible and intriguing enough for an adult. No matter how old you are, you'll have a lot to learn from STEMI's kit.

Avram Piltch is Tom's Hardware's editor-in-chief. When he's not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you'll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.