iPhone Life magazine

Stocking Stuffers: Tankbots

They come in a colorful array of orange, green, blue, and black. They are more fun than a barrel of monkeys, and they are aptly named Tankbots. They sort of look like little Smart Cars on tractor treads.

There are a few steps that must be followed to get your Tankbot up and running. The first thing you'll want to do is fold down the USB charging tab from the back of the unit and plug it into any USB port. While it's charging, download the Tankbot app for your IOS or Android device. Yes, if works with iPhone, iPods, ipads, and all Android devices. Then turn off the sound from within the system settings. Next, in the remote sensor, install the little hearing aid batteries that come with it.

You're almost set to go. Just plug the sensor into a 3.5mm sound jack and switch it on. A blue light will flash. Invoke the Tankbot app, select your Deskpet and turn it on. On the screen two levers will appear that you can use for remote navigation that commands the vehicle to go left, right, backward and forward. Be warned that they are kind of touchy at it takes some getting used to controlling it.

The Tankbot has three modes of operation , all controlled by the on/off button. Push the button to turn it on. When the blue headlights turn on, push it again for autonomous obstacle avoidance and maze navigation. Push it again for free roaming with light and sound. The third push enables remote control mode.

Frankly, I had the most fun with the obstacle avoidance and maze navigation mode. I turn it loose on my desk and let it avoid and maneuver around the objects on my desk. It's a hoot. It senses the edge of the desk and turns away. My kids used to have buckets full of Legos. I will I still had them so that I could build a complex maze with them and put the Tankbot through its paces. It's surprisingly intelligent.

Other than being somewhat touchy to control in remote mode, it seems to have a penchant for tipping over backwards when it runs into certain objects, which I find annoying.

Here's a YouTube video to see it in operation.

Tankbots are the latest release in the Deskpet menagerie joining Skitterbots that look like red, blue, white or green bodied tarantulas and white, blue, black, or orange Trekbots that look like little, slant-wheeled wheel chairs sans a person.

Anyway, the Tankbot will make an excellent stocking stuffer for Christmas or a welcome little gift any time of year.  The street price is around $49.95, but I've seen them for $39.99, but it's a small price to pay for so much entertainment for you, friends, and family.

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