Comparing two popular classroom educational mobile robots: Thymio II Wireless and iRobot Root Lite (rt0)

battle of classroom robot thymio iRobot root rt0

In today’s educational landscape, robots have become more than just tools for teaching coding and computational thinking—they are gateways to a new form of interactive learning. As technology progresses, the market is full of educational robots including Mobsya’s Thymio II Wireless and the iRobot Root Lite (rt0), each boasting a range of capabilities that promise to captivate and educate young minds.

However, not all robots are created equal. While some may be little more than high-tech toys with limited educational value, others are designed to be true programming powerhouses, capable of keeping students engaged through meaningful and complex challenges. Today we’ll compare two such educational robots: Thymio II Wireless and the iRobot Root Lite (rt0).

Choosing the right educational robot is important. Educators must weigh many factors: the age range of the students, the cost of investment, the types of sensors and interactivity offered, the programming languages supported, and the level of assembly required. Some robots such as Thymio II Wireless and the iRobot Root Lite (rt0) are ready to inspire right out of the box, requiring no prior programming experience, which can be a significant advantage in classrooms with mixed ages and skill levels.

Others robots offer a deep dive into the world of robotics, requiring a more hands-on approach that can be invaluable for older or more advanced students. The key is finding a balance—selecting a robot that not only fits the budget but also meets educational objectives and grows with the students’ abilities.

Introducing Thymio II Wireless Robot (Mobsya – Switzerland)

classroom mobile educational robot thymio ii wireless

Thymio II is built to be tough and flexible for all ages and skill levels

The Thymio II Wireless Robot emerges as a remarkable educational tool that stands out in the crowded landscape of STEM resources. Engineered to foster a deep understanding of robotics and programming, Thymio II is inspiring for everyone from kids to adults. Its wireless capability means that it can be operated without cumbersome cables, allowing for a more flexible and dynamic learning environment. Notably, Thymio II is Swiss-designed, which is synonymous with quality and durability, ensuring that it withstands the rigors of classroom use.

Codeless Modes are great for beginners to learn about robots and sensors through play

At its core, Thymio II is incredibly user-friendly, ready to use straight out of the box, which makes it ideal for educators and students with no prior experience in programming. It offers various codeless (screen-free) modes, which introduce the fundamentals of robotic behavior and interactivity through simple, intuitive touch and environmental responses. You can even control Thymio with a simple infrared remote, meaning you don’t need a computer, tablet, or any other additional devices to start getting creative right away.

For those ready to delve into coding, Thymio II supports block-based programming with visual languages like Scratch and Blockly, as well as text-based coding with Python and Aseba, catering to a wide spectrum of age groups and educational stages.

AI-trainable and capable of far more than just programming

What sets Thymio II apart is its rich set of features designed to engage a learner’s curiosity and creativity. It boasts an array of sensors—nine for proximity, plus temperature, and a 3D accelerometer—that react and adapt to the robot’s environment, allowing for an extensive range of activities and experiments. The robot is equipped with 39 programmable LED lights, which add a visually engaging element to the learning process. Its compatibility with LEGO and LEGO Technics, enhanced by the LinkVest accessory, opens up a world of engineering and design possibilities, further bridging the gap between digital and physical play.

And if studying machine learning and AI is on the syllabus, then Thymio can help there as well! ThymioAI gives you the tools you need to teach students about artificial intelligence and machine learning in a fun and intuitive way. Thymio II is not just a tool for teaching; it’s a conduit for inspiring the next generation of innovators and critical thinkers.

Introducing iRobot Root Lite (rt0) (USA)

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The iRobot Root Lite (rt0) robot is designed to make learning about coding and robotics exciting and accessible for everyone. It works with tablets and computers, using apps that run on Android, iOS, Windows, and more. Root Lite (rt0) is special because it can draw, play sounds, and move around in clever ways. It’s perfect for people who are just starting to learn about technology and for those who already know a lot and want to discover more.

iRobot Root Lite (rt0) doesn’t require any coding skills to start with. It has activities that let you explore how it works by touching, playing, and seeing what it can do. As you learn, you can make iRobot Root do more things, like follow lines on the ground or react to light.

For advanced learners, iRobot Root can be programmed using real coding languages like Python. This means iRobot Root can grow with you as you become better at coding, from simple games to complex projects.

Features Comparison Chart: iRobot Root Lite (rt0) – Thymio II Wireless

Feature iRobot Root rt0 Thymio II Wireless
Recommended Ages 6+ 6+ (3+ with adult supervision)
Price (JP) 24,800 yen 24,800 yen (
Can Use Without Computer/Tablet
Free Lesson PDFs Available Thymio Challenge Programming Cards / MindMission Projects
Operating Systems Android, Chrome, Windows, iOS, macOS Android, Chrome, Windows, iOS, macOS, Linux
Programming Languages
No-Code / No-Screen
Discovery Modes
6 Modes
Block Programming
Text Programming Python, Swift Python, Aseba
AI Trainable Yes, with additional software
3D Accelerometer
Capacitive Touch Areas 4 5
Sound Sensor
Wireless Robot-to-robot
IR Proximity Sensors 9 Sensors
IR Remote (Sold Separately)
Programmable LED Lights 4 39
Drive Motors 2 2
Bump Sensors
Light Sensor
3D Gyroscope
Other Features
Open Source
Micro SD Slot
Drawing Pen Hole
Audio Playback
Lego Compatibility Yes, with additional accessory
Lego Technics Compatibility Yes, with LinkVest accessory
Connectivity Bluetooth Wireless USB dongle, Wi-Fi, USB cable
Battery Life 3 – 5 hours 3 – 5 hours
Charging Time 2-3 hours 2-3 hours

Comparing Thymio II Wireless with iRobot Root Lite (rt0)

iRobot Root Lite (rt0) Robot

  • Age Range: Designed to cater to a wide range of ages, though the complexity might be more suited for older children.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: May be higher-priced compared to Thymio when considering the required computers and tablets required to start, potentially limiting accessibility for some users.
  • Features: iRobot Root also comes with various sensors and is designed to interact with a whiteboard surface, drawing patterns, and reacting to colors.
  • Programming Languages: Offers a three-level coding interface in its companion app, suitable for beginners to advanced users.
  • Compatibility: Can be used on a standard whiteboard, allowing for collaborative experiences in a classroom.

Thymio II Wireless Classroom Robot

  • Age Range: Suitable for ages 3 to 100, Thymio offers a broad educational appeal, from early education to university-level and hobbyists.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Thymio is known for its affordability, making it a popular choice for schools and individuals on a budget.
  • Features: It boasts a variety of sensors, including proximity, light, microphone, accelerometer, and temperature. Thymio has different interactive modes that do not require programming, making it immediately engaging.
  • Programming Languages: Supports graphical programming with VPL (Visual Programming Language), Blockly, Scratch, as well as text-based programming with Python and Aseba.
  • Compatibility: Thymio can be integrated with LEGO and other construction kits, enhancing its physical computing capabilities.

Conclusion for the battle of the robots: iRobot Root Lite (rt0) vs. Thymio II Wireless

battle of the classroom robots comparison points

  • Age Group Versatility: Thymio’s simplicity and range of coding options make it suitable for a very wide age group. With the 5-Device Remote, children as young as 3 years old can start interacting with the robot. Root’s coding system is also tiered for various ages, but its specific whiteboard interaction might cater to a different educational setting.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Thymio’s ability to integrate with LEGO, the ability to be used out of the box without computers/tablets, and the wide array of built-in features may present a more cost-effective solution for educational institutions or individuals.
  • Features and Educational Value: Both robots offer unique features that cater to different aspects of learning. Thymio’s array of sensors and interaction modes without the need for a screen or a whiteboard might be seen as offering more versatility in various environments, whereas Root’s unique whiteboard interaction could be highly appealing in a collaborative classroom setting.

In summary, both Thymio and iRobot Root have their own unique selling points. Thymio’s strength lies in its versatility and cost-effectiveness, making it suitable for a wider range of users and educational contexts, while iRobot Root provides a distinctive interactive experience that can be beneficial for certain teaching styles and learning objectives.