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Arduino Education Unveils Alvik, an Arduino Nano ESP32-Driven MicroPython Robot

Built around an Espressif ESP32 microcontroller running MicroPython, Alvik is a compact yet feature-packed robot for classrooms and more.

Arduino Education has unveiled a new robot, Alvik, which it hopes will be driving learning in classrooms throughout the world — and, in doing so, demonstrates Arduino's new commitment to MicroPython support.

"This launch is a defining moment for Arduino Education," claims Arduino Education's Yu Hu of the company's creation. "Alvik is more than a robot; it's a comprehensive learning tool, designed with the versatility and user-friendly approach that make it ideal for enhancing robotics and programming education across various age groups."

The Alvik robot uses MicroPython as its primary language, marking the latest move from Arduino in supporting the language following early experiments in August 2021 and a partnership with OpenMV for edge computer vision work in the language and the later development of the Arduino Lab Editor for MicroPython integrated development environment (IDE) — which was updated with fresh features and a one-click firmware installation tool back in July last year.

Designed with education firmly in focus, the Alvik comes complete with a step-by-step educator's guide with 19 lessons written to introduce robotics concepts — as well as other topics including physics, engineering, and the basics of the Internet of Things (IoT). The robot itself is described by the company as "compact yet feature rich" with a two-wheeled base, integrated sensors, a built-in rechargeable battery, and support for expansion with LEGO Technic, Qwiic, and Grove connectors.

The robot is built to act as a carrier board for an Arduino Nano ESP32, the company's first development board to feature an Espressif microcontroller at its heart. This connects via pins on the top of the board, while capacitive touch points provide turtle-like local programming for those not yet ready to make the jump to MicroPython itself.

The Alvik robot is on show today at The Bett Show, ExCel London, at Stand NJ12; Arduino Education has launched a registration list for those interested in being alerted when the Alvik kits are made available to purchase, though at the time of writing had not disclosed pricing.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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