Acting like one of the popular spider robot form factors (even if they aren’t exactly spiders in form), the Vincross HEXA is not quite an arachnid (it has fewer legs), nor a crab (it has more limbs!), but it’s all fun in what appears to be the most complete, all-around robots and robotics systems we’ve come across.
It isn’t easy to dismiss it as just another “creature robot” because by definition, they come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and form factors. But there is no doubt that regardless of form, the Hexa has the finest combination of hardware, software and artificial intelligence (AI) you can get your hands on for hobby, programming, or research applications.
The Hexa is a six-legged scuttling robot that provides two key offerings in a single package.
First, it’s an articulate crab-style robot that moves in a curiously dexterous way, and not like a toy with all limbs moving in unison at all times, but as a modern robotic organism that adjusts its movement to its terrain or follows instructions its owner programs.
This includes moving any, several or all limbs in different ways with multiple angles of rotation each, making for a wide range of movement or skills, and acting more like a true crustacean as you’d imagine from the movies, only that this is for real. It works relatively well out of the box and can be used this way throughout.
Which brings us to the second key application that comes with this unit: its programmable, consumer-oriented robotic operating system (OS) called MIND.
You don’t need to familiarize yourself with this at all in order to use your HEXA, but it’s there if you ever wanted to dig deeper into your arthropod bot to program it or fiddle with real robotics, or are simply interested in customizing more abilities or having even more fun with it.
Based on Linux, MIND is more like a robotics ecosystem that comes with programmability, shareable skillset software programs, drivers and libraries to control the robot unit and network in a refined way that is different from the seemingly less polished way of other, regular kits, and closer to working with software for mobile phones or modern devices with a software developer kit (SDK) or a sandbox-style 3D simulator.
Enthusiasts who program their Hexa through MIND can even share or trade with other user-generated skills from fellow enthusiasts through the Skills Store.
It moves the way a creature or spider does, and for the enthusiast, you won’t regret ponying up the cash for it, especially that it isn’t cheap. If older types of spider robots were impressive, this one is a step beyond.
Review & Rating
- A wide range of motion and rotations for each of its six legs, making it dexterous and agile
- Moves just like the robot you expect like the kind you find in movies instead of the usual limited scope of movement in toys people have come to expect
- Goes beyond limited functionality and into a true robot operating system that is based on Linux
- Highly programmable via its SDK and Go programming language
- Skills can be added via the Skills Store
- Good and growing Hivemind community of enthusiasts sharing skills for their Hexa and libraries for MIND
- Night vision
- Obstacle avoidance or surmountability
- Scales uneven topologies
- Connectivity with IoT devices
- Made for adult enthusiasts
- iOS/Android app controls
- Scales steps, and works well in regular surfaces or uneven terrain
- Robust on both counts: robotics (HEXA) and artificial intelligence (MIND)
- Relatively expensive. (Though cheap when you consider all its features and extensibility, as well as when compared to similar-level units.)
The most "complete" experience in a robot package. The Hexa not only looks like a highly advanced spider-style creature robot from the future, but smoothly operates like one as well. That would have been enough to have this machine earn some of the highest marks, but it goes further. Way further: It has modern features (cameras, sensors, etc.), serious programmability (its own SDK and programming language), and even comes with its own robot operating system (OS), based off of Linux no less, so you know there are serious roboticists behind it. It even has its own virtual, 3D simulator and coding control as a sandbox to let users test things before committing to the physical unit. And there's yet more.
It's an impressive product that is fun to use for the regular user, but perfectly fits the bill of even the most serious robotics enthusiasts or researcher.
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Overview: Spider Robot with Fewer Legs, and All Thumbs Up
Each package contains a complete 6-legged HEXA robot, SDK, 3D simulator, mobile app and standard charger. A wireless charging dock is also optionally available.
- Sensors: 720p camera with night vision; 3-axis accelerometer; distance measuring sensor; infrared transmitter.
- Maneuverability: Each leg is equipped with three motors and three DoF. The head can spin endlessly.
- Processor: Dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 @1GHz
- Interfaces: USB, audio input & output, I2C, ADC, GPIO, 5V / 3V3 power outlet
- Storage: 8 GB
- Battery: 45-180 minutes during continuous use, with charging time of 2.5 hours via charging cable or 4 hours via wireless dock
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, and HEXA can act as a Wi-Fi access point.
- Dimensions: Height – 4.72 inches, diameter – 20 inches.
While consumer robots usually come in either complete-but-limited-functionality or multifunctional-but-cumbersome-to-assemble-or-program packages, the HEXA combines the best of both in an attention-grabbing smart bot intended for the use-only enthusiasts or creative adults who want to tinker with their robot and program it to their hearts’ delight.
It goes beyond being just a tweakable Tinkertoy. It has various sensors that serve different functions to allow it to understand its environment, has obstacle-avoidance technology built-in, and even has a night vision sensor to go with its 720p camera so you can see from its point-of-view while also making it serve as a surveillance robot at home.
What’s more, it can provide for serious applications beyond being a wifi hotspot in itself. This includes telling you the weather when it wakes you in the morning, adjust the temperature using your compatible thermostat when the temperature outside goes below freezing, and a host of others you can program or obtain from the Skills Store and its community of enthusiasts.
The Good: What We Like
The Hexa checks all the boxes for what you’d seek in a robotic unit for serious fun, research, hobby or experimentation. It’s a dream artificial creature bot for the eager enthusiast (and an amusingly captivating creature from unwitting peoples’ nightmares) that is sure to provide you with an endless time of fun and tweaking.
Its hardware is impressive with a smooth flow and degrees of freedom. Its software is arguably even more so, in many levels: First, for the running code that comes with the unit. Second, its extensibility and programmability by way of its SDK, plus support software like a 3D virtual environment that you can set and test like a sandbox before applying them to the actual unit. And third, its robotic operating system (M.I.N.D.) that is based on Linux and really tuned for robotics.
This unit may not be very cheap, but such a coherent and extensive combination is something you’d normally expect from a government-sanctioned (and funded) research device.
It has a good level of AI out of the box and allows you to add your own or from various libraries as you’d like.
Best of all, it comes with various extensions, skills and both a marketplace and community that enables you to extend your unit’s abilities even further to your heart’s (or application’s) desire.
In fact, for a relatively new product, it’s among the most polished, refined and “complete” out there.
Each of its features or positive marks is absolutely great on their own. But when combined, as they are in the Hexa, it becomes a package that is a force to be reckoned with.
The Bad: What We Don’t Like
Outside of its price (understandable for a robotic device of this build type and quality), there’s hardly anything bad to say.
If you’re just wanting something to play with, it may not take very long before you tire of the unit since it’s meant for users to be more involved. Consequently, if you’re an enthusiast, there is a depth in this creature robot you’ll hardly find elsewhere, and likely give you countless hours of enjoyable, interesting activity.
The Vincross Hexa brings what amounts to advanced experimental robotics you normally find in government-sanctioned corporations to the masses. It’s a versatile, open platform intended for adult enthusiasts and comes with extensibility beyond the product itself, in the form of its robust and growing community, as well as its Skills marketplace.
The Hexa is the “most complete” package in any robotics kit, the Hexa feels polished like a consumer robot, but checks all the boxes for the features and attributes any serious user would want. It is a fully functioning robot whose hardware feels polished and can traverse uneven terrain.
It can be set to autonomously move about and is more than customizable, it is meant to be tweaked and programmed. It has its own software development kit (SDK) and programming language for complete customisability and more than the skills it already comes with and gives owners access to a growing community of developers and enthusiasts.
It even comes with M.I.N.D., its “robot operating system” that is based on Linux, so you know these are serious forays into its ecosystem.
It even comes with an app for more controls. It’s complete, and keep its owners occupied for a really long time.