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Real Robots was the name of a fortnightly partwork magazine by Eaglemoss Publications, established in May, 2001.Developed in partnership with Reading University, it allowed the reader to build a robot, "Cybot", and later a companion robot, "Tom". This series, which was released in eight countries, is now discontinued.
There were 96 issues of the magazine, divided into 5 phases:
- Phase 1 - Issues 1 to 17 - Cybot is built, and is able to follow lines on the floor, and sense light and objects.
- Phase 2 - Issues 18 to 40 - A remote control is built, along with a docking station, allowing Cybot to be programmed. Some issues also contain alternate body pieces, transforming Cybot into a 'Team Cybot', a formula-1 styled robot.
- Phase 3 - Issues 41 to 55 - Cybot becomes voice controlled with the addition of a headset to wear and some additional components for the remote control.
- Phase 4 - Issues 56 to 70 - Cybot learns to play 'football'. Infrared location sensors are added to Cybot, as well as Infrared beacons in the form of a ball and a goal.
- Phase 5 - Issues 71 to 96 - TOM (Tracking Orbital Module) is built. TOM is a smaller robot than Cybot, with a similar look. Its features include scanning sonar, a higher speed, full programmability, 'emotions', and interaction with Cybot.
Especially during Phase 1, the magazine was very popular, as the reader quickly built a working robot, with new features added at a fast pace. The magazine was generally considered interesting and educational. As such, a large and active community built up around the magazine, including a couple of notably active websites, Realcybot.com(not online now), and Cybotbuilder.com. The latter was renamed www.robotbuilder.co.uk and remains active and online.
At £3.99 per issue many subscribers complained that the building went at a slow pace, making it expensive (fewer parts per issue of the magazine). This was mainly caused by a continuous evolution of features of the project, meaning that there was no rigid timetable. A prime example of this was in Phase 2 - with 5 more issues than Phase 1, the main additions to the series were a remote control, contrary to the goal of building an autonomous robot, and a docking station which was largely unnecessary, and the "Team Cybot" customisation which was very unpopular and required a rebuild of significant parts of the robot.