What is BontenMaru?

BontenMaru is an intelligent one-chip robot in the form of a battery-powered mini-car with two large rubber rear wheels and a smaller plastic front wheel. It is the basis of a "build your own robot" project, developed in 1996 as an educational tool by a non-profit organization based in Sendai, a large city in northern Japan. BontenMaru comes in a kit designed for children ten years old and above. An assembled BontenMaru can be linked to a computer and loaded with programs or sets of commands, created with the help of a special language. These programs allow one to direct BontenMaru to perform various actions, 
such as moving in a certain path around obstacles. BontenMaru has two basic "behaviors": pursuit and avoidance. In the first, it follows a moving object, and in the second, it avoids obstacles in its way. In addition, BontenMaru has a memory that can record and play music.