Toy robotic maker Sphero spins off startup targeted on army, first responders

Sphero, which makes toy robots like this one, is launching a new company focused on more durable robots and ones with professional-grade features for first responders.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Sphero, the consumer robotics company known for its Disney BB-8 toys and STEM-based educational tools, is launching a startup focused on making robots and AI-based software for first responders, law enforcement and the military. 

Sphero on Wednesday said it had completed the spin-off of Company Six, an independent startup that will be adapting technology from Sphero’s Public Safety Division to make products fit for the demands of first responders. The startup will make robots that are more durable and offer more professional-grade features than their toy counterparts, Sphero said.

Read more: Best tech toys of 2020

“This is an opportunity to continue to bring revolutionary robotics technology to new markets to improve the lives of more people, our future leaders, and people with essential and sometimes dangerous job functions,” said Paul Berberian, former Sphero CEO, in a press release.

Berberian will become chairman of both Sphero and Company Six, while former COO Jim Booth will become Company Six’s new CEO. Both men have backgrounds in the military. 

Sphero discontinued its Disney robots in 2018 after their licensing deal ended. The company has since focused on making other educational-based toys and programmable robots. 

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