Javascript robotics and you.

About Me

Engineering Evangelist @ RetailMeNot

NodeBots Core Team

"Might actually be a NodeBot"

Brief History of JS robotics

1. Node-SerialPort

2. Johnny-Five


The JS Hardware Explosion

  • Conferences started having hardware talks
  • Dev interest skyrocketed
  • # of platforms skyrocketed

Johnny-Five to Nodebots

There is now a differentiation between johnny-five the library, and NodeBots the movement.

Johnny-five unlocks an entire segment of nodebots, but there are now new forms of NodeBots that run JS natively.

Three Categories of NodeBot:

  1. "Wrapped" NodeBots
  2. "Native" NodeBots
  3. Itty-Bitty Computers

"Wrapped" NodeBots

Examples: Arduino, Sphero, AR-Parrot Drones, SparkCore

These technologies do not run JS internally; they expose an API that can be used via JS

This is where Johnny-Five shines: one consistent API to control a litany of robotic platforms

"Native" NodeBots

Examples: Tessel, Espruino, Pinoccio (kinda)

These platforms run JS natively- no wrappers, no tethered computer running node

Most have their own libraries - but Johnny-Five can also be used on some of these!

Itty-bitty computers

Examples: Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black

These are just small computers with GPIO pins attached. They run Node, from the command line, just like your laptop.

There are plenty of npm modules to work with the GPIO on these machines, but, of course, johnny-five can wrap these, too.


Examples: Arduino Yun, Intel Galileo

These are "wrapped tech" (arduino) mashed together with itty-bitty computers.

Equivalent of plugging an Arduino into a BeagleBone Black with a USB cord.

Johnny-Five has wrappers for some of these, too.


Espruino Microcontroller

Written entirely in JS

Uses sensors, outputs, and lights

Where do I start?

Freenode: #nodebots, #johnny-five

Document Your Build!

From the simplest blinking LED to NodeBots RoboCop, your documentation matters!

Don't just document what went well- document what went wrong!

So get out there and build something!

Kassandra Perch


Engineering Evangelist, RetailMeNot


By kperch


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