Although we're still a long way from seeing the kind of humanoid robots featured in films, you can now buy robots for your home. Robot vacuum cleaners are the most obvious example, but there are also toys - most of which have great educational value as they're designed to motivate kids (or even curious adults) to learn to code.

Because these robots let your first coding attempts make something happen in the physical world, they're an even better learning tool than block-style coding apps which have become popular. Plus, robots are fun, plain and simple.

You don’t need any coding knowledge to play with the robots in our round-up, but with a little know-how you can make them do specific things. We also have a guide to the best coding games for kids if you're looking for more ways to introduce coding to your children.

So whether you're keen to get your kids into coding or just want to get them a great gift, here's our guide to the best robot toys around.

Sphero R2-D2 - Best for Star Wars fans

Sphero R2-D2

Sphero may be known for its spherical robots, but its best creation yet instead focuses on the company's other great success: the Star Wars-inspired BB-8 droid. The result: a decidedly non-spherical, but very brilliant, R2-D2.

Controlled using a smartphone app, this diminutive droid boasts a host of animations drawn directly from the films, including authentic sound effects and LED flashes. You can control him directly from the app, set him to patrol, or even leave him to react autonomously as you watch one of the Star Wars films with R2 at your side. There's also an AR mini-game to enjoy.

Sure, he's more remote-control toy than robot in the strictest sense, but R2 is one of cinema's most famous robots, and this is the most authentic R2 toy we've seen. You can also use him to learn how to code with the free Sphero Edu app.

Sphero Bolt - Best for learning coding

Sphero Bolt

The Bolt is one of Sphero's more traditional robots and is its most advanced offering yet.

This is the next step on from the SPRK+ - which you'll find further down this list - and pairs the traditional Sphero tech with new features like an LED light panel, an ambient light sensor, and infrared communication between multiple Bolts.

While the Sphero Play app comes loaded with a few games and driving options, the real focus here is the Edu app. This is designed both for individual learners and for school groups, and will run users through block-based coding (with the option of full JavaScript too) to develop programs that make the most of the Bolt's array of sensors, lights, and speakers.

From programming animations and games to making multiple Bolts act out little scenarios, there's a massive amount of potential here. And thanks to an array of graphs providing live feedback from the various sensors, there's the chance to learn as much about physics and engineering as there is coding.

Read our Sphero Bolt review.

Sphero Mini - Best budget robot

Sphero Mini

If you don't want to pay for the full Sphero experience of the SPRK+ or one of the Star Wars droids, you might want to consider the Sphero Mini.

As the name suggests this is a smaller version of the company's spherical robots, fortunately with a lower price point to match.

As with other Sphero droids you control it using your phone, and there are a few options: you can use standard touchscreen joystick controls; a 'slingshot' mode in which you pull back and release to send the robot flying forwards; a gyroscopic mode where you tilt the phone to steer; and even a facial recognition mode where you can smile to move forward and frown to reverse (fun, but it doesn't work as smoothly as the other modes).

The Mini is available in a few different colours, and you can also customise the colour of the internal LED, which glows through the translucent plastic shell. It charges over Micro-USB (cable included) and comes with a set of mini plastic bowling pins and traffic cones to set up obstacle courses.

Beyond driving around the Sphero there's also a set of games that use the internal gyroscope, so you rotate the Sphero itself to move around objects on your phone screen within the game. It takes some getting used to the controls, but it's fun once you get the hang of it - if little more than a novelty.

You even get the more complex programming features of the bigger Spheros through the Sphero Edu app, so for very little money you're really getting the full Sphero package in the palm of your hand.

Sphero SPRK+ - Best waterproof robot

Sphero SPRK+

Another robot that's widely available is the Sphero SPRK+. This is an evolution of the original Sphero, and is designed to be fun to play with and to inspire kids to learn to code.

At its simplest you can use the Sphero app to control where the ball rolls, just a like a remote-controlled car.

But you can also program it to travel a certain route, and you can hold it and use it as a controller for other apps and games.

Read our full Sphero SPRK+ review.

LittleBits Gizmos & Gadgets - Most versatile

LittleBits Gizmos and Gadgets

LittleBits also sells a kit where kids (ages 8 and up) can create their own crazy contraptions, including a Bitbot robot that you can wirelessly drive around a room.

This is all about children learning to invent using electronic building blocks that snap together with magnets. It's simple to use, and comes with a 60-page invention guidebook. The kit includes all you need for 16 set inventions, and then you can create your own and share them online.

There are 13 'Bits' and 56 accessories, including a buzzer, DC motor, fan light sensor, slide dimmer and ball caster, as well as mounting boards, wires, splits, mechanical arms and so on.

The company rather cruelly suggests you can use Bitbot to "prank your pets", and maybe more humanely turn your room into a race track.

Cozmo 2.0 - Most life-like

Cozmo 2.0

The Cozmo is hands-down one of the smartest robots we've seen. Unfortunately, Anki went out of business in 2019, but the good news is that the assets were bought by startup Digital Dream Labs.

The Cozmo 2.0 has been a long time coming but is finally available - at a much higher price than the original. We haven't seen this revamped version, but it has various improvements to battery life, replaceable parts and more.

Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, Cozmo packs an impressively big brain, and is capable of recognising people's faces, playing games, and learning as he goes.

Cozmo comes with three LED cubes, which are used in games that test reaction time and colour matching. He learns how you play and adjusts his own skill level - and reactions - appropriately: beat him and he'll throw a tantrum, screwing up the eyes on his LED screen.

The built-in camera can learn, recognise and then associate faces with a given name, which he will say out loud when he sees them. You can program Cozmo to say other phrases, too.

You can even remotely control Cozmo while watching the view from his camera on your phone- or tablet screen. There's also a host of coding mini-games to teach kids basic programming.

Above all, though, Cozmo is packed with personality. He's lively, vibrant and fun, telling you what games he wants to play at any given time, reacting to you and expressing his emotions. It sounds silly, but you really will find yourself caring about Cozmo and what he wants, which is a huge accomplishment.

If you want to find out more, you can see the original in action in our video.