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Resolved Resolved by DJ Sures!

New Pay To Play ARC

I am 74 years old and I am building a full scale 3D printed R2-D2.  I have started programming the arm movements and have them all under voice command. I have around 20 voice command now.  To my surprise the program will now only support 10 voice commands unless I pay a monthly fee. This fee is being charged after the fact.  It also seems to be a life time fee.  If I pay the fee for say a year and finish the robot it will then stop working if I then no longer want to pay the fee because I am done building robots.  I could not even give R2-D2 to my Grandson because it would no longer work.  There seems to be something wrong with this. If I am paying to use the software then that Robert program should be good for ever. I could understand that I couldn’t add further enhancements to this robot without a fee but what I have paid for should be mine.  Like others I have spent a lot of time and money on my project and it seems that I have been shut down. I don’t want to be locked into a life time contract to keep R2-D2 working in the future.  Am I missing something about the new system of using ARC? I have been registered member of this community for about 10 years and I am very disappointed by this.


Related Hardware EZ-Robot EZ-B v4
Related Control EZ-B v4 Info
#1  
I agree. I am 71 and I use my robot Max to entertain myself and grandchildren. I held off on upgrading to ARC because I was waiting to do some modifications on my  robot. When I installed ARC it erased 90% of my existing Synthiam programs on my computer. I sent a text to Synthiam but received no info back. When I heard there will be charges I to am surprised. Where did you get the new information.

also I am sorry about the results you are having.
#2  
The change is a little jarring for sure to me also.  

I'm going to raise my concerns to EZ-Robot on their site for their version of ARC being limited now as well in the same way for their products.  Because as a consumer that aspect bothers me as I'd say it does many others that have a lot of EZ-Robot products because the ARC software in it's current form was designed for those EZ-Robot products originally (the two originally went together).  

The execution of the change strikes me as awkward and in my opinion I don't see how it can not raise some eyebrows directed at both companies.
PRO
Synthiam
#3  
Sounds like you have some amazing robots being built. We’d hate to see you go - but I understand if you’re not able or willing to support our hard earned effort at developing the ARC software. 

Justin, the ezrobot projects for their products (jd, six, roli, Accenture bot) do not require payment. Those projects will load and work as always in the free ARC version. The limitations of license requirements do not affect native ezrobot projects.
PRO
Canada
#4   — Edited
I also have several EZ-Robots (2 JD's, 1 Rover, 2 Battlebots, 1 Hexapod, 10 Dev Kits and several boxes of parts to make more EZ-Robots). I would also be upset if they have lost a lot of the functionality that they originally had when I purchased them. (The reason they were purchased).
#5  
DJ, if that is true perhaps I have made a mistake somewhere and I apologize if so.  I downloaded the version of ARC from EZ-Robot's site yesterday and loading my JD app I do get the limitation of 10 speech commands, 15 sound board entries and 40 actions.
PRO
Synthiam
#6  
Modifying the app beyond the free version limitations will require a subscription. The default apps work within the limitations - with room to grow and try a few additions. Modifying beyond the free limitations will require a license.
#7  
DJ, I think that brings me back to my concern and complaint to EZ-Robot because these limits were not there when the product was purchased for these core functions.  And the software and hardware came together when purchased without the expectation that the software would be outsourced to another company or that the software was in a limited "trial version".  I would expect EZ-Robot should continue to have a version of their own software with these core functions without those limits.  Which is why I'm going to bring that concern to them because I think they are in the wrong.
#8  
Sense my original post I have found that the soundboard does not work and I was connecting to my EZB4 and my mega arduino.  I can no longer do that either.  

also I still don’t understand that if I pay the fee for lets say a year to finish the robot will the robot still work or will it stop working and I will have wasted a year of work and money?
PRO
Synthiam
#9   — Edited
The software as a service means it operates within the restrictions of the license. Once the license is expired, much like all other paid subscriptions (mobile phone, cable tv, Netflix, Disney Plus, Spotify, car insurance, electricity, etc.) will no longer be accessible. 

Justin, the software limitations do not affect ezrobot default product apps. All ezrobot products can load their default apps and operate the robot without a license payment. If the robot is modified beyond the default product, that may require software license. 

We appreciate the many who have realized the $100/year is minor to access all this technology relative to their robot hardware costs. The ARC cloud server and this website alone costs thousands USD per month. 

I’m sorry if this means anyone has to move on to different software. But the fact remains that the alternative to charging for the software is to shut it down. I choose not to shut it down, because together I believe we can continue to make really great robots. If anyone doesn't align with that vision, I respect that and sorry to see them go - but hope that you value our product and stay.

I have a vision that many share - I sold ezrobot because a decision had to be made: stop developing software and ONLY sell robots or focus on just software to make robots awesomer.  While it may not be clear that the alternative to a payment system is EVERYTHING goes away. The good news about the payment system is anyone who doesn’t want to pay doesn’t have to experience the "everything goes away" because basic functionality is still there. 

With this payment system, the only people who will experience the "everything goes away" are those who leave. I’ve presented a fair and modest subscription plan that partially covers our server cost. I’ll continue to pay the difference for operating the business out of my pocket, but thankfully not as much with the subscription system - and we can continue to grow ARC and build robots together.
#10  

Quote:

Justin, the software limitations do not affect ezrobot default product apps. All ezrobot products can load their default apps and operate the robot without a license payment. If the robot is modified beyond the default product, that may require software license.
DJ, I'm not sure if you are seeing my point of view that it is a net new change the vendor EZ-Robot took after the fact of product purchase.

My point of view is the EZ-Robot JD was purchased with EZ-Robot software and while it had a "default" starting version of the project file which is true, there were no limitations to customize it nor expectation to limit it in the future at the time of purchase as they have now by out sourcing the software to Synthiam's ARC with new limits.   In fact I would say that customers developing the JD app behind the now current limits was highly encouraged by EZ-Robot by encouraging experimentation, contests and group projects to expand on the default product application.  That's a foul ball on the vendor EZ-Robot's side in my opinion. 

I know it is not Synthiam's issue DJ so I'll address it with the product vender EZ-Robot.
PRO
USA
#11   — Edited
I have been reading all this dialogue above:

I can see and hear both side frustrations:

Sad to say, we are all on a screen, just about no one here really knows each other or their needs.

DJ has to maintain his life style and all the bills that come with it.

Anyone should understand this, income is needed.  A pay version now is acceptable. 

(I am excellent in accounts receivable and accounts payable)

"Free" can't last forever.

I believe a "zoom" meeting", a few week earlier would have been in order "to announce" the new ARC model.


However, I thought the old version should have been left intact as is, without limitations and "anything new" should have been the pay version.

(It is hard to have the "free candy" and now you have to pay for "the same candy".)

I read many people with seniority woke up, downloaded the new version, their projects did not work any longer, or with "new limitations" with no advance notice" of what was to come and what was to be accepted.
 

We can still have a "zoom" meeting" if you think it is needed... 

Maybe in the future an "announcement" of change is in order, so that the "element of surprise" does not catch anyone unawares.


Having said all this above,

I have learned so much from DJ and the rest of you, please don't let a minimal fee discourage any of you.

If you don't want or can't pay,  there is still a "free version model out there". Just be content.


I wish everyone the best in their lives, 

EzAng

just another grandfather's wisdom  :-)
#12   — Edited
Why don’t you allow us old customers to use and download old EZRobt and Synthiam programs so we can still use our old robots. Then we can look at the new business model and decide to use it.  By the way in your above plan you left out DIY users.

This is a video of my robot Max. He is 5’ tall. His software was deleted when when I loaded ARC. Max lost a lot of functions and limitations he used to have.
 Here it is.
#13  
OMG!!!! That is a great robot @Ellis...actually both of them are great!! Why don't you show off more often? I am really impressed!!!:D
PRO
Belgium
#14  
using the old ez builder + the new version would be double the prize for dj to pay .
you cant have bolt .i am amazed that dj can give us the free ( limited do ) version and a pro  version too .
dj gave all off us a robot dream .why dont we give dj his dream?
PRO
Belgium
#15  
i also notest that apple pay doesn work for belgium .

User-inserted image
#16  
Thanks. Right now I have lost a lot of my programs. Even the ones for him. 

I don’t mind DJ wanting to make money that is understandable. What I want is the ability to be able to download the old versions and continue using my robots with all the the options. No minimum use. 

I still do not understand changing all the business model but I don’t understand not giving us heads up. 

Please let us download all the old versions that are now not supported for our robots. We then can decide on ARC. 

Customer service has always been a key factor in any business. 

Thanks Everyone.
PRO
Belgium
#17  
averyone

its good that averyone ventilate there frustrations. i think the main problem is ,
the amount off work you will have to redo off all your robots .
thats where the frustration comes from . the only thing thats importent is ,
that ARC still excist or will die .when it dies you will have nothing .
even if you choose to use another platform ,you still need to redo all off your work .

ELLIS

MAX is great robot are there more video's ?
#18  

Quote:

We appreciate the many who have realized the $100/year is minor
Actually the yearly cost is $107.89 USD if the yearly payment plan is used. That's $8.99 USD a month. 

I guess I'll be visiting the fast food restaurant one time less a month to balance out this new expence in my budget. LOL.
PRO
Belgium
#19  
hi dave

see ARC is not only cheap but healty too .xD am sorry iff my joke is offencive.
#20  
@Ellis, I feel your pain brother.

However I don't believe your work has been deleted or lost as you say. I have a very large project that I've been working years on. It has many skill, controls, scripts, sound files and AutoPosition gants. I first downloaded the free version of ARC and everything was there but nothing really worked much . Free ARC told me in a notice as the program was loading that much of my project wouldn't work because of the size (can't remember the exact message) until the program was upgraded to a subscription. 

I subscribed to the Yearly plan that costs $107.89 USD. That figures out to be $8.99 USD a month. When I reloaded my large project everything worked as it should. 

I do hope you can recover and find your work. Good luck. I hope to see you back again. Your robots are awesome!
#21   — Edited
@Nomad 6R, LOL! You're a funny guy! I'm better off by staying away from the fast food and staying home working on my B9 Robot!
PRO
Belgium
#22  
hi dave 
youve said it . not many people know that fast food is very adictive (fat ) is a survival food .
#23  
Ellis - I totally agree.  I feel like the "old software" was owned or should be owned by EZ-Robot because it was originally made for their products.  Which is why I reached out to complain about the same point to EZ-Robot from their website under their "Contact Us" option and I think anyone else with the same concern should do the same.  I think EZ-Robot should offer a legacy version of the software functional to the point before ARC.  To me that seems fair for consumers that bought EZ-Robot products back in the day.  Perhaps EZ-Robot should even make that version of the legacy software version open source.  And then EZ-Robot could offer current product software ARC from Synthiam as they do now with this pay as you go/limited use/trial model.  But any of us that feel this way need to make our case to the company EZ-Robot because we purchased their products.

As far as what Synthiam has now with ARC (if I isolate this new model in a box without legacy EZ-Robot products involved) it's not horrible.  I do think Synthiam could use some new training videos on how to setup and manage the "pro" version and video tips for new customers on how to evaluate the software first before purchasing it.
#24  
I agree, much more in depth training videos and/or written documents would really be nice. Maybe even get Professor E to hold some online training course for us:) ?
#25  
My main points are:

1.   Let us use pre ARC software for our DIY
Robots. 

2.   Why were my programs deleted. Will I get them back?

I was a EZ-Robot customer when there were no EZ-robots. We also paid to get EZ-Robot software and DJ was making Robots out of toys. 

I love our old days and want to thank DJ for a great run of fun. 

I have not decided on ARK yet. I am not sure if it will work for me. I have an open mind though. 

Also I did send a text to ARC. I still have not received any answer.
PRO
Synthiam
#26   — Edited
1) you can certainly run any old version of ARC pre-arc

2) your programs were not deleted. We'll never delete your programs. What makes you think they're deleted?

3) Can you clarify "I sent a text to ARC and have not received an answer"? I don't know what that means

Thanks Ellis:)
#27   — Edited
I never thought of it...but that solves all the trouble, right guys?
Just download the old EZ-Builder, and everything should be good?

I am perfectly fine with the free version, it has everything I need!
I can figure it might take some time, to port a project from ARC to an old version of EZ-Builder, but it will safe you from the headaches of having to deal with future updates! 

But yes, an advanced notice of those changes should have been made!
#28  
Thanks DJ.

I updated to ARC. When  the screen showing my projects came up, all the newer projects were gone. That means Maxes programs didn’t get downloaded. I mean all my project in the last two year vanished. I went into file explorer they did not show up. All my older version versions did. 

Second I sent message to Synthiam telling them my situation through Synthiam’s Contact Us. I have not received a reply. I then entered into an existing post and joined the discussion. 

I do not understand how to download the versions before ARC.  Where are they and do I need to use Synthiams download program?

If we can use these older programs, I think it will solve the problem with our older Robots. Please explain how to go about this.   
I am very interested in the Synthiam ARC but I need to understand this whole system better. 

Thanks Again
PRO
Synthiam
#29   — Edited
1) ARC doesn’t download any programs or projects. The projects on your computer are not modified in any way by arc. The location the projects are saved in are never changed by arc. I recommend searching your hard drive using windows file explorer to locate your projects. 

2) the Contact Us filters questions that don’t align within the terms of contact agreement posted on the contact page. If you attempted to contact for technical support, the request would not align with the Contact Us agreement. We use the forum for technical support - and for direct one on one communication with a robot expert, the premium tickets support is available with a pro membership. Otherwise a ticket can also be purchased additionally. 

3) Synthiam is unable to help you find old deprecated software. I recommend the latest version of ARC, as it includes recent updates, bug fixes and continued new feature development. If you do not wish to purchase a subscription to use ARC because you do not think the software is useful to you, then I respect that and hope one day to change your mind. Please let me know what features you would like to see in the software that would help you purchase it for our hard work and efforts.
PRO
Synthiam
#30  
One more thing, Ellis. If your past projects were saved in default locations. Here’s the two places..

for arc, projects are saved in My Documents\ARC\My Projects

for ezrobot’s old ezbuilder in My Documents\EZ-Builder\My Projects

unless you saved projects somewhere other than the default location, that’s where they will be
#31  
Thanks DJ. Thank you for explaining two areas that store updated now instead of one. I will look and see if my files are there. If not I will use file explorer to see if they could be found somewhere else.

I used Contact Us also to address the change without notification. 

 I still would like to know when they became ARC format. I know when ARC format came out I decided not to update until I fixed some things with my robot first. Just lately I went ahead and updated my old program to ARC. 

I will try all the things you recommended and will let you know how things went. 

Also what happens when we update. I don’t know what all happens. You said my program files are not changed by ARC but it seems that ARC may have moved my newer files to ARC files. 

I am becoming more interested in ARCs program even if it does cost some money. One thing is important. I have to have full capabilities of the old auto-position for it to be worthwhile. We need at least all the capabilities that we used to have. 

 Thanks for clearing up sone of the issues. On others could you post better clarification on being able to use old Synthiam programs. What is the cutoff for our  Synthiam programs and when did ARC take over. 

Thanks for the help.
#32   — Edited
@DJ, I also contacted Synthiam days ago through the "Contact Us" link shown on the pricing plan page here on this website. I was surprised that I hadn't gotten a reply yet. Yse ually you guys are so quick to respond. 

@Ellis, From what I've seen all versions of ARC has all the functionally of the old EZ Build and more. Even the Auto Position functions. I haven't noticed anything that has been removed. It's really the same platform that does more in a better way.
PRO
Synthiam
#33  
Dave - i was the one who responded. I'm surprised you didn't get it. I'll have to check that email account and see if there's a problem. Stay tuned
PRO
Synthiam
#34  
Dave - can you check your spam folder and see if the response ended up there?
#35  
Thanks for the personal care @DJ. I'll check my spam folder. I kinda knew there was something else wrong other than a no response. That just is not your way. You've always been there for us.;)
#36  
@DJ, I checked everything I've received since the beginning of the month.  Can't find any response from you. Could you tell me what the name on the email would be or the subject is so I can do a proper search? Also my email address that the response should have gone to is dschulpius@gmail.com. Maybe something got gummed up there. Thanks for taking the time to help.
#37  
Wow monthly fee? LOL and I'm out I'll rebuild.
PRO
Synthiam
#38   — Edited
Sorry to hear you're unable to support our efforts of helping to program your robot with amazing technologies, easily - we're always here if you change your mind! :D. Keep in mind, the free version may still work for your build.
#39  
No one has answered my basic question. If I pay my monthly fee for say a year to finish my R2-D2 and then retire and stop paying the fee will my R2-D2 just stop working? If this is so it simply not right. At my age this is a burden. I must now try to learn Linux and python.  I guess that the way you have decided this is justified.
PRO
Synthiam
#40   — Edited
Hi Dave,

We have a development plan to address that concern :). 

Right now, if the subscription is expired, you will not be able to use subscription based features. However, one of the things we're working on is the ability to make a runtime of your project. This means that if you're "done with your robot", you'll be able to press a button and output a version that no longer requires subscription. The goal is to have the subscription for the development. We're using the funding of the subscription model today to continue developing that feature and hope to have it done before November 2021.

PS, on the topic of your R2.. have you been watching the progress of ARC's new autonomous navigation developments? It's pretty awesome - and soon your R2 can drive around entirely on it's own and understand where it is - where it's going - and how to get back :D. There's a few videos of the progress on other threads in the forum
#41  
Thank you DJ for your prompt response. This sounds like a very good solution to my and others concerns. Like I said before I have no concerns about the monthly fee. It is only fare for all your hard work over the years. I believe I will sign up for the fee payment to continue using the best robot program on the planet.
PRO
Synthiam
#43  
Awe, thanks so much! That does mean a lot to me. My biggest reward for the effort in Synthiam is when people appreciate the software. I’m surely going to have something within the year. And this current subscription system helps validate my efforts. That’s why I priced it so low, just so I can make sure people care ... otherwise I’d just stop haha

as for the priority of things. The big one right now is navigation.
#44  
Well really a monthly subscription while being able to try out cutting edge technology with simple to use plug ins developed by DJ and a crew. Some of the smartest people working on amazing ideas. To bring robots of the Future here now! No waiting for stinking 50 years down the road when space ships are having war with Aliens in a galaxy Far far away, LOL. I mean what's 8.99 bucks a month for all that Fun? The only thing better would be paypal for me as there are no 10 dollar visa gift cards at the Walmart or grocery stores that I can find just 25$ .so I need to pay again now but not sure if I may be 1 dollar short as it converts to US dollars,LOL! Can I mail in a Toony?:D
PRO
Synthiam
#45   — Edited
Mail me a beer!

PS, you save by getting a annual subscription. That's a better and more affordable deal
#46  
That's 2 beers I owe you now.xD
#47  
Good to see finished projects will be able to be outputted. My robot was pretty much complete, but I have already started the rebuild process. I will hold out hopes to see this in the future though. The software is probably the easiest way for someone to build a DIY robotic project and save time on programming while making something amazing.  That is why I chose this product over something like ROS or myrobotlab. I don't have as much time to spend on programming as I'm always knee deep in networking, virtualization and server infrastructure at work.  Your product is a great way to making things work really quickly.  Have fun and happy building I'll check back periodically.
PRO
Synthiam
#48  
Thanks kind of you to say.:)
#49   — Edited
@DJ This is very maddening for me since I just started building my inmoov and now I HAVE TO PAY for arc!!! I do not have the money to pay 10 dollar's a month for ARC so now I cannot use the plugins I need.  Why do we have to pay for this software when for the longest time it was free?  Do you have a plan for those that are homeschooled as I am?  I have no idea what to do now since I cannot use the full potential of ez-robot/arc anymore?  My dad also did not see any specials for Black Friday for maybe a "forever" plan or something.  Need your advice now.  I'd love to keep using this, but the plugins that are need from the store are more than 1 and paying a yearly fee of $120 is really steep.  Thanks
PRO
Synthiam
#50   — Edited
Sorry to hear that you can't afford to support the software developments of ARC that makes your robot dreams a reality. However, there is a free version that supports Auto Position and camera and speech recognition that will work great with your InMoov. A one-time purchase only makes sense for software that does not have on-going new feature development. We continually add new features daily to increase your robot's ability.
#51  
@Autiboy, I'm not trying to give you a hard time here. Please understand this. I'm wondering how you have been able to afford all the 3D printing equipment and supplies, sensors and motors so far that is going into your robot. That investment is no minor cost. What ever you have been doing to fund your build to this point I'd suggest you keep it up and probably do more. ARC is now another monetary investment  that brings your robot to life and will help it and yourself to grow and learn. Nothing in life is free. Everything has a price tag.

Have fun and enjoy.
PRO
Canada
#52   — Edited
I was using  ARC and EZ-robot to teach kids about robotics for work. We have to volunteer to help kids with STEM each year. PTP graciously wrote some plugins for me.  

now I actually have to pay for ARC I started using it more and now I am trying to get a better understanding of what the platform can do outside of EZ-Robot.  

If you actually have to pay for something you start to appreciate how valuable it is and start using it more.  

BTW the support alone is more than worth it.
#53   — Edited
Well I have a little income working at a potato farm but since I am still in high school I do not have a lot of time to work.  I just find it really maddening that for years it was free and now the version I NEED has a MONTHLY price tag for EACH MACHINE.  I am sure that their are many other ways to make money then loose members because you MAKE THEM HAVE TO PAY MONTHLY for ARC.  I would love to continue using ARC but if this is how Synthiam is going to go then it might just force me to find some other platform to use.
PRO
Synthiam
#54   — Edited
We understand that you can't afford to support our developments of the ARC software. Unfortunately, it costs us money to have free users. It is expensive for us to give software away for free because it costs us a lot of money to build, maintain, support, and add new features (not excluding our infrastructure web hosting, storage and software licenses).  We have to charge for our effort and in return customers pay for the result that they value.:)
#55  
When you convert to US dollars I think it is only 12 or 13 dollars, I need to go buy just a gift card Visa to do it but it is so worth it, I was playing around with some of the new features they keep adding everyday...Mind blowing stuff you will never find anywhere else, cutting edge technology we are exploring with easy to use controls, you can't beat that deal anywhere! Try programming these features yourself with just Arduino and examples free on the Web, Good luck with that! I tried, it sucks. I just used the basic version of ARC just now to see if Roomba control panel would still work and , Behold, works great! For those times of emergency,Basic is just fine.
#56   — Edited
Even on  ez-robot we get the LIMITED EDITION OR (free).  So we put money into ez-robot then it become's synthiam you opensource all the hardware and force people to pay for a software that SHOULD be free and make it like paying for SOMESORT OF CLOUD STORAGE.  When IT WAS FREE.  Because you cannot think of any other ways of making MONEY.  YOU ARE FORCING US TO PAY FOR ARC BY making  THE free edition have 1 quarter the functionality it should.
#57  
Ahh, no you are quite wrong there I am using the free edition until I upgrade later today again. As long as you save your projects to the Synthiam cloud, you can re use those programs in the free ARC with what I can see all my plug ins working that are in the premium plan.Everything I programmed last week is still working in my free version on a different laptop, All I did was download from the cloud, last weeks programs I made.
#58  
Ok so let me understand this, ez-robot was free for many many years with hundreds of users actively supporting and even helping create some of the plugins and now that it has moved to ARC and you are needing more than one plugin you have pay a yearly fee?  So, with that being said I have a couple of questions:

1.  What ever happened to the linux edition of ez-robot that was being worked on?
2. For kids and family members at home and learning robotics is there a EDU edition?
3.  For those that bought many products was there an a discount on Black Friday that we missed for the new annual paid version?

I'm only asking these questions as the ez-robot community is actually pretty big with some very long time users of not only your hardware, but also the software. 

We do appreciate the product, but a monthly fee or yearly fee can add up really quickly.
PRO
Synthiam
#59   — Edited
Hello, here’s some answers to your questions...

1) the Linux version existed for a little under 2 years. However, due to a few reasons it was cancelled a few months ago. The lack of hardware compatibility with Linux caused a number of user issues. The few users who did use it, had trouble maintaining the operating system. And it was less than 1% of our users. It wasn’t a viable investment to pay a salaried full time staff to maintain the code base for something no one was using. 

2) there is a free version available that maintains all the built in features you experienced with ezrobot. The product page has a list of comparison against the paid and free version. You can access that by clicking PRODUCTS -> ARC on this website top menu 

3) Synthiam did not have a Black Friday sale for the $8.99 software product we sell 


As you have experienced, the software has developed far beyond the initial versions. With the ongoing demand of new features and community feedback, full time staff were hired to maintain and develop so your robots could keep doing more. Eventually the customers became so dependent on the software features that it became a product of its own. As you can imagine, the ARC software is millions of lines of code and has taken 10+ years of development totaling more than 12 hours per day of full time man hours. 

The free version provides the standard usual features you’ve grown to enjoy in the past. The paid subscription model validates our effort to continue developing new features to make your robots even smarter. 

Thanks!