I don't know anything about ER1 but have used python to control my own robot.
In general python is pretty powerful and easy to use.
Here are somethings that will be helpful.
1) Data Format: Usually when communicating with robots you need to parse data from C structs or get data from char, int or short int data types. Python does not have char or 16bit short int. To convert Python data types to C struct and vise-versa use the library "Struct". The Python docs does a good job of explaining the usage.
2) For keyboard input and printing to console check out the library WConio. The every useful kbhit() function is present in this library.
3) Library time has usual sleep() function to add delay.
4) For plotting things on PC without getting into complicated GUI programming check out matplotlib. It provides Matlab like plotting features.
5) Ofcourse library Serial gives access to serial ports on the PC. This library works just fine with the FTDI USB to serial converter chips.
Hope these things help.
The tutorials that come with the language download are not that noob friendly. This book is much lighter and good introductionhttp://www.greenteapress.com/thinkpython/