The latest generation of Lego’s Mindstorms consumer robotics platform will hit shelves Sept. 1, the company reported today, marking the third update to the system since its introduction 15 years ago.
The new kits, dubbed Lego Mindstorms EV3, were previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Today, the company shared 12 fan-designed robots that can be built using an EV3 set to go with five previously revealed official models from Lego. In addition to helping create the 12 bonus robots, Lego says the design process for the third generation system was aided by Mindstorms Community Partners, a multinational group with nearly 70 members.
The main improvement to the new system is a stronger, faster programmable brick, which is used to control the robots. EV3 also includes a USB port, an SD expansion slot, a new infrared sensor, and iOS and Android compatibility. (Blogger Laurens Valk, who is behind one of the fan-made designs, has an extensive rundown of all the differences on his site.) The EV3 kits will retail for about $350.
Mindstorms kits are popular among hobbyists and are used by middle school students involved in the FIRST Lego League. Currently, the Mindstorms community library contains more than 15,000 creations.
Here’s the basics of what the new kit will include, from Lego:
EV3 Intelligent Brick
- Stronger and faster ARM9 robotic processor
- Embedded 16MB FLASH memory
- 64 MB RAM plus SD expansion slot
- LINUX operating system, released under open source
- USB 2.0 interface allows for WiFi connectivity
- 4 input ports / 4 output ports allow up to four intelligent bricks to be connected together
- Matrix display with loudspeaker
- Building-compatible button interface with status indication
- Enhanced on-brick programming
- Bluetooth ® v2.1
- iOS and Android compatible
- 3 Interactive Servo Motors: 2 large and 1 medium
- Touch Sensor
- New IR Seeker Sensor measures distance, movements and detects objects
- New IR Beacon remotely controls robot from up to 6 feet away
- Improved Color Sensor detects 6 colors plus the absence of color
- Backwards-compatible with LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT
- Assortment of 594 LEGO TECHNIC® elements for easy, more stable building with improved functionality and movement capabilities
- Free PC and Mac compatible downloadable software available online starting September 1
- Icon-based drag and drop environment with new interactive content that helps de-bug programming
- Ability to zoom out on big programs aids creation of advanced concepts like parallel executions and arrays
- Step-by-step building instructions for 5 hero models: humanoid, snake, scorpion, gripper and tracker
- Detailed building instructions for 12 bonus models including: arcade style game, bulldozer, shell game, robotic scribe, dinosaur, electric guitar, line follower, forklift, brick measurer, racing truck, prankster and droid, as seen in the news section of the MINDSTORMS web community
- First-ever 3D interactive, step-by-step building instructions app powered by Autodesk lets builders rotate and zoom each step to model creation
[ photo courtesy of Lego Group ]