The latest Lego Mindstorms set is totally mind-blowing. You can command 5 different model robots with WiFi, bluetooth or smartphone. The programming capabilities are endless. We've reached out to Lego, but so far no official statement on whether the EV3 comes preprogrammed to obey Asimov's Laws of Robotics.
Lego Mindstorms are toolkits that allow you to make insane programmable robots (software and hardware included). This is the third generation Mindstorms series. The technology is a step up from the previous series. The programmable brick is an ARM9-based processor that runs Linux, with 16MB FLASH memory, and 64MB RAM. There’s also a USB connector and SD slot.
The five different models you can build are Ev3storm, Track3r, Gripp3r, R3ptar, and Spik3r. It's recommended that you build the Track3r model first, but I just couldn't resist jumping right into the R3ptar (and this thing has a nasty bite!):
Here it is in action:
This current set includes over 500 Technic elements, a programmable brick a remote control, 3 motors, 3 sensors and downloadable 3D building instructions. The sensors include a touch sensor, color sensor, and infrared sensor. There’s also an app that allows you to control your robot with your smartphone (iPhone and Android). Each model comes with various missions to complete, from the build itself to programming commands.
The EV3 is also backward compatible. The sensors, being digital, will not work with the NXT intelligent brick, the motors, however, will. You can program your Legobot to move, walk and talk with the “intuitive” software program. Though, from my personal experience, the software isn’t completely intuitive.
On initial connection the brick needed a firmware update which applied smoothly. Navigating LabView isn't difficult, but it took some clicking around to gather what many of the symbols and buttons mean. The UI is reminiscent of math modeling software. For those without programming experience the drag and drop interface might be a good introduction. However, I'm more excited about what can be accomplished in code outside of LabView when the open source community takes hold of the new EV3.
It's not always clear that the EV3 is connected. Programs are downloaded to the brick so fast that the progress indicator was misleading. Listening to the beeps on the brick was a better indicator of a successful transfer. Also, connecting to WiFi didn't work and resulted in some error messages on both the brick and in LabView.
In my opinion, the great thing about these Technic models is that they’re quite easy to take apart and rebuild. The primary annoyance was the connections. Overall, the build took me a little over an hour. It's going to be really exciting to see what custom creations start popping up. I'm thinking cameras, speakers, maybe an unlicensed nuclear accelerator, Weirding Module or a Genesis Device...the possibilities are endless. [Lego]
Available in Fall 2013 for $349.99.