The LEGO Group recently introduced LEGO®
MINDSTORMS EV3 — a new platform for consumer
robotics designed to introduce a younger generation to
the excitement of building and programming robots
while adding new flexibility for its devoted following of
EV3 is the result of three years of product
development by an international team of LEGO
designers, MINDSTORMS user enthusiasts, and leading
technology experts, and will be available this summer.
EV3 comes with hundreds of LEGO bricks, plus
four motors and five sensors — including a new
infrared unit that can be used as robotic eyes or to
allow a robot to follow a remote control.
LEGO is celebrating the 15th anniversary of the MINDSTORMS kit, and
they really wanted to make the product more exciting to "an audience of
children who have grown up with technology."
One of the biggest upgrades is the EV3 programmable brick — the heart
of every MINDSTORMS project. The brick has been revamped internally and
externally. The central processor is an ARM 9 chip, with 64 MB of RAM and
16 MB of Flash built in for storing programs.An SD slot allows the memory
to be expanded, and there's a better display.
The biggest innovation is that LEGO has made it easier for the EV3
brick to communicate via Bluetooth with Android and iOS apps. That means
you can use a smartphone or tablet to control a MINDSTORMS robot or
give it new behaviors.
While the previous version of MINDSTORMS did offer Bluetooth
connectivity,Apple devices wouldn't play with the system. Now — due
to the addition of a secure Bluetooth chip — these robots can connect
to iOS devices for the first time, allowing robots to be controlled from
an iPhone or iPad.
There's also a USB port that allows users to connect any Wi-Fi
dongle. The whole thing runs under a version of the Linux operating
system, and LEGO promises to open up the system as much as possible
to hackers with the release of detailed documentation and SDKs
To program your robotic creations, you can
enter commands directly into the EV3 brick via its
LCD or you can use the easy-to-use PC
software provided. The set also includes
a program that LEGO created with
Autodesk that shows step-by-step 3D
instructions for various projects.
The EV3 set will include instructions for 17 different robots, including walking humanoids
and insect-like creatures. It will sell for $350 and will be available in the second half of this year.
In addition to the retail version, LEGO is launching an educational version, as well.
The educational version is actually a collection of kits designed for classroom use, and it
features some unique components compared to the retail version, such as a gyroscope
sensor that allows the construction of self-balancing robots, Segway-style.
The educational version also comes with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for the programmable brick.
It's assumed that students will work in pairs in the classroom, so this version starts at $5,000 with enough pieces to allow
24 students per class.
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