These are beliefs and wishes I and some others (I guess) have for long...
Looking at videos like those below (they are not even about major breakthroughs) it makes me believe we need a totally different set of servo motors for LEGO MINDSTORMS. It could be one, two new motors, but not much more for sure.
Relative to the actual status, I mean diversity, different characteristics (e.g. connectivity) and essentially different form factors (more compact, output shaft orientation diversity, double sided output, assembling options, etc).
There are so many other types of models we should afford to create easily, and LEGO seems wasting such a great opportunity for long.
If not within the MINDSTORMS range of products, at least it is my belief we should aim for an upper level or different grade robotics line from LEGO.
You may say this wouldn't be in line with LEGO targets and business goals, but on the other hand the possibilities allowed by the LEGO beams and liftarms (or LEGO Technic in general) are really demanding for more. The possibilities are endless!
Backlash of LEGO plastic gears will remain an issue I know! And of course I'm not suggesting the usage of metallic gears...
If we think about humanoid robots currently in the market, we have seen very specialized offers and we are of course talking about a different league (performance and cost wise). Just one single servo for commercially available robots, can go from a few tenths to nearly 500 euros for the most sophisticated and performant ones.
However some of these principles should also apply to LEGO MINDSTORMS in a more contained scale. We might no get the same level of performance because LEGO structures are built of plastics, but we should have comparable level of functions and size, despite at lower speeds and mechanical accuracy (outside of the motors).
Below you can see a few images from the actual LMS and LPF servos
And here also similar motors, for different type of applications (RC Hobby and Robotics)
I know that many things have been accomplished with current NXT servos, but almost always based on continuous circular movements of the motor, associated with linkages, beams, etc.
Many times this demands more creative mechanical and linkage solutions (which is good from certain POV), but also less scalable towards more complex and autonomous robots (which is not so good).
Besides a continuous running servo, I believe we also need more conventional hobby/robotics like servos, up to 90º, 180º or even 360º for different sort of applications. And this is where different and more convenient servo form factors will come into scene. I'd even ask for double sided shaft outputs (as we have seen in the last PF servo motor) with convenient form factors, which is not the case from the current NXT servo.
Such change would also open possibilities for more complex ways of designing and programing robots, beyond the LEGO MINDSTORMS target group/ages. But possibilities are never too much and someone is gonna use them for sure...
Despite Gaute having mentioned there are conflicting demands to address, I still dream with a day where LPF and LMS active elements get seamless integrated and compatible...
And what about daisy chain motor linkages? This is also a must, for cabling simplicity sake!
It would even allow the development of a smaller NXT brick, with fewer physical interfaces.
In resume... LEGO please gives us:
- Still dual head servos with next generation NXT.
- Convenient and compact form factor servos, with more versatile assembling options (additional pinhole connectivity points like in new PF motors).
- Variants on output shaft direction, or possibility to conveniently attach motors to each other with different orientations.
- Servo daisy chain connectivity for power and control lines.
- Seamless integration between some LPF and LMS active elements.
It doesn't hurt to challenge the LEGO MINDSTORMS engineers... and it is still free to ask.
What do you think?
(just aiming to raise the discussion and create space for your thoughts)
PS: I've used mostly videos and images from Robotis.com (a robotics solutions manufacturer) as examples, but I could certainly have used some others in alternative or as a complement as well.