Monday, January 7, 2013

LEGO unleashes new generation of MINDSTORMS robots

LEGO EV3 is here! Today is the day for the official announcement of the next MINDSTORMS generation, and press is pushing the great news into your screens.

The new kit includes directions for up to 17 different robots, most of which look like scary-style animals such as snakes and scorpions.

The third full generation of Lego's programmable robotics platform, EV3 is aimed at both enthusiasts - young and older - and educators, and blows past the previous generation with a long list of new features that add speed and power, intelligent programmability, and more ways to communicate with the robots.
Lego expects to begin selling the product, which includes 594 Technic pieces that can be used to make five different robots, this summer at a retail cost of $350. It will also release instructions for 12 additional robots at launch.

Mindstorms has been around for almost 14 years now, but MINDSTORMS EV3 marks the first time that users can program directly onto the brand new EV3 Intelligent Brick. In past iterations, users were only allowed to program their robots from the computer, and then run the application through the robot. The Intelligent Brick allows users to add or change commands and actions directly from the brick.

This not only appeals to younger MINDSTORMS users but programming and robotics enthusiasts. Kids have a super simple block-by-block interface to learn the basics of programming, while hobbyists can debug programs without going all the way back to the computer.

LEGO believes that almost anyone can get a MINDSTORMS EV3 robot up and running within 20 minutes of opening the box, and can even start programming their robots without turning on their computer.
The Hardware

Each programmable EV3 brick comes with an ARM9 robotic processor, an SD expansion slot and embedded 16MB flash memory, Linux, Bluetooth 2.1, iOS and Android compatibility, a USB 2.0 interface allowing Wi-Fi connectivity, four input and output ports, a Matrix display with a loudspeaker.

MINDSTORMS EV3 features three interactive servo motors (two Large similar to NXT ones and one Medium); one touch sensor; one color sensor able to detect six colors and absence of color; one infrared seeker sensor that can measure distance, movement, giving robots the ability to see and detect various objects; and one infrared "beacon" designed to control the robots remotely from a distance of up to 6 feet. Up to four bricks can be daisy-chained, and the USB port and Wi-Fi connectivity allow for a wide range of expansion. MINDSTORMS EV3 is also backwards compatible with all MINDSTORMS NXT robots, allowing users to utilize everything they bought during the NXT generation with EV3.

The programming environment

Perhaps the most important element of the MINDSTORMS EV3 platform is its programming environment. The system runs on Linux-based firmware. While the primary way users can program their MINDSTORMS robots is to do so in the development interface on their computers, and then download the instructions to the robots, the intelligent bricks also have an interface that allows for simple programming. At the same time, LEGO will soon release mobile apps that can be used to design programs for the robots.

Lego knows that the enthusiasts who play with MINDSTORMS EV3 want to get started right away, so the new version of the platform features motors and sensors that know what and where they are so that the second they are powered on, they appear in the programming interface, ready to be controlled. Similarly, any new motors or sensors that are plugged in will also automatically appear.

On the software side, Lego has also introduced a new 3D virtual instructions guide available on the iPad, in partnership with Autodesk, allowing users to zoom and rotate building instructions that you'll be able to view on your tablet.
The new app will let you zoom in and rotate around every step in the instructions, so you can more clearly see what you're building and it is based on Autodesk's existing Inventor Publisher software.


Letal accuracy

In a demo of the product last month, Lego executives showed off some of the impressive capabilities of the MINDSTORMS EV3 platform.

For example, a spiderlike robot called SPIK3R was able to automatically identify the location of the remote-control beacon and fire little red balls directly at it, hitting it more often than not. Then it charged at the beacon... (see in the video above)


Now, it's time for another big wait. At least 6 months as it seems...
EV3RSTORM soldier might have depth perception and it is staring at you, while you wait... Fear it!


Sergiu Paraschiv said...

The Small one does not seem that much smaller. A more precise ultrasonic sensor might be interesting though :)

santi said...

Wooo! exciting!! I haven't been able to properly see the new servos in these pictures. Later when I reach home I'll crawl the internet to see if there are pictures of the servos themselves :p

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
xszolix said...

I think they replaced the ultrasonoc sensor with the infrared seeker sensor.

I am a litle disapointed. I hped they put in som advanced sensor giro/compass or a new sound sensor.

I don't likr this scarry/spikey animal theme.

Unknown said...

there is a gyro sensor just look at the lego education website.

even has a standard segway model :)

Wout Smeets said...

they have still an ultrasonic sensor watch this picture

watch new sensors + motors here

Sergiu Paraschiv said...

So the small motor could actually prove useful.

kABUSE said...

I cant believe that the shape of the motors and sensors could actually become worse!! even more clumsy! oh no!

santi said...


Really? I think the new medium servo motor is much better than the the other bulky ones. I'm actually very excited about this! Also about the fact that it has 4 motor ports, and can be easily daisy chained! Seems like this is finally really powerful!

Sergiu Paraschiv said...

Well, most of the improvements seem targeted at kids, not experienced programmers.

But having Linux on it is surely the most important improvement. The small motor, if it's versatile enough (gearing, precision), could also prove to be a great addition.
A more precise ultrasonic sensor would also be great.

The iPad app seems useless to me though. All the other software improvements were there before, nothing new in the Android control software.

rherberg said...

I like the new futuristic design, can't wait to get one...

kABUSE said...

It doesnt seem to have 4 motor ports.

on the picture with the 2 human beings you can clearly see that the 4th slot is something else, most likely a power supply connector thingy. all the high resolution pictures show only the other site of the EV3 with the 4 numbered sensor slots.

and yes the small motor seems useful, at least not as useless as the big bulky one.

but just take a look at this picture:

the big servo motors really are entirely useless, unless you are willing to design your entire model in order to fit this gigantic motors. the arm became even wider, it seems to be 5 units wide now.

i love the new design too but this motors are just a pain in the butt.

as i said the small motor seems to be ok, even though it offers less possibilities of being mounted compared to the 4x4 crawlers medium motor.

also i wonder about those sensors. it seems that they are wider than 3 units because of the dark grey site plate thingys.

Jetro said...

There are indeed 4 motor ports, marked A-D, and a USB port for connecting the P-Brick to a computer, as you can see here:

The big motors are the same width as the NXT ones and although I agree that smaller would have been nicer, I've had the privilege to build with them and they do present some improvements over the previous version. For one thing the centre of the output hub is in line with the pegholes on the back of the motor. This means it is now more difficult to use the motor "upside down", but it has the advantage that it is easier to build a supporting structure for the output shaft.

Another small improvement are the peg holes on the neck of the motor. The NXT motor has a sloping shape at the front which prevents you from placing a pin or axle right after the front connection point.

The small motor is a great improvement as it incorporates an encoder with the same resolution as the larger ones.

The sensors are also the exact same width as the current ones (touch/light etc.)

LEGO Technic said...

more image and information this link.


retail box image



LEGO Technic said...


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