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Lego Mindstorms NXT Robotics Announced

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the i-am-the-atomic-alien-robot-please-give-my-best-wished-to-everybody dept.

Toys 190

Denver_80203 writes "Just when you thought Lego Mindstorms was grinding its last gear, comes the announcement of Lego Mindstorms NXT Robotics Toolset, with sleek servo motors, an ultrasonic sensor which allows robots to 'see' by responding to movement, a sound sensor which enables robots to react to sound commands (including sound pattern and tone recognition) improved touch and light sensors, and a and a programmable brick with at least 7 or 8 RJ11 type jacks. Robot fun! Out in August 2006, and in true Lego style will cost $249." Wired has a preview of the cover story about the new kit on their site.

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looks sweet (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399876)

But why does it look like an ipod that's been assimilated by the Borg? [lego.com]

Re:looks sweet (1)

spurtle15 (899792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399908)

More like it was assimilated by Johnny 5.

Re:looks sweet (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399920)

It looks Like Johnny-5 to me :)

We are Lego. (1)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399941)

You will be assembled and assimilated.

Re:looks sweet (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400133)

I'd worry about someone build a Replicator out of it :S

I can just see the swarms swooping down on Toys R Us, hunting for new NXT bricks. Suburbs decimated in the search for new bricks!

Admittedly, robots comprised of bits of Harry Potter won't be so scary, but the Blacktron ones will be hardcore!

Re:looks sweet (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400274)

More like a 1st generation Gameboy

Re:looks sweet (2, Funny)

thewiz (24994) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400376)

Perhaps it's going to part of the next Lego video game: Dance Dance Robot.

Will these be able to take on RoboOne Bots?!? (1, Interesting)

neo (4625) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399893)

I want to go a kick some Korean butt!! If I can program these guys for remote control I'm totally going to save thousands of dollars and spend that on programmers to teach this bot Pride Fighting. Oh, they are so going down!!!

Re:Will these be able to take on RoboOne Bots?!? (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399970)

I want to go a kick some Korean butt!! If I can program these guys for remote control I'm totally going to save thousands of dollars and spend that on programmers to teach this bot Pride Fighting. Oh, they are so going down!!!

Didn't Star Wars Episode III teach you anything? The Korean Clone Army [techcentralstation.com] will totally kick your Droid army's ass.

Re:Will these be able to take on RoboOne Bots?!? (0, Troll)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400303)

On the down side, it will only be able to talk to elderly Korean people...

Sorry, I had to.

Responds to tones, eh? (3, Funny)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399899)

I guess it's about time to break out the theme music from Close Encounters of the Third Kind...

I don't think grinding it's last gears is correct. (5, Interesting)

Lester67 (218549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399901)

The original (and 2.0) version of their kit was massively popular, and it attracted a "geek base" of fans that wouldn't have accepted your typical "version 2.5". Props to Lego for realizing this and taking a little longer than most companies would to release the "right" product instead of the "quick" product.

Absolutely right. (2, Funny)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399982)

I don't think grinding it's last gears is correct.

Indeed, it's "grinding its last gears".

Re:Absolutely right. (1)

Lester67 (218549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400876)

Damn it. :-)

orcboard, open source robotics controller (5, Interesting)

edwinolson (116413) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399914)

Or you might be interested in the OrcBoard robotic controller [orcboard.org] , which is open source (schematics, layout, firmware, userland tools all GPL). It's being used by a number of robotics classes (6.188 [mit.edu] , 2.12 [mit.edu] ), and a robotics competition (MASLab [mit.edu] ) at MIT.

It's a bit different than mindstorms in that it's designed to be used as a slave to a laptop or other more CPU-rich device. But you can use it in stand-alone mode too, if your robots are simple.

-Ed
(disclaimer: creator of orcboard)

Re:orcboard, open source robotics controller (4, Informative)

gatzke (2977) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399939)


Nice, but most people here love RCX because we grew up with legos. RCX lets you get into the game without some crazy robotics boards / motors / computing stuff. Middle school kids can handle it.

BTW, for everyone with small kids, Lego now has super big quatro legos, double the size of duplo legos which are double normal size. Quatro runs from 1-3, duplo usually starts at age 2+...

Re:orcboard, open source robotics controller (1)

edwinolson (116413) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400050)

If a handful of sensors and limited expandability is okay, then by all means, go for mindstorms! You get a plastic-molded case that keeps kid's fingers off it, and a more or less foolproof system.

At some point, you'll might be interested in doing something more serious or ambitious, which is where the OrcBoard comes in. If you're familiar with HandyBoards, the OrcBoard is designed as a modern replacement for them. Mindstorms is for a different audience.

The most common type of robot that people use OrcBoards for (and there are a number of researchers at MIT who use them in their robots), use a laptop for lots of CPU power, a camera and/or Sick laser scanner, and an orcboard (which handles the motors, quadrature phase decoders, control system, and low-level sensors like rangefinders.)

For a system that costs about the same as mindstorms, you get a lot more capability. But like I said, that comes at the cost: you CAN fry an OrcBoard, you're on your own for a case, and you might need to get your hands dirty by adding features or fixing bugs in the firmware or userland tools. Some of us like that, though!

Re:orcboard, open source robotics controller (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400766)

For a system that costs about the same as mindstorms, you get a lot more capability.

You're kiddding, right? The Mindstorms NXT kit will be sold for $250, while the OrcBoard costs $350 "in limited quantities", without any casing or sensors.

Casing is a major problem for people that don't have access to the equipment required for PVC modelling.

Additionally, the Mindstorms controller supports bluetooth communication, which is a very nice feature.

So... (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400036)

its basically an upgraded Handyboard...

-everphilski-

Re:orcboard, open source robotics controller (1)

c_fel (927677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400330)

The other day, I was thinking of removing the actual microcontroller in the mindstorm to change it for a Atmel AVR. It would be less powerful, but at least we could program in C instead of LabVIEW, and we could use all the new peripherals in that controller. But I never done it, and I guess a LabVIEW hack would be easier to realize.

I, for one... (0, Redundant)

Schrockwell (867776) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399916)

I, for one, welcome our new studded-brick-robot overlords.

Re:I, for one... (1)

Denver_80203 (570689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399976)

Heh.. Actually these are SNOT. Studs not on top or studless. :)

Re:I, for one... (1)

Schrockwell (867776) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400189)

I stand corrected, but "snot robot overlords" just doesn't have the same ring to it...

as a parent : why that price ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399922)

now that I have kids who are finally old enough to play with lego, and i finally make some money for aliving, and i finally have an excuse to go and buy insane amounts of it without having to ask it... only now I realize how fucking expensive lego is ! You have to spend at least 1000$ to get a decent set of basic blocks...

why ??

it's just plastic, right ?

Re:as a parent : why that price ? (2, Informative)

lechuck80 (672996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399955)

Try Ebay- I picked up 40 or so lbs of unsorted pieces for a good price. Guy even had some cheap lego webcamera thrown in.

Re:as a parent : why that price ? (1)

Flaming Babies (904475) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400207)

I'm not sure where you're shopping for your legos,
but you should be able to find buckets at most stores in the $30-40 range.

And while even that might seem like a lot to pay for a piece of plastic,
you have to consider the lifespan of that piece of plastic.
Legos rarely break...so that means they only get extra sales from replacing lost legos. (which I realize is much more common)

Re:as a parent : why that price ? (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400842)

Legos rarely break...so that means they only get extra sales from replacing lost legos.

They only get extra sales from replacing lost Lego bricks? Lego is not something you just buy one of and that's it; you can always buy and use more Lego!

Re:as a parent : why that price ? (1)

Flaming Babies (904475) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400924)

I guess I kind of made up my own definition there.
I consider buying more legos to be normal sales...not extra sales.
Whatever quantity you buy should be the quantity you have 50 years from now...
...minus those that have been lost. (and assuming the robotic variety haven't taken over the Earth.)

Re:as a parent : why that price ? (1)

Lispy (136512) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400396)

I made the mistake of my live by selling three bags full of Lego/Lego Technic for 200 Deutschmark at a school tradefair back in 7th grade. Well, I thought I made a good deal back then, but today I know that guy totally ripped me off. ;-(

Mistake of your life ? (1)

VaamYob (941639) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400495)


If that was the 'mistake of your life' then you need to live more. :)

Re:as a parent : why that price ? (2, Informative)

Aristos Mazer (181252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400427)

It is high-grade, precision engineeered plastic. The LEGO robotics sets are made from lots of pieces of various shapes, not just one shape replicated thousands of times. Compare up against some of the LEGO knock-offs that are much cheaper. They hold together when you're building a static building, but if you try to build something that moves, they fall to pieces. You need plastic that fits *exactly* so that gears don't grind against each other and torque doesn't tear the robot apart. Personally, I'm impressed with the price -- it's asking a lot to get this kind of resource down to the point where kids can ever get ahold of it.

Re:as a parent : why that price ? (1)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400811)

Down where? There's no way a kid would buy this set for him/her self, and you could build your own for $250. Lego has severly limited their market, without apparent cause.

Well... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399926)

my wife is not going to be happy about this...

Zoom In! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399933)

If you look at the high-resolution image [lego.com] , you can see that it has 7 RJ11 jacks and one USB port (top right corner).

The top three RJ11 ports look like servo outputs, the bottom four look like sensor inputs (though the fourth port is unnumbered; wonder why).

Re:Zoom In! (1)

glass_window (207262) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399990)

I was looking at this too. If you read down the description on the press release it says "Digital wire interface allows for third-party developments" and they do indeed look like some form of RJXX, which makes me quite curious as to just what "third party developments" might include.

Re:Zoom In! (1)

sxpert (139117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400129)

the text says the interface is 6 wires, so they are RJ12

I want it (0)

Gighen (943473) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399938)

I want to buy it now :P

Dont know why people think they are dead... (3, Informative)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399945)

I know slashdot ran a story [slashdot.org] on what went wrong, but they are far from dead. There is the FIRST [usfirst.org] Lego Racing League, which is a robotics compeition for grade school kids across the country. (Which then evolves into higher level products as they advance into high school). Heck I know several kids whose got RIS2.0 sets for Christmas. The parents are tired of their kids only seeing computers as video game machines - these kits are an excellent segway between fun and programming. There are plenty of high school and college kids, even adults doing stuff with them too... for example Jin Sato [amazon.com] there is an available C compiler, even a Real Time OS!

-everphilski-

spelling nazi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14400074)

The word is segue. Segway is that damned scooter thing.

Clarify something for me. (0, Flamebait)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399951)

If I'm not mistaken (I never looked too closely at Mindstorms), the previous version was not all that powerful, its processor was relatively simple and could be connected to up to two peripherals? Is that right?

This new one seems much better, do you think it affords more freedom to developers? I wanted to buy some of the previous Mindstorms but it didn't look very powerful. If this is, I'm definitely getting it.

Re:Clarify something for me. (1)

Harald Paulsen (621759) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400034)

The previous Mindstorms RCX had 3 inputs and 3 outputs.

Re:Clarify something for me. (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 8 years ago | (#14401098)

The original brick was a more limited processor, had 3, 8 power setting motors (in each direction) and had 3 "analog" inputs which had a value range of 0 to 1023. The new system has 3 speed sensitive motors which is a significant step up. The CPU itself is much more powerful. The inputs are presumably more complex if they are able to pass information such as color and intensity back (ie, they can't be a simple analog value). Also the addition of another input is nice, but if they are no longer analog, it could actually create problems, since there were formerly several techniques to make one of the analog inputs work as 8 or more digital switches. (Using varied resistance on each switch) The out of the box programming system appears that it will be significantly better since it is being based on LabView (disclaimer: I'm friends with the nephew of the guy that came up with LabView.) I also would assume that the more hardcore programming interfaces, such as the ActiveX control and the assembly instruction documentation available for the first brick, will continue to be available and will be even further developed with more instructions available. All around, it looks like a really solid next generation from Lego. Having been an avid Mindstorm fan since the original, I can't wait for this new generation to come out.

Re:Clarify something for me. (1)

theguyfromsaturn (802938) | more than 8 years ago | (#14401297)

I don't agree about LabView. LabView is a great programming teaching tool. It is a hopeless production programming language. You have to hunt through menus to find the "icon" that represents the function you want to call. I saw an experienced LabView programmer take the better part of half an hour to make a simple control program that would have taken perhaps 5 mintues with a written programming language. Because Words can be remembered... and typed not tracked down through stacked menus, it is much more powerful. Keep LabView where it belongs, in an introduction to programming class, and I will say: it's great Try to put it anywhere else and it gets nothing but curses from me.

So when is the Patent lawsuit (4, Funny)

Dareth (47614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399972)

I'm sure plenty of patents on robotics and their associated "Intellectual Property" will need to be defended from this kit. Just imagine what young children might build and do with this without close guidance and supervision! They must learn to respect the intellectual rights of other people or companies. Otherwise, society will crumble and we will all have to go back to playing with Lincoln logs and tinker toys... with the appropriate license(s) of course.

Re:So when is the Patent lawsuit (1)

thebiggs (625489) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400780)

in TFA, (from Wired), it's noted that after the previous Mindstorm system was hacked, Lego's IP attorneys were foaming at the mouth, but the company decided that its customers were, in fact, more important than its legal team, and wrote a clause into the software license to allow hacking.

I wonder if Sony is paying attention.

Re:So when is the Patent lawsuit (1)

Algorithm wrangler (455855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14401077)

Yes - the official stand now is, that as long as you leave the trademark alone you are welcome to tinker. So no LegOS [slashdot.org] operating system - but BrickOS is a-ok. After all - isn't tinkering and hacking what LEGO is all about ?

The Neatest Lego Creation (1, Offtopic)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14399974)

I think the neatest Lego thing I've ever seen are this guy's bible stories. He's sold 3 books of them.

The storytelling is great, and his sets are first class. It reminds me of a movie:

http://www.thebricktestament.com/ [thebricktestament.com]

It isn't at all high-tech or technical. However, I'm guessing that digital cameras and the internet have allowed him to become very well known.

I guess with the robot version, you could make an animation involving robots, which would be cool.

Re:The Neatest Lego Creation (2, Funny)

Denver_80203 (570689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400044)

I'm a follower or the Flying Spaghetti Monster [reasonablyclever.com] , myself

Re:The Neatest Lego Creation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14400315)

You just had to bring up the Intelligent Design debate.

Anyone with intelligence knows that the "Neatest Lego Creations" assemble themselves in the box when no one is looking.

Re:The Neatest Lego Creation (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400647)

I think the neatest Lego thing I've ever seen are this guy's bible stories. He's sold 3 books of them.

The Brick Testament is amusing. However... the Lego Camelot [ifilm.com] is just tremendous. It's Lego. And it's Camelot. But only a model...

Software development (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14399988)

I really really hope they provide som sort of API to control it using other languages.

I want to be able to write a program in maybe C#, Java, C++ compile it, translate it and then send it to the control unit.

The old mindstorms biggest annoyance was the stupid interface, okay labview is a lot better but still not the same.

Re:Software development (1)

NeoThermic (732100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400180)

Actually the older lego mindstorms kit had an OCX for use with other languages. I remember programming a lightgate in VB once for my physics lab. It wasn't perfect (I had only one light sensor, so the calculations had to be done slightly diffrent, and due to a delay with the signal there was a huge error), but it did work as expected.

Have a peak here for more info:
http://mindstorms.lego.com/sdk2/?domainredir=www.l egomindstorms.com [lego.com]

NeoThermic

Re:Software development (1)

Algorithm wrangler (455855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14401198)

For starteres there is this page [crynwr.com] . And there is also an official SDK [lego.com] from Lego.

Problem Lego Microsoft (1, Interesting)

foolish_to_be_here (802344) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400020)

A major problem with LEGO robotics is that they are so much like Microsoft. They really make it difficult to add to the product. The only way I could make the origional kit interesting for kids was to script a Tk interface using Perl's RCX and NQC (not quite c) system calls via their IR tower. This off loaded the application program from the brick to a PC. I have BIG dobts that this particuar kit will simplify the programming with it's newest proprietary programming language (Photoshop like , so they say). If they give the brick an 802.11g wireless interface, the Open Source community will do the rest.

Re:Problem Lego Microsoft (1)

Nevynxxx (932175) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400053)

It has Bluetooth....does that help?

Re:Problem Lego Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14400063)

The wireless is bluetooth. And to the idea that the core software was not expandible, I beg to differ. Just look at some of the off the wall crap you can find with google (sorry, no links, no time, am at work) and mindstorms, like toilet scrubber and the such. NQC is a nice simple way to meld a bit of rw programming skill to mindstorms. I still play with mine almost every weekend. Poo Poo to you.

Re:Problem Lego Microsoft (4, Informative)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400112)

It's got Bluetooth, and they say it will be controllable from a host machine, be it a computer, a PDA, or a mobile phone. What more could you ask for?

Re:Problem Lego Microsoft (2, Informative)

jdhutchins (559010) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400368)

There are actually many ways to program the original Mindstorms RCX. Although initially the only language was the one it came with, it was soon hacked. Languages were developed that took advantage of the default firmware (NQC), but many more were created that completely replaced the existing firmware. You could cross-compile C for it, and there was also a tiny Java VM that ran on it. Neither of these offloaded stuff to the PC.

Re:Problem Lego Microsoft (1)

Tooky (15656) | more than 8 years ago | (#14401277)

it's newest proprietary programming language (Photoshop like , so they say)

The programming language is LabVIEW [ni.com] from National Instruments. Its a "graphical" building block language. I haven't used it much, and not for several years. Its used mainly to interface with automatic test equipment to write tests for various equipment. I remember it being quite fun, if a little clunky.

You have to remember that LEGO's products have to be accessible to children.

That's nice but... (0, Redundant)

Deanasc (201050) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400060)

You know what would be really cool this time around? Macintosh support.

Re:That's nice but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14400135)

I thought the article said it would support macs..

Re:That's nice but... (1)

SlashTon (871960) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400138)

From the article: "The heart of the new system is the NXT brick, an autonomous 32-bit LEGO microprocessor that can be programmed using a PC, or for the first time in the retail offering, a Mac."

Mac support there is! (2, Informative)

Herve5 (879674) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400158)

From the very Lego page itself:

"The heart of the new system is the NXT brick, an autonomous 32-bit LEGO microprocessor that can be programmed using a PC, or for the first time in the retail offering, a Mac."

Re:That's nice but... (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400163)

If anything, with the Bluetooth support it includes, a Mac promises to be a better development platform this time round.

Re:That's nice but... (0, Flamebait)

Gaewyn L Knight (16566) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400179)

Yeah... I know this is slashdot so you didn't read the articles... but... it's there.

Re:That's nice but... (2, Informative)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400219)

If you squint at the enlarged version of the left hand pic from the wired article, you'll get a rather pleasant surprise: it is going to be Mac compatible!

Re:That's nice but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14400263)

The press release clearly states "for the first time, Mac support."

Re:That's nice but... (1)

Deanasc (201050) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400284)

I did read the article I missed that. I was focused more on the design specs at the bottom. Comment withdrawn with tail between legs.

Re:That's nice but... (2, Informative)

MirrorSpock (466201) | more than 8 years ago | (#14401011)

if you check the website (http://mindstorms.lego.com/ [lego.com] ) it claims mac & pc support

Somehow I feel this won'd catch fire (1)

PrayingWolf (818869) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400083)

I fear the markets for these toy computers will be very marginal.
The good old technics Legos were so much catchier in that you could easily create mechanical thinggies like cars, tractors, robots, gearboxes :-o etc. without having to pay $249.
What I mean is, this is a pretty expensive price for a few sensors and servos that will get thrown in some toydrawer anyways.

Re:Somehow I feel this won'd catch fire (2, Informative)

saltydogdesign (811417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400170)

RTFA. Mindstorms 2.0 was the best-selling Lego kit of all time at $200.

Bluetooth! (2, Informative)

cparisi (136611) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400089)

Bluetooth support is awesome. One of the things I did not like about the original was the IR transmitter.

Long time coming (1)

squoozer (730327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400106)

I can't believe they have taken this long to get the next generation of this out. I really thought someone would pip them to the post and grab the market from them. The original mind storm kit was very impressive but it quickly had the smell of death around it. If it wasn't so damn expensive (and I didn't have plenty of other things to do) I would probably get one of these kits. I would like to see an advanced version that was a slave to a CPU rich device as well. Now that would be cool.

SNOT fans rejoice (2, Informative)

unfortunateson (527551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400141)

Fans of SNOT (Studs Not On Top) Lego design will love this kit, because there aren't any studs. It looks like everything's designed to hook together with Technic axles and connectors, and no "basic brick" connectivity.

When I was a FIRST Lego League coach, the designs often embedded motors, sensors, even the RCX as part of the structure. The latter was usually a bad, bad, idea, since you'd have to disassemble major parts of your bot to replace batteries, and during a competition, you'd replace batteries every other run.

I welcome the sensor-laden motors, bluetooth, ultrasonic 'vision'... but I wonder if they've beefed up the programming any. Lack of backward compatibility is a surprise -- I've got a number of old sensors and motors.

Re:SNOT fans rejoice (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14400268)

Studs Not On Top sounds like gay porn. Not that I would know though.

Re:SNOT fans rejoice (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400325)

Not sure how they'd make studded bricks compatable with studless Technics parts....

programming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14400922)

From TFA, Lego are shipping some form of National Instruments Labview. I don't like it myself, but it's certainly a 'grown up' environment.

In case you haven't met it, it's a graphical system for dropping in widgets and connecting all kinds of pipes. It's a bit difficult to follow the control flow, but it makes it vary easy to quickly build some serious control loops. NI have been using it to control their general purpose data acquisition/control cards for years.

We use it in the final year undergrad labs to control all kinds of things, even a basic MRI machine!

Looks like they are returning to their roots... (2, Informative)

Raleel (30913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400145)

from the article:

There were plenty of strategic blunders behind the dismal results: a misguided foray into making PC software games, expensive licensing arrangements (chiefly with Disney), and designs that puzzled rather than entertained. "We had started to make fire trucks that look like spaceships, building systems that no customer could truly appreciate," says Mads Nipper, a Lego senior vice president. "We had to clean that up."

awesome!

yes to rotation sensors / bluetooth / usb / (1)

ArgyleAgent (748561) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400181)

Let me tell you, I am buying this the minute it comes out. It looks like Lego really went to bat on the NXT, because they've address all of the problems I had with the original kits and then some. The addition of Bluetooth communication is going to revolutionize this kit as a teaching tool for robotics students, allowing for easy communication between robots for some incredible "Social robotics" experiments. And the price is unbelievable too! Most bluetooth kits are $100 alone. Bravo, lego!

Mindstorms for teaching robotics (1)

irbdavid (756585) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400184)

An introductary part of my course (MPhys) was using these things to get across the idea of real-time control systems, so we spent a week in a dark room, trying to get it to track a light source.
One thing that slowed us down was the software on the PC side of things. What they need is a C API.

Nice things ahead when interfaced to this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14400185)

Lego Electronic Lab Kit

http://www.makezine.com/blog/archive/2005/06/lego_ electronic.html [makezine.com]

Imagine the fun when you come through the detector gate at the airport with your bag full of electronified Lego, blinking and moving...

Compare it to THIS (fischertechnik)! (2, Interesting)

knopf (894888) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400223)

Lego looks pale and boring in comparison to fischertechnik [fischertechnik.de] . VW even built a complete plant using fischertechnik to verify their plan design (see here [streamhoster.com] , it's towards the end). They offer a driver in C, PASCAL, etc. They have IO extensions. Everything's there.

How easy does it expand (1)

neuromancer2701 (875843) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400230)

I loved the idea behind the first Mindstorms back when it was released in the late 90s. I have been looking at the Vex kits and other european kits(FischerTechnik). The one thing that I wonder is how easy is it going to be able to use the other Technic kits with this new system. They probably will wait to see how well this does before coming out with an offical expansion (ie treads). It would be awesome if they allowed the servos and sensors to be purchase through Lego Factory. Overall I think this is great but I have a slight hesitation because it looks too sleek ("We wanted to create robots with more personality," Lund says. "We wanted them to go from being more mechanical to more human."). To me if you can do very functional and/or fun projects with the kits it does not matter how it looks.
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Re:How easy does it expand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14400461)

Fischertechnik products are great, and a lot better than Lego in my opinion. Elements are of very high quality, in Nylon. They also do electric, pneumatic and computing extensions. Moreover, they have Linux software to help designing models.

Wired Article Innacurate (3, Insightful)

Spikeman56 (543509) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400426)

I grew up playing with RCX 1.0 and Wired seems to have somehow portrayed it as a failure...

    (From one of the images, I'm guessing of a magazine spread)

"Building Blocks" - "Two-by-four" lego blocks vs. Technic Blocks a.k.a. Studless legos
-Okay, firstly "Technic" was a brand of lego's geared towards the technological kids like me who liked to play with motors and buttons. Second, the RCX had 4 holes that could be used with studless legos anyway, all they did with this new thing was add a few more and take off the studs.

"User Interface" - "Non-intuitive interface, RCX Code Commands, PC Only" vs "Intuitive GUI, drag-and-drop icons, PC and Mac"
-Whoever said RCX 1.0 wasn't intuitive is crazy, programming with the RCX was about the most basic type of programming I've ever done in my life. You dragged little blocks around to configure the order of the program. You would drag, for example a "Wait Ten Seconds" green block over someplace and then put a "Turn the motor on" purple block right below it. Then you'd download it to your brick (okay, this was a little sketchy at times with IR) then turn it on, select the number of the program and press play. How much simpler could you get? Not to mention it had tutorials that showed everything down to animating how to put in the batteries.

"Power" - "Two Motors" vs. "Three motors, redesigned for smoother operation"
-Uh, actually the RCX could power up to three motors too, it just typically came with two.

"Connectors" - "Two-wire analog cables" vs "Six-wire digital cables"
-Well yeah, the more the better, but I'd imagine homebrew stuff is simpler than digital, I've never done any so correct me if I'm wrong

I've always heard about Wired being sketchy about their reporting, grr...

Nevertheless, it seems like a cool device, especially with bluetooth

Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14400453)

In my opinion, it costs too much to sell to more than a small audience. Then there's the problem of it using RJ11 jacks which make it incompatible with current LEGO devices.

Cool (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400483)

The first Mindstorms set was really more of a toy then anything, no real robotic concepts could be created except things that mimicked walking or rolling with some pre-programmed commands. There were too few motors and feedback devices. Also the programming environment was definitely aimed at kids.

Hopefully Lego will realize that adults love this kit too and perhaps even are aiming this new Mindstorms at older people with a more robust programming environment. Reading the press release they are already adding more advanced features to their servos and sensors that suggest they are gearing for a real robotic design. The inclusion of 3rd party support will also be benificial. Even if Lego somes out with robotic programming for dummies software, some other 3rd party developer may come out with an advanced set of software tools.

Also, I am hoping from the product shots that they actually have a decent pre-designed walking robot concept to put together and play with. I am not so mechanically inclined to design my own walking system, and was always frustrated with trying to create something robotic enough to work with, but by having a decent robot design come in the package then you could have fun finding ways to program it and interact with it without having to first figure out how to design it. All I could ever do with the old kit was make rolling or track based vehicles bump into things and reverse.

We have to wait until August though? Why do companies insist on release product information so early in advance. I would have bought this kit today if they announced it yesterday.

Processor power and memory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14400533)

Anyone have some information on how much memory this thing will have? I know people could do pretty amazing things with the old RCX (not with Lego's easy to use programming environment, with firmware replacements), but this is several years later and the set is almost the price of a PDA.

HOLY CRAP!!!!! (2, Funny)

LiLWiP (918943) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400539)

Johnny 5 IS ALIVE!!!!!!!!!! Legos are certainly much cooler than when I was a kid...
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Number 5 is alive! (1)

thaerin (937575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400554)

Minus the fact that the robot pictured has legs versus tank treads, it's nearly a dead ringer for Number 5 from Short Circuit (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091949/ [imdb.com] ). Well, that and they made him more appealing to the trendy crowd by fashioning his chest to look something like an iPod knock-off.

"When LEGO MINDSTORMS launched, we fundamentally changed the way people viewed LEGO building and play and helped spark the trend of affordable and attainable consumer robotics," says Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO, LEGO Group.

With an expected retail price of $249, I think my $25 Transformer is all the "affordable" robotics I really need.

Robotic Minions (1)

Shakes268 (856460) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400560)

Yeeeesssss, I will have my robotic minions do my bidding and rule the world!!!! Muahaha - Lego Robots! Attack!!!

Be careful (1)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400745)

Don't jump the gun too hard everyone, the images are, I think, 3D renderings and not final products. I want these so badly it hurts.

Re:Be careful (1)

robberbarron (171029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400913)

The photos appear to be real. Check the movie [botmag.com]

Wow (1)

Admiral Frosty (919523) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400746)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these things!

Suggested Retail Price? (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14400791)

EGO MINDSTORMS NXT will be available at most toy and discount merchandise retailers, select consumer electronics retailers or online at www.LEGOshop.com in August 2006 and will have a suggested retail price of $249.99 (USD) and $ 379.99 (CAD).

Why is the Canadian suggested retail price 30% higher ($90!) than it should be, after currency conversion? The price in Canadian dollars should be about $40 more, not $130 more!

249.99USD = 290.19CAD, not 379.00CAD

What's up with that?

Bluetooth controlled mindstorm already exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14400974)

Bluetooth mindstorm has been done before, even though not in the easiest way, in mobilerobotics [sourceforge.net] :P
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