Lego has a new programmable robot kit after 7-year Mindstorms hiatus

The Lego Mindstorms Gelo, a quadruped robot, is one of five computer-controlled programmable robots available in the Robot Inventor kit.

The Lego Mindstorms Gelo, a quadruped robot, is one of five computer-controlled programmable robots available in the Robot Inventor kit.

Lego; illustration by Stephen Shankland / CNET

If you like programmable Lego robots, good news: for the first time in seven years, there is a new Mindstorms kit. The $ 360 (£ 330) 949-piece Robot Inventor kit provides instructions for building five different robots, but as you might expect with Lego, it can be used to build anything you want. And that could be just the ticket for parents hoping to keep the housebound kids busy.

Lego started with simple plastic building blocks, but the Danish company started in 1977 to add more advanced Technic kits with gears, struts, axles and other more sophisticated mechanical components. When they arrived in 1998, Mindstorms kits added computers to the mix. They are controlled using software that you can create with Lego development tools that work for iPhones, Android phones, Windows PCs, or MacOS.

The latest Mindstorm upgrade was the EV3 computer, a more advanced model that runs the Linux operating system and arrived in 2013. After a long hiatus, Mindstorms announced the Robot Inventor kit on Friday. Its flagship element is the new intelligent hub with six input-output ports, a 5×5 LED screen, an accelerometer sensor to detect orientation and movement, Bluetooth and USB connectivity and a built-in speaker. speaker.

The kit is part of a general effort to bring children to better master STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEM efforts are widespread in schools, but companies are trying to capitalize on parents’ desire to do more at home.

Robots, which can be more exciting for children than characters on a computer screen, have long been a tool in trying to teach programming. The new Mindstorms kit could be a good summer project for children who are stuck at home during the Coronavirus pandemic and cannot go to summer camp or visit the grandparents.

the Mindstorms kits can be intimidating, even if you just follow the instructions, discovered my colleague Scott Stein. And if you have younger children, you could look at the Lego Boost robot projects that arrived in 2017.

The Robot Inventor Kit allows you to create five models.

Explosion can hammer obstacles, grab objects and shoot darts if it detects movement. Charlie can give high fives, play drums and dance. Cunning is a sports robot that can play bowling, play football and play basketball. Gelo can walk on all fours and avoid obstacles. And MVP is a remote-controlled vehicle that can be used as a base for things like strollers or cranes.

Some of their behavior stems from the grafting of accessories such as pliers, cranes, turrets, brick eaters and hammers.

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